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The Elder Scrolls IV: Knights of the Nine (Xbox 360) artwork

The Elder Scrolls IV: Knights of the Nine (Xbox 360) review

"In the priory basement is an enchanted pedestal which will convert this equipment into stronger versions as you increase in level. Since many rewards in this game are based on your level when you earn them, having stuff that will grow with you instead of simply becoming obsolete is a very nice touch."

Knights of the Nine is the first expansion to Bethesda's Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and, possibly as a result of being first, isn't nearly as ambitious as the subsequent Shivering Isles with its whole new land to explore. If anything, it could be best described as simply tacking on another faction to the main game -- a story arc consisting of a couple really cool moments and a lot of busywork.

By installing this one, you'll quickly hear of the chapel in the city of Anvil getting attacked. Upon arriving at this remote port town, you'll see a bloodbath in the chapel (ie: you won't be getting any services from this place for the entirety of your stay in Cyrodiil) and hear a prophet across the street babbling about horrors to come. By talking to this guy, you get things rolling…to a degree.

You see, only a holy warrior can hope to stand against these horrors to come and you're currently not quite there. Regardless of whether you've done every good deed possible in Oblivion's world or if you've attempted to systematically rob and murder half the world's population, you have to embark upon a pilgrimage to prove your worthiness. And thus begins the busywork. Scattered across the land are a number of small altars dedicated to the Nine: a group of deities in the Elder Scrolls world. With a map as your guide, you have to find nine of these places and pray to them in order to wash away your sins and earn the right to become a Knight. This also erases all the infamy points you've gained during your time with Oblivion, which can be useful, especially if you worked with the Thieves Guild or Dark Brotherhood in the early going and are getting rebuffed whenever trying to get a temple's blessing to cure those nagging diseases because your infamy is greater than your fame.

After praying at enough of these places, you'll find out where the Nine's old priory was located, allowing you to go there and speak with ghosts in order to hear of the order's past glories and eventual downfall. Your task: to reclaim the Nine's old status and then defeat an ancient Ayleid enemy -- in both the physical and spiritual planes. Just a day's work for a true hero!

And a day is probably all it will take to do all of this. First off, you have to go to a bunch of places to regain a number of holy weapons and armor. This stuff winds up ranking among the best equipment in the entire Oblivion experience regardless of how powerful you are when you start up Knights of the Nine (as long as you don't do bad things -- collect a mere two infamy points and you can't use them until doing the tedious pilgrimage again). In the priory basement is an enchanted pedestal which will convert this equipment into stronger versions as you increase in level. Since many rewards in this game are based on your level when you earn them, having stuff that will grow with you instead of simply becoming obsolete is a very nice touch.

Obtaining them is a mixed bag, though. While your trip to Fort Bulwark for one item is a fun jaunt through a puzzle-heavy dungeon (by Oblivion standards) that could be seen as a prototype for the Nordic Ruins found throughout Skyrim, many others fit into the whole "busywork for the sake of busywork" theme that has been pretty prevalent through this review.

• To get the boots, you must enter a sacred grove and show how good you are at just standing there and letting a bear maul you until it's been determined that you have proper respect for nature.

• Another has you go on a spirit quest to find a hidden path to an enchanted mace. If you have the boots, this is pretty easy, as all you have to do is walk the path made visible by them. Without the boots, well, I guess I'd probably wind up feeling empathy for the ghost of the Knight who failed at this one a million or so times before dying. Or maybe not, as the path the boots showed me was simply a long straight line across a chasm, so Mr. Failure Knight might have been over-thinking things…

• And then you have to travel to another chapel to repeatedly walk between two people until you've decided to take on someone's fatigue-draining curse in order to obtain gauntlets. Nothing says "video gaming fun" quite like having to occasionally stop everything I'm doing to sit around and wait for my guy to regain energy because some stupid curse is wreaking havoc on his ability to do so naturally.

Oh well, at least the final equipment mission is pretty fun, as you have to fight the wraith of a fallen Knight for the holy sword. And then that leads to the final conflict with the Ayleid guy and all of his flunkies, which are at least more difficult than the average enemy in Oblivion (for my Level 23 guy, they were on par with the tougher forms of Dremora) and then you're done with this small expansion, but have a great set of equipment as long as you remain a wonderful citizen of Cyrodiil.

Knights of the Nine is a "means to an end" add-on to a vast game. With a couple of exceptions (most notably Fort Bulwark), I didn't really get a lot of enjoyment out of playing through it thanks to all the busywork. However, for the person who is in Oblivion for the long haul, the rewards of doing this expansion justify the tedium. Regardless of whether you're into bladed or blunt weapons, you'll get a great one to go along with excellent armor which will be either heavy or light, depending on which type you're more proficient wearing. In other words, it's a longer version of one of those annoying sidequests you always feel compelled to do simply because the treasure is so good that it's all worth it in the end.


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (May 28, 2013)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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