Review by mkbk
"One of the Best RPGs Ever!"
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is the fourth installment of the Elder Scrolls series. The whole series started out with TES: Arena (which you can now download off of the official site) and featured many dungeons and completely open ended gameplay. It evolved into Daggerfall, then Morrowind and now Oblivion. Oblivion is the best of these four by far with improved graphics, more content, more enemies, etc.
The graphics in this game are the best I've seen in a game so far. I was so amazed that I walked around in one of the forests looking at the environment. The people look realistic as well as monsters. The weapons in this game look beautiful as well like the Glass Longsword. Although there are some SLIGHT slowdowns in framerate and some say there is too much "bloom" effect, I think the graphics are near perfect.
The animations and such are great as well. The animal races no longer walk like they have to take a dump all the time. The third person view is much better and doesn't have those atrocious running animations. Magic animations are tons better as well. Shock magic is several bolts of electricity going straight at your opponent. Fire magic is shown as a fireball which explodes upon contact, just like a bomb or grenade. Cold magic turns into icy vapor when it strikes the opponent.
The graphics are very good and I have no complaints.
The music and sound are very near perfect in this game as well with only minor problems that hardly affect the game. The attack sounds were done well. Depending on what your weapon strikes it makes a different sound. The enemies also have unique cries and can be distinguished. And now there is FULL voice acting for all of the NPCs. That's over 1000 different NPCs. Sure some of them sound the same but it's kind of hard to come up with more than 1000 unique voices. The voice acting is also done well and doesn't sound like the horrid voice acting in Mortal Kombat: Deception's Konquest mode. The sound helps you as well. You can identify nearby enemies with sounds. You might hear the numerous squeaks of rats or the war cry of a barbarian.
The music in this game is good but not that great. It gets kind of repetitive after a while but you can hardly hear any music at all (sometimes there is no music) so this doesn't really affect the score.
The story in this game is great too. At first, it seems to have no depth. The emperor dies, monsters invade and the heir is lost somewhere. But Oblivion features tons of readable books that provide much background information on the land of Cyrodiil, Oblivion, Morrowind and other areas in the world. They provide historical information and even have entertaining short stories (sometimes spread out over a series of books). After reading the books, you realize how much depth the story has.
Well onto the details! You are a prisoner and waiting in your cell. One day some people come into your cell. It's Emperor Uriel Septim VII himself with two hostile guards! It seems that you are somehow tied into destiny and one of the emperor's dreams symbolizing that he will die. Assassins had killed his sons and he believed that he was next. Nevertheless he was going to try to escape death anyway. It turns out that your cell was part of a secret passageway. The guards and the emperor go through a hidden passage and allow you to follow if you wish. Of course you can't go anywhere else but follow. After battling your way through vicious rats and zombies you finally make it to the end only to find the emperor dying. He gives you his ring and asks you to find the lost heir to the throne.
Just as the emperor dies portals to the hellish realm of Oblivion open up everywhere allowing hostile Daedra to invade Cyrodiil and kill and burn. It turns out that Emperor Uriel Septim VII was sealing access to the realm of the Aedra (people that live in your realm) but when he died the Daedra were granted access. Now free from your cell you face the task of avenging the emperor, finding his lost heir and sealing the gates...
The main part of this game. The reason why this game is so great. This game features open ended gameplay with more freedom than previous TES games. The land is big too; 16 square miles. Morrowind was 10 square miles and already seemed huge. Although Daggerfall and Arena featured MUCH bigger land size, it had much less content and worse graphics making it easier to make a game of such size. Due to the content in this game Oblivion seems overwhelming and just plain big. You can spend hours exploring, finding the many dungeons in this game or even travelling to Oblivion which is an alternate dimension to the world you originated from. It is where Daedra reside who are essentially immortal. There are many towns and cities filled with NPCs that have Radiant AI.
Radiant AI is a feature in this game which makes the NPCs a lot smarter than many other games. Rather than doing scripted events (although some do) they act on their own to achieve their goals. This applies to monsters and Daedra as well. Just like in real life unexplained things can happen to you. Some people on the message boards have mentioned things such as an unbridled horse charging at them and then running or a hunter slaying a wolf and then going for you. The NPCs go to sleep, practice skills, eat, fight, etc. They can do almost anything that you yourself can do.
The quests in this game are also very much improved over Morrowind. In Morrowind most quests were fetching quests, protection quests or messenger quests. Oblivion features unique quests that involve hunting various animals, going into a painting, solving a mystery, being a hitman, etc. The quests are much more diverse than any other game I've seen and they're fun as well. Oblivion doesn't include the many useless quests that other games have.
The best part of Oblivion is the freedom. You can go into a town and slay all of the citizens. You can choose to never complete the Main Quest. You can explore uncharted forests slaying beasts and discovering ruins. You can buy houses, fight Daedra, make spells, enchant weapons, raid tombs, and do quests. The open endedness of Oblivion is ridiculous. The sheer size of Oblivion contributes greatly as well. You can even do little things like have fun with physics. You can paralyze a wolf and watch it roll down a hill unable to move. You can pick up items and trigger traps with them to kill enemies. There's even a quest where you kill someone by dropping an item on his head. This game uses the same physics as Half-Life 2 and has the best physics I've seen in a game.
The combat in Oblivion is well improved over Morrowind. In Morrowind you would jam the R button hoping that your arrow would hit the enemy even though you could see it go straight into their brains. In Oblivion as long as you strike the enemy the hit counts; whether it did damage or not is the question. You can also do acrobatic feats such as leap at the enemy and slice them or jump out of the way just as the enemy strikes. Blocking is manual as well. How much damage it blocks depends on your blocking skill however.
Oblivion is one of the best RPGs I've ever played. It drew many TES veterans as well as those who were completely new to the series. It has great graphics, great music/sound, great story, and awesome gameplay. Although there are those who may disagree with me, I think that this game is near perfect. This game offers a LOT of replayability. You can have hours and hours of fun doing one of the many actions. You can have hobbies such as collecting books, killing random people, making money, stealing other's valuables, slaying monsters, exploring dungeons and much more. There is so much gameplay content that I wasn't even able to list them all. I think this game is great and worth buying completely. But if you're reluctant to buy it, try renting it.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 03/24/06
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