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Role Playing (Games)

Living In Oblivion 296

Posted by Zonk
from the nicer-than-you-might-otherwise-think dept.
The Elder Scrolls series is well known among PC gamers as the high water mark for an open-ended RPG experience. The series, set in the world of Tamriel, has a staggering breadth and depth thanks to the exacting standards of the team at Bethesda Softworks. The newest title in the line brings Tamriel to life in a manner that is renewing the faith of even the most jaded CRPG player. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion may not be the perfect game for everyone. For those willing to give it a shot, Oblivion treats gamers with a level of respect that is unique, uplifting, and (hopefully) inspirational for game developers in all genres. Read on for my impressions of a truly unique game.
  • Title: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Developer: Bethesda Softworks
  • Publisher: 2K
  • System:PC (360)
The Computer Roleplaying Game (CRPG) genre consists of two poorly-wed sub-genres. These genres were forced together at gunpoint simply because of some passing similarities. On one hand, you have Japanese RPGs. These linear, turn-based titles are typified by the extremely popular Final Fantasy series. On the other hand you have Western RPGs, which can trace their roots to titles like Wizardry or the 'gold box' SSI games. More recent examples of this genre include the incredibly popular Bioware titles Neverwinter Nights and Knights of the Old Republic.

This latter category of CRPG is, regrettably, on the wane. The type of gamer who enjoys this genre has been drawn away by the promise of multiplayer interaction, either in MUDS or MOOs or in their more graphically advanced MMORPG offspring. Since the days of Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment fewer and fewer of these non-linear titles, with an emphasis on creating an actual role to play, have been lining shelves. The grandaddy of this genre is the previous chapter in the Elder Scrolls saga. Morrowind let you loose on an island nation with little more than a race, astrological symbol, and some skills. Once you were in the game there wasn't a single constraint on your actions. An advanced world editor ensured that a player who tired of the hundreds of hours of potential gameplay in the shipped title could download content from his fellow gamers. From the smallest item all the way to entire additional continents, this content has kept dedicated players busy since the game's launch in 2002.

These players can move on, finally, as Oblivion steps ably into its older brother's very big shoes. The level of polish this game displays is such that it is hard not to wander into hyperbole when describing what they got right. In point of fact, it's hard to nail down something they got wrong when keeping the genre as a whole in mind. There are, however, some big obstacles to enjoying the game. The most daunting can be a simple question of technology. A lot of game impressions seem to be based on the Xbox 360 version of the title, and for good reason. The 'recommended specs' on the side of the PC box could make anyone pause. A three gig processor, at least a gig of memory, and (if you're using Nvidia as your yardstick) a 6800 or better graphics card are what they suggest. I'll be honest, I don't reach the recommended specs. I've got a 2 gig processor and a 6600 card. Anticipating the game, I did upgrade to 2 gigs of memory as a stopgap measure, and I really noticed that purchase in the lightning-fast load times. Graphically, though, I know I'm not seeing the full experience. Unless you have a high-end rig, you're probably going to want to go with the 360 version. I'm told it has noticeable load times and some occasional control frustrations, but if your computer can't handle the title at least you can play the game.

The second roadblock potential players might encounter is one of the game's biggest strengths: the open-ended gameplay. Once you've finished the tutorial dungeon you're let loose with absolutely no strings attached. Tamriel is your world to explore, and you can do it however you wish. There is about 100x more direction in Oblivion than there was in Morrowind, and various gameplay elements make it much easier to get where you're going and know what you're doing. Just the same, if you like having a clear goal the freedom of Oblivon may throw you. The entrants in the Final Fantasy series look like barely interactive movies in comparison.

Finally, an aspect of the title that's throwing even dedicated players may prove to be the final straw for folks new to the series. There's no other way to say it: Oblivion is harsh. With freedom comes consequences, and for a certain kind of player Elder Scrolls IV may be a very frustrating experience. The best example of this philosophy is in character creation. It's entirely possible to create a useless character if you make the wrong choices. They give you an array of pre-generated character roles to choose from, and it's hard to go completely wrong if you pick one of those. If you so choose, however, you can roll your own class. If you really want to, you can set off into Tamriel with little or no experience in wielding a weapon. Oblivion is far more than your usual hack-and-slash, but there is still a lot of combat in the game, and such a character will probably have a very hard time of it. That combat, too, can be brutally unforgiving. Enemies throughout the land scale as you gain in strength, so the hope is that you won't ever come up against an opponent that's completely out of your league. Within your 'league', though, you can come up against enemies that are almost impossible to defeat. That can depend on the character just as much as the enemies involved, and either way the game isn't going to sit there and hold your hand.

With those caveats out of the way, I'll engage in just a little bit of hyperbole. Oblivion is the most engaging RPG I have ever played. It captures the essence of what makes tabletop roleplaying so enjoyable, and allows you as the player access to a sprawling and beautifully realized world of possibilities.

From the first moment you enter the world, the occupant of a dank jail cell, you'll be struck by the depth of the experience. A fellow prisoner makes rude comments to you from across the hallway, and the guards which appear at your door make no bones about their willingness to kill you. They're there guarding the emperor, who is fleeing an assassination attempt. Your tutorial for the game has you following the emperor (voiced by Patrick Stewart), and exploring a small cave system beneath the Imperial prison. Game elements are well explained, with numerous opportunities to practice combat tactics, stealth, and spellcasting. By the time you leave the cavern, you'll have chosen your race and class and borne witness to the death of the empire's leader. Blinking in the sudden light, on a grass-covered hill outside the Prison walls, you have a quest in your journal and a million options open before you.

This sense of freedom is Oblivion's most engaging quality. While the emperor asked with his dying breath that you travel to a Priory in the north and find his illegitimate son, you are under no obligation to do so. Ever. There is enough to do in the world of Tamriel that if you so choose you can spend the rest of your play experience happily ignoring the looming threat implied by the main quest. The main quest is well-written, and if you follow through with the line's goals you'll be rewarded through fame and fortune. Unlike other titles with the implication of 'freedom', Oblivion really does offer far more than just the central script. Just walking down a street in one of the many cities of the empire will allow you to overhear the possibility of adventure. The Non-Player Characters (NPCs) of Oblivion are wonderfully written, and all have their own very specific needs. Their AI puts them through a normal routine every in-game day, and causes the characters to interact in very realistic ways. While a peasant's normal day might involve working in a farm outside the city, stopping at a tavern for a meal, and then heading home for bed, it's possible that could be disrupted by the actions of another character. If it is, you can bet that there's a quest waiting for you.

