Thursday, March 23, 2006

Oblivion: First Impressions

Gameplay: 9/10
Graphics: 10/10
Sound/Music: 9/10
"Fun" Factor: 10/10
Overall: 10/10

Like many other gamers, I got a copy of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion yesterday. Oblivion is the sequel to the award-winning Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, and many of the features that made Morrowind so successful are apparent in Oblivion. Like all the Elder Scrolls games, Oblivion takes place in the huge and detailed world of Tamriel, specifically in the capital province of Cyrodiil and the demonic plane of Oblivion. The Elder Scrolls games have always been about self-guided adventure, and Oblivion continues this. There are bandits, abandoned forts, ruins, and many other things sitting in the unmapped wilderness, and the only way to find them is to explore. One of the complaints with Morrowind was that it was too open, and the main quest did not play a large enough role. From what I've seen, Oblivion tries to change this without losing the original aspect of adventure. The game throws you into the plotline right from the start, and you aren't at a loss for what to do. Another very nice feature is the ability to try out different classes and weapons in the tutorial before having to choose a class. If you don't like some choices you've made, you can redo them before entering the main world. The gameplay is excellent, and combat is more interesting than Morrowind's button-mashing but still simple enough to learn.
The thing I haven't mentioned so far is the graphics. Incredible. That's about the only way to describe it. Oblivion is the best-looking RPG ever released. Not only that, but it can still run pretty well on a mid- to high-end system. Be sure to check the system requirements before buying it. I'm running it on a 2.0ghz Athlon 64 with a gig of RAM and a Radeon X800XL with pretty high settings and a ~25fps framerate, to give you an idea. It will definitely benefit from a ultra-high-end card, but it isn't required. The one graphics issue I have with the game is that the high-quality environments only appear close to you, so you see bushes and trees appearing from nowhere as you approach. Oblivion uses the Havok engine, which means that most things in the world can be thrown, hit, or most other things you can think of. This isn't true for everything, but it's pretty impressive to shoot an arrow and see an effect when it hits. As far as music and sound go, I've always liked the music for the Elder Scrolls games, and that's true for Oblivion. The sound effects are appropriate and they don't get too annoying. Also, every dialogue has a voiceover. That's right, every dialogue. If you've played Morrowind, you know how much that is. Everybody has something to say, and they say it.
My recommendation: If you have an XBox 360 or a decent PC and you like RPGs, buy this game. Even if you don't normally like RPGs but you liked Grand Theft Auto, give it a try. It's the same type of open world.
The only negatives I can say about this game so far are the relatively high system requirements and a few changes that I don't like from Morrowind, but neither of those diminishes the overall success. Bethesda should congratulate themselves on a job well done, and you should spend a hundred or more hours of your life playing Oblivion.

Disclaimer: I will update this post if I find anything later in the game that conflicts with what I've said.


Lifeinanalog said...

Not to nit pick, but 'Oblivion' isn't a sequal to 'Morrowind'. In fact it's part four of "The Elder Scrolls" series.

Besides that, great review!

draconar said...

That's true, though it is technically chronologically afterwards. I didn't make it clear that the plot has nothing to do with Morrowind.

w0lv3r1ne said...

I also got a copy of this game for PC. Fun factor i would say would be 10/10 compared to other games releases in the last year.