reviews\ Apr 2, 2006 at 8:00 pm

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - 360 - Review

I first got a taste of the Elder Scroll games several years ago with Morrowind, but to be completely honest there was just so much to do in the game I came away feeling overwhelmed and not sure exactly what to do, where to go, among many other things. Well several years have passed, my gaming preferences have changed slightly, and since that time and I have been counting down the days till I could get my teeth into Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. While it was a sad thing to hear that the game was delayed from a launch title for a few months, I am finally glad that I have the full version in my hands. It was completely worth the wait. Needless to say that you NEED to go purchase this game when you see it in stores as it is one of the best games I have played in a long while.

Players will know how big this game is the minute that they are able to create their own character. I have never seen a game with this many options, it is simply amazing. First of all you get to choose your character’s race, and each race has their distinct advantages and disadvantages to various play styles. For instance an Orc or Nord is a better fighter, while the High Elf and Dark Elf’s are better at magic. Then once you do that you can do so many things to the characters face it is amazing, from changing the lip line, nose, and neck, to so many other things. You can spend an hour creating your perfect character before you even walk two feet in this game.

After you get your characters created in the game, you finally get to select the role in which you wish to play, which is what makes the Elder Scrolls games so popular and like. Unlike many other games of this nature, when you choose your initial character stats you are not constrained by them, these traits are just what help you level up faster. If you initially choose to be a powerful warrior, this doesn’t mean that later on in the game that your character still can’t become a sneaky backstabbing thief. Speaking of leveling up, the more you use a certain skill means the more you level it up. For instance if you jump everywhere, you will soon find yourself able to jump really high, which helps you when you fall off a mountain to take less damage or even to jump onto the roof of various houses.

Once your character creation is complete you will see that this is just the tip of the iceberg on what this game has to offer. The first time that you get out of the dungeons you will see how big this world really is. The best thing about this game is that you can do what you want, when you want, mentality. You can spend the entire game leveling up and not even start on the main game’s storyline. The sub quests you get in this game are so engaging and have you wanting to complete more and more. What I really like is when you travel around the map you stumble upon ruins of various things and it just looks really surreal.

There are so many different things that you can do in this game it is amazing. The various guilds that you can join in the game are really cool and they are the Fighters, Mage, Thief, and Dark Brotherhood (assassins). As you complete missions within the guild you level up. Eventually after doing a lot of missions you can even become the head of that guild, which has its very own perks, which I will leave for you to find out, so not to spoil the game for you.

Continuing on theme of customization, this game will let you create your own spells, potions, and even enchanting your weapons. All you have to do is find the ingredients, which you can find anywhere or even pick them yourself, and create your own concoctions. I have created some mighty powerful spells that will do multiple things. I have this one spell that with each successful strike casts fire, ice, and lighting on one enemy. Then I have nice alchemy stats that allow me to create some pretty powerful potions that will help me out when any of my health or magic levels are low.

The “radiant A.I.” that has been so hyped in this game works extremely well. It is always fascinating to me to go into a town and just eavesdrop on two characters as they have their own random conversation. You will find that some NPCs like to take naps, play with swords, or even improve their archery stats. They will even help you out.  For instance one of my guild missions, someone set fire to one of the branches in a town, I walked in and was surrounded by enemies, so I stepped outside and the guards and even members from the Fighting guild came out and helped me crush the enemies. The NPCs truly act like people in the real world, content with doing various mundane things, which is really cool to see this in action in a game.

One of the best options in the game is the fast travel. The game world is so huge that it would take hours to get from one end of the map to the other so the developers put in this option which makes life a lot better. Once you have found a spot on the map you can visit it at any moment you want in the game by going onto the map screen and selecting it. This makes completing some quests a lot easier since you don’t have to spend hours looking for the spot once more.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is one of the reasons to get an Xbox 360. This was the game that I was waiting for when the Xbox 360 was released, because it looked gorgeous. Now that I have many hours under my belt I can tell you that this is one of the best looking games available on any gaming system that I have seen released thus far. Everything has its own unique look and feel to it, from all of the different towns, to the people that inhabit the towns. The developers did a wonderful job in making sure the world is alive with people that move and talk realistically.

The armor and weapons are really cool. There are a variety of different clothes, from robes, light armor, heavy armor, and just normal civilian clothes. Each of these articles of clothing may do different things for you, depending on who you are talking to at any given time. For instance I have this robe that gives me an incredible amount of extra magic and willpower. Yet my armor might give me a huge boost of defense and resistance against poison. Depending on where I am at I can choose what I want to wear. You can mix and match clothes as well creating your own special look. Not only do you have clothes, you also have rings, amulets, shoes, gloves, and a variety of other items.

Next up is the weapons, there are a lot of different items for you to use, including hand-to-hand combat, swords, axes, maces, staff’s, bow and arrows, and many more ways to get the job done. Each weapon has its own unique look, feel, and stats. Then this is further expounded upon by which material it is made out of.  I am a fan of the glass weapons as they just look really cool, seeing the green tint on them before you strike an enemy is a nice added touch.