This level of depth is supported by the game's many conveniences. The number of quests the citizens of Tamriel will throw your way would make it impossible to handle if you didn't have a good level of support. The game offers a featureful quest journal, which not only shows what quests you're on, but quests that you've completed and prior steps to ongoing quests. Quest goals are clearly marked on your world map, ensuring that even if you are unsure of what exactly to do you can always know where you're supposed to go. The game features a 'fast travel' system that can take some of the tedium of overland riding out of the game. If you do choose to travel overland, you'll encounter new adventure locales and opportunities for questing, but the option of moving quickly from place to place is really nice.

What you actually do on quest is extremely varied. While there are some quests that fit into the usual 'kill the x for me' or 'deliver this to so-and-so', a surprising number of them substantially differ from the norm. There are diplomatic missions, like the request from the invisible people of Aleswell. An entire village turned translucent by a thoughtless wizard wants you to go talk him into turning them back. The Thieves Guild quests primarily revolve around entering private areas and coming away clean with an item or items. One involved quest line I explored had me following around a merchant, who turned out to be purchasing his wares from a graverobber. While the quest line did end in a confrontation with the scoundrel, there was far more to the quest than simply 'go here and kill the bad guy'. Quests in Oblivion are deeply satisfying in a way that many RPGs (especially MMOGs) can't even approach.

All that said, if you're not in the mood for considered action there's always monster hunting to lighten the mood. Ruins are scattered liberally across the empire, and exploring them will lead you into numerous combat situations. Combat in Oblivion shares the same first-person melee setup that Morrowind used. You hack and slash at your foes from behind your character's eyes, resulting in an immediacy to combat that raises the blood pressure quite effectively. There are several ways to fight, each with its own distinct 'feel'. Melee combat has a great kinesthetic feel, with your character swaying and moving in time to the action. Slashing your weapon across your field of view is enormously satisfying, and creatures bleed profusely when poked. Melee skills have been simplified a great deal, with 'Blade', 'Blunt', and 'Hand-to-Hand' constituting the three main options you have in this field. If ranged combat is your preference, 'Marksman' is the skill you'll want. Drawing an arrow on a bow conveys a real sense of power, and the whistling sound that accompanies a flying projectile imparts your shots with a deadly beauty. Ranged combat is most useful, I've found, to use when stealthing. Entering 'stealth' mode allows you to move quietly and unseen through the halls of the dungeon. If you can get off a shot with your bow or blade while remaining undetected, your initial blow will do far more damage. You'll be doing a lot of combat throughout your adventuring career, so the fact that they just nailed the feel of chaotic encounters makes it hard to get bored while exploring the depths.

Every system, in fact, has the mark of quality stamped upon it. Magic is just as engaging as the combat elements, with different schools covering a wide variety of spell effects. Spells are broken out into separate schools, which don't directly tie together. You can choose, for example, to improve your ability to cast healing spells and ignore other spellcasting elements. If you want to broaden your scope, the different schools can be used in synergy to create excellent effects. Magic schools, sneaking, bladework, and shield blocking are all covered by skills which improve as you use them. 'Leveling up' occurs when you've crossed a certain threshold of skills points acquired. Your increase in power (both via level and skill increase) is visible and enjoyable, with benefits to your prowess in battle immediately apparent during gameplay. There are also non-combat skills, which are just as well thought out as the more violent sort. Lockpicking and Speechcraft are mini-games, and both allow access to secrets you might not otherwise ever see. You can repair your armor or brew potions, as you'd like. You can leap from rooftop to rooftop to improve your Acrobatics, and haggle with merchants to improve Mercantile. The tapestry of skills works so well because not only do they hang well separately, they mesh together into a cohesive whole. Your character, as your window into Tamriel, manages to be just as interesting as the NPCs around you. You can actually find that you surprise yourself with what you can do, a truly rare treat for any game.

All of these well-crafted systems would be fun even if the game only looked 'okay.' What makes Oblivion so easy to lose yourself in, though, is the visual quality and audio presence the designers have lovingly applied to the entire experience. NPCs look at you with expressive eyes and delicate features. Enemy creatures attack with movement appropriate to their style of combat, and light winds stir the grasses around you while you sit and stare up at the beautiful sky. Tamriel is a gorgeous world, and the visual experience completes the powerful force pulling you into the gameworld. There are a lot of 'wow' moments, but what I enjoyed most about the graphical presentation is that after a time you just stop noticing it. Everything looks just right, and makes it easy to slip into your alternate persona.

There's just so much right about this game, it makes me actually a little sad. The strong statements made by the developers are entirely admirable: a harsh and open world where the player is empowered. Those same statements will put off a lot of gamers because we are just not taught to expect much of ourselves when we game. The power, beauty, and depth of this gameworld should be experienced by as many people as possible, and because of the bad lessons taught by other games there are a lot of people that are going to say 'that's not for me'. Oblivion is a game that forces you to make decisions with real consequences, a game that plays out those consequences on the world, and teaches you as the player to think fast and play for keeps. It's real life, packaged into a fantasy format and with a handy quest journal that I constantly find myself missing as I do chores around the house. It does what other games are afraid to do: it respects you. The finest compliment for a game that allows you to fill a role is to find yourself actually believing the role, and Bethesda has given you every tool you need to go off and be your very own hero. In an escapist niche of an escapist hobby, there's not much more you can ask for than that.
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Living In Oblivion

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  • Truly Great (Score:4, Informative)

    by XMilkProject (935232) on Friday March 31, 2006 @03:48PM (#15036327) Homepage
    A truly great game. I've been playing an awful lot since it came out a few days ago. I think the reviewer was spot on when he said that the player is given respect in the game. Theres no other way to describe it.

    Oh, and this wouldn't be a game review without some tips!

    Go find Dorian's house in the Tolas district of Imperial City. Kill him, and you can take an unlimited supply of money off of him. As much as your willing to take at 8gp per button press.
    • You might as well be cheating if you're exploiting an in-game bug. Or was this meant to be part of the game? "Bag of infinite gold" or "Money Tree/Shrub"
    • Re:Truly Great (Score:2, Insightful)

      by copenja (840759)
      If you want tons of gold you can just set it in the console.

      No need to exploit some goofy bug.

      Go to www.gamefaqs.com they have a list of commands.

      It will be something simple like: set gold 10000.

      Also, you can pretty much create whatever you want using
      the contruction set.

      But really cheating ruins the game, I don't recommend it.
      As soon as you start cheating there is no going back and
      imo it really ruins the fun level of the game.
      • The cheating on the console is too easy. This works on xbox though where you cannot do that, and really takes some patience to get the money. Also the guy is kinda hard to kill, he keeps running for the guards.
      • Re:Truly Great (Score:3, Informative)

        by snuf23 (182335)
        David Marcus: "He cheated."

        Kirk: "I changed the conditions of the test. I got a commendation for original thinking. I don't like to lose"
    • Re:Truly Great (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cheapy (809643)
      That's not a 'tip', that's a cheat.

