Elder Scrolls: Oblivion

Preview

posted 2/25/2006 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: PC 360

Coming out of E3 last year one of the games that really stood out of the crowd was Bethesda Softworks’s Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. The high level of the graphics, the deep gameplay, the realistic physics, and the fact that they have Patrick Stewart playing the emperor in the game easily made Oblivion one of the two standout games at E3 (If you are interested, the other game was Remedy’s Alan Wake).

I was lucky enough to get asked to attend one of the three press previews being held across the country and thanks to a fare sale by Southwest, a lull in work, and a boss who was as interested in the game as I was, I was able to attend the press event in Chicago this past Wednesday.  You know I’m looking forward to a game when I voluntarily fly on Southwest, an airline that I absolutely detest.  I won’t go into my long spiel about the joy of unassigned seats but let’s just say I’m not a fan of the airline (although their TV show is somewhat entertaining at times).

To set the record straight I should admit that I have not had the chance to play an Elder Scrolls game before. I flirted with the first game when I was in college but I never really got that far into it and never really got a chance to play any of the other games that have come out since then. I know this makes me a bad person but with Oblivion I have the feeling I’m going to be making up for lost time.

For the press event I chose to spend the majority of time with the Xbox 360 version of the game.   My experience with Knights of the Old Republic plays into this as after playing the game on the Xbox I had a hard time adjusting to playing the game on the PC.

If you’re worried about the controls on the Xbox 360, then let me reassure you that the controls are exceedingly tight and easy to use.  You have your basic FPS controls of the left thumbstick controlling movement while the right thumbstick controls where you look.  Pressing down on the left thumbstick puts you into stealth mode and pushing down on the right thumbstick switches between first and third person view.  The left trigger blocks, while the right trigger attacks.  The left bumper allows you to grab objects in the world while the right bumper casts the currently selected spell.  For the face buttons, the X buttons sheaths/unsheathes your weapons, the Y button allows you to jump, the B button opens up your journal, and the A button interacts with the environment (push buttons, open doors, etc).

The real magic of the controls is the hot keys which are assigned to the eight directions of the D-pad.  The hotkeys allow you to map weapon sets, spells, and potions to each of the directions giving you quick access to different fighting styles.  This allows you to easily switch from shooting arrows at a distant enemy to a sword/shield combo as that enemy gets closer.  It also allows you to quickly switch between an offensive spell to a defensive one so you can quickly heal yourself and then switch back to hurling fireballs and lighting at your foes. It is a bit tricky to hit the diagonals of the d-pad at times but the game does seem to have a little bit of tolerance built in to handle it.

The controls on the PC version should be familiar to most people as Bethesda is using the traditional WASD standard for movement with R toggling the POV, CTRL switching stealth mode, the space bar for interaction, and the 1-8 keys for the hotkeys.  The mouse controls where you are looking with the left mouse button controlling your attacks and the right mouse button blocking.  

After playing both versions I really have to say that I still preferred the Xbox 360 controls over the PC setup for ease of use.  You do lose a little bit of precision with the console controls but the control scheme is so tight and easy to use that I really didn’t want to go back to a keyboard and mouse to play the game.  That’s a personal preference though and if you are used to playing the series on the PC you are not going to be disappointed.

The screenshots on this page are from the PC version of the game

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