Note to the folks at Bethesda: finish your games before offering them to customers.

User Rating: 1.1 | The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion MOBI
I'm not a terribly picky gamer. I don't own an X-Box or a PSP. I only recently learned who "nVidia" is, and I still view the original Bard's Tale as one of the high water marks for PC gaming. So generally a well thought out cellphone game is enough to recover me from boredom until I need to get back to work or move on to more important things.

Nevertheless, I'm ready to draw one line in the sand: developers, please finish your games before selling them to me.

The online screenshots of Oblivion for Mobile suggest a virtual epic by cell phone standards. Diverse scenery is punctuated with unique monsters, broken terrain, and even the occational treasure chest. Perhaps Colin Powell designed these screens, because they are almost certainly Weapons of Mass Deception.

Unlike the game depicted online, the actual Oblivion for Mobile gameplay can be summed up in a few sentences. After a too long text sequence setting the scene, the player is transported to a fuzzy green wasteland--where the are promptly killed by a vaguely gnoll-looking thing. With extreme luck or fleet running (not to mention a dozen replays), an enterprising gamer may manage to run away from this death bringer, finding the portal which leads to the next level.

But SURPRISE! the second level is the same as the first. Same green wasteland. Same feeble character. Same death by gnoll. Furthermore, should the too-patient gamer escape the gnoll beasts on level two, they are rewarded with a third level identical to the prior two. I actually played through a dozen of these things. They are all exactly the same.

Years ago I dabbled in programming, even PC game development, so I think it's pretty clear what happened here. New games must be designed in stages, with early stages like the combat engine or the level generator game tested before additional features are added. The version of Oblivion for Mobile I played feels like one of those early tests. Rather than sell me a complete game, the folks at Bethesda pawned off a programer's shell designed to make sure they haven't **** anything up yet. Heckuva job, guys. Can I have the real game now?