Bethesda Softworks is quickly becoming a monster in the industry of monstrous roleplaying experiences. For anyone who has played other titles coming out from the dungeons of development in Bethesda’s basement, this game will have a familiar feel to it. One good thing that Bethesda has done with the Elder Scrolls Oblivion is they’ve taken some of the spectacular aspects and immersive qualities that have done well for them in the past, and plugged them right back into the game. They’ve also taken some new twists, some innovation and all around new techniques to try and bring a different crowd into their brand of authentic old style role playing games – and they’ve succeeded.
On first glance at Oblivion, one can look upon the world of Tamriel and gasp in awe. This game looks great. Period. The lighting is spectacular, the ground flora is dense. Stone walls look “like stone” and you can genuinely get the feel that you’ve been transported to a world of mythical beauty. The better news? That doesn’t stop until you’ve taken the disc out of your gaming venue. Every single location in the game looks different, and you can really tell they put a lot of time into the feel and the immersion of the graphical gaming experience in Oblivion as far as the environment goes. The character models are just a little bit lacking in their animation but it’s not bad by any means. Spells look slightly cheesy in some cases, and your character will look a bit awkward if you have the game zoomed out to third person when casting spells or sidestepping on the terrain. I’d have given it a lower score just for this aspect, but it’s not unforgivable and it doesn’t affect the immersion of the game. Especially if you’re like me and play in 1st person. Overall it’s wonderful to look at and it should set a standard for any game coming out in the near future.
Bethesda has always done a great job at making what you do, and your decisions matter. Character reactions are great. If you go into Old Man River’s house and kill him, there are going to be certain characters in the game that will react differently based upong your decision to kill an innocent old man (you’re a bad person). It’s fun, It’s interesting and It adds some serious depth to the game. Monsters are for the most part very well animated, have reasoning skills and good UI. We’ve all played games where the giant super bug trying to kill you gets stuck on a shopping cart and doesn’t have the sense to go around it. Not going to happen in Oblivion. Magic is well animated and adapted to the first person perspective. The physics engine is realistic. If you shoot somebody with a bow and dispatch them on stairs, they’ll roll down them until gravity is satisfied. It’s all very well orchestrated and again, adds to the depth and believability of the game. One of the key components that begs mentioning is the new fast travel system – left unimplemented in previous versions of the Elder Scrolls games. This allows you (if you’ve discovered the location) to bring up your map and travel immediately to any location as if you could teleport. Some of you more hardcore gamers might not mind running across the world for 20 minutes to return Mr. Orc’s diary, so the option is still there for you. As far as melee gameplay, when you swing your sword be careful not to hit any allies because there’s always the possibility they’ll turn on you. At times this can be annoying, but I still endure it for the same of the game being as life-like as possible.
Oblivions music is a vast landscape and it’s all very palpable. For the most part it’s all very subtle and behaves much like just pure ambiance. It’s not intrusive but if you listen it’s still going to be there and add a great deal to the feel of wherever you are. Foreboding string music fills Oblivions dungeons, the world map theme is great. Town themes are cozy. Overall it’s a very diverse and satisfying experience aurally. Character voices are a huge part of Oblivion and It would be a travesty to leave them out. Every. Single. Character. you come across has a voice. In Oblivion, leave your glasses behind because there is no more reading when receiving quests or engaging in dialogue of any sort, although you can still display subtitles for those who want to skip past some dialogue they may dub meaningless. The actual voicing and professionalism of the dialogue is great for the most part though it lacks diversity. As you play through the game you’ll experience different characters with the same voice and tone. Though it won’t happen all that frequently, you’ll start to recognize the different voice actors employed throughout the game. Overall, very well done though we could’ve used a bit more diversity with the voice acting.
Oblivion is a gem of a game. It really lends itself to the traditional idea of a role-playing game. There’s action, a very detailed and articulate storyline, and you genuinely begin to care about the outcome of events in the game. Whether you’re looking to save the world or just make a quick piece of gold off of someone else’s misfortune, you’re going to have a fantastic time in Oblivion and the experience is going to be something you remember, if not judge other games upon.
-T.C. Hearst, this review was written by our friends over at thatgamehack.