Oblivion Review

I got Oblivion on the opening day and ended up missing a lot of work that week (not entirely because of the game, I’ve been rather unwell lately).

Oblivion is the fourth game in The Elder Scrolls series, and is epic in such that it signifies the end of the third age of the Tamrielic empire. I had the game beat within the week, and my save file said “37 hours”, which doesn’t count the time I spent on other characters or the time that was lost when I reloaded an earlier save. Of course, after beating the game I realized I’d only explored maybe 5% of the wilderness, hadn’t ventured into Oblivion but a handful of times, and had done only one of the questlines (there’s also the five or six guilds, Daedra Shines, and numberless sidequests).

The Good: The game is huge. The forests, water, ruins, creatures, and everything are beautiful. The skills, spells, potions, and everything are plentiful in quantity and variety, and while not everything is useful to everyone, everything is useful in some light. For example, a mage is never going to need fatigue (read: stamina) potions, but a fighter should never be without one.

Everything is voice acted. The NPCs are the most realistic of any game I can remember as they go about their daily lives sleeping, eating, manning their store, talking with each other, or wandering around town begging for money. Even after you kill someone they still move realistically as you drag their body and throw it in a nearby lake!

The game is full of surprises. I was stalking a few people in this one town and got used to seeing the stables dude hanging around outside the town gate. One day when I was coming back to town I heard some weapons clanging, then someone cried “Murder! Murder!” I saw the stablehand running for his dear life with a guard in hot persuit and a dead man on the ground.

The Bad: First, almost everything “wrong” with the game can be fixed by a mod. If you don’t like the way something in the game works right now, wait a week and see if someone’s fixed it yet.

The voices spoken by the same person in the same sentence can range in pitch, tone, and recording quality. It doesn’t happen very often, but it’s annoying when it does.

The invisible walls that determine the end of the playing world could have been better done. Instead of some random location they could have been at a river a few paces ahead and display, “That water looks too cold for you…” or something more interesting than, “You cannot go that way.”

The menus doesn’t scale up in size the larger your resolution goes — which is kinda neat, as everyone gets the same play experience, but it got bothersome to me as I went through the game and ended up with more and more items to sort through. Mods are already out to fix that, and I use them.

And those are the biggest complaints I have. The invisible walls will eventually be fixed by a mod. In fact, I think they already have been.

The Funny: I stole a horse once and the gate guard saw me do it. “Stop! Thief!” he cried, as I jumped the stable fence with the horse and took off down the road. About half a mile later I saw something interesting and stopped. I wasn’t paying attention and apparently the guard was still chasing. He eventually caught up, yelled, “Thief! You won’t get away with this!” in my ear, and I turned, he sheathed his sword, and then he started walking back to town.

The game has lots of easter eggs. But they fit in the game perfectly. There’s nothing odd about them — they’re just… funny. And fitting. And there’s so many of them! Like the common clothing item “Blue Suede Shoes.”

The arrows stick in people. Being a marksman allows you to turn people into pincushions. “So what” you say? You’ve never seen someone fall after a long hard marksman battle in Oblivion. It’s really a sight like no other game because the arrows are substantial instead of tiny darts. Then you go into your inventory and notice you look just as bad as the guy on the ground.

M’aiq the Liar. He’s back! And has even more to say! If you can find him.

The End: I very much recommend buying the game if you enjoy single player RPGs. It’s really something else.