Review by horror_spooky
"A Different Person in a Different World"
I never got a chance to play The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, but some people told me it was really good while others told me it was really bad. This love-or-hate feeling is eliminated with the latest installment, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Almost all the scores have been unanimous in the direction of Oblivion being an awesome game, but I do feel that is slightly over-rated.
Anybody will be impressed with the character-customization at the start of the game. Basically, if you have a vision of what you want your character to look like, you can do it. Also, each race has its own special abilities. For example, an Argonian (lizard-like people) can breathe underwater and are resistant to diseases, but other races have different abilities that are useful. This makes having a different experience every time you play the game an endless possibility. What also mixes it up is the sign you choose to be born under, which will effect what you need to work on in order to level-up.
Since it's an RPG, a leveling-up system is basically required. Oblivion has a rather unique leveling-up system in that you choose what attributes level-up, but in order to level-up you have to find a bed and rest which really isn't a problem. Also, you can make your character be a master at any skill of you work at it long enough. For example, if you chose attributes that make you really skilled in heavy armor, but you want to do some quests that require you to be more versatile, you can just train yourself by wearing lighter armor and fighting lighter armor. This feature is amazing and is probably one of the most innovative features in any video game ever created.
One big minus, however, is the battle-system. It's very generic as you basically slice, block, fire an arrow or use magic. This works a lot like a hack-n-slash as you just keep mashing the button. Also, since the weapons and armor that are available to you are affected by what level you are, it can be very hard to get into the game. Do you know how it embarrassing it is to fear scamps (little devil-looking creatures)?
Since this is essentially a free-roam RPG, you can kill almost every character in the game and steal from almost every character in the game. However, there are consequences to this, but I sometimes found that the imperial guards were after me for no reason at all. There was even one instance that I paid my fines and as I was walking away another guard got on me. I blame this possibly on a glitch of some sort and this experience might not happen with all players.
Lock-picks are ESSENTIAL! If you are dry on lock-picks, you are gonna have a tough time playing through the game. Almost every quest requires you to use a lock-pick or key of some sort which can really get annoying when you don't have any lock-picks on you. This will then require random box-searching or traveling to someone that will sell you lock-picks.
Another item that I didn't find very abundant was healing potions. They are basically non-existent in some of the cities in Cyrodiil. Traveling shop-to-shop looking for some healing potions can really be a drag; however, there is restoration magic which basically heals you. Sadly, this can sometimes be useless and actually leaves you open to more powerful attacks.
For people that hate first-person games, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has an option that allows you to switch the camera angle from first to third-person view. However, the third-person view is horrible to play with unless you're riding a horse. Your character often gets in the way so you can't really see enemies, so it's just a lot better to play in first-person. Once-again, this was close to resurrecting the love-or-hate feeling.
How many of you thought entering the realm of Oblivion would probably be the coolest thing ever? Suffice to say, it is very lackluster at best. After entering an Oblivion gate, you are thrust into a basically color-less world that is filled with little annoying creatures that you must fight in order to get to a little ball that you grab to blow up that Oblivion gate. Seriously, it could've been cool, but for some reason, the developers made entering Oblivion one of the worst parts of the game. Thankfully, it is rarely required.
Guilds, guilds, guilds. There are essentially four main guilds you can join (not counting the arena) and each have their own little story and differences in the quest-types. For example, the Dark Brotherhood is basically a hitman service and requires you to commit murders in various different ways and is probably the most entertaining guilds out of the four. The Thieves Guild requires you to, of course, steal things but you do not kill anyone. One major problem with the Thieves Guild is that it requires you to steal so many items to a fence (someone that buys stolen goods) so that you can progress through the guild. This is a disappointment and left a bad taste in my mouth much like the respect bar from Saints Row. The Mages Guild and the Fighters Guild felt somewhat generic, but were enjoyable nonetheless. Once you defeat each guild you can still help the guild out and earn gold from doing it.
One major disappointment is that the main quest is lackluster at best. I have yet to find anyone who really felt the need to play through the main quest. Instead, the guilds and the side-quests are the greatest parts of the game and make up greatly for the main quest's disappointments.
Sadly, this game probably loads longer then the actual play-time. Fast-traveling is basically essential due to the huge size of Cyrodiil, but this requires about a minute or two of loading which can really drag down the heat of the gameplay. This wasn't a fixable problem, but Cyrodiil is unnecessarily large and the developers should take note of that.
I've seen some complaints about the story of Oblivion and I agree that the main quest's story is pretty lame, but the guilds have GREAT stories. Really, the developers made the game for the guilds, so if you can get past the weak main quest then Oblivion's many stories will be much more than entertaining for you. The gamers that say Oblivion had a weak story, obviously didn't take the time to play through the guilds.
Amazing graphics, especially for the size of the game. If a game can look this good with all of the features in it, then there's no excuse for all games to look like this or even better. That just shows most developers are simply lazy and just want to get their product on the shelves.
Since there isn't really cut-scenes the game's story is mostly told through conversations with other characters. This is pretty boring to sit through and is the worst part about the game. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion had the potential to be very cinematically appealing, but to make the game seem more like you actually are the character, the developers toned down the cut-scenes. This leaves the cut-scenes at a very minimum, which is a good thing to some but a bad thing to others, which almost brings back the love-or-hate feeling.
One major complaint I have was with the voice-acting. The recycled voice-actors so it was hard not to laugh at talking with one person then turning around and talking to someone who shares their exact voice. The background music was superb, however.
Now, time to explain the lip-syncing. For the most part, the lip-syncing matched-up perfectly, but there were times when I would talk to someone and the camera would point at the floor or the wall. Other times, their mouths would move even when they weren't saying something or their mouths wouldn't move when they were saying something. Other times, the text would just come up but you couldn't hear their voices at all. This made it feel slightly rushed.
A game that can last forever no, seriously. After you've played the game for three-hundred hours and beaten all the guilds, all the side-quests and all the downloadable content, there's still so much you can do. If you want, you can go on a murderous rampage and kill everybody that's mortal in Cyrodiil, you can search the countryside for secret caves, build up your character to be godly, buy every house in the game and so much more. It's impossible to not find something to do with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a game that you should definitely BUY. I know I've told people to only rent games that I've given a higher score than Oblivion, but if you don't buy Oblivion then you won't fully appreciate it. This game will last forever and the replayability is off the charts. If it was at all possible to bring the load-times down, fix some of the graphical problems and glitches, plus make the main quest more enjoyable then Oblivion would be the anatomy of perfection.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/12/07
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