      A tip would be how to join the Thieve's Guild for those who can't figure it out, or where to find Welkynd stones.
      • by ADRA (37398)

        The easiest way to join the theives guild is to get caught stealing something then get thrown in prison. If you do this in the capital city, a lady will mysteriously track you down to give you a note on what to do next. They lady will show up at some point inthe future, not right after you leave jail.

    • Damnit! As much as I love tips, this is like a spoiler to a movie. Next time, please post SPOILER WARNING!
    • Re:Truly Great (Score:2, Informative)

      by hayden_l (703045)
      You can bump the 8gp upwards of 300gp if you use the persuasion mini-game to force your rep down then bribe it back up. I was able to get him to have 473gp a button press.
    • Go for it if you want but whats the point of playing the game? If this makes it fun for you then go for it but I enjoy the game for reasons that you generally enjoy games: it's immersive and challenging and fun.

      Anyways, you can just use the command line to set your gold to whatever you want as well as change your race, skills, birth-sign etc at any point in the game.
  • by Nightspirit (846159) on Friday March 31, 2006 @03:51PM (#15036345)
    Before buying the game, see if there is a demo available. Right now the game has a decent amount of bugs, and it has problems running on alot of systems, including xbox360s. Some people with cutting edge hardware are having low fps issues whilesome people with lower end video cards are running fine. The xbox360 is having harddrive cache problems, ruining saved games, while alot of people on PCs are crashing to desktop.

    I'm enjoying the game, but it is frustrating. however, I would advise others to wait for a patch, unless you can't restrain yourselves.

    Here is the technical board for those interested:
    http://www.elderscrolls.com/forums/index.php?s=9df 99cc632d35dd16ee09edf8a56b38a&showforum=23 [elderscrolls.com]
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Friday March 31, 2006 @05:34PM (#15037336) Journal
      "ome people with cutting edge hardware are having low fps issues whilesome people with lower end video cards are running fine."

      As someone who actually has Oblivion and a pretty high end system, including a 7800 GTX, I can also tell you why: because us with high-end bastards pull the graphics details sliders to the max, while those low-end guys know how to be sane and tweak it.

      Yeah, I've had performance problems too, because of too much grass. "Auugh! The game stutters on my high-end system! It must be buggy!" Not so. It was just that my settings made it draw half a million grass sprites, with transparency anti-aliasing at that, 16x aniso, and v-sync. Turning grass off made the game play smooth as silk even at maximum visual settings otherwise, and as an added bonus, it also made alchemy plants easier to spot.

      And the funny thing is, I could swear that it actually looks better this way. All the flowers and rocks and mushrooms and fallen logs, actually look better and more diverse than a fairly uniform sea of grass.

      So basically, the hint is: even if you have a top-end system, do take the time to experiment with the quality settings. Most games nowadays allow for detail levels that would need at least top-end SLI, the latest Athlon 64 FX and 2-4 GB RAM. But just because it's there, doesn't mean you _must_ use it. Unless you actually have that kind of overkill hardware, well, settle for something more suitable to what you actually have. Chances are it won't look that much worse anyway.
    • As someone who finally gave up after Morrowind, this does not suprise me at all. All of Bethesda's Elder Scrolls games have been buggy train wrecks on release day. In at least one of them (Daggerfall, if I recall correctly) the manual actually talked of the gods sometime getting angry with you and letting you "fall out of the world." That's right, the geometry was bad and they shipped it as a "feature" not a bug. Sheesh.

      It also isn't the first time that save game corruption has reared its ugly head on the

  • Before you Buy! (Score:5, Informative)

    by bahwi (43111) <incoming@NoSPAm.josephguhlin.com> on Friday March 31, 2006 @03:52PM (#15036355) Homepage
    Before you buy, check the forums(which are completely negative with people convined no one ever, anywhere, has gotten the game to work, ignore thoses posts). Look for stuff on your video card. What runs Doom3 in High may only run Oblivion on Low, and what runs Doom3 on med may not even run it(or it may). My ATI 9800 Pro was nothing to it, barely ran, slowly, and very low framerate. I should have bought a 360 and the game on 360 but I want to be avail for plugins. Now I'm sli geforce 6800gs w/ 1gb ram and it runs high quality, but just barely, and slows down sometimes. But, it's incredibly beautiful, and very worth it. I think the 360 version will do plugins with the hard drive though, but I'm not sure, and I'm not much of a console gamer to begin with.

    So, check your stuff out, but it's completely worth it. It requires Shader 3, so half life w/ HDR doesn't mean Oblivion w/ HDR. It's an intensive game, well worth it, but intensive. Your once top of the line comp is obsoleted by this next generation game.

    And I hear GeForce FX series support is bad, ultra-low quality, etc... So 6000/7000 series, ATI 9500 or up to run, but my 9800 Pro was low quality, so be prepared.

    But definately worth it. Man, pushes the limits of gaming.
    • But that's probably related to the similiarities to the 360 and its subsequent optimizations.

      Benchmarks:

      http://www.bit-tech.net/gaming/2006/03/31/elder_sc rolls_oblivion/4.html [bit-tech.net]

      They indicate that even the GeForce 7900 has framerate difficulties when set to highest image-quality settings.
    • Funny how that works, my lowish end a year ago x700 plays Oblivion just fine at 1280x1024. Turning off (or in my case impossible to enable) HDR may make your game very smooth and still looks great

      I was real skeptical when it came out, maybe I was a bit jaded, but it was largely Bethesda who was responsible for making me so. Turns out, Oblivion is a pretty decent game with some modest caveats. I'm really happy MS made them put another 3 months in before releasing it.

      Getting stuck is real easy, enough so

    • You just have to be willing to put up with some pop-in for grass. I've got a AMD-64 3000, 1GB RAM and an nVidia 6600- the first two barely meet the spec, the latter is below.

      Still, I can play it at 800x600, 2xAA with good graphical detail. I've skipped shadows, bloom, some of the other effects and set the detail pop-ins fairly short and the framerate stays up save during big combats. It does get a bit twitchy when taking on 5-10 foes at a time- I find for these combats it's far better not to try going t

    • And I hear GeForce FX series support is bad, ultra-low quality, etc... So 6000/7000 series, ATI 9500 or up to run, but my 9800 Pro was low quality, so be prepared.

