Review by Drunky

"A must have RPG, whether you're an expert or a beginner."

I hardly ever play RPGs, but after hearing all the hype about The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion I had to try it out for myself. I'm glad I did, this game is perfect in almost every sense of the word.

The story is based in the fantasy world of Cyrodiil, the Emperor and his heirs have been assassinated by a sinister force, leaving Tamriel without its leader. In your brief encounter with the Emperor before his demise, he enlists your help in bringing order back to the empire. Along with this main storyline, you'll be given the opportunity to do dozens of side quests, each with their own little mini story to accompany it.

The gameplay is incredible for an RPG, there is no limit to how in-depth you choose to go. From the beginning of the game you can fully customize your characters appearance, then you can choose their class, and even their own sign (which gives them benefits other signs wont have).

From then on, its up to you how you want to play the game. You can go build up your stats, roam around the immense environment, do some side quests or try and fight the forces of evil. You have the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

The free roaming is nice and all, but you'll eventually have to get your hands dirty. This is my favorite part of the game, like most other RPGs, you can choose your weapon, armor, and skills you want to build. The game takes it a step further, instead of just sticking to a basic set of skills, you have your own skill set which you can build as you see fit instead of just having points accumulate throughout the story. Plus everything you do in the world has its own pros and cons. Its not exaggeration you can do whatever you want, go wherever you want, take whatever you want, and even kill however you want. However unlike most other games, there are laws in this one. So you have to choose your moments.

If you're new to RPGs, this game is a great starter. From the very beginning of the game your style of gameplay is tracked, and the game will even recommend a class for you if you cant decide. The monsters are scaled to your level so even the most inexperienced player wont run around and get decimated by enemies.

The graphics are the best I have ever seen. I don't currently have a high definition TV, but even on a decent regular one, its incredible. The characters movements are fluid and lifelike, the characters faces even have facial detail so you can tell their emotions just by looking at them. The environment is the most impressive aspect though, with a free roaming area that can rival that of GTA, ranging from cities, to immense wilderness to dungeons and caves. Everywhere is detailed right down to the tree root. Being on the Xbox 360 has its advantages though. You can roam a huge stretch of land without being interrupted by those boring load times. Not to say that there are none of course, because there are extremely brief loading times between entering new areas.

The sound effects are especially well done. The score at the games introduction is to say the least, brilliant. Sets the expectations rather high for the rest of the game, and it doesn't disappoint. You can hear absolutely everything in this game. From the scraping of metal as you unsheathe your sword, to the grunts of the goblins as they hide in the dank corners of a cave. The background music always complements the gameplay perfectly, managing to set the mood no matter what area of the world you're exploring.

The replay ability of this game follows the same problem of most other RPGs. Once you're done the quests, there's no real reason to go back and play again except if you want to try out a new class. Luckily that's hardly an issue. While it may be a bit pointless to play through the whole game again just to try out a new class, the first play through can yield weeks, if not months, of gameplay. Even when you're done the story and most of the side quests, you're free to explore anywhere you want and continue fighting and building up your character.

This game is a definite buy. Oblivion is perfect for any gamer, no matter how experienced they are at role playing games. A rental wont even allow you to scratch the surface of the game.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 03/29/06

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