Review by mashpotatoking

"Have 300 hours to spare?"

I've never been one for those big medieval RPGs. Losing your life in another world never really sounded all to fun, or very safe for that matter. I mean, I play a lot of video games, but not every day all day long, and I know how those games can do that to you. Here comes a little game for the next generation system I have gotten for Christmas. “Oblivion” wasn't my first choice for my newly boughten XBOX 360, but it looked interesting. I pop in “Oblivion” I'm immediately hooked from the beginning. I've always loved customizable games, and this is definitely one of the most customizable games I've ever played. The graphics, well all I can say is find a better looking game I'll give you a hundred dollars cash. The story is exciting and involving. You're thrown into combat almost immediately, and it doesn't stop. For you to not like the sound of that, you must be like a Tetris fan or something.

I'm not a real big critic when it comes to music. I usually don't pay too much attention to the soundtrack of a game, and “Oblivion” was no exception. It has a huge epic feel and I guess that fits right in to the game. One thing that did strike me as funny was the music for the main menu when you first start up the game really sounds like something from “Pirates Of The Caribbean.” Just something I think you should watch for.

The first thing that you'll notice when you start the main story is how realistic the characters seem. You begin in a prison cell, you can hear the guy in the cell across from your's yelling something, you can hear the knights walking down the hall talking to each other as they walk towards their destination, your cell. The realism partly comes from the great writing. The people don't talk like they're reading from a script, it's more laid back and calm, like real people talk. People from different towns have certain accents depending on where they're from, which is a surprisingly nice touch. The second reason why the characters seem so real are the voice actors. They must of gotten hundreds of voice actors for this game because every single person sounds different and unique. Usually I read fast and flip through most of the dialogue fast in RPGs. But in “Oblivion” I found myself not reading the words, and just sitting back and listening to them speak. Who would of knew that there was a game with entertaining voice actors, they come by every couple tens years.

The storyline goes like this. You are in prison when the King with his knights come through your cell, escaping from assassins trying to kill the King. There is an escape route through your cell, and you decide to go along with them, maybe to help, maybe for freedom. Your choice. Along the way the King dies and gives you the Amulet that will need to be given to the secret heir to the thrown. From there you go along a huge journey that will take you across the whole continent. You meet hundreds of people throughout the towns and there will be knights, and mages, and other heroes out there to help you on your journey. I can say that I was very unimpressed with the length of the major storyline. It's pretty short, maybe 20 hours.

But the real length comes from the open ended side quests, and oh are there side quests. The main quantity of side quests come from Factions you can join anytime you feel in need of excitement. There is the Fighter's, Mage's, and Thief's guilds. One of the more controversial guilds is the Dark Brotherhood, an assassin guild, which you can also join if you feel like doing some dirty work. You get contracts once you join a guild which are missions you go and complete. Once you complete these contracts you get paid for them with gold, weapons, armour, and sometimes all of the above for one job. I found myself ignoring the main quest for a long time because the guilds are so fun. Talking to random people will also gain you quests if the people like you enough to ask you for help.

Speaking of getting people to like you, this brings me to a cool little mini game that will help you a lot throughout the game, and it will also raise your personality stats, (which we will get into later). When you need to get someone to like you, you can try to persuade them. When you persuade someone you can make them feel more comfortable when they talk to you later, and they might even give you more information if you play your cards right. There will be a little circle with the parts. Boast, Joke, Admire, or Coerce. Each person likes different ones, you must figure out which ones they like and pick the ones they like. Doing this will help you advance the story more quickly because you will get more info from people.

Customizing your character to the “tee” has to be the most fun part of “Oblivion.” You first have to choose your race. You may be an Imperial, Kahjiit, Nord, Orc, Redguard, Wood Elf, Argonian, Breton, Dark Elf, or a High Elf. Each have their own different stat bonuses. After that you can choose your birth sign which will also raise certain statistics, it all depends on how you want your character to preform on the battlefield. If you want to become a strong fighter who can barge into a fight and preform well, then you will take major skills like “Blade”, “Heavy Armour”, or “Block.” If you want to be magic user you would take skills like “Destruction or Restoration Magic.” you can even be a thief and take major skills like “Sneak”, “Security”, and“Athletics.” Raising your level is a little different than in most RPGs. To raise your level in “Oblivion” you have to raise your major skills. To raise your major skill you have to preform your major skills. Say you want to raise your “Blade” skill. Then you would use swords or Knives when you are in battle. I felt it to be kind of like the “Final Fantasy II” level system.

Combat is your usual hack and slash. Personally, im not too fond of this type of fighting, but with the shear amount of different weapons and spells you can acquire, it almost makes up for it. I actually started to enjoy it after a while, and I really am fond of the simplicity. You can swing your sword, cast a spell, or block with a sword or shield. Basic fighting maneuvers that makes you focus more on the raw battle instead of strategies and plans. No need to plan out your battle with the nasty green orc, just bust through him and cut him down with your Steel Sword.

I would like to make a negative comment though, because I wouldn't want to leave out one big annoyance that you will encounter throughout most of “Oblivion.” Loading can be atrocious at time. The load screen comes up every time you go into a building, or save your game. Even when you are just walking through the forest for an evening stroll. Loading screens come up often and do not end as quick. Sometimes the load bar will zip full without you even having to blink. But, for you 99 other percent out there, it will creep like TLC. The most annoying part is when you are running throughout the world, and the game will lag because it has to load up the environments. Holy lord this will make you want to kick your screen in after you have to travel across the whole map just to get to a simple camp. I figured that with this being for the 360 and all it would be a little faster. I was wrong.

Wow, I can't believe that I have went through this whole review without even talking about the delight that is “Oblivion's” graphics. I can honestly say that this is the best looking game I have ever played in my life. Nothing yet compares to the detail they have put into “Oblivion.” In daytime, the glass glistens on the ground, the clouds float by, your sword will shine in your hands while you carry it about. Everyone in the towns look distinctive and unique, and when you find brothers and sisters you can actually tell that they are since they have similarities in looks. One of my favorite things about the details are the little differences between weapons. Some are shinier that others, some have little writings and carving on them. Some have mystical powers, so they glow red or blue. Little things like that just make for a real experience when it comes to collecting new weapons. The Great Forest looks crazy real, there are deer running around, wolves that will attack you if you get too close, overgrown trees, tons of plants and ingredients for alchemy. You can find anything you would find in the real world. Sometimes I would even say it looks better than the real world, haha. Cleaner air, less construction, more colorful mushrooms!

Closing in on my final score I'll summarize what I have went over. The graphics are top notch, the best I've ever seen. The storyline is good, with the length being the only problem I could point out. Tons of side quests will give you hours and hours of extra gameplay. The battle system is superb, very easy and fluid. You can really get into the battles with the real time combat. Music is nice, very epic. “Oblivion” is very realistic, with many believable characters and towns. Overall I had a blast playing this RPG, and I'm sure you will also.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/06/07

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