The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal

The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 12/1/2002 for 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.
The expansion pack also adds a host of nice features, the map and note taking functions are far better executed this time around. Perhaps the best addition to this game are the pack rats, which allow you to carry around more objects. If you found the original game to be a bit too lonely you’ll also be happy to know that you can assemble a party of pets and mercenaries this time around. While they’re not exactly the brightest AI companions that you’ll find, they do an admirable job of expanding the experience.

Visually the game looks just as you’d expect, a slight upgrade on the original. There are new types of creatures and shrubbery but that’s about it. I doubt that you’d be able to tell the immediate differences but it doesn’t really hurt this expansion too much, the original game was quite breathtaking. Even after all these months, the title still holds up against the competition.

The audio effects remain virtually unchanged, it appears that many of the original audio elements were recycled. You’ll still get the excellent 5.1 soundtrack that accompanied the original. The sounds are excellently mapped to the various channels so a guard shouting at you from behind sounds like a guard shouting at you from behind.

In the end you have an expansion pack that will help you get every last ounce out of your Morrowind experience. If you’ve grown tired of the original and need a nice change of pace then you should definitely pick this expansion pack up, it adds some excellent features to an already amazing title. While it will most likely appeal to only the most hardcore of fans, it’s damn fine for what it’s worth.
A nice little expansion pack that will help you get every last ounce out of your Morrowind experience. While not quite as excellent as hoped for, still excellent for what it's worth.

Rating: 8.1 Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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