Review by BlueYoshi579

"Years in the making...was it worth the wait?"

Overview: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Oblivion hereafter) was a highly anticipated game for months, and perhaps years. Morrowind (The third a previously most successful game in the Elder Scrolls franchise) piled up all sorts of RPG, PC, Xbox, and general gaming awards (60 in total), sold over four million copies, and saw two official expansions and numerous player mods. I did not play it extensively, but my experience in Oblivion has been nothing short of awe-inspiring; to the eyes, ears, and mind.

Graphics: Oblivion will impress almost anyone early on, although the affect wears off rather quickly. The ripple on water affects are done well, but the surface seems more solid than liquid at times. When you go underwater, it gets rather difficult to see, as everything mysteriously has a blue tint. Also, the player seems to swimming through air, not water. The lighting and shadows are probably the worst part of the graphics. Many areas in the game aren't very well lit, forcing you to carry a torch (which kills your stealth and combat abilities) or have Nighteye (Which can also be a hassle). When there is light, it comes from either torches, or the sun. Sunlight is done rather well, but torch light is not quite as good. Shadows can be improperly sized, and torches give off rather uniform light, more like light bulbs than torches. The flame effects on the hand torches are actually pretty realistic, but the bigger flames usually come out pretty sad.

The citizens of Oblivion (the game, not the realm) look good, although their facial emotions can be a bit off at times. People sometimes seem a little bit too emotional given the situation (although their voices are more accurate), and seem to all have the same basic facial expressions. However, given that, one can still get the basic idea of how they're feeling from their facial expressions; especially when attacking the various types of enemies, such as bandits or Daedra (demon-like creatures). Not only do their character models look very good, players can easily tell where they're not wanted (which, after a few crimes, can be just about anywhere).

Overall, the graphics are very good, but obviously that varies depending upon your hardware and performance preferences. 9.25/10

Sound: I usually have other music playing, so I don't get much of what the game has to offer in terms of music; although my few experiences with Oblivion's music tell me I'm not missing much. The sounds are nothing spectacular, either: The sounds can start to sound pretty recycled after about 25 hours, but they get the job done.

The portion of the sound department that shines is the voice acting. As an Orc, I have been the target of much scorn from the villagers, and their voices reflect that. You won't hear anyone telling you politely that they think your entire race should be wiped from the planet, or complimenting your jokes in a tone normally reserved for funerals. Oblivion's characters do tend to repeat their lines, but they do say them with feeling. Although some characters don't always show it, all the voices can reach both ends of the emotional spectrum without confusing players.

Overall, the sounds and music get the job done, but the voices exceed expectations. 8.5/10

Controls: The mouse is used for combat, the keyboard for movement (the mouse decides your direction on foot, however), spacebar interacts with the environment, and you can make some minor edits to this via the Controls screen, accessed with Esc.

That said, the interface system seems like it was leftover from the Xbox 360 version. You have to use the mouse for the interface, which can get rather bothersome when trying to get through menus quickly or adjust sliders. Not a huge problem, but I would prefer the option of a keyboard based interface, as well.

Overall, Oblivion is easy enough to control, because the interfaces do not take place in real time (that is, nothing happens in the game). 7.75/10

Gameplay: One word can describe Oblivion's gameplay: Immersive. Never have I experienced a video game that felt so real. There are probably as many ways to play Oblivion as there are players. There are hundreds (maybe thousands, given mods and expansions) of quests, a massive world to explore, and plenty of “freelance” things to do (non quest activities); which should keep you busy for hundreds of hours. You truly can “live another life in another world,” as the game's box says. You can become the head of numerous organizations and the Champion of the continent, and be the most respected and beloved person in the world...or you can simply do whatever you want, whenever you want (although the guards will try to stop you), with no concern for anything but your own desires.

Quite obviously, Oblivion gets a perfect 10/10 in this regard.

Final Verdict: Overall, Oblivion is as close to perfection as games of its type have come in a long time, probably since Morrowind.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion gets a 9.3/10 overall.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/18/06

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