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Japo 06-11-2013 05:00 PM

Oblivion by Japo
So I'm _finally_ playing this game. My opinions... (I was going to post this on the Gaming Zone, but it became long enough to be moved here... Still it's an informal review/rant.)

The graphic superiority over Morrowind... Technically it may be there, but first I care next to nothing about this, graphics in Morrowind are better than good enough for me. And second, the only ugly graphics in Morrowind are the faces or heads, and also it has few choices (all ugly) for character creation--all of this can be fixed by mods, of course. But although Oblivion could have improved this dramatically because of the technical improvements, everything went wrong when they decided to make these synthetic faces instead of having artists draw them. The result is that any possible face is not only ugly but also stupid-looking, only with much higher detail and hardware requirements.

One thing Oblivion copied from Morrowind is leveling, and in my opinion this is wrong. I have preference for skill-based RPGs and it's OK when you put levelling on top of them, and in Daggerfall it was well done (only too easy to become too powerful). In Morrowind they decided to make attribute improvements at each level dependent on what skills you have trained, and you can have a variation of 1 to 5. It may make sense from a skill-based point of view, but levels are a concept outside of that model, and in practice it meant that your character could become severely underpowered or overpowered depending on whether you level "wrong" or "right", in a powergaming sense. In Morrowind it wasn't a real problem, only a bad idea, because Morrowind is still too easy even for an underpowered character, and difficulty doesn't depend on your level. But in Oblivion they copied this bad idea and introduced "levelled lists", which means that the same parts of the game get harder the higher your level is. The result is that if you don't "level efficiently" (i.e. power game) the game can become tougher as you level up, instead of easier or the same. A bad idea on top of a bad idea gives a terrible result. Some power gamers actually choose to abort levelling up artificially.

The other change in gameplay I detect is melee combat. Now it's not only click-click hack 'n slash, but you can do better if you block and counterattack. This is a welcome change by me. It also ends up more realistic, specially when fighting more than one enemy, the difficulty goes up exponentially. The Elder Scrolls games were revolutionary in making 1st person, one-person RPGs, but before Oblivion they didn't come up with a way to make this consequential; Arena, Daggerfall and Morrowind were still all about the old D&D hit/AC model alone.

The other difference is the story or plot. This was a very strong point in Morrowind (and Daggerfall). Dagoth Ur, the Dunmer and Dwemer... The story and lore were amazing. Oblivion takes place in the same amazing world created by Daggerfall, but its story is cliched, unimaginative and over the top, sinking to the depth of the one in Arena.

In conclusion I can understand the average opinion that Morrowind was amazing and Oblivion not so good, but still nice. Morrowind was a great game in its own, and it appeared so many years after Daggerfall, and it was so successful that it resurrected the Elder Scrolls franchise beyond, in which nobody would have betted a rat's ass before. Of course it wasn't perfect and it could have been better, but of course this is subjective for different people. So it paved the way for Oblivion (and Skyrim and as many as will come). But I think it's a fact that Oblivion could have used this legacy much better and easily be a better game, even if it's a good one on its own.

Japo 08-11-2013 05:30 PM

No response? :cry:

Another thing, what I hate about the interface is that there are almost no hotkeys or keyboard shortcuts for anything. You have to do everything by mouse. Even the stupid lock-picking mini-game is controlled by mouse, and there's no keyboard alternative!

So here you have a PC game whose controls are actually poorer than the console ports, instead of the other way around as usual--nice!

Plus the lock picking mini-game is stupid, and at the same time unrealistic, while actually trying to be realistic, and failing at it, and being frustrating and time-wasting.

jonh_sabugs 08-11-2013 06:42 PM

Hello, Japo, nice review.

It has been a number of years since I played Oblivion. I played it through, the main quest and some of the side quests, overall I put several hours in the game. Curiously, I played Morrowind for the first time only a few years after I played Oblivion (part of the reason being that Oblivion put me off the TES series for a while). I agree entirely that, compared to Morrowind, Oblivion felt very uninspired, and I believe that it is indeed the low point of the series.

I would like to add to the strong points of Morrowind the atmosphere. Walking around the sand storms in those cities made of bug shells sets a really nice mood for the game. Those mushrooms cities also provide some nice landscapes. Oblivion is rather bland in this sense.

verek_22 09-11-2013 01:28 PM

Good review, Japo. Captures my own thoughts on Oblivion.

I thought Oblivion was okay. Some of the side quests and guild quests were pretty interesting. But the main quest was (in my opinion) really damned dull and unimaginative, the NPCs looked and spoke like animated mannequins, and the levelling was super broken.

Have you played Skyrim yet, Japo?

Japo 09-11-2013 02:19 PM

Nope I haven't played Skyrim. I hear it's better?

Capo 09-11-2013 03:42 PM

Imho Oblivion is almost unplayable without mods

Panthro 09-11-2013 07:04 PM

I enjoyed Oblivion at first, but found it increasingly dull after a while. The combat felt repetitive and frustrating, especially since all the monsters levelled up with you.

The extent of those extra levels for the majority of monsters was just an increased health bar and stronger attacks. No additional tactics or thought was required. If you made an error while levelling (making the sin of creating a non-combat character), then all the enemies would quickly become too much for you. This obviously works in reverse, and once you realise this the combat can become foolishly easy.

The levelling was so poorly thought out, I would recommend anyone to attempt the battle of Kvatch at varying levels. If you go there early on, it seems bizarre that a whole city could get killed by Scamps, but going there at a high level means that all of the AI soldiers get killed almost immediately.

I also felt quite annoyed that they hyped "Radiant AI" for ages beforehand, only to almost completely turn it off when the released the game. As such, the AI appears to be no more advanced than Ultima VII, which means they probably wasted rather a lot of time and effort.

The longer I spend with the game, the more I focus on the flaws rather than the positive elements. Unfortunately since Oblivion has such a vast amount of content (something which people see as a positive, rather than a negative), I found myself annoyed with the flaws long before I was anywhere near seeing every interesting part. After a while I just rushed through the main quest and have never installed it since.

Japo 09-11-2013 10:09 PM


Originally Posted by Capo (Post 458029)
Imho Oblivion is almost unplayable without mods

What mods do you recommend?

verek_22 11-11-2013 03:30 AM


Originally Posted by Japo (Post 458037)
What mods do you recommend?

Allow me to butt in. I would recommend DarNified UI as a must-get mod. It tries to fix the horrible console interface Oblivion was plagued with. Beyond that, there are billions of mods I could suggest, but I'll stick with the Oblivion Character Overhaul, Open Cities Reborn and Unique Landscapes Compilation.

Some of those mods might need the Oblivion Mod Manager.

Also, just have a look through the Oblivion Nexus' Top Files list, and see if there are any mods you like the look of.

Capo 11-11-2013 03:54 PM


Originally Posted by Japo (Post 458037)
What mods do you recommend?

Too many, but this is one is the fundamental one:

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