Review by Mooytheman

"Elder Scrolls IV is what they made it to be, amazing"

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Yes this game lives up to the hype and it deserves a 10. There are minor flaws and ticks, but to be fair show me a game without one. This 10 reflects that it is the best quality of game out there and for many reasons. This is the sequel to Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (abbreviated ESIII), although the plots are not directly linked; in fact there's barely any links at all, although true ESIII fans will find interesting cameos from the game. Most people are familiar with this game and I will use it as a basis of comparison because at its heart, both of these games are the same. However if you are new to the series completely I will outline things clearly from a general viewpoint as well.

Gameplay: 10
Much improved from the last game in the series, combat takes on both a more interactive and realistic approach (assuming imps, and the such, follow us simple mortals perception of physics). The most noteworthy change from ESIII combat is that you can block. The blocking system is based on your skill level and timing somewhat. When an enemy attacks you can click the left trigger and your shield, or whatever, will come into the blocking position. If you hold block then you can parry enemy blows, but the less skilled you are at blocking the more you can be thrown off balance by hard attacks. The same is also true for your enemies. If you use the other trigger you can swing your sword in different ways depending on the weapon and how long you hold the trigger. The battles are more intense and certainly more fun to play. Spells are also easier to use during battle as you can use the upper trigger to activate them during combat. This was one of my personal favorites in terms of gameplay. I always found the spell system in the last game to be a big hassle to use.

Another big change is lock-picking. It's almost like a mini game. The lock has different springs, and depending on your skill and its complexity, the harder it is to pick. The basic premise is to align all the pins at the top by moving the lock pick to the sprung springs. You knock them up and must press “A” right when they are at the top. If it's a hard lock or you have low skill, they quickly drop back. If you press “A” when it's not exactly at the top you lose the lock pick.

Another interesting tweak is the persuade interface. Where as in ESIII you would click taunt or bribe, in this game you must manipulate a series of filled cones in a circle to please or displease who you're dealing with. If it sounds confusing it is a little at first, but basically you move around a circle, click on the portions that make the person smile if they like it (and hence clicking it makes them like you more) or frown if they don't (with them hating you more if you click it). Coupled to this you can pay gold to make them like you more.

Fast travel is also another addition to this game. This is one of the best features and lets you travel from any non-hostile environment (meaning you can't use it in caves and such) to any place you have been (so you can travel from one town to another, and you can travel from a town to the entrance of a cave, you just cant travel from in the cave to the town). This will save time just walking, which could be a major pain in ESIII.

Making your character takes on a whole new level. You can customize almost TOO many things on your guy or gals face. Hair, cheeks, nose, complexion… the list just goes on and on. It really engrossing, it can take you a good half hour just to get his/her face right if you're picky.

All in all the heart of ESIII is still in this game; it's just a better heart.

Graphics: 10
Words cannot describe. Absolutely stunning, huge visuals, amazing landscape and great architecture. The characters are well done, but can sometimes be a bit too glowing (literally) or textured (i.e. a little to much complexity that doesn't gel together all that well). For the most part they look great.

Armor and bad guys look great. They are dressed to kill when they should be, and you start in the rags of a hobo as always. The different types of equipment you can get are really great and they all seem to work well on your character. There's certainly a lot of options, just not at the start when you're poor and have no skill.

The graphics really are breath taking, and I can honestly attest, that these are, by far, thee best graphics I have ever seen.

Story: 10
Why? Because you can do it in any order (save the main quest, meaning you can do any side quest you want) and you can totally ignore it if you want. Like ESIII after you're out of the starting gates you're on your own. Some people find this intimidating, and it can be. However I assure you that once you get past the learning curve you won't be left in a fray of what to do. There's a great community for this game if you ever get stuck and need help, but I don't think that getting stuck will be as bad as you think. There plenty to do when you're wandering around aimlessly.

The basic story is that the king of Tamerial is in grave danger and he needs you to find his son. The plot then thickens as you adventure forward and the fate of kingdom rests in your hands (jeez, where would everybody be in these RPG without these 1 hit wonder heroes!?). 2 cool side notes, the voice of the king is Patrick Steward, and the guy who plays the main villain is the evil guy from the second super man, Terrance Stamp (aka General Zod). Not the most original story idea (but certainly original ideas for voice casting) to save the world, but it stick packs a great punch.

Music: 5
Who really cares though? It gets the job done well enough, but this is such a minor thing for me I don't usually care to pay attention to it. Regardless, its still decent background music if you want to listen to it.

Voice Acting: 10
A+, and with awesome cameos, this game shows what voice acting can be at its best. With half the disc filled with voice acting, this game will not come up short on things to talk about. Everyone has something to say and there usually a few things you can say to them. When you ask something that option is still available to ask again, but it makes it easier to see that you've asked it before because it becomes grayed out. This can help when you have had a particular long and complex conversation with someone and don't remember what you have said.

The Great, the good, the bad, the noteworthy and the ugly:

The Great: The AI is out of this world fantastic. The designers of this game impacted a unique sense of life into everyone. Which means they all need to eat, sleep, and do whatever it is they do. They think logically too. If they are attack a dummy and you walk in front, they won't blindly keep swinging away, they'll stop. If they are hungry, the will find food. If you tell someone to do something, whether you watch them do it or not, they will go and try. So if you wanted some guy to clean out a dungeon, he would or he'll die trying! It's just amazing. On a funny side note, one reason for the delay was to fix issues with selfish AI's, like one who would go around and buy all the armor and leave none for you, HA! Also the guards are no longer complete idiots. If you attack someone in a house without a guard, they will scream for one, and he'll come inside that house to get you. Another great thing is, if you attack someone you can yield to them (if they let you) which is good for those times you accidentally “poke” a shop keeper with your broadsword. In ESIII there was no going back sometimes (because even if you paid the guards for your evil deed, that guy would still stay pissed off at you).

The Good: There is a massive world to explore and a massive amount of customization you can do in your character type and there are tons of weapons, items, and spells available. The monsters are well done and the battle system works fantastically. Fans and newcomers can rejoice at this very open ended game. The side quests are still abundant in this ES game, so fear not warriors of non-mainstream gaming! The level up system is similar in fashion. You are what you do, aka, the skills you work with increase in efficiency. When you upgrade enough major skills you get a few bonus points to your stats.

The Bad: Less people and random caves. Is it all bad though? Not really, I think the less NPC's (non-playable characters) and random dungeons, are replaced with better quality NPC's and more in depth dungeons. Still some people may find this game a little shorter in the open randomness that ESIII offered. Regardless, I doubt many people could complete even 20% of what could be done in ESIII, so less with more quality seems like a good trade.

The Noteworthy: You can buy a house! In every major town there's a house you can buy which I think is a really cool little tid-bit. Mind you in ESIII any empty house (by programming or your evil wrath on the previous inhabitants) could be yours, but this game gives you more reason to have you own actual house. There are less beds just lying around so having a house and place to sleep (and not having to spend 20$ at an inn) is great. You can only level in beds now, so I suggest you buy a house (or do it the old fashioned way…*pulls out sword*).

The ugly: Female orcs. They are just down right hideous. Yeeeuck!

I say buy this game ASAP if you like RPG's. If you're a fan of the Elder Scrolls series, then get the collectors addition as it comes with a 112 page book on Tamerial, a coin in Tamerial currency, and a making of DVD with bonuses. This game is great and well worth the [forced] wait.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 03/24/06

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