"Oblivion is the most recent game in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series; a series which can trace its roots way back to the 1994 PC game Elder Scrolls: Arena. Since that time the games remained solely PC based until the recent Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind which was released on both the PC and Xbox. Oblivion is the first in the series to be released on any Playstation and you only have to read any of the related reviews to realise what a great success it has been. "
Oblivion is the most recent game in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series; a series which can trace its roots way back to the 1994 PC game Elder Scrolls: Arena. Since that time the games remained solely PC based until the recent Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind which was released on both the PC and Xbox. Oblivion is the first in the series to be released on any Playstation and you only have to read any of the related reviews to realise what a great success it has been.
In the unlikely event that you have yet to hear anything about the game I will start by saying that it is an RPG. Do not let this put you off. The game is not statistic heavy and there is not the need to do a few hours studying of the manual before you begin that can be associated with some games of this genre. In fact I can’t say as I have read the instruction manual yet and have had no problems at all.
The game itself is set in the Province of Cyrodiil on the continent of Tamriel and when you first look at the world map included with the game you might be forgiven for thinking that this is a relatively small area. What the map fails to tell you is that the vast majority of the locations within the game are not marked and if you want to find them then it is up to you to go exploring. This is the beauty of the game. You might start the game with a story to follow but if you choose not to follow it then that is entirely up to you and you are not punished in any way for not following the plot.
As with most games of this type the first thing you must do is set yourself up a new character. You are given a choice of ten races to choose from each with slightly differing natural abilities. Once you have chosen one you are then given the option of altering the characters gender and physical appearance. This is done by means of a very flexible and easy to use system of sliding bars and, although it does give you the chance to make a very cool looking character, the game is best played in the default first person mode and so serves little purpose. This done, you then go on to choose a class and birth sign for your character.
Initially the classes can seem daunting as there are a good number to choose from. Fortunately they do overlap, so if you can’t decide between a Knight or a Mage you can, for example, pick a Spellsword. If you are still having difficulty then just pick one which you like the sound of as the game will allow you to change your mind at the end of the tutorial and will even make a suggestion based upon your style of play. That is the only vaguely complicated bit out of the way, I promise!
Your character will begin its story locked in a cell and you will be guided through the initial part of the story. I am not spoiling anything to say that the King of Cyrodiil gets killed by a mysterious group of assassins and you are tasked to find his heir as this all happens in the first five minutes. With that done you set off on your own through a gentle tutorial dungeon which explains all of the necessary skills you will need to survive. As I mentioned above the game is best played in first person as the fighting style is more reminiscent of a first person shooter than anything and the rest of the actions simply require you to look at an object and press a button. By the time you leave the tutorial it will all become completely second nature.
So you have left the first dungeon, what to do now? It is completely up to you. The location of your first objective is shown on the world map and you can progress the main quest straight away if you wish. Alternatively you can just wander off and see what you find. The people you meet will give you quests or try and kill you depending on their mood and there are a number of guilds each begging for you to sign up and do their bidding. The world map is bursting with locations to uncover and explore and as you do so your character will naturally develop. Use a skill, by for example firing your bow, and your archery skill will slowly level. It is as simple as that. As you increase your skills your character will level, easy. To further increase your freedom the world levels itself up as you level so there are no super hard areas to be avoided when you begin and conversely there are no super easy areas when you reach a high level. This keeps things on a challenging level through out and, should you become stuck for some reason, you can always alter the games difficulty at any time during play.
I haven’t played any of the other Elder Scrolls games so I cannot really compare this with previous editions or with the same edition on other formats. Personally I am impressed with the graphics, though I have read some criticism elsewhere. It is possible to get some slow down if you fill a room with enemies but this happens rarely as they are mostly spaced out to prevent you from being slaughtered. There is also the odd bug when you drop a huge number of items in one place but again, why would you want to do this. The soundtrack is good throughout with classical scores and every character in the game voiced. There a limited amount of voice actors for a huge amount of characters so some can sound a bit samey, considering the sheer amount of speech in the game, however, I cannot see how this could be avoided. As for longevity, well I have been playing for over 150 hours now and am still going. There is also likely to be an expansion pack in the future called Shivering Isles which, as the name suggests, will provide a whole new island to explore. This expansion has already been released on the PC and Xbox 360 though I am not aware of a likely release date for the PS3 version. Failing that you could always hang on for the Oblivion Game of the Year Edition which will include this expansion straight from the box.
A little bit wordy I know but hey, I like the game.
Community review by OrpheusUK (April 14, 2008)
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