100 of 107 people found the following review helpful
The Future of CRPG (computer role-playing game),
This review is from: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game of the Year Edition - PC (Video Game)
What can I possibly say about this revolutionary computer RPG that hasn't been said?
To me this is arguably the best computer game in the history of video game for me, period.
'Oblivion' is a non-linear, free-form, 1st-person RPG, colored with beautiful next generation graphic that enhances the immersive gameplay set in the gigantic gameworld, where you can do anything anywhere anytime you feel like it.
There are over 20 cities and settlements, 300 quests, 300 dungeons, caves, ruins, tunnels, and whatnots available in the game (combining 'Knights of the Nine', official DLCs, and 'Shivering Isles').
Then there is TES Construction Set. Using this amazing toolset used by Bethesda to create TES IV Oblivion, there are literally over 2000 mods made by gamers like you and I, available for free and still coming out on a daily basis.
I spent close to 200 hours with over 50 mods installed and I only covered less than 70 quests. I was too busy crawling underground, fighting monsters, retrieving loots, selling them for better equipments and houses, decorating. To hell with saving the world. I only finished half of the main quest, and I have no intention to finish it in the foreseeable future.
The production value is simply stratospheric. From character design, character model, environment, grass, tree, flower, water, animal, item, monster, building, right down to single pebble and stone, Bethesda paid so much attention to details that it is breathtakingly marvelous.
Music by Jeremy Soule and sound effects are another praise-worthy achievements.
No other RPG in the history of video game, except Ultima VII, gives the gamers so much freedom in gameplay as it is so evident from the very beginning in character creation.
If you spend enough time, you can virtually create any actual person's face both living or dead in uncanny resemblance.
Whether you like it or not, I think 'Oblivion' has set the standard by which all future CRPG, and even other genres to some extent, will be measured for a long time.
To Bethesda's credit, 'Oblivion' successfully streamlined the CRPG mechanics from its beloved franchise into more accessible mainstream game that became a runaway success; or dumbing down for console kiddies as many describe, depends on how you look at it. I know many of people were turned off by the changes made from the older TES series, and 'Oblivion vs Morrowind: Which is better?' is still one of the most fiercely-debated topics in the official forum. Since I have fond memories of all previous TES series, I won't get into the flaming war. I just don't see any constructive point of insisting one game over another. They all have pros and cons, and no game is perfect.
I couldn't read single review of new CRPG called 'Two Worlds' without comparing it to 'Oblivion'. What a burden and curse it is for 'Two Worlds', which has been brutally trashed by critics and users alike. I really love that game, too. Although I really enjoyed that game, it was ultimately not enough to erase the memory of 'Oblivion'. If 'Fallout 3' becomes anything close to the success of 'Oblivion', Bethesda Softwork will become the next formidable RPG Giant like 'Blizzard' / 'Black Isle' / 'Bioware' trinity once achieved back in the days. You can be sure Bethesda will come out with TES V, and its success is pretty much guaranteed no matter which direction it will take.
Now I think far too many game mechanics from the past CRPGs such as 'Ultima', 'Baldur's Gate', 'Wizardry' or 'Diablo' series stemmed from the limitation of technology at the time rather than game design choice. I still have the original copies of 'Baldur's Gate' and 'Diablo' series along with 'Ultima' series, 'Wizardry 8', 'Planescape: Torment', 'Fallout 1, 2', and of course 'Daggerfall' and 'Morrowind'. Except for 'Morrowind', I don't see myself playing and enjoying those game as I once used to anymore. I tried them recently and was pleasantly surprised how painfully outdated they are now. The vidio gaming asthetics have grown exponentially since those days.
Even 'Morrowind' took some adjusting time to re-immerse myself. When I say technology, I am not just talking about graphic but the scope and possibilities that was just not feasible in the past. The improved technology doesn't always result in better game but it immensely helps to create immersive gaming world, and the technology lifted all the barriers for game developers to realize their vision into games. This will result in new convergent games that crossover the genres. Upcoming games such as 'Mass Effect' and 'Fallout 3' are the evidence of new gaming asthetics being formed right now.
