reviews\ May 12, 2002 at 8:00 pm

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind - PC - Review

Flash back to the year 1994, a game by the name of The Elder Scrolls: Arena was released; it won numerous awards including the best RPG of the year. Two years later a sequel was developed entitled: The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, and it also won RPG of the year. It has now been six years since the release of that game and a lot of hype has been surrounding the developers at Bethesda Softworks for the next release in the amazing series. For around two years, Bethesda Softworks has been releasing screenshots and teasers for what looked like another amazing game. Now that the game has been released, Bethesda Softworks has fulfilled all the hype that the game has obtained. The game is not only brilliant, but also fun to play, and looks wonderful!

When you first start the game, you are a prisoner on a ship being taken to Morrowind by the orders of the emperor for an unknown reason. When you reach the island you go talk to a guard and he gives you several options to choose what race you will be. There are a total of ten different races, each have many strengths and weaknesses. Argonians are reptilian creatures that are immune to poison and disease. Bretons are humanoids that are more in tune with nature, a long line of sorcerers have come from this race. Dark Elves are dark skinned and they are skilled swordsmen. The High Elves are the golden skinned; proud race and they are gifted in arcane arts. Imperials are highly educated people who tend to be traders, as they are not as physically built as the other races. The Khajit people are a race of "jaguar men". They make astounding thieves because they are quick and agile. Nord's are fair skinned people who are fearless in the face of battle. The Orcs are green skinned beast people, they have unmatched courage and are feared throughout the land. The Redguard's are highly talented warriors because they are fierce and very prideful. The last race to choose from is the Wood Elf, they are nimble and quick, and they make good scouts. When choosing a race it is important to remember that people will look at you and treat you differently depending on what race you are.

After the gamer decides on a race they go into a house where they decide what class they want to be. There are several choices to make, answer a set of questions and the outcome will decide the class, or have the option to just choose one from a list, or make a class. Within the predefined classes there are three basic classes; combat, magic, and stealth. The Combat classes are warriors, barbarians, crusaders, knights, scouts, archers, and rogues. Magic classes are mages, sorcerers, healers, battlemages, witchhunters, spellswords, and nightblades. The last class is the Stealth, which includes thieves, agents, assassins, acrobats, monks, pilgrims, and bards. Once the gamer makes that choice then they choose a birth sign, which are: apprentice, atronach, lady, lord, lover, mage, ritual, serpent, shadow, steed, thief, tower, and warrior. As you can see there are hundreds of combinations that can be made when creating a character, the possibilities are endless. This one thing helps keep the game fresh and original, and prevents the gamer going through the same game twice.

Once the player creates his character, they are let loose into the colossal world of Morrowind. When you step out of the house, it is a good idea to talk to EVERYONE. The NPCs will give you valuable information regarding the history of the world, little secrets, advice, and will give you quests to do. From that point on the gamer can do anything their heart desires. If they wish to rob people blind, do mini quests, raise the characters skills, join guides, or continue on the main quest, it is all up to them. The thing that makes this game great is that it is very open ended. If the player sees a river or pond, they can go dive in there and there is a chance they might find a clam, and inside is a pearl. It is those small things that make the game unique and make it seem real.

The graphics are very realistic.  The entire world, from the characters, beasts, and environments is extremely well done. Each type of character has a distinct look and feel to them. The animation at times is a little "flaky" but for the most part it looks genuine. There are multitudes of different ways to customize your character to make it stand out from the rest of the world. There are different cloths, armors, shoes, weapons, rings, helmets, and myriads of other things that keep the game interesting. The NPCs are also highly detailed, from their faces to the clothes on their backs.

The different locations that you will travel are highly detailed. The rivers and lakes that you come across look so real that it seems that you can drink out of them to quench your thirst. When you walk through the river it creates realistic ripples. When traveling through the wilderness you will come across rain, sandstorms, and many other effects to make the game look more realistic. There is a long draw in distance, so you will not encounter any "pop-ups." There is an active day and night schedule, and the world looks totally different, with the lighting effects from the touches, and it also makes it easier to do the more "underhanded" things. There are so many graphical effects used in the game that makes it outstanding!

The official The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind guide, which is purchased separately, is a wonderful guide. It gives a complete list and walkthrough of every side quest in the game. It has information on all the different characters to help you create the one that fits your needs, and tastes. The guide also contains numerous maps that help identify all the places of Morrowind. If the gamer ever gets stuck, this guide makes a great companion.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is rated T for Teen for blood and violence.

The system requirements are a Pentium III (or equivalent) 500 MHz processor
128 RAM
Windows 98/ME/XP
8X CD-Rom
DirectX 8.1
Direct X compliant video card with 32 MB of VRAM
Direct X compliant sound card
1 GB of Hard Drive Space
Keyboard and Mouse.

Gameplay: 9.3
The controls for the game are relatively easy to learn, plus the fact that anything can be changed to suit the players personal preference adds to the games' magnitude. Walking around the world can get a bit tedious as the player can only walk and run so fast and the world is gigantic, but there are many forms of transportation that can be taken.

There are many things that help keep the gameplay interesting through out the world of Morrowind. Your missions can be to kill innocent town folks, rob them blind, or do numerous things that help keep any repetition away. Also there are many ways to level up the character, use that specific skill numerous times, by training from other characters, or reading them in books.

Graphics: 9.8
With all the computer games coming out lately, it is hard to find one that truly shines in the graphics department because they all have the same "look" to them. On the other hand Morrowind has a unique look and feel to the game. The graphics are extremely well done, and all the subtle effects used entrenches the players into the realistic world of Morrowind.

Sound: 9.8
Bethesda Softworks did an amazing job in the sound department. To put it simply Morrowind has a splendid soundtrack! Each track played is appropriate for each of the different places you venture to. The music helps move the game and entice you into the world of Morrowind, and it is highly enjoyable. The sound effects used in the game are also well defined; when you hit a sword against an enemy it makes the correct sounds. The voice acting was well accomplished as well. Each race has different voices that accompany what the player might expect to hear.

Difficulty: Medium
The game has a minor learning curve in the beginning. The player is put in the shoes of a character and they are not given exact directions on what to do. The only thing that they have is the journal that keeps track of what your next objective is. This might be a little frustrating for beginning players, but they will soon get engulfed into the world of Morrowind.

After the learning curve is over, the next task to deal with is building the abilities of each of your characters. As you begin, your character is not prepared for anything.  But, with some patience and trial and error, the characters will become strong enough to do any task that comes before them!

Concept: 9.3 
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is unique because in the beginning of the game, you have no idea why the emperor called upon your services. There are so many things the players can do to customize their characters to make no two characters alike. It also presents some innovative options, such as complete a specific quest in many different ways, which also increases the replay value because you can do something one way, and then do it a totally different way later on.

Multiplayer: N/A

Overall: 9.3
This game will keep you entertained for hours on end. The game is really open ended, and you can do whatever your heart desires. Morrowind will keep an average player occupied for a minimum of a couple hundred hours. There are so many things to do in this game, and it will differ a little with each race and class that is chosen for a different experience. I highly suggest that as soon as you have some free time to go to the nearest store and purchase it, you will not regret it!


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