Review by Oni Chikara

"Elder Scrolls to a New Level"

Introduction – This game the players play a completely customizable character trying to save the world, or do anything in the player's power to destroy it. The setting is a medieval fantasy world.

Gameplay – The gameplay is very similar to the other Elder Scrolls games. You can run, jump, the right trigger still attacks with a melee or ranged weapon, the left trigger still fires the assigned magic spell. The moving hasn't changed you can still strafe, you can still go at angles, I do think that the introduction of horses is a superb touch. When walking along the mountains, there is still problems trying to get up them, but the horses make that a bit easier. However adding the touch of realism there are still mountains and hills that you cannot get up even with horses, but there is always a different path to take. With the horses it essentially takes care of boots that make you ridiculously fast. The enchanting and spell making is a bit different though. In order to make spells or enchant anything is you need to be in the mages guild. This is a big change from the previous game where you can make new spells and enchant things simply by paying people in the mages guild. The main quest is actually very simple to get through and with the new fast travel option taking care of the old silt riders it makes it even easier. That by the way is one of my favorite new features for this game over its predecessor. Now on the map screen you can highlight a town or a landmark that you have already been to and you can fast travel there. The time will still pass while you are traveling, but while running or riding a horse to an area may take twenty minutes the fast travel in the map makes that twenty minute travel only a couple of minutes at the most. It also promotes the player investigating the map and finding new things. The enemies are level based, i.e. if you are a higher level the enemies that you fight are higher level. The damage system to items seemed to be a lot more thought out and improved with Oblivion. The items screen will tell you how much damage your armor or weapons have left before they need repaired. Also the blacksmithing ability seemed to be a lot easier to understand and use. One of the big problems with the gameplay is in certain areas, there are invisible walls that cannot be passed by levitate or anything else, which makes good grounds for deaths that really shouldn't have happened. So be careful of the invisible walls. The load times do take a while in the beginning, but from there they are not too bad. The only problem is that sometimes load screens appear at very inopportune times.

Story – The story hasn't changed throughout the history of RPG's. You play an unlikely person who happens to save the world. You can save or destroy the world, which is a nice touch. You can not even do the main quest if you see fit. You can buy houses, you can own things, the only thing that would have made this better is the ability to open a shop or something like that, but that is something that is moving more towards an MMORPG. You can become the head of every guild, which seems to be a little convoluted because you can be a member of a guild that probably would not like you being the head of another guild, but whatever it's still fun.

Graphics/Sound – The graphics are nothing to call home about, but they are improved. They are smooth and the characters move very smoothly. However, it still has a very cartoony feel to it if you are a graphics person. But the graphics are definitely improving and eventually they will be amazing. The water is a graphic piece that is amazing, the water throughout the world, still looks real. The movement is smooth, they still haven't gotten the characters to actually walk on individual steps, and that is a graphics problem. The sound fits very well there are always ambient noises. You can hear the water, when you get closer it gets real, when you splash in the water, you actually splash and then you hear like you are under water. The sound is good enough to help the player figure out if there are enemies nearby and if so where.

Play time/Replayability – The playtime is about eight hours, just doing the main quest and nothing else. To do everything else will take anywhere from twenty to fifty hours depending on what the player does and how they do it. I would say all in all to get a full feel of magic, quests, guilds, and all aspects of the game it would take fifty plus hours. But this is a very in depth RPG so it is not too surprising. The replayability for this game is kind of small. If you are already the head of the guilds and beaten the main quest there really isn't much to do. So the replayability is very small.

Final Recommendation – This game requires far too much time to just rent once and beat, but if you have the time to do it, you can rent it a couple of times and do a lot of things. I definitely would look for this game used if possible, but if a store wants more than $20-$25 it's not worth it. Rent it at that point. Fun but not fun enough to pay full price. The game is definitely worth playing if only to explore the world.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/03/08

Game Release: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (US, 03/20/06)

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