I mentioned last week that I was originally going to review Oblivion before Skyrim was released, but didn’t get the chance to give it the re-play through it deserves. Well now that I’ve had another week to play it I think I have enough material to patch a review together. Plus I don’t want to push my review for Skyrim too far back, so here’s The Elders Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
I first played Oblivion when I first got my PS3, it was the 2nd game I ever bought for it. I instantly fell in love with the game and played the hell out of it (Although when you have the choice between that or Genji, the choice really is a no brainier). I also a few weeks ago purchased it for the PC with the main purpose of moding it. Although most of the mods I found were to add skimpy bikini’s and huge breasts (probably says alot about some of the kind of fans the game attracts).
Don’t get me wrong, Even given the things I am about to say about the game I still thoroughly enjoyed Oblivion, hence why I was so excited about the release of Skyrim. The game starts in the Imperial Dungeon for the crime of *insert crime here*. Then Captain Jean Luc Picard turns up, starts the main quest rolling and dies just as quickly as he came. Upon leaving the dungeon the story is your own. Stepping out into the big wide open world you get a grand sense of openness which although sounds like a good thing is actually the games biggest let down. The game map is huge with very little to fill it. Getting from quest to quest is in a word boring. Travelling through the same old scenery can drag on a bit, sure one may have more trees, one may have more snow, one more rain but it all feels the same and repetitive. This makes an already long game even longer, maybe too long at times. I am reminded of Gita Bellin saying “Success is a journey, not a destination. Half the fun is getting there”. Games like Assassins Creed & Wind Waker with their roof jumping and their sailing prove this. They both make travelling from A to B fun and exciting. Making you want to explore every nut and cranny of the world. It’s a trait that can bring life back to a dying game as well as a death sentence to others. Although Oblivion does have horses, they feel like getting a piggy back from an arthritis ridden quad amputee. There is also the fast travel system but that only works for places you’ve already visited. Both feel like they were added at the last minute when the development team realised “Shit, travelling around the map feels fucking boring, how can we solve this?”. All this could easily be avoided by adding more into the game. With that huge map the game feels empty and devoid of anything, just like the real countryside.
Considering that the game is a Western RPG the games interface is surprisingly friendly and easy to use. Inventory is easy enough to scroll through and use. Magic spells are easy enough to change through using the hot keys. You also don’t need a glossary on your lap whenever you pick up new weapons to make sure that they are not as good as the one you already have equipped. Levelling up is also as simple and as realistic as it gets, in essence the more of a skill you use, the quicker it will level up. The more you sneak past enemies, the better your sneak gets. Although I don’t get the whole needing to sleep thing before you go up a level. It’s as if the games giving us a half arsed excuse to make us use the beds they’ve laid all about the map.
The character creation has a fair amount of variation with each race having their own unique pros and cons, then add the pros and cons of each individual star sign. This means that whether you chose to be a Nordic Adonus or a sexy dark elf rogue the characters feels unique, meaning that the game has an essence of re-playability. Although all missions are available to all characters, this doesn’t entirely mean that all missions should be attempted by all characters, for example. For the thieves guild missions there is a mission where you have to sneak into the Imperial Palace and steal an item of immense value (although more of you probably know what it is I still won’t name what it is just in case there are people reading who haven’t played it). Doing this mission as a claymore swinging Imperial is only going to make things more difficult for you. Like trying to put a square into a round hole, although it is possible with help from a jig-saw it would surely be easier to put the circle in there instead.
Although it’s really up to you as to how long or short the game is, Once you’ve completed all the missions there really is nothing left for you to do but wander around the vast forests of Cyrodiil killing all who have the misfortune to cross your path. It’s at this point that the PC version comes into it’s own with the ability to mod the game and such a strong backing by both Bethesda and the gaming community, you can add an almost infinite amount of extra quests to the game (this fact alone makes PC gaming superior to consoles). By what I heard in review of Skyrim this has been solved by adding procedurally-generated quests as well as tasks from guild after completing their story missions meaning that all forms of gamers can enjoy Skyrim forever and ever.
Overall I enjoyed Oblivion. It is clear to see with a game such as Oblivion why The Elder Scrolls series is highly rated and why Skyrim was so highly anticipated as well as being so highly regarded by those who play it. As to where Oblivion stands amongst it’s peers, I’m not too sure. To be honest Oblivion was the first Elder Scrolls game I played and I’ve yet to play Morrowind (*gasp*). There are a number of fans that say Morrowind was better, alot that say Oblivion was better. Having only played one of them it really isn’t my place to say which one is better. As for where Skyrim sits in all this. I’ll tell you next week.