The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion needs no introduction, but I am sure there are a few readers who would want to know the background story before I continue. Oblivion is the fourth game in the Elder Scrolls series, and the first one to come out on the new Xbox360. As with previous games of the series, Oblivion has its own standalone story that’s not dependant on previous games. Now you know about Oblivion, so how good is it? Well read the rest of the review to find out.
Oblivion starts off like all the other games with you being a nameless hero stuck in prison for an unknown cause. Instead of the ship like in Morrowind, you are in what seems to be underground prison of a castle. One of the other cell mates starts talking about how you’re going to die and that they are after you, which is about the same time you hear a few people walking down the steps. The faint light from a torch appears to fill the hallway as these mysterious persons stop in front of your cell door. It appears to be two guards escorting a king, in this case Emperor Septim himself. One of the guards tells you to step back or face certain death, so not wanting to die I stepped back. As they entered your cell to get to the secret escape route, the Emperor stops and faces you. He tells a tale of how you were in his dreams and further information which I do not wish to spoil.
This is where your story begins, you follow the guards through the sewer, and fight against rats and goblins until eventually you find the exit of the sewer. It is at this time that you experience the beauty of Oblivion. You are presented with the whole world of Cyrodiil; you can now continue the main quest or explore at your own time and do whatever you feel like. I decided to continue with my main quest; I had to bring the Amulet of Kings, which the Emperor entrusted in me, to one of his loyal friends. Although I could go on and on about my adventures, I’d rather not spoil the game for you, so it’s safe to read on.
The most outstanding feature of Oblivion has to be its massive world and free-roaming aspects. You can literally go anywhere and do anything you want, from exploring every dungeon to joining guilds and doing their quests. It’s been the backbone of all the Elder Scrolls games, and they’ve just been getting better and bigger. It’s been said that Oblivion is roughly 16 square miles, now compare that to Morrowind which was about 9 square miles. Oblivion is huge, not to mention extremely detailed.
Oblivion has a rich and growing world. Everyone has their own daily tasks, from taking care of horses at a stable to getting some Skooma at a dealer behind the castle walls. Bethesda built in radiant AI into Oblivion, which gives the world a more life-like quality to it. This means that each NPC (no player character) has their own goals in the world; they will also react lifelike to whatever happens in the world. So if a guy decides to attack a guard for no reason, the guard will retaliate. If they are spotted by other guards they will join in and help the guard under attack. Some of the things that happen in the world can be extremely hilarious at times.
The Elder Scrolls has also been known for its great sound composition. Not only does it bring emotion into the game, but can also tell you what’s going on. The music will change dynamically, so if you’re in a battle it will play something rather dramatic to get your adrenaline going. Or if you’re galloping through the forest it will play something rather relaxing. The sound within the game is also something to admire, as swords clash and hit flesh it makes an appropriate and accurate sound, which not a lot of games do correctly. I do applaud Bethesda’s music and sound department on a job well done.
While listening to some great music, you cannot help but be awed at the graphics in Oblivion. Bethesda decided to include HDR lighting, which stands for High Dynamic Range Lighting, basically it means that when you transition from a dark to a bright area, you’ll have to give your eyes a little time to adjust to the change in brightness, this adds a great deal of realism to the game. There aren’t enough words in the word to describe how great the world looks, especially when adventuring through a forest or even a dungeon.
A game does not come without flaws though, but luckily Oblivion doesn’t have too many of those. On two occasions my Xbox360 totally locked up on me, which had me do a reset and reload. Other problems that may occur this can easily be fixed though by clearing your hard drive’s cache. Other small problems are floating objects such as small stones to even a horse (well, I did try and push it out of the stables so I can steal it). Other games have a few nit picky problems such as not being able to name your save game files. I’ve also heard that the user interface can be a bit tricky on the PC version, but I haven’t used it so I cannot give an opinion. But what I can say is that it’s a dream to use on the Xbox360.
As the title of this review states, I’ve played a total of 22 hours so far, probably more when you read this review. I finished the main quest in roughly 15 hours, and that’s strictly doing what I was supposed to. I am now part of the fighter’s guild (which I haven’t started on yet), and also doing quests for the Black Hand. One thing that’s slightly irritating is being a vampire, as I have to drink blood often otherwise I won’t be able to go out in the daytime.
Overall this game is simply a work of art, hours of game play, great visuals and enthralling sound, this game is a must-have for any RPG and Elder Scrolls fan. I am now off to continue my journey in Cyrodiil and the world of Tamriel, so wish me luck.