Elder Scrolls Oblivion - PC
Published: 1st April 2006 | Source: Oblivion | Price: |The Elder Scrolls Series of games has been popular with RPG fans for a long time.
Bethesda Studios has just released its next title in the series: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. This is a huge RPG made in a fantasy world.
Please note all pictures are clickable for full 1920 x 1200 images.
Let me first make a quick mention of my interest in the game. I am not an RPG fan: I have played a fair few and always found them to be a bit hard to get into and hard to control. I was very wary when first playing this game as I'm used to the non-intuitive controls of some of the RPG's that I have played. However read on and see why my fears were allayed.
The world in Oblivion is simply HUGE. Words find it hard to describe just how totally immense this world actually is. Once you step out into it you get a sense of proportion of just how utterly massive the gameplay world is. The world is called Tamriel and in Oblivion it is approximately 16 square miles.
The construction of the scenery and the details is excellent. From the highly realistic grass to the huge mountains that tower overhead: everything is perfectly in proportion and gives you a sense of scale. Its not just the big things that the game developers have gone after: its the little touches too. Flowers are perfectly formed and blades of grass actually look like blades of grass. The HDR effect is quite breathtaking and really gives you a sense of "being there".
Just a brief note on the story. Being a fantasy fan I totally get it. It is a bit on the cheesy side. The Emporer dies: evil is taking over. You have to help out find his son and generally save the world and its people from evil. Having said that the game makes you believe it in the way that a good book does. Lots of little touches like books with a history of the land mean that you learn background as you go along. It is interesting enough to keep me interested while I beat the baddies and mix my herbs.
The Control Panel
Its worth mentioning that you can access the control panel all of the time in the game and that it freezes whatever is going on in the game so you can handily change weapons/adjust spells to what you need at the time. It also allows you to equip armour and use potions etc.
The control panel at first looks incredibly confusing. The icons aren't very clearly labelled and sometimes look a little vague. However once you've had a look around and got used to them (didn't take me long even as a relative newby to RPG), they are pretty easy to use and certainly very very helpful and is nicely laid out.
Below are the weapon and magica screens.
Right at the start of Oblivion you have to choose the attributes of your character. This is possibly the most in-depth I have ever seen character creation with practically every element of your character being able to be modified. You create a name, class, attributes, look and feel for your very own ultra-personalised character. You don't just create a single-skilled character such as an 'Elven Warrior': you create a character that has many many attributes. Mine is a Dark Elven Battlemage who is getting good at blunt weapons, can't really pick locks too well, can mix potions nicely, is pretty damn good at destructive magic, can talk anyone around, is a really good jumper.....the list goes on. You can modify almost every facet of your own appearance from how your jaw shapes up to how much hair you have on your head. Quite astonishing and time-consuming if you so choose it to be.
The "tutorial" at the beginning of the game guides you through you simple abilities and puts you straight into the main quest. You are a prisoner in a cell that just so happens to be the one the Emporer uses to escape attack in his own palace. This guides you through basic tasks and gently nudges you into combat, spells, magica and interaction. About halfway through you will get to choose the 'class' of your character from a range of pre-made classes The addition of a 'custom' skill also gives the most ardent RPG fans the chance to customise 21 different options and 'make your own'.
The game lets you 'step up' levels after you practice certain skills. A level up means you have to rest for an hour to gain a level. This then gives you an option to increase 3 skill types such as Intelligence. It is perhaps this multi-faceted nature of the character-creation that gives Oblivion its charm. It is a little confusing at times and it seems like this is almost supposed to happen. Being a newcomer to RPG's maybe its just me but it seems like Bethesda have made it so that its not easy to pick the characteristics that you need...you just gain what you use.
I've noticed that if your character gets better then the monsters get better, bigger, harder and uglier. I have been informed that 'super-levelling' just means that the monsters step up with you too.
The World, AI and immersion
The Oblivion world is huge. I mean: really huge. No really I mean: simply awe-inspiringly huge. Its all single player and every person you meet is interactable. I thought that there would only be a few people walking around: but every town has a host of people all following their own schedule, going to bed, trading and shopping the same as you. Oblivion tracks all of these people and that means that every one will be in the right place just when they're needed in the story.
The good thing about this game is that you get straight into the main quest and start trying to achieve your aims. This makes it a little friendlier to people like me playing who didn't like the overwhelming feel of Morrowind. The game also abound with many many side quests and these alone will take up your playing time. Pick up (ok: steal) an interesting herb and you'll be asked if you want to and find out what it does and what to do to find out. Sound good? It is.
If you slay innocents then you will be noticed by 'Dark Forces'. Eventually you will be noticed by Vampires and maybe even become one. I preferred to stay 'nice' but I'm sure this will give the game even more longevity.
You can chat to any non playing character in the game at most times. This part of the game means that you can gain levels on your personality and gain persuasion. You do this by having 4 bars: admire, joke, coerce and boast. You get the points by choosing the one that the character you are chatting to likes the most. The way you judge this is their facial expression. The more full each quadrant is the better you do with the NPC. You have unlimited goes to do this and this also ups your characters personality levels.
Here's what it looks like (and me attacking some innocents just for fun):
Fighting in the game is pretty simple although you do get to know different tactics against different creatures. I actually find some of the lower and more common creatures quite hard to kill and find they kill me a bit too easily. Maybe that's just because I'm not very good yet but it does seem to be a bit over the top at times.
Having said that fighting is good fun: mastering archery a long way away is great. Magica is especially fun to master and is very useful in battle. With the ability to go to the menu and switch weapons in the menu fighting can change as often as you like but you will soon become familiar with a select few weapons. You can go into first and third person views throughout the game but I personally preferred the first person view in action as i play a lot of FPS.
I am going to leave the rest of the gameplay for you to find out for yourselves....its fun and easy to get into.
I set the game up on my gaming rig with an AMD Opteron 170 (dual core) @ 2.8GHz, 2gb Mushkin Redline PC4000 and an X1900XTX. The game ran smooth at minimum 30FPS, average 48FPS with Ultra Settings, 1920 x 1200, HDR enables (no AA) and most draw distances increased. Most other settings were set at default for Ultra settings. It was a very pleasant and smooth gaming experience.
Conclusion and Final thoughts
This game has really blown me away. Its immersive, even addictive. The menu system is pretty good and the controls easy to learn and intuitive. The level of interactivity is next to none and you really get a sense that you are there inside the world helping out the people.
The graphics are absolutely gorgeous and HDR for me makes the game all the better. The grass sways with the wind, the mountains loom over you, the sun sets with brilliance and the characters are believably rendered.
I really enjoy playing the game and I have a feeling a lot of my spare time will be devoted to it. Especially with over 300hours of total gameplay in front of me.
There are some you'll be surprised to hear.
* Sometimes the lower enemies are too hard to beat and the characters that you play with die far too easily.
* It takes a hell of a lot of spare time
* Pretty taxing on the system to look its best, but it IS scalable with a lot of options to change.
* No HDR + AA
There are so many but I'll list a few.
* Simply breathtaking graphics
* Immersive gameplay
* Excellent player interaction
* Believable world
* Great looking characters
Turn the page for a screenshot gallery.
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