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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – Second Opinion

Daniel Weissenberger's picture

By and large, I find Mike's review of Oblivion to be nearly as flawless as the game itself. Everything he said in his main review about the game's beautiful graphics, playability and scope I agree with wholeheartedly. It really is stunning to walk all the way to the mountains at the end of the map, then turn around and be able to see the main city in the distance. Where his opinions and mine diverge, however, is on the subject of the game's lack of focus.

Mike believes that, at least at some point, a game needs to force its player to explore the main plot. I believe I would agree with him if discussing just about any game other than this one. The reason isn't because I was especially fond of the game's sandbox features, but because I found the game's sub-plots to be every bit as satisfying as the main story, and far more than just 'generic fetch-quests'.

First and foremost, Oblivion is a triumph of videogame storytelling. Every single quest in the game features an interesting story behind it, presented with well-written dialogue and surprisingly good voice acting. This step prevents the missions from ever feeling generic or repetitive. Each new mission is a new story for the player to play a role in, full of characters to meet, monsters to kill, and mysteries to solve. If the game's main quest doesn't seem grander or more important than the rest of the game, it's not because it isn't especially well designed, but because the rest of the missions are.

Mike's not wrong about the bugs in the system, though. I played Oblivion on the PC, and the frequency with which it crashes on my normally stable system made me quite a big fan of the Quicksave feature. Although even that didn't help when the game decided to erase all of the magic weapons and armor I'd created. The only other issue I had was with the game's experience system. Attaching level advancement to skill improvement was a good idea, but there are a few skills that are just far too easy to improve, such as Alchemy—after one particularly exhaustive search for ingredients, I found myself advancing four levels at once. Since the game's monsters become more difficult based on character rather than skill level, I was thrust into a situation of having to fight a class of monsters that I didn't have the weapon or magic skills to deal with.

Even with these problems, this is still the finest role-playing game I've ever played. It's rare that I'll spend more than ten or twelve hours with a title, and Oblivion managed to suck up more than a hundred hours before I actually reached the endgame. It's an accomplishment unparalleled in the field, and will likely remain such until Elder Scrolls V is released around five years from now. Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Disclaimer: This review is based on the PC version of the game.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   PC  
Developer(s): Bethesda  
Publisher: 2K Games  
Series: The Elder Scrolls  
Genre(s): Role-Playing  
ESRB Rating: Teen (13+)  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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