Review by pyroman93
"A Review coming from someone who usually hates all RPGs."
First of all, as the tagline indicates, I hate RPGs. Excluding Oblivion, I can count the RPGs I've played and enjoyed on the fingers of one hand. But Elder Scrolls: Oblivion is different. It's not the usual RPG experience we get nowadays. It's the experience I believe RPGs were originally made to deliver. The experience of doing whatever the hell you want in a completely open and massive world. Hunt vampires, join a guild, build friendships with NPCs, climb mountains, become a gladiator, anything.
So, basically in the main quest you start out in a prison, not knowing how you got in there. But the Emperor Uriel Septim is there. Apparently, assassins are chasing him, and there is a secret path out of the Imperial City (where the prison is) in your cell, so you get to tag along. However, on the way, the assassins find him and kill him before your very eyes. However, there is an heir that almost no-one knows about, not even the heir himself. You have got to find him and help him become Emperor while trying to stop the assassins' cult group. And to add to your troubles, gates to "Oblivion" (basically the hell of Tamriel, where the game takes place) have been opened, letting demons loose upon the world.
These are the best graphics I've ever seen in my life, bar MGS4, which won't even be out for another year at least. Everything is absolutely beautiful. Even the inside of caves, and hidden forests most players will never see are gorgeous. The graphics are just stunning. There is a little fade-in, but it's expected if the things fading in are a good in-game mile away. The sound is wonderful as well. Nice peaceful music when you're just exploring pretty fields, and appropriate battle music when an enemy is about to attack you, giving you a little heads up. The music is epic but not melodramatic, a perfect mix for this type of game.
This game is all about complete freedom, and that's exactly what we get. Endless freedom in an absolutely massive game. Let me put it this way: after playing for 65 hours exactly, I can say that I've completed one of the four guilds, discovered maybe a tenth, more likely a twentieth of the caves and ruins, and have barely touched the main quest. I have barely scratched the surface of this wonderful game. I believe the developers said the size of the overworld is something like 16 or 20 square miles, and I don't doubt it. You'll never be able to say that you've visited every single area in the game. Never.
Unlike most RPGs, Oblivion has a level-scaling system. This means that as you level, enemies, as well as there inventories, level up with you. It's a wonderful system in my opinion. In most RPGs, you could just level up a lot, then just coast through the rest of the game, but that's not possible here. While most RPGs get easier as you progress, Oblivion gets much harder, but also more rewarding. Although it is kind of unrealistic seeing a bandit with a sword worth 5000 gold asking you for 100 gold, you can't say the level-scaling system is bad. It keeps excitement, it retains the difficulty.
The NPCs are great as well. There must be hundreds of hours of voice acting with over 1400+ NPCs. The developers really went all out. The characters are believable. You could imagine them living in the real world, and that's what's great about it. The NPCs make you believe that their world is real. There are many memorable NPCs as well. NPCs whose names you will remember in ten years' time.
The combat system is neat as well. Instead of falling asleep with menus and turn based crap, it's all real-time, and it feels like YOU'RE the one fighting, not the menus. There are two ways to attack an enemy: through magic, or with weapons. I haven't had much experience with magic just yet, so I cannot comment on that, but combat with weapons is good. Although the setup is fairly simple (attack=RT, block=LT), there is quite a bit of depth in there. Merely slashing at your enemies and hoping for the best doesn't quite do the trick in later levels. You have the choice of using an enchanted weapon (fun as hell), getting really good at combat so you can block most attacks while doing a lot of damage yourself, or you could just poison your weapon, so that the next strike does some form of damage, be it simply damaging their health, or draining their magicka (how much magic you can use), etc.
However, Oblivion also has its faults. They may be small, but they cannot be ignored. First of all, the glitches! Gahh! Too many for my taste. Although I have not experienced many, there are tons that I've heard of. Plus, the loading. Sometimes, it can just be a quick, barely noticeable dip in the framerate, but other times you will be sitting in front of a loading screen for 30-45 seconds, which is not too fun. Although you ignore the loading times at first, after 60 hours of playing you may start to get a little tired of them.
I didn't base that on the average of the presentation and the gameplay, but it ironically IS the average. Coincidence, I tell ya. All in all, Oblivion is a WONDERFUL game. It's definitely one of the top ten I've ever played, and easily the best game yet for the Xbox 360. Hell, it's even worth getting a 360 JUST for this game. Miss out on this wonderful experience, and you'll be making a HUGE mistake. And this game will be loved by everyone. I hate almost all RPGs, but have still fallen in love with Oblivion. So, give it a try! Trust me, you WILL get hooked, and you won't want the dozens of hours back.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 05/21/06
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