Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Review
Oblivion is the fourth Elder Scrolls game in the series. It carries on chronologically from Morrowind but the story is totally different. Oblivion still holds the charm of its predecessors – you can walk just about anywhere and do just about anything. It’s the fourth game in the series by Bethesda and is the best yet.
The game starts rather slow – you first have to create your character (there is a huge number of customisable options) from a set of different races. Each race has their pros and cons and all look very different. You also get to choose a class and birth sign. This will make your character better at certain abilities depending on which one you choose – the classes are all fairly standard for RPG’s. The first dungeon sets the scene quite well and breaks you into the main story nicely. however it’s certainly not very exciting and made me feel rather under whelmed. You pick up various items here (many of which are pretty useless) and get to perform some basic fighting and sneaking. Just before you step out of the first dungeon you are given the option to change your star sign so if you have made a mistake then there are no worries. Upon exiting the dungeon you will be absolutely gob smacked by the brilliant view – you are now free and can roam wherever you choose. You will quickly forget about the boring dungeon you just trawled through and want to get on with exploring.
The game has two view types – first person and third person. I personally prefer the first person view and it seems quite obvious that this was the way Bethesda wanted the game to be played. However, there are some circumstances when the third person view comes in handy. Firstly, riding a horse in first person view can feel a bit odd and it is hard to see your surroundings and secondly if you are in third person view you can see things sneaking up behind you. The third person view feels a bit ‘tacked on’ and has a few more bugs than in first person mode but it’s nice that you have the choice and it definitely does have its uses.
Oblivions experience system is quite unique. You do not choose where your experience points go, they are added when you use a certain skill. This means that if you want a well balanced character you will have to use a variety of methods to fight off your enemies.
The combat in Oblivion can be extremely fun, especially when using the first person perspective. It works like many first person shooters do in some ways. Pushing the trigger can swing your sword or fire an arrow from your bow. The AI is exceptional and everyone you fight will act in a different way so no two fights ever really feel the same. There is also a huge variety of weapons and of course some are better than others. As you progress through the game you will buy, find and no doubt steal better weapons in order to help fend off the increasingly hard enemies.
Graphically the game is very impressive considering how vast the landscapes are and how much is going on. The draw distance is superb so you won’t be getting too many surprises. A great annoyance in Oblivion is the slow down. In some areas of the game just walking can be very jittery and this of course gets worse in battle. So far this has not stopped me enjoying the game or hindered me at all, it’s just slightly awkward at first but after playing the game for a few hours you just learn to accept it. Most of the sounds in the game do their job well – they aren’t brilliant by a long shot but are definitely sufficient.
Unfortunately, most of the voice acting is terrible. It looks like they ran out of money after getting Patrick Stewart and Sean Bean so they had to use about three people for the rest of the voices which can get tiresome rather quickly. Another gripe is the diabolical lip sync, or lack of any. Mouths appear to move totally at random, although this can be forgiven as it would have taken so long to sync all the voices for every character in the game – it is simply too big.
The controls in Oblivion are sublime. They make it very easy to navigate through your inventory, view quests, view your map and an assortment of other things. The controls also won’t let you down in fighting, if you know how to play a first person shooter then the controls will seem very familiar which is brilliant.
Lately I have been disappointed with the lifespan of games I have purchased but this is definitely not the case with Oblivion. The main story should take around 40 hours but the fun won’t stop there. There are masses upon masses of side quests, many guilds in which you can try to join and a whole lot of exploring to do. Every time you play the game you will no doubt see something new or discover new land which can be very rewarding. And if that wasn’t enough – the PS3 version includes the Knights of the Nine expansion pack which adds hours of new quests and includes lots of new enemies for you to slay. There is always something to be done in Oblivion and it definitely won’t leave you thinking “So what should I do next?” like many other games do.
A slight disappointment in Oblivion is the main quest. The story line is solid and it’s still of very high standard but there are some very tiresome areas and quests. I found joining guilds and exploring to be much more fun and equally as rewarding but that’s the great thing about Oblivion – you have a great amount of freedom and there is no obligation to do the story mode if you do not want to. It gives the game a pick up and play feel which is very rare for a role playing game. In the main quest there are a few very tedious areas (shutting the gates of Oblivion for example), but luckily these are few and far between and for the best part are still very enjoyable.
The only thing that I can think of that would have made Oblivion so much better is some form of multiplayer. Being able to have some cooperative or online play would be nice but I’m sure this would be something that would be very hard for Bethesda to implement whilst keeping all of the charm of Oblivion.
To conclude there is really only one thing to do with Oblivion and that’s buy it. I am not a huge fan of role playing games and didn’t like Morrowind, but I absolutely love Oblivion. No other game gives you such freedom and in such vast landscapes. Oblivion is brilliant value as you could quite easily get 100+ hours out of this game. Worth every penny.
Originally Written By: Joe