Review by Eternal_Warlord
"Greatest mind-wrapper I ever played."
First things first, this game will keep you tied up for at least 100 hours on your first play through if you take side quests also. Nothing compares to a good RPG experience and this is where you will find it on XBOX 360 and PS3. The controls are straight-forward, and the game isn't tough to grasp. It's also so addicting, especially for those of us who aspire to waste our time when our assignments are finished.
Things to Expect:
When you first walk out into the world of Cyrodil you will want to explore immediately. A huge step up from the vast gray that is Morrowind. I understand that the original XBOX had it's limits, but almost colorless gameplay is no fun in my honest opinion. The scenes pop and that keeps you interested in the world around you. In Morrowind I remember walking through the world thinking of ways to get around all the bland landscape, so I made a ton of spells to fortify my speed and flew through at the speed of light. It actually looked better all mashed together and blurred then when you first start out and have to walk to all of those far places. Go over to castle Anvil and head to the top of the Lighthouse and wait for the sun to set over the water, you won't be disappointed. The only problem I have is the seams in some larger buildings which become visible at the right angle. Character models all around look awesome, they range from air-brushed perfection to sharp points, and everything in-between.
Overall a 9.5/10 for graphics.
Well played voice acting
The key characters of the game have interesting things to say, and even better ways to say them. Meeting Lucien Lachance of the Dark Brotherhood for the first time will give you a good idea. "You prefer silence. As do I, my child, as do I. For is silence not the symphony of death?" Argonians have a deep and powerful voice that seems to take away from their sneaky appearance, but I like that alteration. Nords have an interesting guttural voice that tends to make them sound tough, like Vikings. Khajiit are possibly the best sounding of all, they sound uneducated and superstitious, but still fierce and deep. Since I don't know who does all that wonderful voice-acting, I can only really thank Bethesda for making such good choices. A little disappointing was the few memorable characters, Lucien, Martin, Uriel Septim, and M'aiq The Liar are really the only ones that leave a mark with the player, or at least in my experience.
8.5/10 for voice acting.
Not too different from the usual "time to save the world, hop to it" that was Morrowind. There are plenty of odds and ends to sew up, the Main Questline will be enduring depending on your chosen difficulty. Make no mistakes, the story is a good step up in the world of ES. You'll be spending a lot of your time in Oblivion though, that's excellent in my opinion. Saving the world on the home front is fun, but why not take a chance and step directly into enemy territory? You'll be fighting leveled enemies, but they will seem to never end behind the gates of Oblivion. And the different layouts of all of the Oblivion territories is remarkable, some focus on vast underground tunnels, while others are all about getting around that boiling molten lava on the surface. Mehrunes Dagon took an interesting approach of attack, invading the land that you are defending. Close down all the Oblivion gates that you can, they're all over the place.
9/10 for story.
Customization is a must
Character building is fun and anyone can do it. Setting up your skills will give you a boost for your favorites, Attributes work the same. But don't be afraid you'll be left in the dust if you can't pick all of the skills, as each one can come in handy. The thing I like is that favorite skills only get a boost, they don't become the only ones you need to focus around, every skill can be 100. So if you choose Light Armor over Heavy Armor then you can still boost up that skill by wearing Heavy Armor. It's a situation in which everybody wins and nobody has to compromise which leaves you a bit behind. Some would say that this makes the game easier, but that's what the difficulty slider in the main menu is for, so use it if you feel that things are a bit too simple. Turn it all the way up at a low level if you feel like getting completely annihilated. Customizing the race and look of your character is fun too, there are hundreds of different sculpting combo's so every one of you characters has the potential to look different. The races are the same as Morrowind, just well polished.
10/10 for customization.
The world is large... very large
There's ton's of places you can go, I have many locations on my map just in Cyrodil, so keep an eye out for new places. There are Ruins and Caves all over the place, too much loot to handle so if you play your cards right you should never be low on Gold. Many of the caves are filled with animals as enemies, and in some cases Vampires. If you're feeling bored one day then just go cave hopping and kill all the Vampires and bears and cougars you can. The Ruins are usually haunted by ghosts, and their rigged up, so watch your step. There's gas chambers, and spiked ceilings that can fall on your head, or spiked floors that fall out from beneath you. Some Ruins have Marauders in them, they have pretty nice stuff so you can pick up their expensive loot and go sell it to the appropriate shop back in the Imperial City. Many of the caves and ruins look alike though, that's understandable as there are possibly too many of them. You'll come across old mines as well. And you'll find a few peeks in the game that you simply cannot climb, you'll have to go around or spend a few hours trying to inch your way up. There are old forts throughout the game also, a good amount of them have Necromancers in them.
Overall a 8.5/10 for the general layout, it's really big but that also kinda adds to the adventure.
