Where do I start with a game such as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion? Indeed, this is a vast question that not only applies to this review, but to the game itself. For those of you not familiar with The Elder Scrolls series, here's a brief overview. The Elder Scrolls is a first-person (though third is an option
Where do I start with a game such as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion? Indeed, this is a vast question that not only applies to this review, but to the game itself. For those of you not familiar with The Elder Scrolls series, here's a brief overview. The Elder Scrolls is a first-person (though third is an option… it's not as good) adventure role-playing game. The series is widely known for its completely open-ended gameplay and the vast worlds that make up its maps. Oblivion is the fourth in the series, proceeding Arena, Daggerfall, and Morrowind, and it is by far the most technically gifted achievement in the series. Arena was the beginning; Daggerfall brought in the big (and by big, I mean twice the size of Great Britain) map, and Morrowind settled in with the open-ended, honed gameplay. Oblivion takes this to the next level by bringing jaw-dropping visuals, self-aware AI, and much improved combat and spell casting systems. Let's take a look.
In a word: gorgeous. Oblivion is the most beautiful game on the Xbox 360 and rivals games like Half-Life 2 and Far Cry on the PC. What sets Oblivion apart from the formerly mentioned titles and other Xbox 360 games is its lush greenery and the sheer amounts of it. No game has ever achieved an actual outdoor setting to the degree that Bethesda has done in Oblivion.
The texturing and bump mapping is well above average; the dungeons look gritty and scary, the buildings look time-worn and ancient, and the people have realistic looking skin, not just polygons made to look a peachy colour.
The lighting effects are also well-done. Just try carrying a torch around in a dark dungeon and you'll see what I mean, Ah, and the water effects. You have to see it to believe it.
Nothing to draw too much attention here. The music is like Morrowind's ambient music, but a bit better. The music never stops, which it did more than occasionally in Morrowind, but it's nice. The sound works too with nothing bothersome to report.
Simply stated, there was only one other game that told a story matching the magnitude of Oblivion's, and that was its predecessor, Morrowind. Oblivion is so engrossing. With sixteen square miles of a virtual sandbox to play in and every inch having some purpose. That's what so great about The Elder Scrolls. You literally forge your own story by making choices and choosing paths. It is likely you will never finish every quest in Oblivion. In Morrowind, I spent well over 300 hours playing and never attempted two of the factions' quests. Since Oblivion is larger, you can only expect more.
i have to say that Bethesda really came through on this game. Morrowind was lacking in some of the gameplay aspects, especially with the combat system. The game ended up being nothing more than a hack-and-slash (especially with the dreaded Cliff Racers). But with Oblivion you're given the opportunity to block and attack, as well as taking out the roll to see if you hit. You hit every time now, you just may not do much damage based on your skill level and fatigue factor. They also mapped spells to the right bumper instead of having it on the right trigger, which makes spell casting actually useful this time around. Magicka also replenishes, which was desperately needed. Magic is a worthy feature in Oblivion, but was almost useless in Morrowind.
Persuasion, lock-picking, sneaking, as well the entire skill system, was revised. There are seven major skills which come in five levels: Novice, Apprentice, Journeyman, Expert, and Master, with different advantages at each new level. This adds a layer of incentive to level in Oblivion. It should also be mentioned that Bethesda fixed the alchemy glitch/exploit that let you make your stats infinitely high.
This game is the definition of replay value. Only MMORPGs like World of WarCraft can compete fairly with Oblivion. As previously stated, you will not finish this game. There is too much to do and too much to see. When future games are reviewed for replay value, this game will be the standard benchmark.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is the best of 2006 and is likely the best game released in the last decade. The game isn't without flaws, but they are so minor they lose themselves within the sixteen square miles of Cyrodiil and right into the gates of Oblivion. You'd be sinning not to give this game a chance. Come, enter the gates of Oblivion.