      Tell me about it! The entire Geforce FX series is a series beyond crappiness, besides possibly the most high end cards. I'm a former user of a FX 5600, and in Guild Wars it gave me ~10-15 fps in 1280x1024 in cities. Upgrade to a midrange 6600GT and it more than doubled. Maybe it's pure technology evolution, but for both cards being budget at their
    • I'm running an ATI 9800 Radeon Pro (latest drivers) and the game runs just fine at 1024x768 with draw distance high. The game auto detected and set me at 640x480, but I see no problem at 1024x768 (haven't even tried higher.) You didn't say what your CPU was, but mine is a P4 3Ghz and I have 1 Gig RAM. The game is just awesome. I'm glad they kept the load times to a minimum on the PC version.
    • According to developer interviews, the game supports both Shader Model 2.0 and 3.0, with 3.0 only being used to increase performance by doing things like lighting in a single pass.
  • There's a lot of little things I really enjoy:
    • The quick travel option on the map.
    • The ability to see your quest history and make a quest your active one.
    • For your active quest, it generally shows you where to go next. While this may seem like "spoonfeeding" the player, in a huge world like this it saves tons of wandering around.

    That's not to say there's no issues. I succumbed to weighing down the C key and leveling up my various magic skills by casting spells repeatedly. The game balance is also occ

    • Based on feedback from a friend that bought the game, I'd say the scaling issue is in need of some serious work, and there are lots of other Oblivion players who feel the same way - check out the forums on ars technica. He has had to re-roll once already, because if you don't focus most of your effort on combat-related skills, you will not get far, or have a VERY hard time doing it. Even if you do, things aren't easy. He finally had to set the difficulty level down to get past this one area, and he was only
      • Well, it's not like you have to start over. You can change your race, birth sign and main skills with the command line. I don't have them handy but just Google for them. It's helpful if you've invested serious time in a character and want to change that one little thing now that you know better.
  • Sir Sleepington (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hecubas (21451) on Friday March 31, 2006 @03:54PM (#15036374)
    I think Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com] sums up Oblivion and its predecessors well.
    • Got together with my P&P roleplay group earlier this week and we had much the same discussion, three of us really enjoyed the game, and one was bored to death by it. The odd man out is big on World of Warcraft, while the rest of us have never really taken to MMORPG's. I think the lack of constant interaction is what left him cold, while we were looking for immersion and story.
    • Its predecessors maybe, and certainly at first glance Oblivion looks and plays like Morrowind with shaders, but it's not. Not for me at least.

      They took the major problems with Morrowind (stupid/boring combat, repetative quests, tedious overland travel) and fixed them. Not even just fixed them, but turned the tables. The addition of blocking, effective stealth and more realistic weapon styles makes for interesting, satisfying combat. Quests are now interesting and varied (indeed, I've yet to go on a fetch qu
  • if only (Score:2, Insightful)

    by voudras (105736)
    If only Bethesda would do Fallout3
  • Worst part: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xzzy (111297) <sether&tru7h,org> on Friday March 31, 2006 @03:58PM (#15036410) Homepage
    The dumb "level matching" feature between your level and the enemies you encounter. It seems like a decent idea on paper but in practice it results in some bafflingly stupid situations. You'll run across bandits that are geared to the teeth with rare magical stuff, despite the fact you killed them 5-10 levels ago and all they dropped was leather. You never get the feeling that you "found" something, because in the corner of your brain you'll know that with your most recent level you triggered a loot upgrade and the game dutifully dispensed some +1 trinket to you.

    Fights never get easier, or harder, as you level. Everything becomes more powerful as you become more powerful, ensuring you come out of a fight exactly the way you did in earlier levels. Good for balance, extremely poor decision for conveying to the player that they are getting stronger.

    Thankfully there are mods out that fix this. It truly is a spectacular game, the current pinnacle of the genre. The downside is that this perfection only causes the poorly made decisions to sting stronger.
    • Ahh, the workarounds of the advancement treadmill. At some point developers need to suck it up and realise that maybe having players cover 5 orders of magnitude of power over the game is a little excessive.

      Compare v. World of Darkness - the maximum starting value for an attribute is 5, and the maximum potential value is 10. Players double in strength, so that n00bs are at least on the same scale (if pitifully inadequate) as high-power characters.

      Meanwhile, in your average RPG, every 10 levels adds another
      • But aren't the orders of magnitude difference part of the fantasy? The idea is that you go from peasant to god over the course of the game. It isn't supposed to be realistic. It's fantasy. ;-)

        -matthew
        • Yes, but my point is that if you only became 50x stronger over the course of the game from the point where you started (and lets say that the aforementioned bandits were met at the 5x mark) then they're not completely ignorable - they're still pathetically weak, but not a total joke - if they came at you in a group of 20, you might have a problem.
    • Re:Worst part: (Score:2, Informative)

      by taracta (217357)
      So do you think that the bandits and other just sit there and wait for you to come back at your leisure to kill them? Or do they also go about their business while you go about yours and learn where to get better stuff and get their levels up just as you do? They are intelligent too! Too much of the old methods of dragons that are smarter than you, bigger than you, stronger than you, wiser than you, getting defeated by you because you went away and level up. That did never make sense to me and I was gla
    • Re:Worst part: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by VoiceOfRaisin (554019)
      how could a game like this work, where you can go anywhere and theres THOUSANDS of places to visit. what you want wouldnt work at all. thered be a single place to go where they are weakest that youd need to fight first, then youd need to go somewhere else second as they are second weakest, all the way up to strongest. what you are suggesting would make the game EXTREMELY linear and pre planned. you wouldnt be able to start anywhere or do things in the order you wish. id rather have it the way it is! just im
      • I see what you're saying, but how is it believable at all that an entire fantasy world full of danger, monsters, beasts and outlaws are all at approximately the same level of power as you, and that any dark hole you stick your head in, there is no chance of finding something that will arbitrarily kick your ass? It just doesn't seem realistic to me at all.

        One of the things I liked about morrowind was the suspense of going into a dungeon and wondering if I'd get by just on the skin of my teeth or if it was so
    • Fights never get easier, or harder, as you level.

      Well, that hasn't been my experience. Once equipped with spells like Silence, Paralyze, Missile of Face Melting, Summon Eater of Worlds, and Now You See Me Now You're a Stain, the average opponent becomes easier. Wilderness beasts also do not level past 4, and there are some inredibly tough people like Umbra who will happily dice you like a tomato.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Friday March 31, 2006 @03:59PM (#15036414)
    One thing Zonk didn't mention is that as you go through the initial dungeon, your character is "classless". At the end, the game suggests in a clever fashion what class might be well-suited for you based on your actions up to that point. I've only played through the starting dungeon once, but it guessed closely enough that I went ahead and took its suggestion. You can choose a different class or create a custom class, though, just like in Morrowind.

    Another thing Zonk didn't mention is that the official forums are rife with reports of crash bugs. While the gameplay is relatively low on bugs, the game itself is prone to dropping some people to the desktop, apparently dependent on other unrelated software they may have installed, such as third-party codec collections or certain printer drivers (though in some cases, it's nigh impossible to track down the problem). One hopes that Bethesda is diligently working to resolve these issues, but they've been notably silent on the situation so far.

