Review by MarkusIII

"Say welcome to your parallel life"

The release of the Xbox 360 was for sure among the biggest disappointments of released console games, at least if you're into adventure/RPG games. Luckily, they did have a game titled Oblivion at the launch, a continuation of the Elder Scrolls series, and this gave some hope. Because this, my friends, is without doubt the game of the year 2006. It has the best graphics, possibly the best music and sound effects, easily is the largest gaming experience in 2006. And in overall, Oblivion is maybe something more than just a game, it will be your parallel life for all the hours that will follow, because I promise you, you will be bound to it.

STORY

The game begins with a dialogue with the Emperor of Oblivion (Patrick Stewart doing the voice, awesome work), where he says “For 65 years, I have ruled this empire. General and kings have knelt at my command. But a darkness comes. The blood tide rises. These are the closing days of the third year and the final hours of my life”. With that said, this is one of those typical games where You, the player is the one to save the lands and eventually be the hero. With the death of the emperor, an object called Amulet Of Kings is stolen by the enemies, and they are slowly starting to take over the world. The player's mission is to retrieve this amulet, so a new emperor can be found and wear the Amulet of Kings. When this is done a thing called the “Dragonfires”will lit, and this makes the daedra (enemies) to vanish from the world. After the opening scene you start out in a prison cell, and with this you've enter the world of Oblivion.

GAMEPLAY

The game consists of many things, and there's hundreds of things to do. But directly after character creating, you will be cast into the Main quest of the game. The Main quest is what drives the “story” of the game forward, because you search for this amulet in them, which is why I don't explain too much of the story in this review. All not to spoil too much for you. Anyway, if you're just out for completing the main story of the game, then it's probably not the largest gaming experience in 2006, because you can finish it quite fast. I would not really recommend to just play the main story, because you'll then miss a lot of the game However, as I said, there are loads of other things to do, and there's all these things that the game is built upon. And it all begins with the character creating. There's a variety of races to choose from, all with different abilities and skills. You can for example choose if you want to be a powerful magician, stealthy, strong warrior etc. etc. (these I mentioned are some simple forms, you can mixture more and get some awesome characters). After this you get to choose the appearance of the character, really welcomed and this should be used in all games, to actually decide yourself how You should look. Whatever race and birth sign you choose, you always get a few skills that are more special than others, depending of what kind of character you've created, and these are called Major skills. The major skills are the most important ones, since they are the ones making you to level up yourself, to become more skillful. All other skills are of course also important because if you don't level up in them, you won't be better at them either (naturally), but you cannot be leveled up with these “normal” skills. A thing the developers of the game has changed since last time is that the enemies you fight, also get better as you level up. You notice the higher you come in level, the harder the enemies get. This means, that you can actually finish the game on level 1, because you only meet enemies like rats and skeletons, and all are much weaker. However, I did not have any interest in just being at level 1, plain and simply, how boring would not that have been.

Apart from the main quest, there's also side quests and a sum of factions to join. For the factions, you do work, you get a quest and when you've done it you go to the guild and get your reward. These are great fun and you can get some great rewards from the guilds. The guild “Dark Brotherhood” does for example offer a bonus in each quest, giving the player to have two choices how to clear the quest. Naturally, the bonus-ways are a bit harder. For the side quests, you can in each town speak to people and ask about “rumours” and with that know people that has trouble to be solved. All these side quests, and quests for the guilds are often funnier to do than the quests within the main quest, as they offer more varied ones.

Of course, there are more things than quests in the game. You can for example enchant your own armour and weapons with magical abilities, you can create your own potions by finding different ingredients and then using mortar's and stuff to complete the potions. These things are just a little straw from pile of things to do, but I mentioned these because they can have a really big role in your gaming. To be a good alchemist and create good potions can be a really good quality. All ingredients have their own property, and to be able to create a potion you need at least two ingredients with the same property. And the better you get in Alchemy, the better your potions will become and the more properties you will be able to know (each have 4 properties, at the novice skill you only know one and so on). To go to the enchanting, a very important thing. To enchant your weapon or armour, you need to be a member of the Mage's guild, and become that, I recommend you. You can put different enchantments like Fire damage, frost damage, damage health etc. but only to a certain sum of magical charge. These charges often get empty really fast, and then you have to go to someone that recharges your weapons (that is extremely expensive), or ! You can find “Varla Stones”. These beautiful stones are probably my favourite item in the whole game, because they recharge ALL your enchanted weapons that you have in your inventory. It's quite hard to find these Varla stones since they are rare, but it's said to be found in all Ayleid Ruins, i've only found them in some of those though...so happy hunting : )

