Review by NWalterstorf

"If you could have one game for the 360, this would be it."

Here's the game which makes the 360 worth while; a long wait, though. We had to wait a very long time for this game to finally be released. Originally it was going to be released back when the 360 was for sale on Nov. 22, but it's been pushed back to it's current date of release. Of course, many people wisely held tight. For those of you who stuck around, clinging your 360 to your chest, this is the game you've been waiting for: and your wait will be well met.

So it's number 4 in the saga; it's done very well, and I personally believe it beats it's predecessors. So let's see how this fantastic game is, shall we?

First off, the graphics. Amazing. Simply astounding, this is one of the best games I've ever seen; wait a minute, let me clarify: this is "THEE" best game I've ever seen. Sure, there have been crystal clear FMV and movie scenes in previous RPG titles which look great, but this game runs in real-time; the real-time graphics are as impressive as some hi-polygon FMVs from previous games. Of course, if I had one complaint, it would be some of the animations. If you switch into 3rd person mode, your character's animations appear a little stiff; especially when they jump. But then again, the game was designed to be played in first person view. Also, there are some graphical glitches from time to time.

So how are the sounds? Great. Everything sounds nice, except for the occasional odd sound, for example, like punching the grass and getting an odd "crunching" sound, as if you pounded in the head of a zombie. The sound effects aren't THEE best, but the sounds are good, especially in the field of the music; the soundtrack is mystic, whimsical: it's a beautiful score.

The gameplay is the most important aspect of the game, now. We can have excellent graphics and great sound, but if the gameplay fails, then the entire game, no matter how polished, how refined, how pleasant to the ears it may be, the game fails. Luckily, I have one thing to say about the gameplay. w00t! Yes. Woot. </noob> I rarely ever say anything that noob-ish or pathetic unless it's for something very, very good (like one other review of mine). The gameplay is very well done; the handle is great, despite the occasional vertigo you'll obtain. The spells are fun, and the inclusion of hotkeys is very smart (even though it's been done before, it's always a great idea). The sneaking tactics aren't tightened like some other video games are (like sneaking up on a goblin while you're carrying a huge torch in your hand... like they won't notice that...), but still, like I said, it's designed for First Person View, and for a FPV-RPG, it does it's work very well.

The character customization is amazing; practically endless. Various races (not just the average human, elf or dwarf choices either) much like their regular series. I know for some this isn't any new news, but still, it's great to choose from a vast selection of races each with their different pros and cons. And the class system is great, without being too restricting; it even lets you choose your own class. You can customize everything about your character's face, which looks really cool. Your characters actually look GOOD when they come out of character creation; something you don't see in practically any other character creation system. Also, you can create your own classes, and customize them to fit your play style.

One of the most amazing things about this game would be it's "open-ended" value, and excellent replay rating; this game will keep you busy for hours upon end, even moreso than Fable (and that's WITH the expansion pack). The replay value is extremely high. Want to be a knight? Have at it. Want to be a mage? Sure. Want to hang back and pick off all of the enemies in the game? Yep. Want to sneak around and kill an enemy with hand-to-hand combat, then launch a powerful Shock spell at an enemy who notices you across the room? Absolutely: this game allows for any gameplay styles.

So why not a 10? There's one big problem with the game. The load times. They're extremely long. Now here's the thing; I don't complain about load times much in video games because, and let's face it, it's bound to happen. But these load times are incredibly long. Here's an example: I can pull out a GBA and beat a short level in an action game while waiting for the game to load from one the outside world to an inside town. And I'm not making that up. I've actually done that. That, and there's constant lag. It feels like every five seconds you travel, the gameplay slows down and the words "Loading" appears on the bottom of the screen. You'll cringe in pain when you see them, because you know they're coming with almost every 10 steps. Of course, this is due to the fact that the overworld is humongous, and ever-expanding. You can go for miles and miles, and not have to stop for a load screen. The down side is that you have to wait for the game to load all the time.

Luckily, this is one of the only small gripes I'd have with the game. The load times, and the ocassional glitch or two. But really, this is an excellent game, and I'd give it a perfect 10 if it weren't for those two reasons. Everything's fun. You can go anywhere, do anything, experience the story how you want to experience it. Just want to play the main story-line? Sure, go ahead. Want to break from the story-line? Yep. Want to go crazy and smack around the Emperor at the start of the game? Sure, you can do that too. The game allows for any and all playstyles. And that's saying a lot.

So should you get it? I definitely think you should. It's one of the few great games for the 360 yet (from the time of this review), and it's definitely finding a permanent home in my video game shelf (well, it's actually in a drawer with a ton of others ones... nevermind). Those of you who have a 360 can enjoy this excellent installment of the Elder Scrolls game (and for those who have a PC, but this isn't the review area for the PC version!!!).

Rent or buy? Buy. It's an excellent game, and the collector's edition is ten bucks more than the regular. And get the strategy guide; there's so much in this game, you're going to need that guide just to tell you what all there is to do. Also, with extra downloadable content on the internet, you can get a couple more quests for $1.99 each, coming soon (again, from the date of the review). So with all of this in your favor, a great, open game, an excellent guide and more content on the way, what more could you possibly ask for in an RPG?

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/05/06

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