The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – review
How does present itself the fourth installment of The Elder Scrolls series seven years after release? Is it worth returning to the Cyrodil? Bethesda Softworks is a studio that in fact develops only one series – The Elder Scrolls. Every now and then they do other games, however, the most important are those where the action takes place on the continent called Tamriel. Since the first one, which was created in 1993, to Skyrim they try to stick to one pattern – however, they improve their product by experimenting with new ideas.
Oblivion, released on March 24th, 2006 is the fourth game in The Elder Scrolls series. After the great Morrowind, which outstanding graphics amazed each and every player at the beginning of the first decade of the 21st century, it was time for the next part which many thought of as a rival to released a few months later Gothic 3. In fact, both games were extremely different. So there is no need to compare the two.
The world of The Elder Scrolls is very well scratched, and the whole mythology and the history of the continent of Tamriel is truly extensive. In the game you can literally read dozens of books about past ages, gods and heroes. All that makes the universe much more real. The fourth part of the plot tells a story about the events that took place in the last days of the third age. Created by the player protagonist (in a very powerful character generator – you can virtually create from scratch your own class and define the appearance of the protagonist) starts as usual in this series – as a prisoner. After a while, Emperor Uriel Septim VII enters your cell with his bodyguards and passes through a secret entrance to the dungeon because he fears for his life at the hands of certain group of folks. However, earlier he says a few words about your destiny. Using the occasion to escape you follow Emperor only to be a witness of his murder. Of course it is an unknown prisoner who turns out to be the only chance to save the entire empire. So begins The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. Despite not bad main plot you can find quite a number of side quests. However, most of them is just exploring dungeons full of enemies and probably the most interesting relate to organizations such as the Mages Guild or the Thieves Guild.
Within one year of the release of the game two major add-ons showed up. Knights of the Nine is the story which focuses on and Order seeking weapons and gear of a grand Crusader in order to destroy an evil sorcerer. The second addition called the Shivering Isles is much more interesting. On a small island a portal appeared. It leads to another world ruled by the Daedric Prince of Madness-Sheogorath. The main thread – as usual – is focused on saving the world. The strength of this add-on sits in the division of the islands into two parts – Mania and Dementia. Both lands are competing with each other in some ways, and the omnipresent insanity and madness gives an unusual taste to the adventure.
The Elder Scrolls games are usually extremely huge. Vast world, thousands of different items and hundreds of NPCs. Thanks to this, the player is not forced to push the story forward. You can focus on the side quests or trading and, for example, become the owner of all of the homes available for sale in the whole Cyrodiil. The main plot together with the two major additions lasts for about 40 hours of gameplay, and side quests provide at least twice as much.
Realism of the gameplay is deepen by such specific issues as the gradual degradation of equipment that you need to repair or replace. You can improve items using magic to upgrade up their deadly abilities. It is also important to be in friendly relations with NPCs. When someone is not favourable, you can try to bribe him or play a game of funny mini game, in which in turn we admire, tell jokes, intimidate or praise in order to improve relations.
Skills are leveled up only if they are often used. In addition, you can take advantage of some of the books found in the Cyrodiil. You can also pay certain characters for lessons. What might irritate some players is certainly the so-called level scaling. Along with the level of the hero, the level of surrounding world is also growing. Level 1 or 20 – it doesn’t no matter because a wolf found in the nearest forest can be always equally lethal. I also did not liked the interface in the first few hours, but I got used to it after some time. One of the best improvements is the quick trip feature – you can go to each previously visited location in seconds. I missed that very much in Morrowind.
From the technical side, the game is polished, although at the time of the release there were some performance problems. The world, which might be too fabulous and colorful, is really interesting. In contrast to the Morrowind, in Oblivion all NPCs have their own voice, and the main roles were filled by actors such as Sean Bean or Patrick Stewart. The great soundtrack was once again composed by Jeremy Soule, who is with The Elder Scrolls series since Morrowind.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is an 8 out of 10. It is a good piece of role-playing game which lasts for at least 40 hours of gameplay. However, players who want more can download hundreds, and even thousands of mods created by fans (only on PC of course). The game today – seven years after release – holds up really well. Not only in terms of gameplay, but also as an audiovisual masterpiece – also in the console versions. I recommend it to all fans of decent role-playing games, in which it is freedom of action is more important than some statistics and numbers.