Review by GoldStatue
"Oblivion is a good game, but frustrating problems abound."
I was first introduced to this video game series by a review in the newspaper exclaiming how great Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was. Naturally, my curiosity was aroused, and I bought it at my game store with great anticipation. Overall, I like the game, but I get so frustrated by things in it, and I just thought I'd share my opinion with you, the reader.
After a lengthy introduction, you are prompted to make your own character. I was quite amazed by the extent of customization, and the wide variety of races, each with their own weaknesses and strengths. I eagerly picked my character, a Dark Elf, and started the game.
When I had gotten through the Imperial Sewers level (you start as a prisoner in the Imperial Prison) and emerged into the massive world of Oblivion, I literally did not know where to start. Eventually I wandered off into the wilderness, exploring, and forgot about the main quest. Anyway, I enjoyed the storyline once I got into it, but it was too short for my taste. Also, because I had done the many side quests, I found that the main quest was just like another side quest, which turned me off a little bit. Some variety between the main game and the side plots would have been great.
I found no significant problems with the controls at all. They might feel a bit awkward at first if you were a complete newbie to Xbox 360 games like I was, but eventually they became quite natural to me.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for some things about the gameplay. It wasn't downright horrid, but some parts were really disappointing to me. First of all, the combat system was too repetitive for me. Nearly every quest I did was going to some dungeon at the whim of some NPC and killing some other NPC or demon or what have you, and getting a piece of armor or some money as a reward. If you're really, really into that stuff, good for you. I like a little variety in my objectives, and it didn't work out very well.
A positive note I would like to say is that the number of things you can do in this game with regard to training is just fantastic. There are plenty of skills you can train yourself in, including Speechcraft and Mercantile and other things you probably wouldn't have thought about. You can make your character extremely well-balanced and reap the rewards from it greatly. Also, it is cool doing certain quests or belonging to certain guilds and having people notice you in every city. Once you have a great amount of Fame, you'll be respected by pretty much everyone in the game, which is always satisfying. The sheer amount of things to explore and places to see is overwhelming but always a fun aspect of the game.
You can make your own spells, enchant weapons and armor, and do other neat things, which is great. I don't want to give too much away, but even I have definitely not explored the game fully.
The makers of this game really did a brilliant job on this. The countryside is beautiful, and the night sky is simply breathtaking. If you find a high point in the mountains or hills and look out over all of the world, the view is amazing. I personally like this one spot where I always stand and see the Imperial City in the distance. It is simply awesome.
The monsters look nicely done, too. There are a couple of annoying mess-ups sometimes though; one time I killed a troll near a gate, and its arm just started shaking and rattling in the gate, making this grating sound that was so annoying I turned the volume off. It happens sometimes with deer and other wildlife, too. It's not a major problem, though, and it can easily be fixed.
I have a slight issue with the models of the townspeople and human NPC's though - what is up with the wrinkly crows-feet stuff around their eyes? Is it something in Cyrodiil's water or what? It kind of freaks me out, but I guess they were just attempting to make the faces more realistic. Also, they have like NO facial expressions. At ALL. Their eyebrows raise a little bit, but nothing major really changes in their demeanor. The voices seem "copied and pasted", too -- each character has the same voice for his/her race, and I've also noticed that sometimes characters from different races have the same voice. Again, not a major problem, but yecch it does get annoying sometimes.
The music is what you would expect from a game of epic proportions like this one. You get the LOTR music, which doesn't really differ from area to area. If you seriously hate the music, listen to your own on your Xbox. Or get your MP3 player.
Not necessarily the game's fault, but it is so huge in scope that just starting over can make you sick. If you want all the achievements, though, it is probably necessary to start several new characters because of a few major glitches (which I'll get to in the section after this one), so you might want to get used to it. I've experienced some burnout problems before, but keep yourself playing for maybe an hour a day and you won't get too bored of it. It is very easy to put 100+ hours into the game, since it is so huge.
THE BAD STUFF
I almost hate to do this, but why exactly does this game deserve a 7/10 from me? Because of the ANNOYING GLITCHES THAT I ENCOUNTER ABOUT EVERY TIME I PLAY THE GAME. Sorry for the capital letters, but I want to stress how ridiculous it is. First of all, finishing the Fighters Guild questline is hard if you've explored this certain location already, because there's a glitch that makes the guy you have to find disappear if you've explored the cave already. Since I'm an explorer at heart, of course the glitch had to happen for me.
I've also had major freezing problems, at least once per time that I turn the game on to play. The disk is not scratched, and my Xbox 360 does not do this to any other game, so I'm starting to think it's the game somehow. Just be careful not to press any buttons quickly, I'm warning you now. And save often. Sometimes the Autosave will not actually save (that happened to me like 3 to 4 times now), and it is very annoying if you're in the middle of a quest.
There are plenty of other glitches that are very annoying. All you have to do is google search for them and there will be pages of discussion on the various glitches throughout the game. There is a duping glitch, a paintbrush glitch (drop paintbrushes from your inventory and they will literally float in the air, allowing you access to pretty much anything), and other things that could have been corrected in the first place. Even my old PS2 games did not have anything like this.
As I am personally not very far in the game yet, I haven't done EVERYTHING yet -- just consider this review as a starting point.
BOTTOM LINE: RENT OR BUY?
I don't know the prices on this game, but if they're still high, then rent and see if you like it. If you've got money to spend, you should buy, because this game has some really nice ideas in it that people shouldn't miss. Give it a try and see if it appeals to you.
I would give this game a 7.5/10, but this is not an average.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 10/08/07
Game Release: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (US, 03/20/06)
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