    • One problem with it is as far as I can tell it plays a lot of dynamically generated movies of some sort. The result is that ffdshow creates an icon in the systray for each and every one. That means that when I close the game I have 50-60 of the things to mouse over (which causes Windows to realize the program's closed and destroy the icon).
  • by Schmam (18569)
    I purchased Oblivion a few days ago, and while I have enjoyed it, I find it disappointingly similar to its predecessor, Morrowind. I enjoyed Morrowind a great deal, and love the open-ended nature of the series, but other than the improvements in graphics (and the introduction of a few changes, like the "fast travel" option), Oblivion seems to be a carbon copy of Morrowind. All in all, Oblivion is still a fine game, but I expected a step forward in more than the cosmetic sense.
  • Fatally flawed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nastilon (525562) on Friday March 31, 2006 @03:59PM (#15036424)
    This game is fatally flawed. It is a good game, however, there is one aspect which this series of games had, up until now, managed to capture - The sense of increasing your power. As almost all enemies scale along with you, get the same armor you do, etc, there is absolutely NO sense of becoming more powerful. Additionally, what was in previous elder scrolls games extremely RARE items and equipment, such as daedra and ebony, is now the norm for ALL npc combatants. That is, you are fighting enemies who now have the same equipment as you, and there are no *rare* armor sets, just magic armor that has been dumbed down from previous versions. It gets a bit ridiculous when you walk into a tavern and four farmers there are wearing glass (top light) and one is wearing daedra (top heavy).. So Bethesda leaves it to the fan base to balance this. Um kk thx. This game is made for consoles, it is not a RPG, it is a first person shooter.
    • I don't have the game yet, however as someone who played Morrowind all the way through, I am looking forward to what you describe in Oblivion. My biggest complaint with Morrowind was that by about half-way through the game, your character was so utterly powerful that no amount of enemies could hope to even scratch you. At this point, it was just a chore to travel around and complete the main quest. Hopefully Oblivion will be challenging enough to hold my interest longer.
      • Morrowind didn't have nearly enough tough creatures, and had way too many suicidal rodents (uh... right, I just killed Dagoth Ur and this rat is attacking me now? Is there no such thing as natural selection in Morrowind?). Also, the very top levels were probably a bit too powerful... but I think that the idea was that you were reaching a level approaching (or even surpassing) the 3 gods, who had all been normal people at one time, too. The god-fighting in the two expansions kind of made up for this, but
    • Re:Fatally flawed (Score:4, Informative)

      by nastilon (525562) on Friday March 31, 2006 @04:29PM (#15036696)
      Basically, there are two scenarios -

      1) Outdoor combat - These creatures/monsters are by default the same level as your person. That is, after you hit level 20 the likelihood of finding a troll (lvl 12 or so) out in the wilderness is 0. Therefore, after a certain point in the game you no longer find ANY low to mid-game creatures other than basic rats and crabs which do not progress.

          - There is a modder who has reintroduced all varieties of npcs to the game in outdoor regions, and made multiples spawn. Which means, you have a larger range of critters you will encounter now. This should have been in the game in the first place.

      2) Indoor combat - These, so far, are all scaled to your level. So if you go in a dungeon, it is always going to be your same level. This begs the question, what if I go in a dungeon, find it too hard, can I come back later and try that dungeon and clear it out? No, if you come back, the monsters have accordingly been scaled to your level again. So, the dungeons are static, but the critters are always dynamic for dungeons. This means that you are "supposed" to get better skillz in the game to take down those creatures, instead of levelling.

          - There is no point to levelling then, because the traditional view of "What is a level?" means your character grows stronger, gains new abilities, etc. You may gain new abilities, but since the enemy strength always will be the same as your own, there is no notion of advancement, it is entirely constant.

          - There are mods to improve indoor and outdoor combat indirectly, which modify the armor that npcs wear. This means that non-monster types will not be wearing the most uber gear. However, the top tiered enemies in other monster groups will always level with you, and chances are they do not wear armor. What the equipment mods do do though is make sure that there aren't poor villages equipped with the phat loot that should have been impossible for them to get. You go to a village in the north, you expect people to be wearing fur armor, etc. Instead they are wearing heavy daedric (enchanted plate) armor, yea that is cool.

  • Watch Out, It's a Trap - Ackbar
  • On AI (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31, 2006 @04:00PM (#15036438)
    From [wikipedia.org]

    The following are examples of unexpected behavior discovered during early testing:

    One character was given a rake and the goal "rake leaves"; another was given a broom and the goal "sweep paths," and this worked smoothly. Then they swapped the items, so that the raker was given a broom and the sweeper was given the rake. In the end, one of them killed the other so he could get the proper item.

    Another test had an on-duty NPC guard become hungry. The guard went into the forest to hunt for food. The other guards also left to arrest the truant guard, leaving the town unprotected. The villager NPCs then looted all of the shops, due to the lack of law enforcement.

    In another test a minotaur was given a task of protecting a unicorn. However, the minotaur repeatedly tried to kill the unicorn because he was set to be an aggressive creature.

    In one Dark Brotherhood quest, the player can meet up with a shady merchant who sells skooma, an in-game drug. During testing, the NPC would be dead when the player got to him. The reason was that NPCs from the local skooma den were trying to get their fix, didn't have any money, and so were killing the merchant to get it.

    While testing to confirm that the physics models for a magical item known as the "Skull of Corruption," which creates an evil copy of the character/monster it is used on, were working properly, a tester dropped the item on the ground. An NPC immediately picked it up and used it on the player character, creating a copy of him that proceeded to kill every NPC in sight.
  • Get off your high horse already, Zonk, there's no such distionction, and you mentioning Torment, a game heavily inspired by Final Fantasy (and my favourite game ever) as a western example proves this.
    • With perhaps the exception proving the rule? There's a definite US vs. Japan flavor to most RPGs, with natural crossovers.
    • and you mentioning Torment, a game heavily inspired by Final Fantasy...

      First, you misspelled "Dungeons and Dragons", and you misspelled "based on". I can't imagine what influence you think comes from Final Fantasy moreso than D&D.

      Second, you want to see difference? Load up FFX. Now, kill Yuna. I mean, actually kill her so she's gone, and no longer shows up in the cut scenes, not just "at 0 hitpoints and apparently just fine to get married, but too ill to fight".

      Or decide that honestly, Seymour can just
    • Are you joking? Did you play Torment? Torment is about as western of a game as you can get without playing Fallout. The only thing that made it 'not western' was that is forsook the traditional western setting. Even then, I would hardly call Planescape's setting all that inspired by anything eastern either.

      In terms of gameplay it was about as archetypal "western" of CRPG as you can possibly get. "Western" CPRGs tend to be very open and offering a broad diversity of types of characters you can play. "E
  • 360 vs PC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrueBuckeye (675537) on Friday March 31, 2006 @04:02PM (#15036454) Journal
    "Unless you have a high-end rig, you're probably going to want to go with the 360 version."

