Freedom is important and one of the keys to the success of a great game. I have always been a long time fan of the Elder Scrolls series, which started way back - Arena then the much larger and meatier -Daggerfall. Now time has turned once more and the RPG is back with a much better graphics engine and some new gameplay tunes and tweaks. Yes I'm talking about Morrowind.
I have been playing the preview code I was sent by Ubi Soft and I have to say that this is one of the most stunning first person RPG's I've ever had the pleasure to play. It's a simply astounding and beautiful graphics engine that supports real time lighting, shadows, weather and many more features to bring the many lands of Morrowind alive. The whole atmosphere of the game is rich and full of life, the characters could do with a little more depth, but I've yet to see a RPG that actually has decent characters that feel more than their computer-generated counterparts. I'm certainly not going to knock the game for that.
One of the things that always drew me to games like Morrowind was the freedom of exploration. You can choose to follow the main story or you can go off on your own and explore the varied locations, charting new territory and finding secret after secret. I must have spent a few hours wandering in and around the first few places just watching day/night pass me by as I experimented with thievery and running like hell from enraged shopkeepers. (Hey you have to try these things)
Bethesda Softworks really have gone into a lot of time and trouble to make the game worth playing. Their skeletal animation system and simple to use play interface makes the game even more of an immersive experience, you can dress the character in any number of various costumes, with layers of clothing and armour. Earlier on in the game you'll be pretty weak, but later on you'll command powerful magic and have some serious skills. Again it's all about taking your character in the direction you want to go. Viewed from first person, this whole game reeks of powerful and evocative atmosphere, some nice touches, such as the impressive character generation system - where you can answer questions to generate the character, or go for a more traditional, assign points here, approach.
In my limited time with the game, I spent most of it just looking around the incredibly detailed locations, the shops and the various outlying lands of the main start location. I was impressed by how the whole land seems to come alive, the shadows are stunning and the lighting is truly awesome - with all the tricks being used...increase the level or decrease the level of view range and the game changes slightly. I must admit I really love a misty kind of effect so I had mine low. Also it helps to improve performance on slower machines.
You can choose from any one of the classes, or as I said before, answer questions to create the character. If you really want to go deeper into the generation system, you can create your own character by assigning points and skills. I really do love the sense of freedom this gives. Then again, it's why I went nuts over the original Daggerfall. To be honest Morrowind plays as well as it looks, with over 200 hours of solid gameplay and more hidden secrets than a box of Kinder Surprise you can be sure that it will keep you highly interested and amused long into the dawn of many a new day. With the addition of the Construction set, this will allow the mapmaker and the mod maker to have an unparalleled level of control in the creation of game levels for the world, and brand new Quests. Watch out for a full review coming soon...until then, look at these gorgeous screenshots and drool as I have done.