Oblivion is a really great RPG,but with a few issues as well.
want to make things clear from the beggining:the only Elder Scrolls game I had played before Oblivion was Morrowind.My experience with that games was about 1 hour.I mean,I can't say it wasn't a great game,considering the fact that it was released in 2002,but I didn't like it at all,it didn't sucked me in it at all.Maybe I wasn't the adept of an open-ended game, having played & replayed both Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic games,which gave a sense of freedom,but not exactly.To make things short,I was very sceptical when I started playing Oblivion for the first time.I had set off with the impression that I'm playing Morrowind with cutting edce graphics.Impression which was terribly wrong.Oblivion made me a great impression from the beggining,& it sucked me in it like few games managed to do.Three days I played Oblivion continously with small pauses.What the hell made me do that,l;et's find out!
I had read several reviews & admired several screenshots from Oblivion before playing the game,& it was not hard for me to see that it really was "the shyte" .Graphically speaking.Well,it really is.I don't really know what graphical engine it uses,& to be honest,I don't care.Thing is,it's not very techically proficient,it's not really a next-gen engine.But it's still a wonderful engine,optimized to the max & filled with art.I mean,this game had better landscapes than FarCry did,but that was not entirely the merit of the engine.While FarCry relied on its next-gen impressive engine, Oblivion did it better with the artistic impression.I mean,Oblivion's engine has numerous flows,such as the one with the distant textures.When looking close everything looks great,the vegetation (a lot of different herbs,flowers,trees) looks almost real,but when you look at the distant hills or mountains,there is a horrible texture that srews up the whole landcape.Some mods fix this but I'm reviewing the original release.Excepting this texture & some walls,which also look horrible,everything is superb.You can enjoy a romantic sunset near Anvil,where you can watch the sun disappearing over the sea,or the mountains.It's not Crysis,but hey,we're speaking of 2006.The people don't look great,but they're decent.The weapons & all the objects,on the other hand,look fantastic & are incredibly detailed.Interiors are again good enough,water is just great,& the meteorological effects (snow,rain,thunderstorm) are simply amazing.There is a problem that weather changes too fast.Now it rains hard,a second later it's all sunny & dry ;but if you go over these minor bugs,you'll have a stunning visual experience.The physics engine Havok wanted to make a better gaming experience out of Oblivion,but it didn't go out as planned.It is cool,& I think it was the only RPG back then which used a real psysics engine,but it is badly optimized.I mean,when you strike a skeleton with your sword it dismembers into a lot of pieces,but why then can't you cut people into peaces?Or why can't you shatter a can or a plate when hitting it with your axe?Oh,& certain objects really can't be moved a bit,which is simply absurd if you hit them with the biggest of weapons.In all,with the problems I mentioned,the visual side of Oblivion is great,even thoug it's heavily compensated by the artistical touch of some lanscapes & places,such as the painting-world or flower fields.
I really can't understand why,but Bethesda simply scrwed the audio part of Oblivion.Now the few good things about the sound are some cool effects,such as the weapon sounds, animal sounds & meteorological sound effect,which are really good. A questionable aspect is the music.It's composed by the famous Jeremy Soule,& I usually love that kind of music,but not this one.Some good parts,but I don't think real instruments were used.That's because it sounds false,shallow,it almost hurts your ear.Take the piano part for example;if that's sang at a real piano I'm Ozzy Osbourne.It sounds computerized,& it's not cool at all.The war music is quite good instead,but the way it's used is catastrophic.I mean it starts when you'll have at least one enemy around you.It sounds epic,like an epic battle between good & evil is taking place,even if the only enemy is a poor little rat!That's simply idiotic.Next,the voice acting is simply awful,with two or three exceptions.Ignoring the fact that a man plays the voice of about 10-15 different characters in the game,a lot of these guys just read their lines,without expressing any emotions,any feelings at all.They say "My wife's been killed by bandits" or "The Emperor has been assassinated with the same tonality they use when saying "My neighbor is called George,& he's a farmer" .At the end of the game,when a crowd is saluting the Emperor,who marches to same the whole Tamriel from the forces of darkness,they do it exactly as they would cheer a bar brawl when being very drunk.Disgusting,Bethesda.
In terms of gameplay,I'd divide Oblivion into three big & different parts:the main quest, the secondary quests & your character & property management.Let's speak about each of them,but first let's see the generalities of the game.
