The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Review for PC

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Sequel to the best-selling and critically acclaimed The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

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9Out of 10
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The in-game menus are quick and easy to navigate
The in-game menus are quick and easy to navigate

The in-game menus are quick and easy to navigate

The game map is enormous, roughly three times larger than that in Morrowind, and is home to dozens of caves, landmarks, dungeons, cities, thousands of NPCs to interact with, and four guilds to join (six if you count the Blades and Arena). For anyone who's played Morrowind, the game actually feels a bit smaller in scale, partly due to your character's speed (your character moved like a snail in Morrowind), and the illusion that cities are closer than they seem thanks to the game's incredible draw distance.

In the cities you'll find the Mages Guild and Fighters Guild, while the Dark Brotherhood Guild and Thieves Guild are unlocked via other means. The guilds each have their own story, completely separate from the main quest and offer a variety of quests, ranging from fetching items to solving full-fledged conspiracies.

Unlike the guild quests, side quests are triggered by speaking to NPCs in and around each city. Once you've accepted the quest, it'll be added to your journal and updated as you make progress. To make things a little easier for the casual player, Bethesda has completely remodelled the map system, which now features a compass and markers. When a quest has been accepted, a red marker appears on the map showing you exactly where to go. It even shows you the room in which the character or item is located. Elder Scrolls vets might be a little turned off by this system but I don't even want to imagine how long the game would take to complete without it. The lack of any real direction was one of my biggest gripes with Morrowind, resulting in simple quests taking hours, so the improvement in this area is much appreciated.

Similarly, the way in which characters travel has been drastically altered. Whereas in Morrowind, you could fast travel between each town, in Oblivion, you can fast travel to multiple locations in each city, as well as any caves, landmarks, and shrines you've found along the way. It eliminates hours of on-foot travel and makes the game more appealing to a general audience, and frankly I don't see how you could play the game any other way - not that random gallivanting around the environment isn't fun.

'Ultimately, the variety of these quests is what will keep you coming back for more.'

Ultimately, the variety of these quests is what will keep you coming back for more. Even quests that involve fetching an item in a nearby cave usually have multiple layers, while other quests are so outrageous and inventive that you literally can't put your controller down until they're completed. Case in point is the excellent quest that has you travel inside a painting, complete with brush-stroked skies, trees and painted trolls to clash swords with. It's a perfect example of how a 'find this missing person' quest can evolve into so much more. Another, equally interesting quest has you delve into the mind of a mage and undergo a series of trials constructed by his subconscious. When's the last time you've seen something like that in an RPG?

Equally impressive are the number of items and spells you can acquire in the game. I'm not sure what the exact numbers are but there must be well over a 1000 items that can be collected, equipped, and stolen. Similarly, there are a seemingly endless amount of spells that can be cast, provided you have the required amount of magicka and have reached the appropriate skill level.

Some of the views are incredible

Some of the views are incredible

From a technical standpoint, Oblivion doesn't disappoint. Bethesda has done a remarkable job at bringing Cyrodiil to life, and not just visually either. The Radiant A.I. delivers on all fronts, as NPCs go about their daily activities - eating, sleeping, hunting, training and generally living their lives the way people do. But every now and then the A.I. goes beyond its menial tasks and does something extraordinary. I've seen NPCs fight over kills; I've seen rival goblin clans fight one another to the death; I've seen the population of an entire city come to the aid of a downed comrade; I've seen NPCs steal items I accidentally dropped and then sell them to the nearest merchant. Occasionally they'll do something that is a little odd, but on the whole no other game features AI as impressively lifelike.

Cyrodiil is a massive province, filled with trees, grass that sways back and forth as you wade through it, towering stone structures, and beautiful sunrises - make a trip over to Dive Rock at around six in the morning and you'll see what I mean (watch out for the giant troll nearby though). Character models are well designed, although often quite ugly, and the lighting has also been well implemented, but unfortunately all of these visual treats do come at a price. Some of the loading times are horrendous, often clocking in at over a minute when fast travelling to the other side of the map. Low-res textures in the distance, noticeable pop-up and some frame rate stutters are the game's other noticeable offenders. If you're running the game on an ultra high-end PC some of these problems will be lessened, but, for most, the Xbox 360 version will be the wisest choice. And then there are the glitches...

