The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - 360 - Preview
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind was a phenomenal game that put gamers in an extremely open ended world where they could do anything that they practically wanted and play the game however they saw fit. The formula was extremely successful, garnering Morrowind critical and commercial praise, with many different publications giving it Game of The Year in 2002. Now, the next entry to the Elder Scrolls series, Oblivion is shaping up for release, and the game looks to be every bit as impressive as Morrowind was. The biggest addition to the game is the Radiant AI system, which actually gives non-playable characters a schedule and goals to complete so that they don’t simply stand around waiting to talk to you. With this new system and fantastic next-gen graphics, Oblivion looks to immerse RPG gamers the way that no previous single player experience ever has in the past.
The story in Oblivion follows the sudden death of the Emperor of a land known as Tamariel. With the throne empty, chaos threatens the land as the gates of Oblivion open and evil demonic creatures flood the landscape. Therefore, you are charged with the task of finding the lost heir to the throne and having him take his place, so that the gates will close and peace will be restored.
The gameplay looks a lot like Morrowind. You play from your choice of a first or third person perspective, fighting enemies and interacting with people. You can harvest meat and resources from the creatures you take out, and if your alchemy skills are good enough, you can make potions and stuff like that. Instead of gaining experience and leveling up the way you do in most RPGs, Oblivion gives you more skill points based on the actions that you do use. For example, if you run around a lot, then you will be more skillful in athleticism, allowing you to run faster for longer periods of time. If you fight with a long sword a lot, then your long sword damage and frequency of contact will increase and so on.
As I mentioned earlier, the biggest change in the game is the new Radiant AI system. This system gives each character in the game a different set of goals, or purpose, that they must complete any way that the computer finds fit. The effect almost looks scripted, even though it’s not, which is eerily realistic. Characters will eat when hungry, go to bed when tired, and interact with each other, even buying things from vendors if they need it.
The characters also work within the same confines of the skill system as you do, meaning that things like potions can affect their abilities the same as they affect you. For example, if a character is a real lousy shot with a bow and arrow, and then they ingest a potion that improves accuracy, it will actually work for them and improve their aim.
The graphics in Oblivion are absolutely astounding. The world is fully realized, with amazing art design and objects like ancient ruins looking as great as ever. The character models are highly detailed, and the magical spells look excellent as well. The new physics model does realistic things like arrows that stick into wood and flesh, objects that fall off dressers and roll across the floor, and traps that can take either you or your enemies out.
Oblivion looks incredible, and should be the RPG game to beat this year when it ships this fall.