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Old 06-11-2013, 06:00 PM   #1
Japo
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Default 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.
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