Review by Longsword24

"Incredible at first, but impossible to repeat."

Introduction
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The newest in the Elder Scrolls franchise to grace our consoles, Oblivion, is without doubt a brilliant addition to the saga, but make no mistake, it is not without it's flaws. When I first played my friend's copy of the game I got a mere hour to play, but at the time I saw it as the best hour of the month. I then had an opportunity to play further on another friends copy, and this time had much more time to play around with. Again, at the time, it was an incredible experience.

Then I got my own copy and finally had a chance to really get into it, but soon enough, the game wasn't as fun as I remembered. Areas started looking very familiar, quests start getting very generic, characters very identical. But more on that later, as even with my main problem, Oblivion has some real high points to it.

Story
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You are whoever you want to be, in true RPG style. There is a good selection of races and a large degree of customisation meaning that you can easily crate a character that looks just right for you.

You start a prisoner within (that's right) the Imperial Prison. Despite the taunts of another prisoner, you're sentence is soon to be cut short due to a convenient intervention of fate. As it turns out, you're cell contains a hidden escape route that is being used by the Emperor and his personal bodyguard. The Emperor is quite sympathetic and allows you to be freed, so the escape route is used by yourself as well.

From here the main story comes together as you proceed through the game. On the whole, it is quite enjoyable and I have no complaints with the content. Certainly for the main quest, charging into battle along-side the various soldiers and heroes of the land is insanely fun. Sadly the length of the primary story is much shorter than I expected, but this is pale in contrast to the sheer amount of side-quests and pointlessly fun exploring that takes up the rest of the time.

Final Rating - 8

Gameplay
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Has some fantastic aspects. The ability to just wander of into the wilderness is simply incredible. Exploration of the land and never knowing what you might find next, be it a shrine to a Daedric God, a small peaceful village, or an ancient Elven ruin, can take up hours of you're time without even realising it at first. Many of the side-quests are also fun and more than worth completing.

The combat is easy enough to get you're head around. Depending on you're class, you will fight in different ways, although you don't need to be restricted to them. Assassins are good with bows, especially when firing from the shadows, but there is nothing to stop said Assassin from wielding a huge claymore and charging down that angry-looking minotaur if they want.

After time though, the combat does become slightly repetitive. Once you're character is a high enough level (and that happens sooner rather than later if you pay the game like a fanatic) then not very much will stand in their way. Vampires, demons, undead champions, they all die in a few swift attacks.

Later in the game, you can start customizing and enchanting you're own armour and weapons which is quite fun. The process of doing this however involves fighting through a miniature Plane of Oblivion, filled to the brim with demons. These are quite fun, but unfortunately the portals to these planes show up EVERYWHERE!!!!! Thankfully they are optional so if you hate them, you can avoid most of them.

As you grow levels, you will also grow more experience with certain skills, and this is also another huge plus. For example, after enough time haggling with a merchant you're "Mercantile" will increase. More mercantile means better haggling skills and eventually you can be a proficient enough businessman to invest in various shops. And that is just one skill of many, each granting many advantages after enough time. This keeps the game entertaining and even a little satisfying. Well, who wouldn't want strangers randomly complimenting you on you're swordsmanship or how you move in armour?

Final Rating - 7

Control
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Very good. The controls are easy to get the hang of and adapt to the 360 controller very well. Combat is made easy, the buttons all make sense and the inventory is simple to move around. Anyone who has problems with the controls must also have found it challenging to turn the console on.

Final Rating - 9

Graphics
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Perfect. The outside scenery nearly looks real, the weather simulations are brilliant, the people, the weapons, the buildings all of it looks fantastic. Go up onto a mountain on a clear day and just look across the land, the views would be breath-taking if not for the knowledge of it being only a game. But for a game, it looks mighty impressive. Just don't jump around too much, that's the only thing that looks stupid.

Most of the monsters look incredible, you can tell that they put a lot of time and effort into the design in most cases. There are not many variations within a species, (i.e most trolls look the same, most bears e.t.c), but the huge amount of different species makes up for that.

Final Rating - 10

Sound/Music
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I have a real beef with this section, the voice-acting. What they do have is of very good standards but there is only about seven different voices, three of which are restricted to one character in the whole game. Nearly every single human has the same voice, and that goes to the other races as well, there is basically two voices to each race, the male and the female. Having three big actors like Patrick Stewart, Sean Bean and Terrence Stamp must have decimated the voice actor budget or something.

The music is also very dull, telling you that you are either in a safe, light-hearted music zone out in the woods or some other non-dangerous area, or in a dark, dank dungeon with eerie music, or under attack with drums. It gets VERY boring, so I would listen to you're own music.

The general sounds however are brilliant, especially the monsters. Combat sounds real, dropping items sounds real, the environment sounds real. Impossible to complain here.

Final Rating - 7

Location/Scenery
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With the exception of the dungeons/caves/ruins, they are also brilliant. The towns are interesting to wander through, the outside world is astounding (Yes, I realise I have pointed that out three times now). Words just can't describe how much fun it is to go and explore the numerous mountains, forests, hills and communities.

Final Rating - 9

Characters
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Sadly, most characters are very boring and 90% of them you will only deal with for a tiny portion of the game. There is basically only three main good guys who stay with you from start to end. Added to the fact that every race has one set voice, you can easily forget all about various people.

Final Rating - 6

Playing Time
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The game would take you hundreds of hours to complete 100%. It is massive. Staying to the main storyline however does not take very long at all. I have finished it with only one main character and I just can not force myself to start playing through it again with a different one. When I want to play the game now, I go and explore some area not yet seen by my eyes with that one character and have a great time wondering what will be there.

My advice would be to play it for short periods of time. This will keep the game very entertaining and enjoyable every time you go back to it. Playing it for too long and too many times a week will quickly make it become very boring.

Final Rating - 7

Rent or Buy
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Definitely a buy if you like RPG exploration games, it tops them all. Even then, it is a fun game and I would recommend anyone to at least try it out, but for some players, they may find it getting just a bit too repetitive for their likings.

Conclusion
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Pros

+ Incredible Graphics
+ Brilliant Exploration Value
+ Fun Gameplay
+ Good Story
+ Huge Game World

Cons

- Gets Very Repetitive
- Limited Voice Acting
- Poor Music

Overall Rating - 7/10


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 08/09/07


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