Review by Isentaur
"Beyond my lofty expectations."
Oblivion is a game I seriously was looking forward to. Even though I didn't like Morrowind at all, I was hoping this game would fix what was broken in Morrowind and give me an awesome RPG experience. Did it fulfill my expectations? Read on.
Graphics: When I first started playing, I was thinking to myself, these graphics aren't THAT good, I mean, they are awesome but I've seen better. That was when I realized that the reason I didn't think the graphics were that good was because I was comparing it to the real world! The landscape and building graphics far exceed anything I've ever seen in a videogame. Seriously, I never thought I'd see a game that looks this good in my lifetime. They are simply beautiful. The only improvement I can see is on the character models, which, while very good, don't really look or move like real people.
Gameplay: A game can be 3000+ hours long but if it doesn't have good gameplay, then what does it matter? Fortunately, this game has it in spades. The combat is fast paced and fun, its action orientated so if you're good you can beat enemies far above your skill level without taking a scratch. Dodging, weaving, striking, stalking and backstabbing, archery, all of these are done brilliantly in this game. The immersion level is incredible. This is one of the few games I've played in my life where I could be entranced for 5-6 hours at a time and not even realize it. All the hype for this game didn't give it justice on how much I would LOVE it. You'll never be lost, you'll never not know what to do, yet the game is completely non-linear and free flowing. Its seriously the perfect combination of depth and intuitiveness. Its never too hard or too easy, and if you do run into a situation that seems too tough, the difficulty level is changeable.
Sound/Music: The voice acting is good and everyone speaks every line. The music is adequate and helps create atmosphere but its not really outstanding or memorable. I thought the music in Fable did a much better job at creating atmosphere and I really wish there was some more dramatic and memorable music. The only problem with sound thus far is in the Arena. (more on that later)
Depth: I'm 15 hours into this game and I still feel like I've barely scratched the surface. There is just SO much to do and see. I've only seen three towns and only really explored two of them. The amount of secret places to explore and people to talk to is astounding. The thing about it is, I want to explore it all. This game leaves me wanting more every time I step away from it. Truly, this is just a masterpiece.
Technical Aspects: If this game has framerate issues, they are few and far between and barely even noticeable to my eye. The loading times, while plentiful, are incredibly short and of no real concern to anyone who has played videogames in the CD era. The only time there is popup is when you move really fast on horse or foot through the wilderness and the game doesn't have time to load all your surroundings.
The radiant AI creates some interesting and awesome scenarios but also cause strange quirks. For instance, I saw one of the townsfolk from Anvil out in the middle of nowhere literally miles and miles away from their home. Why was she there? Where was she going? I asked her and she didn't seem to think anything was out of the ordinary. Again though, this is just an oddity and more often than not, the AI breathes real life into the game. People get in fights, guards take on bandits on their own, and characters behavior feels real, they are not just some emotionless/lifeless NPCs waiting for the main character to come, they have their own lives.
Could use improvement: The Arena. I was really looking forward to this aspect of the game, and it is excellent. However it doesn't have the feel I was hoping. The arena crowds are somewhat sparse and not that loud. I realize it was probably technical limitations that forced there to be only a few people, but they could have done it like crowds in sports games (where each person wasn't fully rendered) or at the very least made the sound loud and roaring. I just didn't feel like a gladiator and I REALLY wanted to.
I also wish there were more critical hits and instant kills in this game. If I swing full force with a claymore against an unarmored person, they should die.
Overall: This game is probably the best game ever made. This game takes Morrowind (a game I HATED) and gives it awesome combat, beautiful graphics and soul. It has everything you want, action, adventure, exploration, depth, while retaining the most important aspect: fun. This game is the game I always wanted and never thought I would get to play. Its nearly perfect. What's scary is, there IS room for improvement for ES5 or an expansion. Count me in as a fan for life.
Buy/Rent: Buy. Without a doubt the best 60 I spent in my videogame life.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/24/06
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