Review by shockwave41

"All the things you loved about Morrowind beefed up for the Xbox 360."

What a game. I sit here typing this review after having played 267 hours of this fantastic RPG, and enjoyed every second of it. Bethesda did a great job of sticking to the story line of the last installment of The Elder Scrolls, and making drastic yet great improvements to the game.

Gameplay: The interface of this game is truly amazing. Although a long curve to learn how to beef up your character (Mine took 30 or more hours) can set you back, you'll never want to put this game down. Customizing your character is very deep, and you choose the skills that you want your character to get the most experience off of to level up to make that curve as short as possible. Now for the entree: The Quest Journal. This Journal is lifesaver. It is very well designed and has tabs that separate stats, maps, entries or inventory. Extremely helpful. Now onto combat: an extreme improvement over Morrowind, but still iffy at best. I found that enemies with shields are to be dreaded, as 90% of the time the block, and if you hit them while they are doing so, they get a cheap shot on you. Very frustrating at higher difficulties. The new critical damage feature is nice, if the enemy doesn't detect you, you do critical damage. Combine that with the ability to poison your blade or arrows, and you have a deadly combination. The NPCs (Non Playable Characters, basically citizens in each town) in various cities provide a wealth of information as well as a few chuckles. Best of all, your actions in the game affects how NPCs respond to you. If you are a town hero, their disposition might be maxed and they greet you with a friendly "Good day sir, how can i help" to a low disposition "I'm through talking to you." Needless to say, this adds to the realism of the gameplay mechanics and enhances the overall experience. Next is the "Fast Travel" feature. Do you remember those long, tiresome walks from city to city in Morrowind when you couldn't afford a ride? Bethesda threw in an option to fast travel to a remote place you have already seen, making quests all action. Or, if you like taking the long hikes and enjoying the scenery, you can travel on foot or visit the many stables and purchase one of your own horses. these are but a few improvements Bethesda made to the series.

Graphics: Simply put, one of the best looking games on any console. Bethesda did a great job utilizing the 360s hardware to run this behemoth. True to life physics, amazingly detailed characters, and smooth textures. I often found myself distracted by the ever changing night sky, or the amazing water textures. Surprisingly, Bethesda put all of this onto one disc and made the load times short and sweet.

Physics: I have not seen physics this well designed in an RPG. New to the series is a "Grab button" (Default is assigned to the left bumper) where you can pick up objects and have your way with them. Enemies will recoil in the correct direction when they die, and arrows with arch just like it was real. Takes a little getting used to, but realism is becoming the big thing in games today.

Sound: The sound is one of the stronger points of this game. It is true to life, and makes gameplay much easier in first person because you can always hear where the next attack is coming from. For example, if you are walking through a dark dungeon and trip over a trigger line for a deadly trap, you can almost always hear the rope snapping or the trap itself coming at you. Amazing, to say the least.

Story: Bethesda did a great job tying Morrowind and Oblivion. I will not go into details, you can find out yourself, but anyone who hasn't played Morrowind can pick up Oblivion and have a blast. You can modify the side story to your liking, but the main questline remains unchanged so you completely understand the storyline.

Controls: The Xbox 360 controller does the job greatly for this game. The quest journal (mentioned above) is easy to navigate, and the custom button mapping feature can make gameplay fit your own style. The 360 controller, thankfully, is well designed and you don't get fatigued after playing for hours on end.

Online features: No co-op here folks, just a wealth of patches. Not bad that Bethesda made this colossal RPG even bigger by putting some online feature into it, but no actual online gameplay was included.

Rent or Buy: Definitely buy. This game will easily take a few weeks from your life. After your done, you may want to come back and play as a completely opposite character. Clear your social calendar, because you will be playing this game for month. There is also a special edition for enthusiasts. (Ask your retailer about what it includes. I did not get this version.) So, save yourself the cash from continuous and buy it.

In conclusion, Oblivion is a killer app for the 360 that no 360 owner should ignore.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 05/31/06

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