Review by Dzin
"Give it a few week for a patch and some mods"
I was really hoping for some spectacular graphics here as I have been waiting forever for this freaking game to come out. It would seem that Bethesda only kinda delivered. The game does look stunning in some cases. When you're outside and you cant see far distances its spectacular looking. This is if your computer can handle it of course. Only problem with the outside landscape is that the ground is only rendered in detail for a short distance. You can actually see where the game goes from looking awesome to looking like crap as their is a square box that surrounds your character where detailed textures are shown. This can really detract from the lifelike experience. In regards to the long distance viewing its not worth the performance hit as it is terrible looking. Mountains in the distance are blocky and look like they are from a 10 year old game.
Character Models: these i feel are done very well EXCEPT for the faces. Nearly every NPC in the game looks like they were born with a mental disability and then were beaten with the ugly stick. With all the other graphics you would think they could make the NPC's look like normal people. I do however think that the Argonians are awesome looking. The face generation idea is really cool in this game just it doesn't work very well. You can completely sculpt the face of your character. This includes shaping the way your eyebrows look to how far your chin sticks out. The flaw in the face gen process is that its nearly impossible to get a cool looking face. The game allows you too much freedom in that you can really mess up a face and not be able to get back to a normal face.
A very strange graphical problem I have found with the game is the tendency for every thing to be super glossy and shiny. My black horse looks like he was made from plastic. Same goes for hair in the game. Once you get into the sunlight it looks like your wearing a plastic wig.
Atmosphere: Something I feel that severely detracts from the overall feel of the game is that nearly every environment in Cyrodil looks the same. The same trees, same grass, same rocks. Everywhere is a forestry kind of place. Their isn't much variety in the vegetation and whatnot. Even in the snowy mountainous areas all the plants and rocks are the same just covered in snow. I would have liked to see something like a swamp area and a desert area instead of trees and more trees.
Although Oblivion definitely needs some work done on a few thing overall the graphics for the game are very good. Nothing revolutionary by any means but they are done well.
Music: Good music. Similar to Morrowind. Also similar to Morrowind in that their are not enough tracks. Gets really boring and repetitive.
General Sound: Weapons, spells, opening doors, etc... All good.
Voice acting...: At first I was very impressed with the voice acting in the game. Unlike every other RPG out there every NPC actually speaks to you. If you don't want to read, you don't have to. Superb idea to say the least. Huge problem though. Theirs about 6 voices you ever hear. Ever. That orc that gave you some orders in one town sounds exactly like the orc walking around town outside, who sounds exactly like the orc in the bar. Listening to the same annoying voices over and over again gets to be kind of pain. Would it really have been that hard to hire more than 6 voice actors. I would much rather have had to read text the whole way through than talk to the same person over and over again. At least that way it would feel as if each NPC was its own person.
Not bad. Typical save the world type thing. I like it but nothing too special either. But seeing as this is and Elder Scrolls game that works out perfectly. I like not having to stick to the main story all the time. Being able to join guilds and such makes the game much more fun and it creates your own story. Only beef I had was that I couldn't join the military like in Morrowind.
Game play: 7
The game play needs some work, I'm not gonna lie. It isn't bad but their are some serious setbacks.
Radiant AI: Hmm... Radiant? Not really. How bout dull. When getting attacked by deadly ranged enemies, what to do??? Well I just hide behind a wall. Yep the AI is so good that it will let you hide behind a wall as long as you want while you heal up. Radiant AI with NPC's in towns? Not really. Nothing that couldn't be easily scripted. They are outside when its nice, inside when it rains. Big deal. What do the NPC's do? Well umm, nothing. They walk in circles and occasionally talk to another NPC about the latest rumor. Oh and they all seem to say the exact same thing. Oh don't forget they have the same voices as everyone else too. All in all the so called Radiant AI is no better than any other game out there. And in some cases such as ranged enemies its a lot worse.
Fighting: Fighting is good. A step above Morrowind to be sure. The different types of swings for melee weapons are fun, hardly worth using though as the normal attack is so fast an easy. The usage of the shield is quite fun. Spell casting is well done as well, that is if you have the mana for it. Spells cost so much mana that its near impossible to kill a single enemy on 1 full bar of mana. If you plan on playing as a mage make sure you go download a few mods to help yourself out and make life a lot easier. One really super annoying thing I've found in the game is the ability that the enemy has to stun you or knock you down. Getting stunned by an enemy 4 times in a row even when blocking with a shield gets super annoying super fast.
Other than not enough mana and getting sunned all the time the fighting is actually quite fun. I like it a heap more than Morrowinds fighting.
One quick note: Fast Travel needs to be redone. Being able to travel anywhere instantly from any location (except indoors) makes the world feel small and makes your feel like your not part of the world. Fast travel should be limited to towns and their should be some sort of cool transportation like the silt striders in Morrowind to carry you around.
Overall game play isn't too bad. Sure their are some flaws. The AI definitely isn't anything special. But its enjoyable. Its nice to be able to play a single player RPG.
User Interface: 4
Yes the UI gets its own section. This is because it is atrocious. The game was obviously developed for the x-box in mind. You have 8 keys to map. 1-8. This becomes a huge hindrance. Especially for mages. With only 8 keys you can only have 8 spells you can use w/o opening your inventory. You cant cycle through them with the mouse wheel either as you have no option of doing so. Even for a melee character this can be frustrating as you may want to use lots of potions, maybe a few healing spells, and also be able to swap weapons on the fly. 8 spots is simply not enough space for everything. Their Its truly hard to put words on how terrible the UI is. They directly took the UI for the x-box version and used it in the PC version. The quest log is better than Morrowinds. Only problem with it is that you can't drop any quests. Another large problem with the UI is that everything is so large. You can only view 6 items in your inventory at a time. Compare that to most other RPGs where you can view all or nearly all of your inventory. Overall I feel like PC gamers got jipped. A good UI wouldn't have been that hard to create.
I am disappointed with this game. I really loved Morrowind and highly anticipated Oblivion. It is a good game though. If Bethesda comes out with a patch and addresses some of the flaws it could be a great game.
Included in the patch also better be some compatibility fixes. People with very low end and people with very high end computers are having trouble getting the game to run smoothly. It's not because of the graphics either. Just look at HL2 it has good graphics and yet it runs on all kinds of computers. Sure Oblivions graphics are better but not to the degree that people with top of the line systems are having problems. On top of that the game is plagued with crashing problems. Most of these are easily fixed by making sure that you don't have any codec packs installed and having .net version 2, but these things shouldn't really have any effect on how the game runs.
Overall this is an enjoyable game. To anyone looking to buy it though I would say that you should wait a little while. At least until Bethesda releases a patch and some more mods are released that fix a few game play issues.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/30/06
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