Review by DemoSquared
"See one place, see them all."
Before I begin, I must state that I played this game over three characters, one which took 150 hours before I retired her. I did everything you could possibly do in this game, including the various bugs and glitches. It's fun for a good long time, it just gets extremely repetitive. You won't realize it's repetitive, however, until you are a decent ways in. Now, on to the review of ES4: Oblivion.
Realizing you are in a jail cell in the Imperial City is where the story starts. You walk up to your cell door to begin being heckled by a Dark Elf by the name of Valen Dreth. He will taunt and tease you depending on your race and sex. Eventually, he'll shut up and some guards and your emperor will arrive in front of your cell. They proceed within, you learn of a conspiracy against the empire and, just your luck, the only safe way out of the city is through a secret passage through your cell! Looks like you get to leave with the guards and Patrick Stewart (your Emperor). Things are going good until you run into some assassins...
The graphics from ES4 are simply stunning. The grasses sway in the wind, the trees bob around in the background, rocks jut out from the landscapes, and the water flows from everywhere. Without a doubt, Oblivion has the best graphics to ever grace a console, and this is all on my SDTV.
The people you encounter look very good, as well. Full voice acting is nice, too. Or it is for a little bit. Apparently, Bethsoft could only afford about 7 voice actors (I guess Patrick Stewart took up a lot of payroll), and every other NPC has an identical voice to a beggar, count, or guard. Some bigger role NPCs get exclusive voices, but that is only about five. An upside is that the lip synching is very well done. The enemies are good, too. Dremoras, Scamps, Imps, Minotaurs, Bears, Skeletons, and more all look great.
Character creation is decent. You can mold a face from 10 different races to any liking you want. You can also randomize a face if you don't care about how your character looks. Too bad you can't alter your character's body in any fashion. That hurts the epic feeling. Every single character in the game, regardless of age (which you can alter to your liking), has a six pack of abs. Them's the times, for ya'.
Weapons and armors look good, too, just too bad there isn't a HUGE variety in them. There are probably 14 different armors in the game and 7 different types of weapons. These range from Mythril and Chainmail, to Elven and Dwarven, to the beloved Glass and Daedric, and a few more. One big downside is levelled loot. There are NO unique weapons or armors just lying about. You will only, ONLY, find these from quests, which sucks. Big time. This kills the adventuring aspect, what is the point in dungeon diving if there's nothing to dive for? Also, you can't mix and match gloves and boots anymore. You can't wear an ebony glove and a daedric glove, it has to be a a matching pair.
Dungeons, cities, settlements, and so on are flat out boring. There are 8 major cities, scattered settlements, and numerous dungeons, but, like my title reads, See one place, see them all! Detailed as the dungeons may be, they all look the same, and that's beyond boring. The stunning number of places to visit tries to combat the monotony of the same cave, over and over again, unsuccessfully.
The fighting engine in this game beats the crap out of all the other ES games. Gone are the days of equipping spells in place of swords to cast a spell and randomly blocking attacks. Here are the times of choosing how you wish to fight. Press RT to attack with your chosen weapons, LT to block with either shield of weapon, RB to cast your equipped spell. LB lets you drag and grab stuff. It's always fun to kill a bandit and then throw his body over the bridge into the water and see it splash down.
Magic is done very well. You can craft your own spells and enchantments, like others, but a LOT of restrictions has been placed on enchantments. You can no longer put multiple enchantments on armors and weapons, only one enchantment per piece of armor and weapon. Really kills the endgame, especially with the lack of cool junk to hunt for. One big downside to magic is that you can't delete your spells, which can really clutter up the spell list. The only thing combating this problem is the hotkey. Press one of the 8 directions on the D-Pad to select a magic, item, weapon, armor, anything to instantly equip it and have it there for use. Oh yeah, another killer is a LOT of magic is gone from the other ES games, such as Levitation and Blind.
Stealth has been redone, too. Click the Left analog stick to go into sneak mode. An eye appears over the reticule and if it is not lit up, no one knows you are there, if it is lit up, your presence is known. Stealth plays a large part in the game, so you should use it as often as possible to get good at it, which is rather easy to do.
There are an abundance of quests to do in this game. It's a little over-whelming at first, but you can quickly dig through them. With over 200 quests to do in the game, you'll always have an objective to try and accomplish. Unfortunately, the Main Quest is amazingly short. Once you have done everything, this game is dead, which is in much due part to the levelled loot detail.
But you don't only have to do quests. You can do whatever you want to do. Want to read books? Go for it. Kill everyone? You can almost do that. Unlike other ES games, some characters can't die, which kinda takes away from the epic feel. You won't always have something to do, but a lot of the times you will. The Radiant AI helps that aspect. The AI is no longer scripted. They are given schedules and abilities. It's a pretty cool thing in this game, to see NPCs live and whatnot.
This game is good. Simple as that. You will enjoy this game. You will play it for at least, at least 50 hours. I put 170 in, but now it's dead to me. This game offers nothing else to me. When I first began playing, I gave this game a 10. After playing and finishing the game, I discovered it's many flaws and that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
Buy it. A rental won't do the game justice. Buy. Enjoy. Have fun. Just remember that it isn't the greatest game to have ever been created.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 05/07/06
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