Listen to Erathoniel ranting on and on in good ol' conservative Christian fashion.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Review (for Xbox 360)
Published on May 1, 2008 By erathoniel In Gaming

Today I'm gonna write a review of The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. It's an awesome game, really, with well over 25 hours (wonder why I didn't post yesterday) of small-time sub-plot scrabbling around as far as I've gotten. No "xp" system either, like Morrowind, so it plays realistically versus most other RPG's. Its graphics are great (360 version), and it plays quickly and smoothly. Also, it has good challenges (optional and not), which allow the player to play on any difficulty and still be rewarded.

It is extremely dark (I've played as a Khajit, though, so it doesn't matter) in its visual styles. Granted the countryside is bright and happy most of the time, but the interiors and whatnot are realistically lit, and in its low-tech setting, it means that the majority of the well lit places are lit with magic.

All in all, a very decent game, for a gamer who likes FPS/TPS games with melee combat, or in-depth RPG's. Five @'s.

Comments (Page 1)
on May 13, 2008
Ummm...what can I say? I hope that's not all, because that was too short to call a review. Also, the XP system is almost identical to Morrowind's.
on May 13, 2008

I try not to spoil anything. I played Morrowind. It's very similar, but I can guarantee that Oblivion plays more "arcade" style, where Morrowind plays more traditionally.

on May 13, 2008
Oblivion has been a great disappointment for many people who played Morrowind, and hoped for a worthy successor. I don't usually use the term "dumbed down" (because people fling it around so often that it has become pretty much meaningless by now), but judge for yourself. Compared to Morrowind, Oblivion has ...

- less dialogue
- less quests
- less NPCs
- less settlements
- less guilds and factions
- less skills (e.g., axes and hammers have been merged into the category "blunt weapons" - yes, that's right, apparently axes in Oblivion are blunt)
- less armor and clothing slots
- less diverse landscape (mostly plains and forests instead of Morrowind's swamps, ashlands, giant fungi etc.)
- less dungeon sets

Also, Oblivion follows the questionable design strategy that a game must never, ever, ever, not even slightly, frustrate the player. To reach that goal, the devs removed anything from gameplay that could even remotely look like a challenge, or even (*gasp*) require you to think:

- Almost every enemy is scaled to your level. You'll never find an opponent that you can't beat. There is no area that you can go to when you want to have a challenge, because all enemies in all areas automagically adapt to your level, conveniently for you to beat them up. As a consequence, you can beat the main quest while still being on level 1 - actually, it's *easier* this way because you'll face the weakest opponents. Consequently, developing your character doesn't make much sense because the whole environment automagically develops with you. This includes creatures like goblins who become *ridiculously* strong over time just because *you* happen to have reached a pretty high level.

- All loot you'll find is scaled to your level too, and it's randomly placed. This means that exploration is utterly pointless in Oblivion. The ruin you haven't been to yet will have the same chances for the same loot as the ruin you've never seen. Treasure and monsters generally respawn within three days game time, so the game design actually encourages you to ignore 95% of all locations and just raid the same ones again and again. You'll never find any unique loot, no matter where you go (with a bare handful of exceptions)

- A convenient magical compass guides you through almost every quest, showing you exactly where you need to go. Some NPC sends you to a quest to retrieve a stolen item which has been hidden away? Don't worry, the arow will guide you first to the dungeon, then through the dungeon, then to the chest, exactly to the item, despite you never having seen it and never having been at this location. You're ordered to find a necromancer that is rumored to hide in the vicinity? Don't bother to look for clues, the magic arrow will lead you to the dungeon, through the dungeon, exactly to the necromancer. You never actually need to think, you just follow the arrow. If you actually *want* to thing, gameplay simply breaks down - NPCs never give you usable directions because they assume that you just follow the green arrow so that no directions are needed.

- You never have to meet any requirements to advance in any guild. Your orcish fighter can easily become archmage, and he doesn't even need to cast a single spell to do that. Great roleplaying experience.

