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  • Impression of Oblivion — Mini-review

    Posted on March 26th, 2006 Finster 2 comments

    [UPDATE: As far as the stability issues, go, I started going over all of my hardware, and it seems that all of the crashes coincide with voltage drops on the 12V rail of my power supply. So, there you go. New power suppy is on its way, and hopefully, that will solve all of these crash problems I’ve been seeing.]

    My wife picked up Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for me as kind of a late birthday present. (THANKS HONEY! YOU ARE THE BESTEST!)

    I played it for quite a while as my wife watched. I then took a break to watch the bonus DVD and read the background book that came with the Collector’s Edition, while my wife spent a good bulk of that time creating a character and trying to get through the tutorial in one piece.

    Let me start with the face-editor. It is COMPLETE in every way. My wife and I spent a sizable chunk of time sculpting a face to look like my wife. Once we were done and in-game, the likeness was… unreal. You can do ANYTHING with this face editor.

    The tutorial was put together very well. You don’t finalize your character’s class and stats until after the tutorial is complete, and it gives you a chance to experiment with various play-styles that wouldn’t be viable after you completed the character creation.

    Arg. The interface is pretty much what we’ve come to expect from “console ports”. Big, clunky, dumbed-down interfaces that were obviously designed with a console controller in mind, rather than a mouse and keyboard. IMHO, this is unforgivable. As far as I’m concerned, the interface in Morrowind was perfect (except for the crappy journal). It would give you several useful windows of information, so that you could easily see character stats, inventory, magical effects, and maps all at the same time. Not the case in Oblivion. Because the interface is designed to work on crappy TV resolutions, we’re stuck with the same Fisher Price interfaces that you will recognize from such console/PC games as Deus Ex: Invisible War, Area 51, and Knights of the Old Republic. Thankfully, it isn’t as lacking as those games I mentioned, but it’s more of a pet peeve of mine.

    Morrowind Interface > Oblivon Interface


    The graphics are nice. REALLY nice. The vegetation is EASILY the most realistic foilage ever presented in a modern video game. Just as Morrowind pushed the envelope for graphics in its time, Oblivion completely destroys it. The detail in characters and environments are superb. I do have one small nitpick. There ARE a few cases where I did see seems in the floor of one dungeon, and there was a character model where I could see a seam in the neck. In addition to the odd seam, it is annoying when clothing and armor do not correctly overlap. By this, I mean that the boot models may poke through a pants model, thereby completely breaking the immersion. Honestly, these kinds of things occur MAYBE 1 to 2 percent of the time, but when they do, it is rather glaring.

    The audio and music are excellent. I loved the music from Morrowind, and the music in Oblivion is perhaps a little better. I haven’t noticed any problems with sound effects in this game, but then, that’s how good sound effects should be.

    Everyone seems to like the combat system and laud its improvements over Morrowind. Meh. Mechanics-wise, it is almost identical to Morrowind. What makes the combat system so improved is the PHYSICS ENGINE. Movement and reactions are so much more realistic. For example, when you swing your sword, you may lunge forward with a powerful strike, sending your opponent reeling backwards. If he smites you across the temple, you will stumble a bit and get your bearings before being able to counterattack. There are also oppurtunities to trap enemies, such as being able to roll logs down upon them (think Ewoks vs. AT-ST’s in Return of the Jedi). But be careful, there are trip wires and pressure plates you need to be on the lookout for as well. Traps hurt. A LOT.

    I can’t speak much to the quality of the overall plot since I’ve barely scratch the surface of the main quest. So many other things to do! At first glance, the plot seems much like fantasy cliche at this point. Morrowind was only somewhat cliched as well, but they pulled off the main story so well, that what COULD’VE come across as tired and banal, was executed with style. We’ll see if the same holds true of Oblivion, but if the overall quality of everything else is an indicator, then I have no fears regarding the plot.

    However, I will say this: Like EVERY OTHER Bethesda-developed game, CTD (Crash To Desktop) and other bugs are common enough to become more than a minor annoyance for some. Not enough to frustrate me too much at this point, since the autosave feature has saved me from losing any progress due to the 6 times the program crashed to the desktop, but lack of stability is a major problem, at this point. I would say this is the ONLY thing that I would give Oblivion negative points for. And if past history is any indicator, it will be some time before a useful patch is released for the game.

    Well, that pretty much wraps up this little mini-review. So far, this game is definitely Top of Cool, with one exception, the stability.


    2 responses to “Impression of Oblivion — Mini-review” RSS icon

    • I spent about 5 hours in it so far. To me this game is way better than Morrowind in almost every way imaginable. Also sorry to hear about your stability issues. So far the game has been rock solid for me. What are your system specs?

    • My system:
      AMD 64 3000+
      Asus A8N-SLI
      1 GB PC3200 RAM
      Nvidia 6600 GT 128 MB (in SLI, so 256MB total memory, etc.)

      I don’t currently have anything overclocked, but today I’m going to overclock my CPU from 1800 MHz up to 2250 MHz. (I’ve had it overclocked and stable at 2475 MHz.)

      I dunno, it seems to only happen right before or after saving and loading games, and only after a few hours of playing.

      I also installed the beta drivers from Nvidia that are supposedly tailored to Oblivion. I didn’t notice any performance enhancements, but I did notice some weird artifacts popping up, flickering textures, etc. So far, an ALT+TAB has been enough to refresh everything and then it runs smoothtly.

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