The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Review
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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is possibly the most immersive RPG to date.
- Open-ended design is awesome and combat is AAA.
- Incredible animations, fantastic physics, and a breathtaking world.
- 100+ hours gameplay.
- Occasional glitches are a little bothersome.
- There are minor framerate issues.
- Lip-syncing is hilariously off.
The launch of PlayStation 3 touted a decent line-up of titles, though it was sorely lacking one genre. The only RPG available, Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom, was a flawed, last-generation experience. That's why PlayStation gamers were so ecstatic for the recent launch of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for the PS3.
The developers of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Bethesda Softworks, aspired to create the perfect RPG, and they came remarkably closer than anyone could have expected. As you attempt to fulfil the Emperor's final wishes to seek out the last heir to the throne and close the gates of Oblivion, expect to get awfully sidetracked. Literally chart your own path by joining guilds, becoming a hero or an outlaw, fighting within the Imperial Arena, or doing one of the dozens of different quests provided for you in Oblivion’s completely unrestricting story.
A feast for the eyes…
Oblivion features an absolutely astounding world. Details within Cyrodiil appear extraordinary from the distance of a mile to a meter. The textures are incredible, holding up from merely inches away. Animations are almost flawless (provided you play in first person mode), while the physics are superior to almost all other titles on the market. Lighting effects work wonders, from perfect usage of the bloom technique to the starry night sky. Expect to be breathless if you lay your eyes upon the rippling reflection of a sunset bouncing off the gleaming water.
When one looks directly into that water, what does the reflection look like? That completely depends. A fantastic feature of Oblivion, its intense character customization, lets players create their protagonist in absolutely any way possible. From race, complexion, and hair style; to minuscule details like nostril size, jaw dimension, and beard density, one has absolute control whilst creating their character. Be advised that after the tutorial ends, there is no opportunity to change your character’s physical traits, so choose carefully.
Oblivion has some graphical growing pains, but they are few and far between. Our biggest qualm is the framerate, as it intermittently drops in a graphically intensive area; though to its credit does not significantly disrupt the experience. A small number of other minor issues caught our eyes. For example, water can look boringly flat from eye level, while underwater land that should appear blue occasionally seems as if not submerged at all (only at a very slim point between above and below water). But minor qualms such as these barely detract from the glorious and visceral experience of wandering the world of Oblivion.
…and a symphony for the ears
Audio is a frequently underrated part of videogames. We lose our sense of immersion, the key component of games today, if a game’s music or voice acting is lackluster. It would be such a shame if Oblivion’s immersive world went to waste due to poor sound design.
Luckily, the audio is exemplary. In-game sounds such as footsteps are fascinatingly detailed. Walking through caverns, footsteps seem to reverberate off the walls; while on cobblestones they tap; while in shallow water they splash. If a sword is swung against a metal object, a metallic clang results; whereas if that same sword hits a wood surface, a dull wooden thump is heard. Enemies make appropriate sounds when attempting to rip your heart out. Animals such as wolves bark and snarl, while higher life forms tend to grunt and yell. This level of detail is barely noticeable, which is a testament to Bethesda’s development team. Players are usually only aware of bad sounds effects, ones that makes them realize they are playing a game instead of performing a quest.
The music within Oblivion perfectly fits its vast world. The opening theme is grand, as are the rest of the compositions. Whether roaming the colossal mountains, fighting within the Imperial Arena, or walking through a town or city, the music expertly sets the appropriate tone. Battle music begins when enemies are within a certain radius, warning you of nearby danger.
The voice acting within Oblivion is truly magnificent. A professional cast of actors voiced the 200+ hours of dialogue for the game. Sean Bean’s performance as the Emperor is especially ... (continued on next page)