Review by Lancerboy23
"Unbiased View: Amazing Game, even with a few glitches..."
To start off, I wanna make it clear that its really more like a 9.9, but there are no decimals allowed in the rating and a 10 would imply that there is not room for improvement, which isn't quite the case. That said...
This is really the most important aspect of any game, and as such should be addressed first. As someone who has never played an elder scrolls game before, and who doesnt own a high end computer for current level gaming, I can review this game as it should be reviewed: as an individual work for a specific platform. Mind you I have enough experience in RPG's to be able to appreciate this game, I just have never gotten into the Elder Scrolls before now.
Game play is excellent. Some complain that the game 'holds your hand' too much in the beginning, but really like any complex game it simply does a good job of helping you hit the ground running. Once you are out of the initial dungeon you are turned loose on the world to follow any path you choose. And I really do mean any path you choose. The game is completely unstructured, and I love it. Sure there is a main quest, but you are free to do one of any hundreds of other quests, from guild work to errands to detective cases to fun little adventures. You will often set off to do one thing and end up doing six others.
The controls are very good, but it is here that I have my only problem with gameplay. The hotkey configuration is intuitive and useful, but the d-pad is far too sensitive to be reliable when it comes to the diagonally assigned commands. Often I want to heal, but end up giving myself underwater breathing, ect. But without a doubt, the system over all is very sound, and the open ended style is a breath of fresh air after Final Fantasy X. Even Dragon Quest VIII looks like kids play next to the volume of quests and activities available in this game.
Now we get to the really good stuff. I mean the graphics to this game are amazing. Simply spectacular. I took a screenshot of the game and made it the wallpaper on my computer, and my friend thought that it was a vacation picture. They're that good. I have heard the usual stuff from computer geeks about how "on the computer the frame rate is so much better and there arent all those terrible glitches." True, there are some minor glitches like the occassional npc walking through a wall or a wolf gliding down a mountain slope, but for goodness sakes given the immense scope of this environment I'm willing to be pretty lenient on a couple of minor and ultimately irrelevant glitches. If you are a console gamer, which you probably are if you bother reading an XBOX 360 review, I will guarantee you that you have seen nothing as spectacular as this game, on any console, ever. And thats really all I need to give grapics...
The sound department is doing just fine too. The music is very reminiscent of the music from Lord of The Rings movies. There are calm, mystic hymns, sweeping orchestral journey songs, and adrenalin pumping brass when battle kicks in. Every NPC has a voice, and every voice is unique. Amazing. Halo 2 bragged about having ten thousand unique audio clips for its npc's, well I would be surprised if this game didn't triple that. The sound effects are also on target. Horse galloping, steel hitting steel, they all sound authentic. Most useful of all is that the battle music kicks in whenever an enemy draws near, letting you know to be alert before you find yourself in a circle of zombies or being attacked by an invisible wolf.
In most games, a simple assesment of game play, graphics, and sound are enough, but for great games, there is always that something extra that makes it special and is worth mentioning. This being the greatest of great games, this section is essential. The first time that you stand among the tall grass, watching it sway in the wind as the sun beams down from a lightly clouded sky and the music soothingly plays in the background, youll realize that this game is something special. Every character lives a life completely independant of your questing. Regardless of wether you know it or not, there is an unbelievably complex AI system running behind the scenes. The physics system is great. You'll stand there a moment in confusion the first time you shoot an arrow in a wolf and see its rag doll body tumble down a mountain, and you'll never get tired of blasting a zombie with a high-powered fire spell and seeing it launch backwards from the impact. The music always fits the situation, never making itself consciously noticed unless you specifically look for it. The facial expressions give the characters life, and youll come to recognize your frequent contacts by appearance as well as by voice.
That about sums it up. I can honestly say that over the span of 14 years of gaming and over ten different consoles that I have owned, nothing has ever come close to this game. It really feels like more than a game, much the way any great work of any field might feel. To this point, This game should stand as testament to just how far video games have come, and in the future I will be hard pressed to see anything that impresses me as much as Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 03/28/06
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