Roleplaying games are fairly popular on consoles, the PS2
for instance is stuffed to the brim with various RPGs, while the Xbox
have their fair share. But these RPGs are usually fairly small, have a definite linear story and don’t really allow for much freedom of choice.
A while ago on the PC there was a series of games developed by a fledgling developer known as Bethesda
they created the Elder Scrolls: Arena
and later on Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
, with their jump to 3d being Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
. The latter was a massive game that made the leap to Xbox and paved the way for open ended gigantic RPGs.
Morrowind had several criticisms levelled at it, some felt it was just way too big and had lots of Non Player Characters in the game world, but very little in the way of main story to bring the player through to a final conclusion. In essence it was a victim of its own grand scope, there was a definite story there but following it took a lot of dedication and patience.
Now the wheel turns once more and the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is upon us! This review concentrates on the Xbox 360 version of the game.Story
The Province of Cyrodiil is the setting for Oblivion and it is a large, sprawling land mass that has seen better days. You begin the game as a prisoner in the Imperial City dungeons; it is here that you are introduced to the story and one of the game’s key characters. Voiced by Patrick Stewart, the Emperor Uriel Septim must escape the Imperial City before he’s killed by assassins and as fate would dictate it – his escape route leads through a secret door in your cell.
The story to Oblivion is carefully woven throughout the game and as you’ll learn you can pick it up as you go along, follow it to the conclusion and call the game beaten, or realise there’s so much more than just the terrible event of a demonic invasion to contend with and find every single side quest and story there is to be had…which could take a seriously long time.Gameplay
You have the choice between third person and first person for a start in Oblivion, whilst the third person is a little tricky to get used to it does provide a greater sense of awareness of the world of Tamriel compared to the first person, it’s very useful when you’re sneaking around. But we shall come to that much later on; this could well be a mammoth review.
The first thing that you’re going to want to know is that Oblivion follows firmly in the footsteps of Morrowind, only regarding the developers attention to detail, everything that made Morrowind a flawed masterpiece has been adjusted and altered, tweaked and in some cases just dropped. Oblivion is a near-open ended RPG and it shows in the way that the game has been constructed, there are a large number of side quests and the main quest is easy enough to pick up as you go along. It never forces you into the quest, you can take as long as you like to explore.
After a fairly intensive character creation, where you can change every aspect of your character’s looks and face, as well as define their name and play with sliders to your hearts content you begin with a cleverly created tutorial dungeon that forms part of the story, it teaches you the skills you need to be able to survive in the world of Tamriel and introduces you to the various elements of gameplay that will become second nature soon enough. As you play through the tutorial you’ll be asked some questions by the characters, the way you play this section determines your class for the game (do not fear, you can choose another).
As you shape the character you are given one final choice upon leaving the tutorial dungeon, you are presented with a screen that allows you to edit your character’s race, career class and birthsign, all the things that you have chosen before you embarked on this new adventure. Here you can give yourself a new class and even make a custom one from scratch, the game will remember your custom class as well and offer it as a choice if you decide to start again as a new character.
The different races, careers and birthsigns all add something unique to your character and it might take a while to find a good balance of things that you like. Each race has a unique power that they can employ and various strengths/weaknesses, such as the Argonian (lizard types) that can breathe underwater.