Review by Sinroth

"Does it live up to the hype?"

I couldn't have been more happy the day Oblivion was released. Granted, it was a very costly game, but having spent thousands of hours playing Morrowind for days on end, stuffing food down just to return to the computer, you could imagine my attitude. Well, I inserted the game into the console, and both pleasantly surprised, and largely disappointed. Oblivion takes two steps forward, and two steps back.

GRAPHICS: 9/10

The Graphics are incredibly rendered, and absolutely stunning. The forests are all teeming, and live with creatures, trees, and ponds. There are a few issues with bodies glitching through places (more specifically, walls and doors), plus grass grows out of nowhere when you're walking, but other than these two minor issues, this is done very well. The weapons and armour appear beautiful, and the enemies are well-detailed. The characters are all fugly, but I suppose that is a matter of opinion.

SOUND: 8/10

Not the greatest, but it definitely fits the tone of the game. The main music is fast, and heroic, setting the pace for the game to come. The melodies whilst you explore are very peaceful, while it changes to faster battle music once you encounter an enemy, and quickly turns into an evil drone of tunes once you enter an oblivion gate.

CHARACTER CREATION: 8/10

The character creation is incredibly hard to use, but once you've mastered it, you can create some awesome characters. There are only two flaws I can really nitpick out. The first is that the majority of sliders change when you move something, so it can take a very long time to get the right look. Secondly, it is very hard to make beards. At best, you can make a stubble, or a small beard, without your entire character changing colour. Apart from that, it is very well done. You can edit your characters facial features, hair, skin tone in specific areas, eyes, and age.

STORY: 6/10

The story. Well, it's certainly no George R.R. Martin, or Tolkien, and is perhaps one of the biggest let downs of this game. Well, you start in prison, your sins unknown. This has been centerpiece in every Elderscrolls game, but that isn't really the problem, as it allows for some roleplaying. The Emperor and his bodyguards enter your specific cell, and he recalls seeing you from his dreams. You follow him and his men through the sewers, until the Emperor gives you the amulet of kings, a sign of royal power in the empire, and is killed. You are told there is another, illicit heir, and to go find the grandmaster of the order of bodyguards, and find the heir. The dialogue is stunningly delivered by Patrick Stewart, but shortly after here, things start to go downfall. You quickly notice the lack of any real special voices, other than about four people in the main quest. Well, after finding the heir, and returning him safely to their fortress, you run a few of your basic errands and dungeon crawls, and then, easily, the single most boring quest in the world. Of course, you could always skip it, but how in the blue hell Bethesda though it could pass for being interesting, is unknown. Well, the general sense is, gates to Oblivion, leading to the realm of Mehrunes Dagon, bearing an uncanny resemblance to hell, open across the world. They are all incredibly boring, with a lacklustre reward that only improves once you have become a greater level. The design of these are very repetitive, and the entire places are so dark, you can't even see your familiar sword in front of your face. It's bearable to close one of these, then do four or so quests, and then do another one, but having to slug through eight quests to be a perfectionist? This has to be the worst main quest in history. Well, it quickly picks up after that, and there really isn't much of a plot in place after this. Just go fetch a bunch of ancient artifacts, so they can conjure a portal to one of the head honchos and go bash him. The finale in the main quest notably increases in quality, however.

GAMEPLAY: 7/10

The gameplay. Ah yes. The two biggest complaints from Morrowind, the fact that it used a dice rolling system to determine whether or not you hit enemies, and that you traveled very slow in the beginning, have been fixed. You now hit enemies, as long as your sword/arrow/axe/fireball touches them. This results in combat ending very quickly, unless both fighters have a plentiful supply of healing potions, in which case, it just becomes a competition of block normal attack, get in some attacks, run backwards, strike when they miss, and continue until dead. Perhaps the worst feature to be included, is the leveled loot, and enemies system. Basically, you can never become strong. You are always as tough as your enemy, or weaker, depending on how you leveled up. While this does provide a challenge throughout the entire game, it gives absolutely no sense of accomplishment. As for traveling faster, you definitely move at an increased rate, plus there are horses, and if that wasn't enough, scroll your cursor over to an icon on the map that you have previously visited, and you can instantly travel there, at the cost of waiting for about four seconds for the game to load. Basically, at set levels, stronger enemies appear, and stronger loot appears. At level 20, no more enemies start appearing, but the current ones simply grow stronger, while for the loot, at level 20, the best equipment you can get shows up on everyone. Who would have though, that in Morrowind, a set of armour that only appears about one or two times in the entire game, would be on the back of every single bandit and marauder in Cyrodiil, eh? Oh well. There are also magic items, that grow stronger with each level, but you cannot get them again once you have them. They could be, for example, a reward from a quest, or something. These stop leveling up at level 30, but by the time you get there, it really doesn't matter.

Another thing that made Morrowind great was the random artifacts around the map. The only artifacts to be found are all part of quests. No, those random magic items sold in shops don't count, as they are imbued with a weak enchantment, and do not count as artifacts in Elder Scrolls lore. There are very few cases on random items that are magic which you could find in the wild, as most are either in shops, or on someone's body. Gone are the days of fighting for control of a chest that contained a magic claymore. There are five main guilds; the Fighters, Mages, Dark Brotherhood, Thieves, and the Arena, whilst there are a multitude of smaller guilds, that give one or two quests, and only have one rank. Well, the two that have easily been worked on the most show quite clearly; the Dark Brotherhood, a guild of murderers, and the Thieves guild, whom are a sort of weird amalgamation between lorebreakers and robin hoods merry men, who use beggars as spies. The Arena showed great potential, but having two/thirds of your matches being against bland, undeveloped people with the name "YELLOW TEAM [INSERT YOUR RANK HERE]" sorta killed it. Plus, it is over very quickly. The Mages guild just fumbles around the bush a lot until the last couple of quests, where it can actually get fun. The Fighters guild is easily the worst. It is long, monotonous, boring, and the rewards are hardly worth it all.

OVERALL:

A fun experience, but a weird improvement on Morrowind. It feels smaller, but is really bigger. It is packed with quests, but it doesn't seem like it. You decide.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/02/07


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