Review by Umbra0

Reviewed: 03/24/06

After all the hype, it's just a mediocre game

For many months, fan awaited the next-gen RPG, said to have it all. The screenshots impressed everyone, and was one of the most anticipated games of all time. However, we should have known not to judge the game by the title—in this case, the graphics. Please note that there are numerous references to Morrowind in this review, so you’ll not fully understand it if you don’t have experience in that subject.

Morrowind was one of my favorite games of all time. With the news about Oblivion, I knew this would top my record and prove to be more realistic. Alas, Oblivion felt like it was missing something—something very important.

If you were a big Morrowind fan, you’d know the basics of gameplay. The character creation, leveling up, and many other unique features are “improved” and give you more flexibility in terms of options and style. However, this is exaggerated, as there are hardly any major changes in gameplay. This can be a good thing sometimes, but for the most part, is a huge disadvantage.

For those new to the Elder Scrolls fashion, you must level up your skills to leveling up your character. In Morrowind, the skills leveled up, increasing the effectiveness a bit each time. Oblivion follows the same orders, but also has the skill level classes, (e.g. novice, expert) which are dramatic increases in the effort of that skill, and also open up more options for that particular skill. When you level up in that skill level class, the only changes are how efficiently you use that new option (e.g. you get to use better shields as you level up block).

Another major advantage of Oblivion is how they balance your characters growth. In Morrowind, you can start off and quickly get the best weapons and armor in the game. Now there are many restrictions. For example, you won’t get any good equipment from monsters when you start off, or even any good items/gold to buy good weapons. You must spend a mass amount of time leveling your skills until you can fight decent monsters in order to actually purchase an item that fits your class. Even then, by the time you do get that item, it won’t be as good. I suppose the same can be said about Morrowind, except it isn’t nearly as strict.

The storyline is just how they said it would be. You’re in prison and are set to escape via a secret passage. When you’re finally a free man, you can take on numerous side-quests, or head straight for the main quest, which eventually leads to you blocking the fable Oblivion gate. Well, at least it isn’t as lame as Morrowind’s…

The graphics are superb in all cases. This is the reason so many individuals went out and purchased Oblivion. The shading and lighting of the sun’s rays would impress anyone, and will not soon be outmatched by another game. The facial expressions on the NPC’s faces and the very realistic weather effect give them an edge over the competition. You’d also think that due to the number of pixels, the game would lag constantly. Yes, the game lags, but not nearly enough to annoy you for a while.

The music is just as inspiring as it was in previous games, and plus some. There are several more different music tracks and sound effects with the same classic beat scheme, which are guaranteed to satisfy you. They spent way too much time in this category, but are a new way to operate. Normally games’ music are quickly conducted and not reviewed so they can spend their time on gameplay and graphics. Since Bethesda has extra time on their hands, they could improve this category and not have any criticism on any part of their game, which they almost did because other categories are most likely going to be criticized by other people.

Finally there are verbal dialogues, unlike Morrowind’s “let’s read a book” everyday NPC conversation. The clearly expressed and understood voice makes listen to people fun, err, almost. This feature will help making this game less of a chore and more fun to play, since no one liked reading twenty paragraphs of text. The unique thing is that everyone has their own voice, and there are more than 200 different NPC’s, so do the math.

So, why is this game so mediocre, even though the above subjects were explained as perfection? Well, they didn’t balance their productivity. In order words, they spent too much time in the graphics department, and not enough in everything else. They figured that if you saw the nice screenshots you’d instantly buy the game, ignorant of the other categories. The gameplay is decent, with over 150+ hours of quests and items to collect so don’t get too upset over this.

To conclude, I was rather disappointed at the game for being so normal. I expected something outstanding, superb, perfect, and better then everything. However, I got something exceptional, which is good also. I still play this game, since it’s very addicting and offers mild entertainment, but will not take the #1 spot on the game list. Until they come out with an Oblivion: Game of the Year (fat chance), I won’t be giving this game a perfect score.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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