    I disagree...you overlooked one of the greatest parts of the Oblivion experience...the mods. These are user created changes to the game that enhance, alter, add to, or "fix" the game as it came out of the box.

    Already there are over 100 mods available that do things from altering the leveling of the npcs, adding battles to the arena, and changing the UI to be less "console'ish"

    That is one of the great reasons for going for the PC. The 360 will only have official patches or updates and will miss out on this entire wonderful area of the game.
    • I totally agree with you. I'm really looking forward to what the community has to offer; for some reason I really like the house add-ons. People get really creative with the tools and make some really great homesteads to settle down in.

      The reason I phrased it that way: if faced with the game running badly on their PC and running smoothly on the 360, I'd rather folks play the actual game well.
  • by quantax (12175) on Friday March 31, 2006 @04:07PM (#15036487) Homepage
    I bought this the day it arrived in stores without hesitation, being a major fan of Morrowind and its expansions and have not stopped playing it since. There is one, MAJOR thing the author forgot in his piece: mods. While the Xbox360 version will ensure that you can play the game smoothly at high graphical settings, the PC version will ensure that you can play the game the way you prefer through mods, which is something pretty major. A couple things I do not like about Oblivion:

    1. Interface is gigantic (as it was made for both console & PC but no effort was made to make a smaller interface for PC) and the world map forces you to view it through a keyhole.
    2. Magic users imo get too little mana to work with, this is especially fustrating in combat situations
    3. Wild life attacks you for no reason; when you (IRL) walk through the forest, rats do not attack you unless theyre rabid or some shit. Same for crabs and such. In Oblivion, all animals harbor an extreme hatred towards people apparently and attack on sight regardless of their place on the food chain. Kinda dumb.

    You know whats great about these annoyances? The game has been out for almost 2 weeks and mods have fixed each of these annoyances; theres a mod that makes the interface a nice size for PCs as well as making the map fullscreen, makes wild life act like real animals, and I personally made a mod that gives characters more mana per levels of intelligence (the games mana equation works as such: mana = Intelligence x 2, my mod just changes that multiplier; its a simple fix until I can make a script that involves the actual character level). And these are mostly just tweaks, give it another six months to a year and we'll have some original user content as well; quests, new lands, you name it. This is what made Morrowind go from a game I played for a month to a game I played for atleast 6 months, since I could go online and find new ways to enhance the game when I got bored.

    This is a great game and it will only get better with time.

    For those looking for mods, the two main sites I know of right now are:
    Tes Source [tessource.net]
    PlanetElderscrolls [gamespy.com]
    • What I find interesting is that a number of the "new" features in this game, such as NPC schedules and shops that lock up at night, were implemented in Morrowind as well via user mods. Curious. I wonder if the next Elder Scrolls game will feature a requirement that a character eat and sleep (as per the Primary Needs mod of Morrowind).
    • Deer don't attack you in the forest, they run away.
      • This is the single exception to the rule, and this is only since deer attacking your character would be completely retarded. Rats attacking for some reason seems less retarded but dumb nonetheless. I can't think of any other passive wildlife besides the horses in the game, atleast that I've seen.
  • by master_p (608214) on Friday March 31, 2006 @04:12PM (#15036518)
    ...the emperor says "make it so" and "engage"!
  • I've had a few problems with Oblivion. The worst is a "design feature". In my case, I wanted to create a new character, so I just went to Memory in the Dashboard and removed all the files under Oblivion. Go back into the game to create a new character and adjust my brightness settings, and the options were already set. Even though I deleted every file related to Oblivion, there was no way to get rid of the settings file. Turns out on the Xbox 360 version, settings are saved within the user profile, ins
  • Very nice review, and I can hardly disagree with any of it. However....

    Oblivion is a game that forces you to make decisions with real consequences, a game that plays out those consequences on the world, and teaches you as the player to think fast and play for keeps.

    That would be so if save games were disabled. But they are not. You don't have to play for keeps.
  • That combat, too, can be brutally unforgiving.

    It's worth noting that the combat, especially at the beginning, is much softer than in Morrowind. For the first few levels in Morrowind, there were very few things you could kill. Go near a cave? Guy kills you. Go near a tree? You're dead, bird eats you. Go in a lake? You're dead, fish eats you. See a rat? Make sure you have health potions.

    My first time playing Oblivion I ran into a human who was angry - and so I ran away. In Morrowind, a similar huma
  • Morrowind (Score:3, Interesting)

    by caffeination (947825) on Friday March 31, 2006 @04:35PM (#15036768)
    I'm getting the impression from all these reviews that most journalists have either forgotten or never played Morrowind. All this raving on and on about this new freedom is redundant. You were all saying the exact same things about Morrowind a few years back.

    Not only that, but the exact same problems are still present. People are still resorting to leveling by just standing there and repeating actions. Crashing is still a huge problem. Balance is still screwed, only now, you don't have the respite of becoming more powerful than your enemies.

    It sounds like they've only fixed one or two of the issues with Morrowind: rigid NPCs, annoying travelling, and underpowered magic spring to mind.

    I loved Morrowind. Spent months in it. I might do the same with Oblivion in a few years, late to the party just like with Morrowind, after they've patched all the needless crashing, and the hardware requirements become realistic to the current generation. And once the community has stepped in with mods to literally finish the game on Bethesda's behalf.

    But I'm not buying a 360, and I don't run Windows, so maybe I'll just continue to run Morrowind on my Xbox. You can have mods on Xbox if you want to badly enough, by the way. Not likely to happen on thge 360.

    • You know, surprisingly, the game does not crash that much. Tweaking the ini file can introduce crashes, but in the stock configuration (and on a multi-core CPU no less, which I have had many headaches with with other games) Crashes are rare enough to still be surprising.

      And the balance is trickier, yes. But instead of the game getting too easy, it's possible to let it get too hard. The trick is basically to make sure that your combat/damaging skill (be it blade, or destruction, etc) is generally your highes
    • Not only that, but the exact same problems are still present. People are still resorting to leveling by just standing there and repeating actions.

      I wouldn't call this a problem. I'm pretty sure that this isn't the "normal" method of play. I am actually kind of glad that you can do this, since it basically gives you that much more freedom in how you play. It isn't a problem, it is more just your choice on how you want to play.

      Also, if you do sit there repeating actions, you end up a little lop-sided.

  • I've been enjoying the game a lot over the past week, but to be honest, I've probably spent as much time looking for performance tweaks as I have playing it.

    The graphics are incredibly ambitious, especially outdoors in heavy forest, as a result, even relatively high end hardware (7800GT) can suffer from low FPS in spots, and that's not even with all the graphics settings pushed to the max.