- You never have to make any meaningful decision. Joining a guild doesn't have any consequences, your character can join all guilds there are. There is no rivalry between any two guild, actually guild members won't even notice that you're also a member of other guilds. The guilds basically *ignore* each other, as if they all lived in separate universes. Again, great roleplaying experience.

In short, Oblivion is pretty much the epitome of a design failure. It's fun for a while, if you like action games that come with a thin RPG veil. But as soon as you find out that developing your character is pointless, that you'll never meet a challenge, and that you can't actually make any meaningful decisions, you wonder why you actually enjoyed the first few hours.

If you buy Oblivion, I strongly suggest installing several mods. Personally, I use the whole FCOM package (OOO, MMM, Fran's, WarCry, etc.), plus dozens of mods that at least try to address the issues mentioned above. It's amazing what modders have done for this game - I couldn't bring myself to playing it again if it weren't for these mods.
on May 13, 2008

I bought it for 360. It's a fair experience, though it is too dumbed down to really recieve the awards of its predecessors. It's still good, though. It's fun, but its difficulty was lowered to the point where anyone can do anything without really breaking their back to do so. It's still one of the best games, and if you don't have prior experience, you won't know what you're missing.

on May 14, 2008
I agree with all the above posts about the flaws but I still love this game to death. Played it on the 360 (which recently died) and now on the PS3. Quest-wise, the game is just too damn easy. The Morrowind way of quests was far more challenging and interesting. Oblivion's environment is also rather generic. Morrowind's environment is still far more beautiful and unique; I so remember having my breath taken away by the harsh and wild places I find. And every place found in Morrowind is truly a discovery, not because it popped up on the compass. Good times.

Without self imposed rpg-based restrictions, Oblivion soon becomes too easy and silly. I am guessing the devs simply want to let gamers do whatever they want. Such that if you don't think Orc warriors should be able to join Mage Guilds, then don't do it.

One of the things that bug me a lot with Oblivion is the psychic city guards. You can commit a crime in utmost secrecy and still as long as there's a guard somewhere within a certain radius, he'll come running. And all the guards in the world know what you did!
on May 14, 2008

Or if you one-shot a guard while sneaking undetected...

1000 gold fine.

on May 14, 2008
Regarding the lighting issue. I got so tired of it being so dark that priorty #1 when playing a race other than the Cat would br to make a ring enchanted with nightvision that I could hotkey to wear when needed. Haivng to do that just to SEE, is kinda lame
on May 14, 2008

I was used to Morrowind, but I never used night vision in it. The lighting wasn't that bad of an issue for me. I could walk through the darkest places in Oblivion without major difficulty, but in Morrowind I still have trouble occasionally.

on May 15, 2008
Regarding the lighting issue. I got so tired of it being so dark that priorty #1 when playing a race other than the Cat would br to make a ring enchanted with nightvision that I could hotkey to wear when needed. Haivng to do that just to SEE, is kinda lame