As you might know,Oblivion is,as Morrowind was,a first person role-playing game.I didn't like it at the beggining,but I've seen that the first person view is much better & easier to use as the 3rd person view is.I personally use the 3rd person view just when I ride my horse or when I want to see how my chharacter looks.Now,moving to another aspect,you'll have a huge territory in which you can travel & complete quests as you like,because Oblivion is open-ended.The whole place is quite much bigger than San Andreas,but there are few cities (about 8 I think),& no villages.The rest of the space consists in mountains,hills,lakes,rivers,etc & inns or ranches from time to time.There are also mines,caves,forts which can be found & explored.Now,the teritorry is open & you can travel anywhere without loading times,with exceptions.When entering cities there are loading times,& when entering buildings there are also loading times.The absurd aspect is that inside buildings,when you go from one room to another,there is almost everytime a loading screen,which is very irritating & throws you out from actively participating into the game.The map is quite OK,showing you any interest point where you have travelled already.You can also use the quick-travel function,which is very well thought & much more natural than the stupid teleportation from Gothic 3.Basically,you travel without seeing it,because time goes on accordingly to the distance you travelled,which is a great idea indeed.If you wanna travel by yourself,you can go on foot (very good if you want to build stamina skill),or with horses.The bad thing about horses is that you can't fight at all while riding them,which is quite bad.Mount & Blade did it perfectly,but Oblivion can't?Geez... The skills are gained by using them more;using your sword will get you sword skill,etc .It is more realistic I'd say,but the level up is done really really slow & you might be only level 5 when you finish the whole main quest & save the world.Another bad thing is that the enamies advance in level as you advance,which totally sucks.It would have been nice if you wouldn't be able to beat a certain level 9 enemy at level 3,but when you'd be at level 14 you'd kill it in one strike.Such a pity... Well,speaking about combat,it is quite good & you really feel like fighting. Swords,hammers,axes,staffs,bows.I always say that swords are the best because they are quite fast.You can also wear a shield for dodging & protection.About object,there are a hell lot of them,& it's really nice to make commerce with them,which is one of my favorite parts in Oblivion.I steal everything in a shop at night,store home what I need & sell on the black market what I don't need.Very enjoyable.You can also invest in shops,buy houses & arrange their interior as you like.You can set off to find valuable artifacts or other rare things.There is magic in the game,but as I hate it very much everywhere except Harry Potter,I didn't even mind to look into it.OK,now about people & their behaviour I've got a lot of good things to say.Seems that Bethesda have taken the example from Gothic series to make the world a more credible place.They did it quite good,but not as good as it is in Gothic 3 (or STALKER) .They all roam around,take a drink at bars,stay at inns,close their shops over night,sleep at their homes,etc. The reaction towards you can be affected by your quests,popularity or by bribes & converastions.This system works pretty good,but it can also generate into very funny situations you'll certainly bump into. I'd wish to tell you how I had gone deer hunting & ended up wiping out a whole bandit camp but I'd rather let you make your own adventures.
The primary quest starts interesting,continues very bad,by the end it shines a bit but it finally screws up.It is badly written,lame,very boring,repetitive,without any substance.Thank god it's firly short.Basically,the emperor is killed,& you have to rescue his son,bring him a lot of objects,get aid & finally win a battle.The catacombs & underground tunnels where you have to find those object are boring ,repetitive & badly designed,so you'll get sick of them really soon.You'll have to close some Oblivion gates too in order to complete the main quest.You get trough the gate,try to find a path to the biggest tower & climb it,while killing stupid enamies & avoiding some cool or idiotic traps.Maybe one of the most boring moments in all the games I've ever played.B ythe end I was impressed by Camoran's Paradise,a beautiful place where everything is not really as it seems.Camoran's speech impressed me deeply,being one of the most touching moments in videogaming history.But it all went away & the lameness reapeeared.The "epic battle to save the world" means you & 8 guards battle a couple of creatures, than you go to the Imperial City,the heir fights the bad guy's leader & defeats him,but also dies,& that's the end.
The secondary quest are something totally different.Some are amazingly atmospheric & tensioned.I will never forget how I sneaked into a house,waited into the attic untill evening to untie a furniture object in order for it to fall & kill the owner.Or a contest that somehow reminded me of the Saw movies: a couple of people must stay in a house while I secretly kill them,being one of the participants,& they panic & don't know who the killer is...It's simply amazing.Other quest are briantly written,such as one where you enter a painter's world full of ...paint ,or the dream world...ah,unique moments.Also,these secondary quests never get boring,& there are a couple of fantastic turning points,especially in the Dark Brotherhood.I really felt the members of the Brotherhood as a family,as close friends,feeling I didn't have for the characters in the main quest.
I've described the story in the gameplay section,so I'm not gonna do it again.But as something more to mention,if it wouldn't have been for Camoran's speech at the end,I would have given the story a 5/10.Clichees over clichees,nothing interesting or impressive at all.But the speech is simply majestic...somewhat like Andre Ryan's speech in Bioshock,but not really that well done.
Did I mention that Oblivion is a game full of bugs?Big bugs that prevent you from passing certain quests?Or how annoying & boring it gets from time to time?But forget those,Oblivion is a great game still.I'll give you a tip:get Oblivion Game of the Year Edition,patch it,including the unofficial patches,than get the best mods for it.I had built such a game & the rating for it would be 9.4/10.Trust me!
Strong Points:-amazing graphics,technically & artistic
-some superb sidequests
-huge game world
Weak Points:-abysmal voice acting mostly
-computerized music doesn't fit
-the horde of bugs
-the primary quest
-leveling up is way too slow