    I'm seriously considering selling my card (which I bought primarily for this game) and getting a 1900xt (with its massiv
  • To me, it feels too much like a well made, but single-player MMORPG. I think a good MMORPG rich in things to do and with a large gaming population is more appealing to me. These often have a disadvantage in storyline though, but actually an upper hand in immersion. Immersion on a different scale than what you get from experiencing a story; immersion through socializing with other actual people playing the game, laughing with you on TeamSpeak and talking about what they did today while we're relaxing in a mi
    • when I was younger ... massive online games weren't even an option back then.

            Sheesh how old ARE you gramps? Even _I_ remember British Legends, MegaWars III, The Island of Kesmai on CompuServe, and Gemstone III, Air Warrior, Orb Wars, etc on GEnie. That was back in the late 80's. OK they weren't _massive_, but more than 20 people on the same channel just increases the confusion factor anyway!
    • To me, it feels too much like a well made, but single-player MMORPG.

      I have to say this, actually, is the precise reason why I like Oblivion (and Morrowind and Daggerfall). I've tried my hand at a few MMORPG's, and I have to say I just can't get into them. Every time I've played them, I just try to create a character that can solo, which is frustrating because after a certain point that isn't possible. Also, the time investement needed for an MMORPG means that every time I stop playing for a week, I stop
  • by sysrpl (740738) on Friday March 31, 2006 @04:46PM (#15036861)
    Level scaling (and loot scaling) as implemented in Oblivion detracts from an otherwise outstanding game.

    For those of you that haven't played oblivion yet, level scaling is a balancing mechanism where the game world adapts to your character's level. The enemies are replaced by more powerful ones as you level up. Bears instead of wolves for instance, or mob characters that level up and get better equipment when you do.

    This has many players asking, "So what's the point in advancing my character?".

    The idea of level scaling the monsters is generally a good idea for a game of Oblivion's size, but in this case the balancing is way off. The problem is that the level scaling can get coupled with some odd bugs, which can easily make your life miserable.

    For instance, at the beginning of the game, if you follow the main plotline, you will get to Kvatch which has been overrun by demons. If you postpone this quest and return when you're level, say, 10 or 15, you will have the unpleasant surprise of seeing that all your NPC allies get owned in the first 30 seconds of the battle, leaving you with 6, 7 or more enemies to handle. Enemies which are of course as powerful as you are, because of the level scaling.

    The immediate result of this will be a swift death on your part, or a prolonged one, depending on how many health potions you have. If, by some Godly miracle, you manage to retreat and run for it, the stated policy would be to try and bait one enemy at a time, fight him for some obscene amounts of time, heal and spend a fortune on repairing your equipment (if you want to save a lot of money, the Armorer skill is your friend) and then do it all over again.

    In my experieince with the game, the balancing issues with the level scaling system created some embarrassing moments. I couldn't actually believe that they were happening. Situations in which I, Dragonheart, Champion of the Imperial Arena, the greatest fighter in history, having defeated the previous Grand Champion and all gladiators in-between, with a Light Raiment of Valor as armor, is almost killed by a wolf in the forest.

    This happened when I was level 6. You wonder how I got to be Champion of the Arena at level 6? Well, let's just say that the Arena is not all that it's cranked up to be because of the balancing.

    Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the monster level scaling isn't an issue. That it makes the game challenging long after you're done with the main quest, which is true. But the same principle applies to the loot and equipment that you find or steal, which is scaled according to your level. You've defeated a mighty Minotaur? Very good, you can sell his weapon and armor without remorse, because it won't be any better than yours.

    You managed to lockpick a "5 tumbler" lock, which rates "Very Hard" on the difficulty scale while being level 2? Congratulations, you've found 20 septims and a carrot.

    Basically, even if you do manage to pull of an incredible feat in the game, like breaking a "5 tumbler" lockpick, you'll never get something spectacular as a reward, or at least something that would justify the effort.

    So this leads back to the grueling question: So what's the point in advancing your character?. Why keep improving your character? Why explore the world, all the dungeons, catacombs and forts? For what? So that when you buy a new weapon or a set of armor, everyone else would automatically get something that's equally good? To level up and see that all the enemies are suddenly just as good you?

    • I, Dragonheart, Champion of the Imperial Arena, the greatest fighter in history, having defeated the previous Grand Champion and all gladiators in-between, with a Light Raiment of Valor as armor, is almost killed by a wolf in the forest.

            Which only goes to show, I knew those damned arena fights were rigged!!!
  • I don't get it... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cheetahfeathers (93473) on Friday March 31, 2006 @04:48PM (#15036872)
    Every time a new game like this comes out, I hear people gush about how fantastic the graphics are. Then when they look back at older games and compare them to what they have now, they say they're ugly and how they're glad they have good graphics now. I say if they're ugly now, they were ugly then.

    Take a look at the screenshots. Oblivion doesn't look fantastic now. It's starting to get to the point of looking decent, and actually looks fairly good on a couple points, but overall it's still the same ugly 3d graphics games always run. The shadows and lighting are all wrong. The characters still have textures that are all muddled, unrealistic and ugly.. they seem to ignore fine detail and just make crude smudges in a lot of places.. hair is particularly bad. Many edges and creases, mainly in armor, look painted on, badly, rather than actually creased. There are still many angular and blocky 3d bits in there.

    Morrowind had problems with clipping, the characters were angular and blocky, the textures were a horrible blur, the shading and lighting were all wrong, and hard things like armor would flex and move like a second skin. All I heard at first was how fantastic and wonderful the graphics were. Then I looked into visual mods and found folks that agreed that it was ugly. They put out mods that improved it, in some cases a lot, but it was still ugly.

    The gameplay was something I heard everyone raving about as well. I loved the mechanic of use it to gain in skill, and the flexibility of character development and creation. That was great. I loath with an undying passion the fact that the world is so static. Nothing your character does seems to matter. Kill a god? So? Take over as head of a guild? So? You don't get into any secret meetings with the big powers, you don't get any political intrugue and planning, you can't make choices that shape and direct others and reshape the land. What can you do? Kill stuff, steal stuff, and play fetch. Good dog.

    Take for example a minor side quest of saving someone from a bunch of slavers. You rescue them and reunite them with their husband. Great, a nice quest. Quest over, go away now. Wait.. what? Where do they live? Do they need an escort home? Once there, will they be greatful and help you out in some way, information or gold, or perhaps just a place to crash away from the inn? Interaction and consequenses.. these are the heart and soul of an RPG. Morrowind had next to none of these.

