With the 5 bajilion plus reviews Elder Scrolls 4 already has on GR, I figured now is as good as a time as any to add my own to the mix.
And like most of the others, it is nothing but positive. What, I agree with everyone else? The guy who gave Halo 2 a B+, Perfect Dark Zero a C-, and Table Tennis a C??
Thats right, Elder scrolls definitly deserves the credit is gets here, and anywhere, for that matter. Thanks to it's great story, excellent, sandbox, open ended gameplay, superior graphics and sound, and oozing production values that make it a polished thoroughbread compared to some donkeys of a game out there.
Graphics- Let's face it, this is why its on the 360. Some computer systems have trouble running this behemoth of a game. It's lighting and textures are highly detailed, the vast differences in terms of the human npcs are noticable and never look similar to each other. havoc physics bring a whole new realism to the game, and the enviorments are georgeous! Absolutly breathtaking to see the Imperial city in the distance, on the island, or a smaller town like Chorrol, Bruma, Anvil and the others in all their glory. The game is MASSIVE, bigger than Morrowind for sure, and twice as beautiful. Bethesda put a lot of effort into making it as real as possible, and they were successful.
Final Score- A
Gameplay- Open ended gameplay has never been better. Feel like doing the main quest, then follow those instructions! Want to explore a dungeon or cave, find one in the outskirts of the town and have a go at it, smashing goblins and giant rats and stealing some treasure in the process. How about joining a guild. How about all 4 guilds at once. So far, I am one of the top members of the dark brotherhood, the arena grand champion, fighting minotaurs for sport, a mage guild and theif guild member, and I havent even reached level 20 yet!
If that seems like a lot, it most certainly is! The gameplay is open ended, and somewhat daunting, but luckily Bethesda put a tutorial into the game now, explaining the different mechanisms as you go along the first dungeon. It helps a LOT.
Despite this massive world, the endless line of quests to complete, dungeons to explore, and people to talk to, there are a few minor complaints. The level up system is done pretty simple, as the enemies, items, and quests level up as you do to. While not a big deal, a lot of Morrowind fans will groan at that, because the beauty of the game was you could of tackled a high end quest at for level 10's at level 5, and still come out on top, gaining a powerful weapon in the process, and probably leveling up as well. The system was probably designed to stop cheaters and make the game more mainstream, and it does it's job on both accounts, but is a minor annoyance into a vast world like this.
A nice change from morrowind is also the more pro-active combat, but it is also still somewhat flawed. Instead of having three distinct ways of attack (for example, in older games, a sword had slash, chop, and stab, each with different values.) There is just one lump sum of a value based on your strength (a silver dagger can have a value of 4 at 50 strength, and 8 at 70 strength, for example.) It makes it simpler to track. Also, blocking is now done in real time, by equipping a shield or using 2 handed weapon, you can block incoming attacks, both close and far. That too, changes your total defence and is also based on your current block skill. Still, the combat is kind of using the same motions each time to kill an enemy, and it looks bad in third person, but pretty good in first person. Just something to point out there.
Another complaint I have, at least, is the changes in the skill tree. They condensed the skill tree to bare minimums, eliminating parts like Axes, Spears, Throwing weapons, Medium armor and unarmored skills, and condensing it into only Blade, Unarmed and Blunt for weapons. They reatined spells though, but changed around their attributes a bit. I personally enjoyed the vast amount of proficencies, and had fun mastering them all in games like Morrowind and Daggerfall. Despite that, I guess they couldn't fit everything into the game, and making the skill and attribute system easier to navigate was probably to attract more people to play. Works fine, but I personally prefered the older system.
Final Score- A-
Sound- The voice acting is really good, particularly Terance Stamp as the bad guy and Sean Bean as the hero. Patrick Stuart has a small role as well, but it is a memorable one as the Emporer.The rest of the voice acting is done really well, although at times you notice all the male wood elfs sound the same, and the female nords and orcs sound similar as well .But considering each NPC has their own snippets of dialouge, and occasionally engage CONVERSATIONS with other NPCS, it can be overlooked.
The other sounds, from the sizzles of a fireball spell, to the clankings of a sword on a shield and armor, all fit in their perspective area, and sound top notch. The music here steals the show as well, giving great ochestrated overtunes, combat music, and background music for both the towns and the cities.
Final Score- A-
Overall- The game, despite some flaws and complaints, is highly enjoyable, fun to play and a great experience. I have only given one A+ on GR, and that went to Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of time. I have to say, this is real close to an A+ as well, probably as close as any game will ever get (unless I find another perfect game out there, but I doubt it.)
If you don't have a 360, get it on PC, Elder Scrolls 4, Oblivion, is one of the best games of this year for sure, and will stand the test of time as the pinnacle of not only the Elder Scroll series, but also the 360 shelf life. This is the game that everyone will own, RPG fan or not.
Final Score- A-
Overall Score- A-