All stuff you do in the game is things that can be done in real life, you can buy own houses and even (if having great Mercantile skill) invest your gold in a store and then be the owner of it. A great thing is to buy a house, where you can store great stuff that you maybe can't wear because of the weight etc. Try out the Bruma house among the cheaper houses, and of course the large and nice Rosethorn Hall in Skingrad.

CONTROLS

Absolutely nothing to complain for, if playing in the first person view. I base my 10/10 on the FP-view, because that is what the game is created to play in. The controls and the steering of the character is soft and so easy to use. You get a “hotkey” for the spells, by pressing the cross cursor you get up a circle with some spells to choose from (that you've decided yourself), and with this way, you can change between whatever spells you'd like much faster. Really good to use when fighting. To fight with your weapon has improved since Morrowind. While it was really clumsy in that game, it's really natural and easy to use the fighting system, which of course lighten the battles and makes them much funnier. However, if you choose to see your whole character, instead of using first person, there are some bad things. The character moves really weird (it's then you realise, the game is made to play in FP), and i've heard people having problems with the character freezing in the air while jumping, not so good. So I just say this, please play in the FP-mode and enjoy the excellent controls.

GRAPHICS

What shall I say, one should always be careful to say the words “best graphics I've ever seen”, but in Oblivion's case, I do absolutely dare to say those words. It's just as simple as that, the graphics are just beautiful, and at least not any game that i've seen so far has as splendid graphics. The world is astonishing, just to roam the lands is a great thing to do, and at times you just stand still and think to yourself “this should be a very nice postcard”. What makes them so great is that the graphics are so realistic, the moves of the windy grass and trees, really awesome (if you are looking at them in distance) of course, when facing grass or bushes really close (like standing in them) they get blurry, but this is not so avoidable, all games are like this. Also, the opening cutscene, must really be seen. Best of all categories, and it's just so neat.

SOUNDS

Yes, yes. Just as in “Morrowind” the sounds in the game is great, absolutely as great as the graphics. Most of the time it's some music playing, which is not so common in all games, but it definitely works, at least with this game because the sounds are so good. I do have to complain a little on the voice acting side. Not because the voice actors does a bad job - because they certainly do a great job – but because there are so few actors. I think there are like max 5 people doing the voices, which means you will hear the same voices all the time, which is a bit boring. A 70 year old lady can have the same voice as a little girl, which really is not so realistic. It's a minor thing to complain about, but still, would have been great with more voices.

CONCLUSION

It was a very long time ago that I was so hooked about a game as I was, and still am with Oblivion. With this huge world, great quests and characters, all hundreds of things to do, and even more hundreds of caves, ruins, forts etc. to investigate and find weapons and more, it feels like it just can't go wrong. If I have to mention one final little complaint, it would lie in the loading times. Sadly, the game loads really slow, sometimes you wonder if the machine quit reading the disc. Just by going into a room, and the game must load. Also the fact that the game has frozen for me for a few times, causing me to restart the 360 and load the game again, it would have been very welcomed with these freezing times skipped, and the much loadings...but in return I/we get so much other great things, so the game is worth taking it's loading times.
An important thing for me while playing the game is something that all games have in common, but has never been as important to me as in this game, and that is the saving. It's really smart to save a lot in thr game, because you never know what might happen around next corner, concerning quests, that is. So it would be recommended to do that a lot, but of course be attentive so you don't save at the totally wrong place.

As a ending conclusion I just want to say this; if you are a big fan of RPG-games and searching for a game with lots of great playing hours, Oblivion is definitely your purchase. So now, I advise you to go and buy it, and say welcome to your parallel life.

Story - 8
Gameplay - 10
Controls - 10
Graphics - 10
Sounds - 9

Overall - Clearly a 10 out of 10


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/02/07


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