The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Reader Review
Oblivion is certainly up there as one of the best RPG games ever made. It has built massively on its predecessor, Morrowind. The game boasts a huge detailed world, filled with quests, stories, creatures and treasures which will have you spending hours, engrossed in the game and part of Cyrodiil itself. You may find yourself trekking across the expansive setting, but this, in turn this allows you to marvel at the outstanding environment and detailed architecture which shows that Bethesda have put a lot into the game.
Oblivion had a lot to live up to. Morrowind had set the bar high, and appealled to many gamers of that time. The main questline takes roughly 40-50 hours to play through and complete. However if your like me, you may find yourself 'off the beaten track' as you get sidetracked into doing one of the many sidequests. The main questline and the side quests will get you discovering different towns and communities as well as exploring the landscape for a hidden item that you need to continue. The way you interact with the NPCs in the game has improved too but could still do with some work. The characters can draw you into helping them but also hold back important information when you desperately need it. Your persuasion techniques come into play here, you need to get those details out of someone by pleasing them, flattering them or even bribing them. In addition to this, NPCs are doing things and getting on with their lives. This means you cant just walk up to them whenever you please. You may have to wait several hours for them to be awake or available to speak to you. This is definite improvement on the characters in Morrowind who seem to just stand around doing nothing, waiting for you to speak to them. There is a lack of fluidity in conversation. Many characters share the same voices and even change voice completely in certain parts of speech. I understand you cant have a different voice for every character, but it is a bit strange how all of the female in the game sound the same. A few minor flaws include that you could kill several people in a city and everyone else still speaks to you as if it never happened. A second is when you are entering a persons home as part of a quest (which they might have asked you to do) they can turn on you and call the guards for trespassing.
Before you start the game, you can customise who you want to be through appearance and personality. You can choose from several different races, some of which you will bump into as you progress through the game. The races include human like imperials, reptile like Argonians or orc like, umm, Orcs. Each race has its pros and cons as you can find out by flicking though them. For example, an Argonian can breathe permanently underwater and resist disease, but a Dark Elf can resist fire and can summon a ghost once a day. As you progress through the first part of the game in the Imperial Sewers, you decide what your birthsign will be. Each birthsign brings a different advantage to your game. This can be through magic, strength and resisting damage, or even your ability to lockpick successfully or be lucky. This ability to customise your character is great as it allows you to decide precisely what you want your character to be good at and how you feel will benifit you most through the game.
The enemies in the game are realistic too. Detail has gone into how they look and how they react, be it a rat or the impressive and emormous Dagon at the end of the game. The music and sound effects tie in well during combat but serve a dual purpose as it can warn you of nearby enemies. The ability to sneak up on your target is fun and interesting to. A secret planned attack may be more successful than charging in with your weapon out in some instances. It can also improve your stealth and sneak skills too. As your skills improve you can see the difference. When you are first asked to sneak past a Goblin in the Imperial Sewers at the start, your very prone to being caught. However, later on in the game as you improve the skill, the task becomes second nature. The attacking system in the game allows you to give constant slashing to your opponent or to charge to give that killer blow. Either way, you stamina will deplete and the more intense you are fighting, the more difficult it can be to continue hand to hand combat. This can bring in magic spells to fight and can challenge you the character more as it may not be one sided. However you can tailor the difficulty to how you want it can prevent fights becoming a slog but it may get boring for some, perhaps more serious gamers killing a creature with a single swing of a sword. You can change the difficulty at any point during the game which is handy but bear in mind that it can limit levelling and rewards if the difficulty is set to easy.
A great addition to the game is the new Ďfast travelí feature. In previous games in the series, playing the game would be tedious as you were sent hiking across the world. However in oblivion, you only need to travel to a place once and it will be added to you map so if you need to pay another visit, you can simply travel there in real seconds. I say real seconds because in game time still passes the same. You could leave Bruma mid morning and arrive in the Imperial city in the evening. Of course, if you wish to you can still explore the world by foot or by horseback, but the fast travel system keeps the gameplay going at a steady pace, especially if you need to keep going back and forth. Also, game controls are easy to grasp and make you just pick up and play. Inventory and Quest interfaces are easy to negotiate and provide ample information on items, quests and skills. The in-game map is detailed and providing you have explored a town properly, allows a closer view of metropolitan areas.
I feel Oblivion may be better on console if you donít have a high performance PC. To get the full experience of the expansive setting you need to have a good computer to play it. Plus it helps the game remain smooth when running it. Although some say the pre release images look better than the actual game, the detail in the game from the towering chapels or even a moss covered rock is fantastic. The only downside with some design is that people in the game lack some uniqueness and look a bit similar. Nonetheless the colossal setting helps make the game interesting and like a second world to you. There is of course more of a reward if you play it on Xbox 360 with the achievements you can unlock. However these donít have much variety as you unlock them simply for playing the main storyline and ranking up in the different guilds. There are no wacky achievements here for jumping off a tall building and not dying or making a person laugh.
The amount of things for you to do in the game makes you want to continue playing even if you have got all of the achievements on it. It isnít all about fighting and pickpocketing, individual quests found in each city may require you to find ingredients and make potions or even become a detective and piece clues together and find evidence. Overall the game is fun and if you havenít played it for a while you can still pick it up and play it again without trying to remember what you need to do. The controls are straightforward and the appealing province of Cyrodiil makes you want to just step right into it. The few downsides of the game are definitely out shadowed by the positives. One more improvement in my opinion would be for Bethesda to make an online Elder Scrolls and it would be hard to find a fault with the game at all. If you are in search of a detailed RPG with a solid storyline set in a world you cant relate to in real life, or if you are a fan of previous games in the series, Oblivion is a great choice of game to pick. I score it at 9, but its more like 9.5!
9 / 10