The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Review
|Publisher:||Bethseda / 2K Games|
|Release Date:||March 24th (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Ryan Sayce (Stan)|
|Buy now at Amazon.co.uk|
Hello my name is Ryan Sayce and I am an Oblivion addict, to say Oblivion is addictive is to say crack is slightly bad for your health. It is rare indeed that I have to force myself to stop playing a game so I can write the review, especially after 40 hours of game-play time. So, it's with a pinch of salt that you should take my criticism over the next few paragraphs; I like to get the bad stuff out of the way.
Anyone who has seen any screenshots of Oblivion will instantly know this is a next generation title just like the Morrowind was in it's time, however since the earlier screenshots Bethesda seem to have removed a large amount of detail from the characters face's. It's a pity as it's made them look like they have hit every single branch on the ugly tree while falling out. Facial animation technology in Half-Life 2 is still the leader in that particular race, not that it's all that relevant.
As one expects from a game that uses HDR, the lighting and shadow effects are breathtaking, especially when combined with Pixel Shading 3.0 to give the chain-mail armour a life-like quality not seen before. But make no mistakes about it, this game needs a NASA super computer to run at it's maximum settings with no slowdowns, even the xbox360 version suffers from some slowdown in certain places, most of the fps drops come from the huge forests generated by the Oblivion engine and are mainly due to the millions of blades of grass each swaying in the wind with their own shadows.
Fortunately there are many sliders and options with which to tweak Oblivion in order to make it run well on your computer, although you still need a direct x9 compatible graphics card, however if you are anything like me then you just cant bring yourself to play this game at anything other than maximum detail just because its so damn pretty. The animation for the most part is very good if it doesn't quite rival that of Battlefield 2, however the animation on your horse is so bad it looks like it is one of the playmobil horse's from my childhood and is the worst animation in the game. It really does draw you out of the otherwise immensely involving game.
Almost all role playing games use text instead of voices for the characters because there is so much dialogue it would take forever to record it all, until Oblivion that is. Every single character in this game is voiced including people in the middle of nowhere which have no use to any of the quests or stories in the game, I think this shows the level of dedication and attention to detail that truly do set new standards. Alas it's not all rose's as you will quite often hear the same phrases repeated but when you consider how many different characters and sentences there are, you can easily forgive the odd repeat. One of the main characters is voiced by none other than Sean Bean this seems to be a common trend in video games recently and one I am glad to say works very well here, I remember Sean's character walking up and down a line of soldiers telling them that they must stand their ground or the world is doomed, for the first time in a computer game it set my hair on end with the power in his voice.
Like the previous game in the series, this RPG is played in a first person perspective and thus uses FPS style controls, it works incredibly well and manages to immerse you in the world even more. What makes Oblivion really special in my eyes is the hit detection, if you jump out of the way of a fireball then you really jump out of the way, this is FPS style hit detection rather than you're rolled for hits in most RPG games. This makes Oblivion the most skilful RPG I have ever played because it's all down to you if you win or lose a fight, your character staggers back a few steps when he has blocked a particularly weighty and powerful blow, it really does feel like your character should have a broken arm.
To say we have a huge and open ended game here doesn't even come close to doing Oblivion justice, you can play for 30 hours and not do a single mission the same as your friend or play for 30 hours without hardly touching the main story, which I won't spoil for you. Doing the side quests is where the real fun begins especially if you manage to join the Dark brotherhood which is a guild of assassins, these missions are much darker and more varied than most of the other quests in Oblivion. The one that instantly springs to mind involves you going to this mansion where all the guests have been told that if they manage to find the hidden gold they get to keep it and become rich, where as in fact they have all wronged the owner in some way and your job is to kill them one by one without anyone working out what you are doing, by the time you get to the last two victims you manage to convince the drunk that it is the old lady killing everyone, watching him chasing her and her running and screaming till he manages to catch her up and kill her still has me laughing, I'm just evil I know.
A second recollection that sticks in my memory is walking though one of the vast forests which populate the world when I stumble across a family of deer hopping along, my first thought is of bambi which I guess must have been some sort of premonition because two seconds later an arrow flies through the air and kills one of them. I turn around and see the hunter closing on his prize. After exploring a bit, I find his campsite with venison from his earlier kills next to the fire. This is just one of the many touches in oblivion that help to bring you that much further into the oblivion universe, if you want to you can follow any of the characters around in their day to day lives, you can watch them get up in the morning and go to church then spend most of the day working in the fields and then in the evening go to the inn to spend there hard earned cash.
The Elder Scrolls IV is a fine addition to the series and is frankly awesome in many ways, it's the sort of game that will even hook people in who normally hate rpg's, in fact it was the previous title (Morrowind) that got me into rpg's in the first place. Oblivion offers superb value for money, well over 50 hours to find all of the side quests and complete them. However, Oblivion isn't without some nasty bugs, it's crashed on me more than once which can be can be very annoying. Despite this I would recommend anyone and everyone to go out and buy Oblivion today because it is just so damn addictive, incredibly deep and detailed. Just try to be sure your computer can handle this powerhouse of a graphics engine.
Finally, I would just like to have a pop at the general trend of after release purchasable content, while a little extra like armour for your trusty (but somewhat plastic) steed might be cool, I'm not too fond of the idea, everyone seems to be trying it though, I guess it's a case of getting the price right and not charging for them all, loyal customers have quite often been treated to some extra free content in the past with PC games. Hopefully that won't change entirely.
- The best controls in an RPG I have ever played
- Huge amount of Gameplay
- Fantastic graphics for the most part
- Every character is voiced
- Open ended
- Unbelievable combat
- Convincing world
- Lots of different ways to play the game
Not so good stuff
- Pretty buggy at times
- Performance on state of the art computers could be a little better
- Your horse is a disappointment
- Charging for small amounts of extra content
- Facial animations aren't great