Where's my Elder Scrolls III CD?

Oblivion was a highly anticipated sequel to Morrowind. It promised to offer the open ended RPG experience that the Elder Scrolls series is known for. However, those who have played Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind or are familiar with it, will be saying after a few short hours of Oblivion, "Where's my Elder Scrolls III CD?"

Let's start with the good things in Oblivion. Simply put, the graphics are great. The environments are rendered in a rich 3D setting, and animals/humans/monsters look decent. Although the faces are not great in Oblivion, they are miles above Morrowind. Oblivion also adds in some extra fun features, such as horses. Instead of running everywhere, you can now have your own horse and ride around. Other neat features are an arena where you can fight random npcs and gain ranks!

Unfortunately that's about all Oblivion offers over Morrowind. The sad thing is, let's take a look at what Oblivion takes AWAY:

1) No longer can you place items where you want. Remember in Morrowind when you had your house or cave and you can lay candles/bowls/knives/etc. anywhere you wanted to? In Oblivion it's gone. You can no longer create your own library, dinner setting, weapons rack or anything because the only way you can dump items, is to do so in a chest or body. So what happens if a weapon or item over-encumbers you and there's no chest/body nearby? You're stuck! Have fun reloading the game!

2) Remember when there was all those neat skills and different class types such as medium armor, short/long blade, blunt weapon, axe, spear, etc.? Well they're all gone. Now it's more streamlined. I really enjoyed having a short blade option in Morrowind because it was meant more for thieves. And now 33% of the armor options are gone since medium armor is no longer present.

3) Love to POWER through things and exercise your high level dominance? Not going to happen. The world levels with you. So even though you're level 10 and have all this godly armor, when you go back to the monster it took you 3 hits to kill 10 levels ago... it will take you still 3 hits. What's the point in leveling?

4) Morrowind was great because you could kill ANYTHING. If you killed a very important character, the game world literally said, "You cannot advance the main part of the quest since you killed this character. You are advised to reload." Still... killing an annoying king, vivec, or random npcs was great. Too bad you can't do that now. They simply go unconscious.

5) Thieves are nearly useless. So let's say I steal something from Seattle. And then I fly to Colorado the same day and try to sell it. Apparently everyone in the world knows that I stole it and I get arrested. That's Oblivion. You really can't steal anything and attempt to sell it. In Morrowind you could steal and sell the stolen item, but just not back to the original owner, which made PERFECT sense. Such is not the case here.

6) "We want to waste your time even though it's not an online pay to play!" That should be Bestheda's new motto. This game literally wastes your time. And granted all RPGs do, but Oblivion does it in a pointless manner. For example, npcs/trainers are open only at certain times of the day. That means you have to wait around to go in the store and sell something. So you hit the wait button. The hours slowly tick back from 10 to 9 to 8 to 7... etc. In Morrowind the hours just rattled off quickly and away you went.

7) Then the leveling. Again in the aforementioned game (which I'm using a lot) you could train all day and all night. Go to a trainer, pay them gold, and they could train you from 1-70 instantly if you had the money (Master trainers provided more). Now you can only use a trainer 5 times per level. Since you need to level roughly 30 areas to get the max attribute bonus (10 allows for a 5 increase. 10 x 3 (different attributes) = 30) that means you're left to training the other 25 on your own. Most are pretty useless and just require repetition. Example, Restoration - just simply spam it a few times. Wait, spam it a few time - level up! Yay! Simply lame. So if it's going to be something that stupid anyway, why not let the trainers just train you? Instead we have to wait around now.

8) Lack of items/fun things. Morrowind was FULL of them. Daedric weapons could be found in random dungeons. Cool uniques could be found, fun arrows, awesome items and the like. What's great is you could go get them whenever you wanted to! Now you HAVE to advance the quest to get certain weapons or other lame things are required. Just doesn't make sense.

9) Guilds/factions/clans. They're all gone now. You're stuck with the warrior, mage, and thief guilds. Woohoo! Way to go!

10) Traveling is now useless. The greatest thing about Morrowind was the fact that it was so open ended, that you had to find your own transportation methods! You couldn't just teleport anywhere unless of course you used the console. This meant that each town had a sort of taxi (called striders) and that you had to use them, or walk/run. The maps were big, but with proper equipment and striders, it wasn't too bad. Now in Oblivion you just teleport everywhere free of will. While it's a somewhat nice touch (borrowed from Guild Wars) it doesn't add to the realism I believe Oblivion was shooting for. It also tempts players to use the console to teleport more. Finally, everything is just given to you as a flat out blueprint. If you accept a quest you just look at the map, teleport to a nearby city (which are all preset) and away you go. I remember in Morrowind having to lookup locations and think about how to get there.

AND finally, the graphics. I did mention that they were a neat feature, but they're not so great. There's really no different environment. Everything is trees, water, and some mountains here and there. In Tamriel (Morrowind's continent) there was beaches, swamps, mountains, deserts, valleys, crazy water towns, marshes, volcanic regions. So much more.

What should Oblivion have fixed that it didn't?

The stupid, "I am now godly in every category" syndrome. Eventually you'll level in EVERY single category and be flat out godly. So even though you're a ninja or samurai, you are a master arch mage.

Oblivion doesn't deserve the high score, Morrowind does. Morrowind is what set up the high score for Oblivion. I'm sure Microsoft compensated Gamespot some too since the X360 sucks and needed some sort of game recognition. Oblivion falls short of being an RPG. Like so many current X360 games, all the gameplay and RPG elements have been thrown out for graphics, which in my opinion aren't THAT hot.

Go buy Morrowind and the 2 expansion packs for $19.99 and save yourself and Bestheda the money and embarrassment.