“The Elder Scrolls” series has always stood for great RPG gameplay that’s well ahead of its time. This was definitely the case with “The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind,” which blew the gaming community away in 2002 with its incredible graphics, detailed character customization, non-linear gameplay and huge landscape. “The Elder Scrolls VI: Oblivion” is a competent sequel, and has a lot going for it that should satisfy most RPG gamers.
To start with, all of the qualities that made Morrowind a success are still present in the latest sequel. The graphics have become even more immersive and colorful, with even better lighting effects. The sound effects have improved, and the voice acting is generally quite good. Granted, the game pulls you in with Captain Picard – Patrick Stewart – in the role of Emperor Uriel Septim, whom you cross paths with immediately, and most of the acting following his part is simply not as good.
One of the biggest things “Oblivion” has going for it – both figuratively and literally – is the size of the game itself. The central land area of Morrowind, not counting the outlying portions, was about six square miles. “Oblivion’s” land area is about seven square miles, plus underground areas, cities and so on. The astral dimension called “Oblivion” within the game is generated with some random elements, giving you even more to explore. Of course, there are plenty of subquests and adventures to go on which can (and will) have you leaving the main storyline for hours at a time.
The problems I found with this game are minor ones, and coming from me, that’s high praise. Initial character creation is a little confusing, with all the stats, spells and skills a hardcore RPG gamer would be looking for replaced by menu after menu of silly decisions about exactly what your character’s face looks like. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not “The Sims” or “Second Life,” and I couldn’t care less how long my character’s nose is. As I’ve said time and time again: get me out of the excruciating tutorials, away from the hand-holding, and into the game. In medias res – that’s “in the middle of things” – is where good novels start, and its where games should start, too.
Another problem: the combat system has been altered considerably, making it much more reminiscent of “Fable,” with a block button and an attack button. Blocking is no longer automatic, and damage calculation has changed. This may not be an issue if you’re a fan of “Fable,” but I thought that a game of this size and scope could use more detailed combat, with a much greater variety of ranged weapons (and a much greater variety of weapons, period.)
Beyond Emperor Picard, the voice acting is pretty repetitive. The game begins with a very thrilling cinematic sequence (as almost all games do these days) and goes downhill from there in terms of voicing. This is mostly due to the fact that there are so few actual voice actors who play the game’s entire cast, and the script is nothing great.
However, overall, “Oblivion” has the potential to be another incredible hit for Bethesda. It gets to the core of what many RPG gamers want, which is a game so vast that they can get lost in it. “The Elder Scrolls” series had that idea mastered before anyone else, and continues to refine it.
The bottom line: 9/10
I’ve never been a fan of “The Elder Scrolls series.” It’s not that I find the games boring or lacking in quality, they simply never caught my attention. “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion” definitely changes my outlook on the “Elder Scrolls” series and has made me more than a fan.
The first thing you’ll notice about “Oblivion” are the graphics. These graphics are simply unprecedented and second to no game on the market to date, from excruciatingly detailed creatures to the shimmering pieces of grass. If you’re like me, you may find yourself walking around the world just to explore and see how breathtaking everything looks. Of course, you’ll only be able to enjoy these quality graphics if you have an amazingly pimped out computer. Luckily, a friend of mine has just that, and at full specs with no lag “Oblivion” can only be described as an amazing work of art that could very well bring a tear to the eye of gamers who remember the days when Pong was considered “groundbreaking” technology.
My favorite aspect of “Oblivion” has to be the customization. The best way to describe this is “sick.” You start off by picking a race, each with their own weaknesses and strengths. Following this, the game allows you to mold your character into whatever humanoid shape your mind could possibly conceive. This is where the game gets interesting; after you complete “Oblivion”‘s first level you’re given the oppurtunity to pick from a number of preassembled classes, or choose to make your own unique class by selecting your primary traits and abilities. Combining all these features, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of possibilities as to what your character can be.
As you gain experience in the game you have the chance to increase your abilities. Curious to see how powerful your character can become, I searched around for some cheats on the internet and powered my character to his maximum. Let me tell you, when you finally max out your character’s abilities (or I should say “if you max out your character’s abilities” since this would take a ridiculous amount of time the honest way) you become nothing less than a god. You jump so high that you take damage when you land and you have the ability to run so fast that it feels more like flying than running. Max out your strength, go buy a cape, and you’re Super Man.
The world you adventure in is impressively huge. There’s no way I could guess as to how many caves and grottos there are to explore, but there’s assuredly hundreds of things to do while playing “Oblivion.,” from following the main storyline of closing the Oblivon portals to searching around town for people in need. If I had to choose a negative aspect of “Oblivion” it would have to be that there are so many things to do that it can boggle your mind and you could easily lose track of what you’re going to attempt to accomplish next.
If you have an advanced computer and a lot of free time on your hands, then “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion” is a must buy. For those of you with mediocre computer specs, “Oblivion” will definitely put a strain on your systems. However, this is one of those amazing games that is more than enough of an excuse to justify upgrading your computer’s hardware. If you’re short on cash, then do what I did and find a buddy with a computer worthy of NASA, because this is a must play. The bottom line: 10/10.