Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - PS3 - Review
You could hear the sighs of total RPG satisfaction from the moment Bethesda announced that Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion would be released on the PlayStation 3 console system. Oblivion has been, by all accounts, one of the best role-playing titles of the last few years, consuming gamers in a web of stellar gameplay, an intriguing story and top-notch graphics.
The only real questions were what would the PS3 port bring to the table. The answer, in short, is a lot.
Ok, back up a bit. Oblivion was already known for its huge world, massive storyline and great mechanics. As the game was already in the hands of 360 and PC gamers, Bethesda had to up the ante a bit to allow those who might have owned it on another system to wish to invest here. Ok, they added some more content, like the Knights of the Nine quest, a factional quest that will add another 10 hours or so to the already massive main quest.
For those who may not know, Oblivion is the continuation of stories that are part of the Elder Scrolls franchise. This particular tale begins in the province of Cyrodiil, part of the land known as Tamriel, where the Emperor (voiced by Patrick Stewart) is recounting the backstory of the land while forecasting his own death, as was part of his fate. He was, to all appearances, the last of his line, though his life is threatened by the forces of darkness – the same forces that have breached the gates to Oblivion and unleashed hellspawned demons upon the land.
The Blades, a highly trained personal guard of the Emperor, are trying to escort him to safety, but – as luck would have it – the path leads to a secret door in a dungeon cell … you know, the same dungeon you are occupying as the game begins. It seems that not only has the Emperor foreseen his own death, but you were part of the dream. And there is another heir to the throne, a bastard child known as Martin. The Emperor, before he dies, entrusts you with the pendant that is the mark of the royal line, and somehow may be tied to the defenses that protect the land from Oblivion. You are asked to seek out the heir.
Sounds simple, but it’s not.
The game is delivered in a very open-ended way. There is the main quest, of course, which takes anything but a direct route, and then there are wide arrays of side quests. For those who just want to get about the business of the main story, you don’t have to traverse the land by foot or mount. You can pull up the map and click on the location you wish to travel to and be whisked there as fast as you can say load time.
Oh, there are load times in this game, so do not expect a seamless experience.
On the way to seek out the heir, you are sidetracked by the fact that the town in which he resided was overrun by demonic forces that came through a gate to the realm known as Oblivion. You can’t get into town without first shutting the portal blocking the path. That means entering it and finding more quests inside the hellish environment in order to do all that is necessary to shut down that portal.
It’s all part and parcel of being an adventurer whose duty it is to save the same realm that threw you into a dungeon in the first place.
Creating your character is a satisfying experience. Not only can you customize the look, but the profession selection is rather robust and you can tailor your character to the way that you wish him or her to be. And that is just the start. As you use skills, they improve. Running down a hill and jumping improves acrobatic skills, for example. Having a shield to block attacks is also something that is hardily recommended. The AI in the game is very good. An archer, for example, won’t stand there and wait for you to charge and whack him with a sword. Nope, he shoots, and then gets distance in order to have time to shoot again. Annoying? You bet. Realistic? Yep. Challenging? Again, yep.
And as to the references to the main storyline … well, there is a central storyline, but Bethesda’s dev team didn’t just give the world that one facet. The game has several scenarios/stories going on. This is a finely-woven web of tales that serves to draw the gamer deeper and deeper into the world. You may find yourself wondering who can be trusted and how you really want to play your character. Decisions made do have repercussions. There are, sometimes, no right or wrong decisions, but rather decisions that may have consequences later on. This is the hallmark of a truly great story and game.
The control scheme is easy to use. The combat can happen in a hurry, and as you fight, you can experience, which leads to new skills.
When it comes to the graphics, Oblivion is absolutely glorious in its presentation. The environment details are absolutely delightful, the lighting is excellent and the world is very much alive. The latter element is hammered home by a great soundtrack that features great ambient sounds, a solid musical score and first-rate voice acting.
Some may gripe that the PS3 version lacks the downloadable content available for the 360 and PC, but when one considers the amount of game that is here, that seems like a minor complaint.
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is easily one of the PS3’s premiere titles. The game has tremendous depth, is more than merely tasty eye candy, and delivers a role-playing fix that anyone who has a PS3, is an RPG fan, or just a gaming fan, should own.
Review Scoring Details for Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
The game fits the controller well and while there are a few load times, this game plays at a stable framerate
One can get lost just staring off into the changing sky. The animation is first rate and the game is simply gorgeous.
Great voice work and a solid musical score.
You can adjust the difficulty setting, but this is a massive world that is not overly friendly.
A few caveats for the expanded content for the PS3, but it does not have nearly the amount of downloadable content as the PC or 360 versions.
Not only is this one of the best RPGs of the past several years – on any platform – but Oblivion has set the bar very high for any PS3 RPGs that hope to follow. A truly magnificent game.