The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal

Review

posted 12/1/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PC
Expansion packs are often a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they expand the life of the original game by adding a whole host of features that didn’t make it into the original product. On the other hand, it means that the designers didn’t accomplish everything that they set out to do with the original product and thus, the consumer must pay 20-40 dollars for what is essentially the completed product. This is exactly the case with The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal, the expansion for Bethesda’s highly acclaimed RPG, Morrowind.

As in most cases, the expansion pack will only be attractive to the hardcore fanbase. With that in mind, the creators have been able to toss out the un-necessary aspects and streamline their product for those already in the know. Instead of providing an entirely different experience, the expansion pack is a spin-off of some sorts. This time around you’ll explore Mournhold, the capital city of Morrowind. You’ll learn more about the royal family of Mournhold, and in particular about the former monarch. Mention of the family could be found in books scattered about the land and in one of the three houses that your character could join. As you progress through the world your quest will revolve around discovering the background of the hatred between Almalexia (one of the three founders of the Tribunal) and the land’s Imperial Monarchy.

You’ll learn more about the rivalry as you perform tasks for the two sides. You’ll notice that the game has much more structure to it than Morrowind did. This can be seen as both a negative and a positive. In one respect you’re less likely to get loss in the game’s extremely vast world because quite frankly, the land isn’t that vast this time around. Everything seems much simplified, as if you’re exploring a small microcosm of the original land. Buildings are much smaller, towns are much smaller and everything as a whole has been reduced significantly. The number of NPCs has been trimmed down immensely, from the 100’s that populated the original game to about a few dozen or so. On the positive, those who often felt lost in the original game will be happy to know that the expansion changes the game into a more traditional RPG with far less freedom than you’d expect.

For what it’s worth though, Tribunal’s storyline is definitely one of the best to come into the PC in recent years. It’s deep, intriguing and best of all, quite easy to comprehend. In other words, you won’t need to keep a dictionary on your desk at all times in order to understand what’s going on. I appreciated the unique spin-off of the original story, casting in a subject that I had often wondered about. While it’s definitely not as epic as the core story, it’s a worthy addition.
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