29th January 2005
I wrote this up on gamespot a while back, but I never posted it here. Here you guys go.
An amazing RPG, but it may not please all of you out there. The Elder Scrolls series has often had a reputation of delivering a solid RPG experience. This installation doesn't fail to please those of you who've played previous Elder Scrolls Games.
Graphics and Appearance Well, if you've seen the screenshots, you can get an idea of how the game looks. It’s pretty and helps gives the atmosphere of the game. There are some odd graphical glitches, such as some textures not placed together quite right, and floating objects. These are rare though. Unfortunately, the graphics for the Distant LOD textures (The textures for far off objects and scenery) look pretty cruddy, but there are mods out there that'll change that. Keep in mind though; some older computers may have trouble running this game due to the scale of the graphics. Oblivion is in the province of Cyrodiil, which will probably not be as alien like Morrowind was, since it gives off a much more Mediterranean/ Roman feel.
Sound I'm never too big on sound, but the music is more or less acceptable. The music fits in with the setting fine, and isn't too annoying. Also, you can insert some of your own music by renaming them and replacing the ones there (you may want to back them up though). There's also voiced dialogue, but I feel it takes away from the immersion, ironically enough. In Morrowind, there was text dialogue with a hyperlink-like format. Voiced Dialogue should've really only been kept with generic dialogue between the NPC's and in the Main Quest. The rest should've been like Morrowind's dialogue. The money spent for all that could've gone some where else.
Gameplay Here's the vital element in every RPG. The combat is vastly improved from Morrowind, and you can now control your blocking. As you advance in the skills, you'll gain access to special combo attacks. Some examples of these are being able to disarm your opponent, knock them back, or paralyze them. Some weapons have been taken away, such as the spear and throwing knives.
Archery has also become a bit more interesting. As with Morrowind, you can collect some of the arrows you've used. Also, say if you shot your arrow into the ground, off a rock, or into some wood. In Morrowind, due to engine limitations, the arrow would disappear. Now, you can go ahead and recollect them. For those of you who like crossbows, they've been taken out, unfortunately. I'm not sure if it'll be added in an expansion like with Tribunal in Morrowind, but a modder might take a shot at it if it isn't.
Magic in this game is more or less the same with Morrowind, with the exception of some dropped spells (Levitation, Mark & Recall, and Divine Intervention). Also, magic recharges now. The only really big difference is that enchanting has been changed. In Morrowind, you could enchant on your own if you had a high enough enchanting skill and a soul to work with, or you could pay some one to do it if you had a soul and an item ready. In Oblivion, the "Enchanting" skill has been dropped, and you can't do enchanting with out using an "Altar of Enchanting", a thing you can use if you join the Mages' Guild. Or like in Morrowind, pay someone else to do it. I miss the way enchanting was done in Morrowind, as it all it requires now is a big enough soul, a good item, and cash (You have to pay for the altar). Like in Morrowind, items that have an enchantment other than "Constant" have a charge, but it Oblivion, it doesn't recharge. In Morrowind, these items would recharge slowly over time, but in Oblivion it doesn't. As with Morrowind, the only way to recharge it is to use a soul. Also, Mages' Guilds have Mages who will recharge your item, for a price. But aside from that, the Magic system is entertaining and useful in any field. Combat based warriors may consider specializing in restoration, and Stealth classes (Thieves, assassins, etc.) But like Morrowind, it'll be a challenge to use a character purely based on magic.
NPC's- They help to add to the atmosphere. The NPC's come with "Radiant AI", but there really isn't anything too amazing to it. It’s more like a schedule system than anything. You'll see NPC's talk, eat, drink, read books, sleep in books, and other things. But that’s about it. It’s interesting to hear them talk, but sometimes the dialogue gets real messed up and many times, repetitive (You'll hear about mud crabs alot...). But, if you listen carefully, you can hear about news in other areas of Tamriel, including the fate of the character you played in Morrowind, the Nerevarine. Don't expect the NPC's to truly be living a life, but it’s a vast improvement over Morrowind's NPC's standing around.
Sneaking is much more improved in this game. Now, there is a special feature in the stealth mode which gives you an idea about how stealthy you are. NPC's will be aware of any noises you make, and wearing things like heavy armor will make you more noticeable. Lock picking also comes as a mini-game of sorts now (Those of you who've played Thief will probably recognize the interface- A developer of the Thief series helped out here). Thievery is much interesting now and encourages you to take advantage of the NPC's schedules. You can try to rob a house when the owner is out, or come in when they are sleeping. A difference now though is that you can not sell stolen items to shopkeepers now, only to fences (Which can only be used by members of the Thieves' Guild, unfortunately). When you go to jail, you can sneak away a lock pick, which you can use to break out with. As with Morrowind, stolen items that are confiscated can be found in the evidence chests.
The MQ of Oblivion is excellent, although it may be short for some of you. It doesn't involve as much talking and running off to far places as Morrowind did, but I prefer the ending and action of this one much more. I won't spoil anything for you guys.
