Good n’ Cheap Game Review: The Elder Scrolls IV; Oblivion

When 2K Games’ The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion first came out, it really shook up the RPG industry.  And for good reason – it is a beautifully and painstakingly detailed world full of open-ended exploring and almost limitless possibilities for gameplay.  Unfortunately, it’s pretty much been eclipsed by World of Warcraft in terms of popularity.  Both offer rich worlds and complex stories and characters.  However WoW is best experienced in multiplayer and Oblivion has no multiplayer.  That’s been it’s Achilles heel in today’s MMO-focused gaming environment (MMO stands for Massively Multiplayer Online, of which World of Warcraft is the best example).

I am not one for MMORPG’s though.  I prefer to work solo and am just not that interested in scheduling times to meet with my online clan just to play a game.  Oblivion fills the RPG gap in my life perfectly so far.

I’ve already mentioned the game’s detail, but it’s worth saying more.  There is so much detail in this game that it can be overwhelming at first.  Trees, plants, weather and even the sky are all gorgeous to look at.  Many of the native plants and animals are also interactive.  You can pick flowers for alchemal ingredients or shoot deer for venison.  The towns all have distinct architectural styles and all NPC’s (non-player characters – that is, people who ain’t you) are interactive in some way.  They will react to you In fact, everything is interactive, even the plates and silverware in the inns.

Character creation is also practically limitless, with a broad mix of races, classes, and special abilities available.  Weapons, spells and armor choices are also vast and elegantly rendered as well.

Finally there’s the game itself.  There is a main quest along with a large number of side quests available of course, but you can completely ditch any quest at any time and just mill about town if you feel like it.  You can then pick up on any unfinished quest at any time as well.

There’s a lot more you can read about the game itself online, so I’m not really going to repeat what has already been said.  What I don’t think has been said, though, is how well this game plays on relatively older systems.  The game has run flawlessly on my AMD 2.2GHz CPU, NVidia GeForce 8600 GT and 2 gigs of RAM.  Nothing spectacular by today’s standards, but I’ve run Oblivion with the settings pushed pretty high (8x antialiasing, bloom lighting, all shadows on, 1024 x 768 resolution) without any lag.  There have been a few issues with odd shadows on some configurations, and for some reason it crashes occasionally when exiting, but this has never affected gameplay.  When Oblivion first came out it pushed graphics cards and systems quite a bit.  But today with dual-core processors and high quality graphics cards commonplace and affordable, it’s not a crippler.

Even though it is older, it is still available through online merchants like Amazon and probably still at spots like Best Buy and GameStop.  The price ranges from around $20-25, which is great for a game of this quality.

As good as it is, Oblivion can be intimidating.  With so many choices and variables constantly in play, it can feel overwhelming at first.  However you can choose how deep down the rabbit hole you want to go.  Sure you can research how to combine various plants and other ingredients into various potions if you want to, but if you don’t it’s not a big deal.  Just pick a hack-and-slash warrior or barbarian and forget about all the magic junk.

All in all though it is very much worthwhile.  If you want an RPG without shelling out monthly subscription charges and want to focus on single-player action, head to Oblivion.

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Posted on March 29, 2010, in software. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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