As with any game of this size, and with the amount of freedom players are given, it's no surprise that glitches have reared their ugly heads once again. I've been stuck in walls a number of times, the game has a tendency to freeze during loading screens, and a few characters from the main quest have decided to mysteriously disappear on me, forcing me to reload previous saves. During one quest, I had to acquire a particular ring; however, in the chest were two of the exact same rings, so I figured, hey, why not? I tried giving the first ring to the NPC who requested its retrieval, and keep the other, only to have the game crash on me. Unfortunately I hadn't saved for a while, so one controller against the wall later, and I was at it again. My second attempt at the quest proved to be more successful than the first as the chest contained one ring instead of two. So the moral of the story is to save often!

You'll discover all manner of things on your travels

You'll discover all manner of things on your travels

From an audio perspective, Oblivion succeeds, for the most part, with solid voice acting and an impressively epic score, but also fails miserably at times, with NPCs engaging in some horribly dry conversations. Furthermore, while the voice talent is top-notch, I swear there are only three or four voice actors in the entire game. I ran into a group of NPCs and after speaking to all of them, I realized they all had the same voice - a little strange if you ask me.

I was disappointed like everyone else when Oblivion didn't make its release alongside the 360, but it was well worth the wait. Let's get one thing straight though: Oblivion will consume you. It'll consume your life, your performance at work will suffer and you might not see friends in weeks. With hundreds of hours of gameplay, and an unprecedented amount of quests to be completed, I couldn't possibly recommend Oblivion enough. Great job Bethesda. Sorry social life.

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choklateice's Avatar

choklateice

This game is sick one of the best i've played so far and I'm very hard to please
Posted 17:16 on 30 October 2008
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Alexander

I'm suprised that you liked the level-scaling system. I found it to be a game-breaker that sapped the fun out before the end of my adventure. At high levels, everything takes a dozen hits with a sword to kill, and the way enemies mutate over time defies logic--why, at level 20, has every minotaur turned into a minotaur lord? and where did the regular minotours go? And, at level 2, how did Mehrunes Dagon manage to destroy Kvatch with an army of "churls" and "stunted scamps?"

I felt like my character was becoming weaker as I leveled up, because of the awkward level scaling. I asked on the official forums, and they advised me to create a character class with all the major skills as ones I wouldn't use, and only use my minor skills, thus never levelling up. It's easier that way!

When your players don't WANT to level up, Bethesda, you've done something very wrong.
Posted 15:45 on 30 October 2008
TIMMY!!!!!!!!!'s Avatar
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TIMMY!!!!!!!!!

I KINDA THOUGHT A MAGE OR A SORCERER
Posted 04:10 on 16 June 2008
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TIMMY!!!!!!!!!

WHAT WOULD BE THE BEST CLASS FOR A HIGH ELF
Posted 04:07 on 16 June 2008
SemoTheGmer's Avatar

SemoTheGmer

I just bought it and I think i haven't played that good before.
THAT GAME IS SICK.
I should have got it earlier
Posted 10:53 on 15 January 2007
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jam@ Jethrow

i havent been on it yet but cant wait to get it for the 360 for crimbo looks mint as cheese
Posted 15:32 on 29 October 2006
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Tom@ Jethrow

My new pc plays this game amazingly - my fav game by a long way
Posted 13:32 on 17 September 2006
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xboxer@ Jethrow

Can i just say that the blows all games out the water. Newer games have a lot to live up to!
But what is with the loading of areas in front of your eyes! in some cases this is really noticable and takes alot away from the game.
i haven't playedit much as this particular feature i DON'T LIKE!
Posted 20:18 on 07 August 2006
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Anonymous@ Jethrow

I know this is random but does anyone know if there will be a surfing game created for xbox 360
Posted 09:58 on 07 July 2006
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Jack@ Jethrow

BEst, visuals, will take long time to finish, lots of fun, what more could you ask for?
Posted 00:59 on 06 July 2006
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Cala@ Jethrow

Best Game ever, is Elder Scrolls 5 gonna come out?
Posted 13:20 on 01 May 2006
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Jethrow

This game is awsome. best buy of the year so far
Posted 04:12 on 20 April 2006

Game Stats

System Requirements
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
9
Out of 10
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Excellent visuals
  • Hundreds of hours worth of gameplay
  • Massive game world
  • Long loading times and a number of glitches
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 24/03/2006
Platforms: PC , Xbox 360 , PS3 , PSP
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: RPG
No. Players: One
Rating: BBFC 15
Site Rank: 400 16
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