    The sound I loved. The background music was enjoyable, and it added a lot to the game. Except for the winds. I wanted to icepick my ears so I wouldn't have to listen to that annoying wistle in the winds anymore.
  • by sammy baby (14909) on Friday March 31, 2006 @05:00PM (#15037011) Journal
    The number of quests the citizens of Tamriel will throw your way would make it impossible to handle if you didn't have a good level of support. The game offers a featureful quest journal, which not only shows what quests you're on, but quests that you've completed and prior steps to ongoing quests. Quest goals are clearly marked on your world map, ensuring that even if you are unsure of what exactly to do you can always know where you're supposed to go.

    Seriously - screw the game, I could use this at work!

    Although I'd probably settle for being able to use a mace on annoying managers - or, as I like to call them, "boss monsters."
  • by Grip3n (470031) on Friday March 31, 2006 @05:04PM (#15037060) Homepage
    I would certainly echo the sentiments made by several users here. If you're planning to run this on your PC, you might want to take some inventory as to what you've got. I personally am running on a AMD Athlon 3500+ with an ATI 9700 at 1024 x 768 resolution. Yes, it needs to be that low. The game still looks phenominal, but I would sure love to be able to crank it a little higher. I used to run at 1152 x 864, but close combat yielded around 4 FPS - not the greatest time for slowdowns.

    However, there are a number of little tweaks you can do to get the game running a bit better. The following is a link to 5 pages of optimization techniques specifically for Oblivion, and largely revolve around editing an .ini file the game uses for its settings. They're quite simple, and yield good results.

    http://www.atomicmpc.com.au/article.asp?CIID=36222 [atomicmpc.com.au]
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday March 31, 2006 @05:18PM (#15037187) Journal
    The reviewer notes the game called "Planescape: Torment" [wikipedia.org]. Now Oblivion is an RPG and a good game but it belongs not in the same class as that game. Very little can compare to that game. To be fair, Oblivion does beat it in the graphics terms but then so does pong.

    The reviewer is gushing with love for Oblivion and that compels me to counter with a harsher review.

    First the hardware requirements. I got 2.6 HT P4 overclocked to 3.1 and a Radeon 9800 Pro 128mb and 1 gig of mem and a fast HD. The game is certainly playable although it helps a lot if you turn grass off. Not all of the settings can be maxed BUT you can leave the land distance maxed AND have distant buildings drawns. So the outside still looks damn fucking big with trees all the way to the horizon and that distant city clearly visible.

    I upgraded to a ATI X1600 Pro 512MB (agp version because I don't want to upgrade a complete PC until AMD upgrades memory) and the difference is noticiable.

    BUT not staggering. The CPU is the limiter it seems and you notice it when panning outside that it is still not fluid. But it looks beautifull, I never worry to much about high frame rates in non-shooters and I wouldn't buy a 360 if it came with Brooke Shields (Blue lagoon edition).

    For those who care about fps, you need a state of the art machine. For the rest, a quality machine of the last 2 years is passable.

    Frankly the game to me seems to a mismatched bundle of ideas. It marries FPS with Melee. It has stealth ALA Thief but no instant kills. It has lots of potions and spells but only 8 slots to quickly use them in. It has friendlies wich conflicts with lots of friendly fire.

    RPG's are pretty rare and everyone that is not crap is welcome and Oblivion is not crap. It just isn't a Baldur Gate either.

    The combat is boring and confusing with more time spend running after your opponent the actually doing battle. I want to re-enact the scene from the Princess Bride ontop the cliffs of despair. Oblivion gives me a drunken scuffle.

    Worse is that when you finally get people/horses to help you out you more often end up hitting them then the enemy causing them to attack you. Was this playtested or did the designers really enjoy beating up their own horse instead of the clanfear lizard thingy?

    The magic is boring. None of the spells do it for me. Yeah you can combine some but whoopee. 3 boring spells in one is not 3 times the fun. Oh and you can't be a true mage when you got only 8 hot slots for your weapons spells and potions.

    Alchemy is very detailed. NOT. Sure sure you got loads and loads of ingredients BUT they do not make sense. Each item just got 4 effects attached seemingly at random and you combine two or more to get a potion with 1 or more effects. Yet it is not logical. You do not combine grapes with yeast for instance to get wine to give you a confidence boost.

    Everquest 2 at least did associate some logic behind wich foods give wich effects. Not Oblivion.

    Since I need my hot slots for weapons and spells I do not bother with potions.

    Then there is the sneaking. The stupid placing of the light gem thingy is indeed truly stupid. In the center of the screen. Probably afraid you would miss it. It has none of the shading of thief. you seem to be either invisible (you can hit an enemy with a sword and they won't see you), sorta invisible until you hit someone and fully visible. At least your state of visibilty is related to the darkness of your surroundings.

    The bad thing however is that you do not have an instant kill. So if your sneaking up to an old harmless woman sleeping peacefully and whack her with a deadric (big sword) long sword be prepared for a long fight.

    A bit of background banter in the Dark Brotherhood (assasin guild) has an NPC saying how he had to keep hacking and sawing at a woman's neck, I know what he is talking about.

    A silent assasin only works if he/she can kill with one blow. What i

  • I'm a bit confused about certain elements of the game..perhaps someone can explain.

    First...magic items. There's a stat for charges and a stat for uses...when I run out of uses it stops working...so what is the charge thing for? How do I refill a magic item so I can use it again?

    Lockpicking...why is it so damned hard to control? And why with sufficient stats in the skill is it still impossible to do more than 1 tumbler...yet when I click the autopick button several times, it works fine?

    And finally, can so

    • Charge is equivalent in magicka. An ultimate staff of thermonuclear blast will have 1/1 uses and 10000/10000 charge. After use it may be 0/1 and 15/10000 charge (if it still exists). Divide (modulo) max charge by max uses and you have power it uses per attack. You can recharge items in magic guild, some people there provide the service.

      The lockpicking isn't -that- hard if you know how. You won't lock the tumbler if it doesn't stop for a moment. Push, watch (if it goes up immediately, let it fall and try aga
  • by superultra (670002) on Friday March 31, 2006 @06:30PM (#15037792) Homepage
    This looks great, but like most open-ended RPGs, Oblivion still puts the main mission on hold while the player moseys around. What I want to see is a game where everything starts to fall apart, precisely because the player is cutting trees instead of saving the princess. Sure, it would be a very slow decay, so as to give the player the same feeling of open-endedness. But the more time you spent fishing, the less villages you'll have to trade with as they become overrun with evil.
  • One of the biggest problem is with FFDShow. It seems to launch a new instance of the audio codec everytime an audio file is played and after a couple hours of playtime, I ende up with 20+ FFDShow audio codec icons on my system tray. People have suggested to uninstall FFDShow to stop this behavior, but I'd rather keep FFDShow than to play Oblivion. I ended up compromising and unregistering ffdshow when I play Oblivion and reregistering the codec when I exit the game.

    One of the early problems I noticed was a

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