The weather effects that you will see in this game make it feel even more realistic. For instance I was out in the forest and it began to rain, I stopped by a pond and I saw all of the water drops hitting the pond in a very realistic manner. If you are higher up in the mountains you will see it start snowing instead of rain, which makes you feel cold for all of the characters as they are going throughout the game.

The physics engine in this game is outstanding. There are various traps that have been set that you can use against the enemies and it is all thanks to this great engine. For instance you might see some enemies ahead of you, but there are some logs that are tied up. So instead of going in with your weapon and taking unnecessary damage, just cut the rope and let the logs kill them for you. It is things like this that make the game really fun. One time a bear attacked me on the side of a mountain. After I defeated him, I watched the corpse just roll down the entire mountain. At one point it hit a rock and launched it in the air (not very high) and continued rolling down till it came to a nice stop for me to grab its pelt and sell it later on. It is the small things like this that make experimenting so much fun.

Since you will be spending a lot of your time in this game fighting I bet you want to know how the fighting works. One button is assigned to block, one to attack, and one to magic. This makes the game really easy to attack your enemies and still block. Since you have so many different options in this game you can assign the direction pad with various hotkeys to allow you to bring up specific spells, weapons, or items at any given time. While it is a shame that there are only eight hotkey assignments, it really helps the players out, especially in the heat of battle.

With the good there had to be some bad right? Well there are just a couple of complaints (very small mind you) that I feel that I have to make. First of all the load times can get ridiculous especially if you are just entering into a shop to sell some merchandise. Next up is the low resolution backgrounds. Off in the distance you will see mountains and it uses lower resolution textures until you get closer to it. Then you have the pop-up that occasionally occurs, it is most noticeable with rocks and sometimes a lot of trees will just suddenly appear.  Last but not least there is occasional slow down, it is not major and it doesn’t happen too often, but it is there. All in all when you have a game of this scale you are bound to end up with some minor things wrong with it. Even though there are these faults in the game, it really is outweighed by everything else in it.

The voiceovers used for this game are excellent. Patrick Stewart voices the part of the Emperor and he puts his voice into authority, and really makes the part come alive. All of the other voiceovers in this game really fit the entire world that you are in. Everyone's race has their own distinct accent of sorts, and it really is a surreal experience when you are in this world. The battle cries of all of the various enemies that you will face are well done.

Then you have all of the various sound effects that you will hear in the game. As you play you will hear various weapons hitting each other, armor, or the flesh of your opponent. Each has their own distinct sound that make this game feel more realistic. Even the burning of fire, either by a spell or the torches spread out throughout the land, sounds real as you hear it singe and crackle.

Next up is the wonderful soundtrack. Whoever composed the soundtrack for Oblivion game deservers a medal and a cookie because they did a wonderful job!  The music in this game is so aesthetically pleasing; you can just sit and run around the world just hearing the various songs for all of the various places you were in. For instance when you find enemies the music will switch to something more with more “action” that gets you pumped up for battle. Then when you are not in battle or just wandering around you get more of a serene melody that just makes you want to explore the place more and more.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is rated T for Teen.

Review Scoring Details for Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Gameplay: 9.7
This game controls like a dream on the Xbox 360 controller. While the first couple of hours of the game you will be struggling to find the exact spot for the things that you need. As you continue to play this becomes second nature to gamers.

Fighting the various enemies never proved to be a problem since everything is really easy to hit and makes sense, from the attacking to the spell casting buttons. The various missions that you will undertake are grand as well, and always keeps the game fresh from any sense of tediousness that you might feel.

Graphics: 9.6
Oblivion is one of the best looking games on the Xbox 360, and one of the best looking games to date! The game shows what a “next generation” game is supposed to look like. Even though this game contains occasional slowdown, popup, and loading times, it is easily forgiven by the huge and diverse world that is contained inside.

Sound: 9.8
I love the soundtrack to this game. It is beyond amazing. The music in this game changes depending on what situation you are in and it always fits. The music will stuff you as you try to defeat various enemies or as you transverse through the game’s huge world. Another good point to this game is the great voice acting. The voice actors do a great job of keeping the game alive while making sure it stays in the realm of realism.

Difficulty: Medium
The game is as difficult as you make it, but what is nice is that it levels up with you. For instance in the beginning of the game you are attacked by rats, crabs, and wolves. As you level your character up you will get attacked by more power creatures such as bears, boars, and mountain lions. This ramp up is nice, especially for people who want to explore the game and will be attacked by creatures more comparable to their levels instead of overly powerful things.

Concept: 9.7
This game offers you so many different things to do, it is like the developers took the best things form every single MMORPG and RPG game and combined it into one game for everyone to enjoy. You can spend hours upon hours leveling up your character, doing various quests, customizing your character to however you want before you even get on the main quest.

Overall: 9.7
Even though I have played this game for many hours; I honestly believe that I have barely scratched the surface on what this game has to offer. There are just so many different things to do in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion it is amazing. If you see this game in stores and you own an Xbox 360 you owe it to yourself to go pick up a copy of this game. You will not regret it for a second!



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