Morrowind had alot of factions and quests, and Oblivion unfortunately doesn't. There are 5 guilds which you can advance through, the Fighters' Guild, The Mages' Guild, The Thieves' Guild, The Dark Brotherhood, and the Arena. There are also factions like the Blades which you can't advance through, and are mainly there for perks. There is a knightly order which involves killing bandits and returning their bows as rewards, and a vampire hunters' guild, in which you kill vampires for money. Once again, you can’t advance in either of these guilds. The quests in Oblivion are very well thought out and scripted, and have interesting story lines. Unfortunately, one may finish them quickly. Also, for those of you who played Morrowind, you may recall the advancement requirements- some missions completed and certain skills at a certain level. In Oblivion, you can advance by just completing some missions, which I feel takes away from the feeling of achievement. But in this game, you do get some perks for being at top.
In the Fighters' Guild, you can have three choices to do, which will affect what you will get as a monthly salary- Getting more contracts, which means more cash. More Recruits, which means some loot. Or you can focus on both equally. In the Mages' Guild, you can have an apprentice follow you around or gain access to a chest which will clone alchemical items (It is worthless unless you are an alchemist buff. But if you're like me, you can use it to clone valuable ingredients or the vampire dust you can turn into the Vampire Hunters' Guild, which are taken at 250 apiece). In the Dark Brotherhood, you get a salary and access to NPC's which you can have follow you around. The Thieves' Guild gives you a powerful item, the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal, which has some nifty powers and allows you to do all sorts of crimes. When you take it off (Preferably when you have the guards' off you), you won't have the bounty or infamy you got from your actions. It’s kind of like an alternate identity. The Arena gives you a good piece of armor at the end, and offers weekly matches with creatures based on your level. At the peak, you can fight 1-3 Minotaur Lords, and get cash.
Anyways, Oblivion's quests and factions are interesting and fun, though in short numbers unfortunately.
But with any game, there are problems. For lore buffs, you might notice right away the "emptiness" as opposed to the cosmopolitan and grandeur that we were told in the lore books. The Imperial City isn't as big (But still, its nice), and most noticeably, there isn't a jungle (Ironically, this is one thing people bash the game over, treating it like a surprise, though it was well known it was this way from the screenshots).
The biggest problem, IMO, is the Leveled Scaling system, which levels NPC's you fight, guards, and creatures based on your level. It also affects what loot you may find in dungeons. The concept is good, as it allows you to always have a challenge and will respawn bandits, vampires, and other baddies, but the way it is executed is bad. For one thing, it doesn't make since for bandits to be wearing rare armor like Daedric Armor. It also makes certain creatures disappear permanently. Also, I feel it damages immersion to the game as it takes away the feeling of achievement and superiority you get over some creatures for being stronger and having good loot.
Another issue that bothers me is the lack of unique loot in dungeons, which I feel may discourage some from exploring. In Morrowind, you could find all sorts of unique artifacts, but in Oblivion you'll usually find the basic stuff and some enchanted forms of it. The unique items are obtainable only through quests.
Pros + Likable environments coupled with good graphics. + Good Gameplay + Different styles of play available + Good MQ, Factions, and quests, though not as numerous as Morrowind + NPC's have lives
Cons - Voiced dialogue cuts down on how much one can talk with an NPC - Leveled Scaling takes away from a sense of achievement - Lack of factions and quests compared to Morrowind
Oblivion is an excellent game, though I must stress that it might not appeal to every RPG fan and/or TES fan. Each TES is different from the other, and caters to different tastes. I played Morrowind and Oblivion, and I love them both. Some may prefer Morrowind over Oblivion, and vice versa. Though if you are a gamer who likes to jump from one game to another, or likes multiplayer, this game may not be for you.
Don't listen to other reviews saying this game is an utter failure, it really isn't. This game is a welcome addition to the TES series and RPG games (Which BTW, are a dying genre as a result of MMO's). In fact, it’s good that a game other than an FPS has gotten such praise in the PC market. I suggest though not buying Oblivion right away. Wait until some expansions come out and the modding community begins creating wonderful mods.
Overall, Oblivion is excellent. It’s not perfect, but then again, what game is?
26th April 2004
Very nice review, I agree in some parts, and in others I respectfully disagree. I too, am a mod fanatic. Thanks for your thoughts.
Slightly cooler than a n00b
16th December 2005
You wrote that on gamespot but never posted it on TESFiles? Gah....*shoots mercz*
29th January 2005
bloodreaverYou wrote that on gamespot but never posted it on TESFiles? Gah....*shoots mercz*
/me dodges the shot.
You can dump it on the site under reviews, if you wish. I kind of wrote it and forgot to tell you.
Phantom of the Forums
19th August 2003
Nice review GDICommando, I agree more or less. At this point, I think I'd prefer Morrowind's dialogue system over having people speak everything. The only things that dissapointed me mostly in Oblivion were the smaller amount of guilds/quests, large performance requirements, and bland dialogue.
27th November 2004
The level scaling actually peaks when you get high enough, my character is currently a level 39 wood elf assassin, and i kill minitaur's w/ 2 arrows, and ogres with about 8... so if you play long enough it does have it's advantages.