A couple of things I personally find a whole lot of fun in the game:
Spell making and casting
You need to buy or learn the appropriate spell effects to make your own, and you also have to be a member of the Mages guild or Download the Wizard's Tower DLC from XBOX Live. There are fewer spell effects than in Morrowind, but they can still be very effective spells depending on your level in the particular craft. Destruction spells if applied for a radius of damage can throw enemies through the air and make an interesting mini-game out of juggling them. I find alchemy to be totally useless as the wealth of home-made potions never exceeds 55 gold, even if you barter you'll be lucky to get 70 out of them. However, I also find it's kinda fun to make my own poisons. Alteration spells can be useful if you don't want to pick locks but you do want to rob houses at night, it's always fun to be invisible. Chameleon is the greatest spell to use if you want to be a ghost, that allows you to be partially or completely invisible for a set amount of time, but you can also pick pockets and sneak attack people for maximum damage without becoming fully visible again.
Many of the side quests give you great rewards for completion, or just a small award, but still a fun experience. They range from hunting special bears to ruining the lives of poor unsuspecting townfolk. Daedra lords can be so cruel, or hilarious. Speaking to the followers of certain Daedric princes at shrines throughout Cyrodil will give you the instructions needed to please the lords. They will then send you on quests and almost every award gained from a Daedra prince is a cool weapon or enchanted item made solely for fun or shortcuts.
This is the place you wanna go when first starting out, you'll face off against different enemies and get experience as well as gold. To start off, you'll need the money later, so if you don't want to hop around Cyrodil looking for monsters to kill and people to loot then just kick some ass at the arena for your paycheck. And the best part? It's not over when you're the Grand Champion. You can still earn gold each week by fighting monsters and as you become stronger you'll face off against tougher enemies and get paid more. It's kind of like the closest thing a freelancer is gonna get to a job, and you don't have to show up each week, there's no penalty for deciding to stop.
Factions A.K.A. "the greatest fun of all"
Oh, so many details about the factions. These are the side quests that matter. You'll be going on Assassination missions in the dead of night, or during the day, if you join the Dark Brotherhood. You'll also have good access to some training and a few neat items can be earned. The Thieves Guild is all about stealing. You'll be spending more time sneaking around than in the Dark Brotherhood. And you'll also have access to people who will buy your stolen goods, this comes in handy when the regular markets won't accept that kind of stuff. It's just another great way to make money. The Mages Guild is the place to be for all of your spell flinging needs. Here you can buy spells from the masters themselves and make your own spells. You'll also be given your own Mage's Staff which you can choose the enchantment you want on it. The Fighter's Guild is weapon and armor central. It's the closest thing to becoming an imperial guard, you'll be guarding people and also taking down some criminals and monsters. This is an excellent place to be if you need some armor or a sword and some training in both.
Houses for Sale
Some items are so cool they simply can't be sold or given away, well, it's not like you can just keep them on you at all times, you'll fall over. That's where houses come in handy, they're excellent places to store your favorite loot. There's a house in each livable city, and some of them have quests tied to them. Rosewood Manor in Skingrad is a fantastic house with all of it's furnishings, there's even display cases to gently place things into if you have the patience. Not to mention you get a maid who will give you free food and drink if you need it. And it has a few hidden gems in it too, but I'm not gonna tell you where to find the quest. I can give you a hint, your room, the master suite, take a look around. The worst house is the shack in the Imperial City Waterfront, but it's still a place to rest in order to gain level and store things. Better than buying a room every time you need to level up. It's cheap too, 1,000 Gold. Houses vary in price and you may have to get in good with the count or countess of your city to get access.
When the main quest is over, what is there to do? Plenty. Make a new character and take a different route, mix it up a little and you'll find yourself enjoying this game all over again. Ever tried making a hand-to-hand only character? Now's your chance to experiment with new looks and playstyles. Do whatever you want, you could even run around in just underwear to see what people think. You can be a jerk and make people hate you or you can be nice and they'll like you. Donate your money or hoard it, just make sure to do one thing, have fun.
This game is all about keeping you interested and it does it's job. Bethesda totally scored with this one. It's got all of the elements of a good RPG, and you know when to let it go. MMORPG's are constantly changing and this keeps people interested, to the point where they can never really let go. This game has a conclusion, so I think it's a good mix of RPG and Action/Adventure for anyone to enjoy. It can be casual or it can be difficult, few games possess this quality that still turn out good. My rating: 9/10 It's a must try if you haven't already, I recommend GOTY Edition since it's out now, it comes with Shivering Isles and Knights Of The Nine. These add even more fun to your experience, they open up new clothing and armor options, as well as a new world to explore. They also offer new weapons and some very odd but very interesting loot.
Thanks for reading :)
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/27/09
Game Release: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (US, 03/20/06)
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