What would you like to see in the future Bethesda RPGs in terms of game mechanics?
For me, one thing I really like to see is the interaction with NPCs improved. Radiant A.I. is the right direction for the NPC interaction, but I like to see more detailed implementation. In 'Gothic' series, NPCs actually perform various activities, which player character can also performs. NPCs react when weapons drawn upon or intruded by. I know these reactions in 'Gothic' are scripted events but the presentation makes them as if the NPCs were alive. NPCs in 'Oblivion', while acting on dynamic A.I. instead of scripted A.I., sometimes look as if they were pantomiming. Many times I've witnessed the awesome NPCs interactions only possible with 'Radiant A.I', but many times NPCs walks around aimlessly in circle, too. The character deposition drops when weapon is drawn during conversation, but it would be nice to hear more distinctive reaction from NPCs about the fact. Daily routine could be more detailed in animation. Fishing, chopping woods, forging metals, making weapons, eating and drinking, the lists go on. I like to have more dialogue choices and right to refuse any quest. Many times you are given just one choice in 'Oblivion'.
Another thing is consequences of player character's action and its influence to the persistent world such as guilds. In 'Oblivion', your deeds, either good or evil, hardly create impact on the gaming world. Although there are more than one method to solve many individual task, and more than one result in outcome of the quest, it really doesn't change the grand scheme of the game. I heard 'Bethesda' is really working hard on this for the upcoming 'Fallout 3'. Multiple endings and various intricate political stands among different factions would be greatly appreciated.
Next thing is different combat mechanics for 3rd person perspective. 1st person perspective is outstanding in 'Oblivion' but it would be sweet to have the alternative combat mechanics in 'Vanity Mode' also. That way, gamers have choice between realistic 1st-person combat and more arcady 3rd-person combat. Accurate jumping mechanics like the one in 'Metroid Prime' would be awesome compared to the unrealistical moonwalking in the air in 'Oblivion'. More acrobatic combat moves like rolling and dodging would be fantastic additions.
Havoc engine is great, but I hope the object manipulation becomes more useful in the actual gaming world, quests, or combat in the next iteration.
And my pet peeve of the game, it's so difficult to fight the enemies while NPCs are around, especially the essential characters that you must protect.
These are merely the positive suggestions rather than pointing out the game's flaws.
New ideas to improve the immersion for too much open-endedness would be great idea to narrow the gap between linear RPG and non-linear RPG.
Making RPG and simulating more life-like world is the ultimate holy grail Bethesda has been working for since 'Arena', I am sure. No matter which TES game you like the most, the pathetic reality is that the choice of CRPG is very scarce in the market right now, and we need more refined game like 'Oblivion' to embrace mainstream casual gamers without alienating the hardcore RPG gamers so that market will once be crowded with good CRPGs.
The newly released GOTY (Game of the year) edition of 'TES IV Oblivion' contains the original 'Oblivion' along with 'Knights of the Nine' and 'Shiverilg Isles'. Unfortunately, the rest of the official DLCs (Downloadable Contents) are not available in the package. You can either purchase them to download from the official website([...]) or you can purchase the retail version of 'Knights of the Nine' at the store, which also contains all the DLCs except the new 'The Fighter's Stronghold'. I strongly recommend you to purchase the retail version for you can freely install and uninstall anytime you need. The precedure of downloading through the website is such a pain.
This game literally never ends. You'll spends hundreds of hours and one day, you'll simply quit at your own device. 'Oblivion' is the one game truly non-linear, free-form, open-ended to the bitter end, indeed.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 6, 2009 12:57:03 AM PST
Sadi Laureta says:
will this game run on windows vista
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 16, 2009 11:22:02 AM PDT
Posted on May 21, 2009 6:13:47 AM PDT
Posted on Sep 15, 2011 12:22:14 AM PDT
L. Abate says:
I know it's old, but thank you for this incredible essay! I started gaming recently after getting into Dragon Age: Origins and have been curious about Oblivion. You've really seemed to lay everything out, I'm excited to try it. Buying now...
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