Arena is the first game in the Elder scrolls series (TES). If that doesn’t ring a bell… read on.
Arena takes place on a planet called Nirn (sound cheesy, doesn’t it?) in the empire of Tamriel. Uriel Septim, emperor of Tamriel, allies himself with the battle mage Jagar Tharn in order to unify the whole of Nirn under the imperial flag. Of course the battle mage is intent on stealing the emperor’s power (ALL battle mages, advisors and viziers have the same plan, its tradition). He does this by imprisoning the emperor in another dimension using an artifact called ‘The Staff of Chaos’. After zapping the emperor away he kills a close ally of the emperor, Ria Silmane, and locks you up inside a dungeon under the imperial city. After which he transforms himself into the emperor, and summons a legion of demons which he transforms into imperial guards. With the help of Ria Silmane’s ghost you escape the dungeon. Another bad guy tradition in early RPG games is to cut the artifact into several pieces and scatter the pieces around the empire in dungeons. Jagar Tharn does this and it is up to you to reassemble the artifact, kill Jagger Tharn and free the emperor.
The plot won’t win any prizes (the plot of Arena becomes a lot thicker in TES 2 and TES 3 where you can read up on Jagar Tharn, the staff of chaos and Uriel Septim’s conquests) but that’s where the beauty of the TES games lies… the plot can easily be forgotten. It can be picked up at any moment the player wishes to. The player is basically free to explore the entire world, raid huge dungeons, accept quests from townsfolk in the cities or accept high-level quests from the provincial rulers.
Arena was initially intended as an arena-game, a game in which you would set up a team of warriors and mages and fight other teams in different arenas in Tamriel. But soon the developers wanted to add cities in which you could buy equipment, and dungeons to raid for equipment and to train the skills of your teammates. Eventually Arena became a single player RPG game (thus no teammates) in which the player could be anybody, go anywhere and basically kill anyone.
Sadly the player was only able to join guilds in the second installment in the TES series (TES 2: Daggerfall), however in Arena the player is still able to accept quests from people in taverns and inns and provincial rulers as mentioned earlier. The landscape is generated each time the player begins a new game, so it is impossible to walk from one city to the other (for this the player must use fast travel) however it is possible to venture outside the city walls and enter any tomb or dark temple the player stumbles upon. The player will also find some randomly generated villages outside the city walls, or perhaps some farmland. These remote generated villages are useful for players who want to become a successful thief (because there aren’t many guards in these villages)
The graphics in the game are okay. The buildings aren’t very impressive (basically just blocks with textures applied to them) but there certainly is atmosphere. Seamless day-night transitions, widows lighting up, illuminating the dark and dangerous streets of a city at night, all add up to the atmosphere. Some cities will have oriental architecture while others have a more imperial or Nordic style applied to them. There are different types of weather including snow and rain, so during winters the streets and landscapes will be covered in snow. There are some nice graphical effects, like during and after a storm you will find puddles of water reflecting the surroundings.
Lastly the player may also decide in which province he wishes to start the game after escaping the minimum-security underground dungeon Jagar Tharn ‘locks’ you up in. You choose your province of birth before you start the game (during class-creation). This also affects what your character looks like. For example: if you choose to play as someone born in the province of Morrowind, you will be a dark-elf and the face-selection will thus be limited to dark-elf heads.
If you have reached this sentence you are probably interested. In which case I suggest you give the game a try. A note of warning though: while a lot of people love this classic game, there is an equal amount that loathe it for its thin plotline and lack of boundaries. I, being a fan of the third installment (TES 3:Morrowind), think arena is an okay game. If you are into RPG’s where you can do whatever you want, there are other games that are better than Arena (like TES 2: Daggerfall… then again that game is a minefield of bugs). All in all Arena is a nice game to play in-between games, or if you’re bored, or if you are a TES-fan who wants to see how it all started.
The copy-protection answers are included in the archive (in the DOCS folder).
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I love this game
Posted on: 2013-09-02 by pianotm
That having been said, there are a few points I would like to add to the main review. This game suffers from being too big. Your PC is the only character that is rendered with halfway decent graphics. Aside from that, character graphics are so poor you can't even identify facial features. Frankly, there are games from the mid 80s that had better rendering, what saves the graphics is a very artful eye for atmosphere and display. The images are colored and laid out so well that the poor graphics don't bother you. Game play is fantastic and highly addictive. Combat is very intuitive, once you've figured out how to use your sword. I was so used to keyboard button commands of other RPGs that it never occurred to me to try attacking by holding right click and waving my mouse around (actually very novel. This is the best attack control I've encountered yet.). My problems: The map is virtually useless: In towns, you have the delightful option of labeling key destinations such as inns, shops and temples. Outside of town, you're screwed. When you accept your lord's quest that takes you out of town, expect to fail unless you've sold your soul to the devil in exchange for never losing a video game. The Lord or King kindly marks the exact location of your destination on the map, tells you general the direction, and then you get outside of town, you can only call up a little square of map. What is the point of marking a location on your map if you can't see it? If your dungeon is east of town, don't expect it to be on the cardinal direction. It can be anywhere from east by southeast to east by northeast, an area that widens the further you get from town. It is impossible to find without being extremely lucky or letting Lucifer ream you. Enemies spawn behind you: Without exception, half of them make no sound and you can't hear them attack, so often you're not even sure how you died. This problem is avoidable with a bit of money and preparation. Tips: First choose a class that fights well. Very few classes are well equipped to make it out of a dungeon. I recommend spell sword. When starting the game, don't be eager to leave the first dungeon. Arm your dagger. Stay right in your cell (unlock the door, at least), hide in the corner next to the raised platform and rest. Every time you rest, enemies will appear, and not just enemies you are able to fight, but somewhat stronger enemies likes Orcs and spell swords. They aren't impossible to kill. Try your darnedest to kill a spell sword (or an enemy of whatever proficiency you chose), and then take and equip their gear. Battle Axes, War Axes, Broadswords, and Dao-Katanas are the best weapons available. Every time you kill one, save, step onto the raised platform, rest until healed, step off, and rest for a few random hours. Do this until you've leveled up nice and high...I recommend at least level 10, but that may take awhile. Level 7 will get you started (you can make it from level one or two, but you'll have a really hard time of it.I really recommend no less than 7.) When you reach the point that you can kill minotaurs, you'll find that you fight several battles before needing to rest. Once you've reached this point, you're tough enough to leave. Head west, south, west, south until you find the exit. You'll need a password. Bethesda provides this game for free and they provide all of the passwords in readme files. Once you're out and you've made a little extra coin, go to the mage guild in town use the spellmaker option. Make a light spell (a ball that follows you) and add a designate non-target feature to it. When you're in a dungeon, cast it. This will take care of your enemies spawning behind you (they still will occasionally, but nowhere near as much), and makes dungeon exploring a whole lot easier. For it's issues, I highly recommend this game. True, it falls short of greatness, but the elements of greatness are definitely there and you won't be disappointed.