Review by VoodooDog

"Extremely fun and innovative rpg."

For those of you who complain about the restrictive nature and linear plot lines of most of today's RPG's, welcome to Oblivion. Whether you are a traditionalist who advances the plot and completes quests, or a sometime adventurer who enters the gameworld when it's convenient, Oblivion will change your perceptions as to what is possible (and what is to be expected in the future) in an RPG.

No review of this game can start anywhere but with the graphics. Awe-inspiring, three dimensional, next-generation goodness permeates this disc like holes in swiss cheese. The game sneakily starts you out in a tutorial, a small beginners dungeon designed to get you acquainted with the game's nuances before turning you loose upon the world. This part of the game is also a determinate factor in your starting recommendation of class and skills, depending on what skills you use to complete it. Whether you take the games advice or create your own custom character is up to the player at the end.

The story begins with you in the castle dungeon. An assassination attempt has been made on the emperor and his escape route is a secret passage that runs through your cell. You're invited along and eventually witness the emperor's death. Before he dies, he gives a an amulet and charges you with finding his last living heir. and so it begins...

Your first glimpse of the outside world comes with a sense of disbelief. You can see the far horizon and everything in between. Lush foliage, realistic water effects and believable creature mechanics exist throughout the landscape. I shot a fireball at a deer, lifting it off the ground in a fiery haze to have it plop into the water, only to have it rise back to the top and float around. Amazing! Building structures and city streets are completely believable and realistic looking. My first few hours were spent just wandering around checking everything out. The night sky in Oblivion is a sight to behold.

Much has been made of Oblivion's "radiant AI". Basically, the world goes on with or without you. Unlike other RPG's, that thief you need to talk to is not going to be standing around waiting for you to show up. He's got places to go! Be it going to dinner, strolling around town or sleeping, NPC's have their own schedules and agendas and you must adjust to them if you're going to get anywhere. Thankfully a new wait feature exists, accessed with the back button, that allows you to skip time ahead so you're not wandering around waiting. Nice.

Unfortunately, a game of this scale and scope is going to have hiccups. Occasional frame rate loss, minor clipping issues, and pop-in mar what is a near perfect sandbox RPG. Never is it serious enough to derail your enjoyment of this game, but it does exist.

This game is a godsend to all RPG fans, from the hardcore to the casual. If you have the slightest interest in role-playing games, it is impossible for you not to have fun with this game. The free-form gameplay allows the player to adjust his experience to fit his tastes, guaranteeing an experience that is fun and time consuming. Oblivion will be influencing what is possible (and what is expected in the future) in RPG's for year to come.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/24/06

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