Now see, that's never been a problem to me. Unless the sun is shining right on the screen, I can see fine in the dark.
I actually think the game isn't dark enough - I hate the way you can walk through caves, dungeons and everything else without needing any light to see.
on May 15, 2008
For me, Oblivion is a middle-of-the-road game & something of a let-down compared to Morrowind. I was hoping & praying for a sequel that would engage me as thoroughly as Morrowind had. Instead, it became quickly quite obvious that Bethesda had shifted their target audience from inveterate PC RPGers to juvenile console-brats. Bah! Humbug! Down with the compass! Down with the quick-travel! Getting lost in the mountains of Morrowind was a pain, but it was a challenging pain. And when I got to the point of "knowing" the landscape -- which ridge to cross over to shave off some travel time, etc. -- I felt like I belonged. In Oblivion, I feel more like a tourist: come, see all the pretty stuff, but don’t *do* anything! Yeah, the graphics are amazing -- personally, I’d love to see them use the Oblivion engine & graphics package to "remake" Morrowind -- but the richness, the alien-ness (??) of Morrowind was gone. Some of that is due to the nature of landscape, but still. There were so few interesting spots to uncover in Oblivion. I missed watching the world map "paint-in" as I explored more of it. I missed being able to put notes on my map. I missed being able to razz my friends when-ever I’d find an awesome magic item & they hadn’t (they were more interesting in solving the game, but each to their own.) I miss being able to loot the strongholds of Houses of Morrowind and it be an actual accomplishment & test of my character’s skills. There were some things that I did like. Detect Life became a staple spell for me (I can now crank out potions with a 350+ sec 240’ Detect Life - *very* handy for a sneak thief & assassin!) The houses were nice too, although the Havoc engine was fiddly as far as redecorating them was concerned (try to make a "real" bookshelf! I had to give up & stash them in chests.) If it wasn’t for OOO & some other mods, I would have shelved the game a lot sooner. I would have hoped Bethesda would have learned from their "mistake" but with all the awards Oblivion has garnered, I’m a much afeared for the next game. (Personally, I think the game got most of the awards because of its graphics.) Sigh... (stepping gingerly down from my soapbox now...)
on May 15, 2008

I do prefer Morrowind's more in-depth RPG feel. But I play roguelikes often enough.

Oblivion did seem way too easy, though I never messed around with alchemy. Too boring. I did use the "Eye of Sithis" amulet or something like that for 30' detect life. It was awesome.

I do hope Bethesda makes a sequel, with more depth!

The painting in I didn't even notice until just now. I never used notes anyways, I just used rings of flight.

Heard of Morroblivion? It suppossedly takes Morrowind into Oblivion. Having console Oblivion, I cannot say anything about it, though.

on May 15, 2008
I sincerely pity anyone that plays an Elder Scrolls game on a console. They're fantastic games, but they're fantastic because their modability saves them. Neither Morrowind nor Oblivion is all that great in its vanilla form, but with community-made mods they're among the best RPG's ever made.
on May 15, 2008

Yeah, I feel I made a mistake getting it on console. It's still worth the money, but it'd be better on PC.

on May 15, 2008
I don't usually use the term "dumbed down" (because people fling it around so often that it has become pretty much meaningless by now), but judge for yourself. Compared to Morrowind, Oblivion has ...

Ahh... but don't stop at Morrowind, there were Daggerfall before it and Arena before that. Both of them had extensive dungeons that required you to think. With riddle locked doors and series of levers that had to be pulled in just the right sequence scattered all over the dungeon. Nothing pointing you where to go, subplot upon subplot to fill out the real plot. These two games might not have been graphically pretty to todays standard, but they sufficed. And you got to use your brain. I always felt Morrowind had been severely dumbed dumbed down. The clues were to obvious, you were being spoon fed. Then came Oblivious, I mean Oblivion, where they threw out the spoon and just stuck in the IV. Just lay there now sweety, we'll play the game for you. Oh, look at the pretty pictures. Bah, Bethesda has sunken to the depths or boredomville. I think the term dumbed down is quite appropriate, if not actually a compliment for them. Bravo, Stardock, you just keep making it tougher and tougher forcing us to think, use our brains, expand our knowledge of how you altered things so that we don't become complacent in our games. Nuff said...
on May 15, 2008

Arena was pretty good depth wise, never played Daggerfall. Morrowind was far too easy after Arena,  but it's about as hard as a roguelike without saved death (or is my insistence on hand-to-hand increasing difficulty?), it's puzzles were terribly easy, and required no brain, but it did require a little strategy. I've had Oblivion moments like one I saw in GRAW 2. Stand on the wrong side of cover, thirty seconds later, your nerves are fried, but you're still alive.

I'm for easier games, because I played Oblivion and Morrowind more for art than naything else, and puzzles are for BG&E (which I refuse to use a walkthrough for, leaving me stuck 80% through), and Zelda, not an action RPG. It's fine to dumb it down, but keep the strategy.

Rogulikes excell in that aspect. They have few puzzles, but they require constant strategy to beat equal-level opponents.