Developer: Bethesda |
Publisher: 2K Games
Players: 1 Player Game |
Genre: RPG

Release Date: 03/20/06

Bethesda Softworks has been hard at work on the next chapter in the epic role playing series The Elder Scrolls. I’m sure more than a few of you logged some serious time on the last game, Morrowind. Morrowind gave players a vast world to explore, a ton of evil demons to slaughter and the freedom to do just about anything one would wish to do in a game. If ever a game fit the term non-linear–it was Morrowind. Considering the cult fan base of the game, Bethesda probably could have taken the easy way out and threw together a quasi-sequel with new monsters and areas. This however, is not what they are doing. Instead they are reworking the game engine and are genuinely striving to give players a fresh and immersive experience with the next title in the series The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

The game’s story begins as Emperor Uriel Septim VII (of Morrowind fame) pays you a visit and explains that he has had visions of what is to come. He is going to be assassinated and the gate to the underworld, known as Oblivion, will be opened. Once this happens the stuff nightmares are made of will become reality. He tells you that your only hope is to find his son and save the world from complete destruction. Sounds like a jolly little romp, doesn’t it? Well as a matter of fact, it sure doesÖ¥r, except for the little part, it’s more akin to a jolly gargantuan romp as the world you’ll traverse is anything but small. The various landscapes in the game mean a lot of travel, but luckily there are certain points in the world where you’ll be able to instantly teleport so you don’t have to do all that tedious walking.

In order to bring this daunting world to life, Bethesda has upped the graphics considerably for Oblivion. The beautiful landscapes are probably one of the first things you’re going to notice about the game. In fact, you probably have already noticed them and spent a good bit of time oogling at the impressive screenshots; I know I have. The forest areas in the game look absolutely amazing, and the cities are gorgeous as well. Certainly there are more varied landscapes that we have yet to see and that alone should peak your interest for exploration.

The game will function similarly to Morrowind in some respects. For instance, repeatedly performing a certain action will improve your skills; such as swinging a sword or using a bow to take down enemies. The more you use these skills, the more proficient you become at them. If straight up combat isn’t your cup of brew, then perhaps you’d prefer to work on sneaking and stealth to improve your abilities at moving around undetected. As was the case with other games in the series, the choice is up to you. This is a prominent theme in the game and you’ll be making decisions all the time that may affect your abilities or your reputationÖ¹es, it would be fun to loot that store, but what would your mother think?

Another element returning from previous games is the ability to view the action from either a third or first person perspective. Some players may feel more comfortable fighting monsters in first person view, while others may like to see their character in action and prefer third person mode. So whether you’re a third or first person gamer, the option is there. That’s all well and good, but what about new stuff? Well, the developers have made a change to the AI system and NPC’s will now have a much more dynamic daily behaviour. This should make it fun to just spy on citizens in the world and see what they’re up to from time to time. This will undoubtedly lead to some humorous situations.

Oblivion is looking sharp right now and fans of the other games in the series are really in for a treat. The new world is beautiful, the new monsters are horrendous and the complete freedom to do whatever you want is awesome. Bethesda is shooting for a PC and Xbox 360 release some time this holiday season which means you may have to kidnap Rudolph and make sure Santa gets the point.

This article appeared in the July 2005 Issue of CVGames. You can view this Issue by clicking here.

By Ryan Schaefer – 07/14/05
ESRB Details: Blood and Gore, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence

Screenshots for Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion