Elder Scrolls: Oblivion

Review

posted 9/25/2006 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: 360
One of the great things about the Xbox 360’s new Xbox Live service is that you can see what games your friends are playing. You know you have a good game when most of the people on your friends list are playing it. You know you have great game when everyone on your friends list is playing it at 3AM in the morning. That’s the kind of game that Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is. 
 
I’ve already written five pages of hype about the game and after spending a lot of quality time with the game I’m happy to report that the game does live up to the majority of the hype. I don’t necessarily go as far as to say that Oblivion is a revolutionary RPG but the game certainly does advance a few new ideas for the RPG genre
 
At its core Oblivion is your basic computer role playing game. You create a character; kill a bunch of evil things, and save the world from some sort of destructive threat. That’s fine and dandy but in Oblivion the central plot represents less than a third of total content in the game. Considering that the central plot makes up around 20 hours of gameplay Oblivion represents one of the better buys out there. Outside of the main plot you can also become a member of one of the worlds many guilds, a contract killer, a master thief, or climb your way up the ranks of fighters in the gladiatorial arena. To be honest you really don’t even have to touch the main plot line if you don’t want to.
 
For those of you who feel a need to save the world the main plot of the game has you finding out that the royal line of succession for the kingdom of Tamriel has been cut and that without an heir the throne the world is going to be overtaken by the forces of Oblivion (the game world’s version of Hell). With his last dying breath the King tasked your character with finding his long lost heir and helping him to assume the throne and save Tamriel. 
 
As with most RPG’s the first task on the docket is to create your character by selecting a race, gender, and assigning attribute points. The character creation system in Oblivion is exceedingly deep and fairly accessible. After picking a race you can customize nearly everything about the face of your avatar. The only limit is that you really can’t change the physique of your character which might put off some people. Once you have your character setup the way you want it’s time to start the game.
 
As you walk through the starter dungeon you will select your class (fighter, magic user, thief or combination thereof), and an astral symbol which will provide extra benefits. These decisions are important as you will have to live with them for the rest of the game. You will get to try out your configuration as the game lets you change it before you exit the dungeon. Thankfully Oblivion does do a decent job of leading you through the decisions but you should have a good idea of how you want to play the game in mind before you start as the decisions are permanent and you’re going to have to live them with for how ever long it takes to finish the game. This does actually add to the re-playability of the game as you can go back and play through the game with an entirely different character and have a much different experience.
 
After completing the tutorial level you are thrown out into the world of Tamriel and it’s off to save the kingdom or do something else. This is where Oblivion is a bit intimidating. The shear size of the world and the non-linear nature of the game can leave you with the occasional feeling of “what do I do now?” You can choose to follow the main quest of the game or you can explore Tamriel and work your way through the numerous side quests in the game. The fact that the game guide for Oblivion is thicker than the yellow pages for most American suburbs should give you some idea of how much there is to do in the game. 
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