Specials: Bethesda delivers in a big way?and all for only 87 cents?
Simply put ? this is possibly (if not definitely) the greatest single player adventure game of all time, and one of the most complete and immersive RPGs the industry has ever seen. Those are the facts ? now, what's Oblivion really all about? Based on my 10 or so hours of playtime at this point, it's a title that defies true description?it really has to be experienced to be fully understood?but I will say that in those 10 hours I haven't even completed the first task of the main quest. That's right, at 10 hours I've been sidetracked by a massive dungeon, a deep and foreboding cave, several cities and settlements, an abandoned fort complete with an old hermit Necromancer whose bad habit of turning things invisible irks the local village folk, and a bunch of side-quests to collect monster fish, find a vampire and track down long lost brothers.
Ok, where was I? Oh yea ? actually I just completed that first quest and grabbed myself a horse, among other things. That's how addictive the world of Oblivion is. I just got pulled back in for another two hours, playing hooky from my deadline, but damned if Elder Scrolls IV doesn't grab you by the throat and never let up. From exploring incredibly creepy and vast dungeons by torchlight, beset by the living dead, goblins, bandits and undead skeleton warriors eager for your blood, to traveling the wide open vistas of Tamriel, Oblivion is breathtaking in every respect of the word. Last night I walked for miles, from the lush green plains of the outskirts of Imperial City all the way to the top of the Jerall Mountain's snow capped peaks, amongst which I found the city of Bruma. In fact, just moments ago I rode down from the highlands on my horse to the vicinity of the capitol and came upon the ruins of Fort Empire, another abandoned outpost, this one infested with screeching Imps. I simply dismounted and hurled magic fire balls at them, after which a few swipes of my sword finished the job. I'll get to exploring those remains a bit later, and it's a testament to the playability of this game that there's little else I can think about.
Graphically, there's not much out there that even comes close to what Oblivion is sporting. Every creature, environment, blade of grass and stone castle wall is lovingly rendered and absolutely stunning. Lighting is beyond imagination, and crawling through a deep, dark dungeon or cave by torchlight is truly impressive. Likewise the physics on display here are outstanding. Chains swing realistically, bodies tumble with perfect ragdoll motion and trees and grass sway in the wind. It rains, snows, gets overcast as well as brilliantly sunny and days meld into nights seamlessly. Standing on a peak overlooking the land is a heady experience to be sure, and realizing that you can travel all the way to the mountain tops in the distance is pretty mind-boggling. All this doesn't come without a price though. The game pauses to load in the larger outdoor areas and the framerate dips once in a while, but fortunately it's nothing that affects gameplay or the enjoyment of Oblivion in any significant way. The entire world is awash with rich color and amazing, razor sharp detail, and you'll find yourself pausing to just take everything in. The sounds of ESIV are just as spot-on, and the voice acting is excellent ? humorous and appropriately dramatic as well. The music is fantastic, with heroic themes appearing during battle sequences and soft, understated passages during the lighter moments of exploration. Bottom line ? it has to be seen in motion ? preferably in 1080i on a hi-def widescreen set. It's a country mile of eye candy and jaw-dropping insanity, not to mention an inexhaustible treasure chest of adventure you'll never want to put down. If you're not playing it, you'll be thinking about playing it ? trust me, you will. Have a look at your friends list. What's everyone playing? That's what I thought?
There's so much to talk about regarding Oblivion, that it's impossible to cover it in one article. Everything from fighting in the arena, to joining numerous guilds and the simple concept that everything across this unimaginably immense world is at your disposal and you can do anything you want at any time. You'll come across so
much to do as you seek your quests that you'll be staggered by just how much content this title throws at you. Look for the official GT review of Oblivion soon. Oh, and if for some reason you don't have this game yet, go buy it now. In fact, it's worth springing for a 360 if you're still on the fence. Elder Scrolls IV is a defining moment in console adventure gaming. Don't miss it.