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June 2, 2007
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
28/3/2007UbisoftUbisoftBethesda Softworks1None
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating
Disc4600MB720pDD5.1NoM
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Creature design is very impressive.
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You'll be talking to a lot of characters.

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Graphics are quite spectacular.
Regardless of what platform you play on, PC or console, you would have had to be living under a rock to have not heard about The Elder Scrolls series by now. Starting in 1994 with the release of the first game, titled "Arena", Bethesda’s award-winning franchise has become very well-known and even more respected as the benchmark for western RPG franchises, and for free-roaming games. When the sequel, Daggerfall, was released in 1996, it amazed gamers worldwide, featuring over 15,000 villages and towns and more than 750,000 fully interactive and individual characters.

A few years passed until the third full game, titled Morrowind, was released on the PC, and later the first Xbox system. Once again, the gaming community was wowed by the immense scale and complexity of the game, and the almost ridiculous amount of freedom given to players. It is fair to say then that The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the fourth and most recent episode in the franchise, had more than a little hype and scepticism surrounding its launch on PC last year. Now, we are finally seeing the series hit the Playstation for the first time, on Sony’s new system the PS3. But was it a good move, or are they spreading their seed too far?

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Fighting in the city streets.
It’s always a concern when a series reaches this number of games (4 main releases, but 9 games plus several large expansions) that the developers lose interest in the narrative and plot at the base of the game. Thankfully, this is rarely a concern when it comes to this franchise. Once again, Bethesda have delivered a wonderful story, beginning with the assassination of the one and only Uriel Septim, Emperor of Tamriel (the world in which all Elder Scrolls games have been set thus far). By chance, fate, or some other power unbeknownst to you, you happen to be at the Emperor’s side at the moment of his death. A recently escaped prisoner, he charges you with a quest to find his one remaining heir, who is not known about save by one man, Jauffre, the head of the royal bodyguards.

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Character design, friend or foe, is impressive.
And so you massive task begins. From there, you must find your way through the prison, into some caves, and out the other side of the Imperial City. But, naturally, things don’t end with Jauffre. Before long into their adventure, players will discover a plot to severe the magical barriers separating Tamriel from Oblivion (a sort of hell), letting lose the daedra (or demons) into the world of the living.

Has that got you interested? How about a guild made up of assassins and vampires who will pay you to discreetly ‘dispose’ of particular individuals? Or a guild of mages, who are fighting a rising problem surrounding necromancy and other dark magic? Then, of course, there’s the conflict between the Fighter’s guild and another group of warriors you could partake in. And so much more. While the main quest will take an experienced player, who knows the series, a good 50+ hours, it will take newcomers to the series much longer than this. And it seems that almost everywhere you go, there is one, if not more, new quest popping up at one time or another. Put it this way – I am playing through this game for the 5th time over the three available platforms, and to this day, I can very easily discover a new dungeon, bandit camp, ruin, farm, and quests to go with them. All this exists in an entirely living world – plants will only grow in certain regions, there is a full weather system implemented, the sun rises and sets, people go to work, eat, sleep, and so on at particular times.

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Selecting your apparel.
This brings us to the main goal of this game – which is to go about doing whatever you like, whenever you like, wherever you like, and however you like. Want to play as a stealthy assassin or thief, plundering the counts and countesses of the different regions? Or perhaps a gung-ho warrior, running in with sword swinging? The possibilities are literally endless. It is for this reason that we very strongly advise you read the games manual thoroughly before firing it up. This documentation will take you through the different races, classes, birth signs, skills, game mechanics, etc. that you will need to master to survive in the wilderness.

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The city has suffered plenty of damage!
So how exactly do you play the game? Well, being a RPG, the main elements of game play are quests, often involving combat and travel. Travel can be done in a few ways; walking, on horseback, or a ‘quick’ travel, whereby you automatically arrive at your destination (only works if you have been to the location before). However, the required amount of time to travel to this locale will pass, so it is not a teleport or anything of the like.

Combat is, unlike many other RPGs, entirely real-time. Mastering this will often depend on your knowledge of your opponent, and your ability to adapt to each situation. While combat is obviously a main focus of this game, it can almost entirely be avoided, using stealth, or any other creative methods you can think of. Oblivion really is about player freedom, and while you cannot kill main characters, as was the case in previous episodes in the series, you can even make it almost impossible to complete certain quests, even the main quest, by picking fights with the wrong people. Its freedom, but it has effects on almost everything.

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This really is next-gen gaming!
As for levelling up (another must in any RPG), this may actually scare some people off. Your character will specialise in one of three areas (combat, stealth, magic), but also has 8 attributes (strength, willpower, etc.), plus 7 major skills and another 14 minor skills. Each skill will level up from use. For instance, attacking with a warhammer will lead to your character levelling up their blunt skill, while wearing light armour will level up your light armour skill. Attributes are levelled up by selecting them after a character level up. It’s a massively in-depth system, but once you get the hang of it, it really gives you complete control over what type of character you want to be playing.

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Oblivion includes day/night cycles.
As you may have gathered, Oblivion is very complex. Unfortunately, this does mean that it is not going to suit some of the more casual gamers, who don’t really want to deal with a lot of this stuff. However, the more time you are willing to invest in this game, the better your experience is going to be. Those who get the most out of Oblivion are the gamers who are willing to explore every inch of the world, read every book they come across (and believe me, some books are almost real novels, and there are a lot of them), learn all the Elder Scrolls lore, and so on. However, if you are anywhere between these two extremes, chances are Oblivion has something for you within its massive world.

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It's astonishing how lush the forests are.
Aside from how intimidating this game can appear at first, there’s very little that we can complain about. There are a few known bugs in the game, where certain quests may occasionally stuff up, as well as some very minor technical glitches, but overall, the PS3 release is a much more stable version than the X360 one, and even better than the patched PC version. The only other real issue is that there are some slight performance issues, as well as a brief pause when loading new regions (less than half a second), but taking into account the graphical settings that the PS3 release is running at, it is definitely the smoothest, fastest loading and most hassle-free version of Oblivion I have seen to date.

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You can use a horse to travel around the lands.
As far as the graphics go, any minor glitches and even hits to performance can be forgiven 100 times over. Whether you are playing this on a SDTV, or at its full 720p capability on the newest LCD out on the market, Oblivion is without a doubt, the best looking game to hit the system thus far. If you weren’t satisfied with the graphics of other games out so far and had been waiting for the truly next-gen looking titles, this is where it starts. Everything, from the character models, to the animation, to effects, to weather and sun-glare looks absolutely stunning. If there is one game that justifies the purchase of a HDTV to hook your PS3 up to, Oblivion it is.

Not to be out-done by the visuals, sound in Oblivion is second to none. The orchestral score is beautifully set out and fits the fantasy atmosphere to a T, while sound effects sound realistic and are of a very high quality. Voice acting also is superb, with actors such as Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: TNG), Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings), Terence Stamp (Superman) and Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman), lending their voices. The only issue is that, with so many interactive characters, you may get sick of some of the voices at times. Nonetheless, it is a definite step up from the entirely text days of Morrowind.

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Go on, have a chat to Sir Carodus...
It’s really hard to review The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion without an entire novel of space to give every element of the title justice. The only way to describe it is as a game that gives players almost complete freedom, but with the consequences and rewards that their actions should incur. Steal – you’d better not get caught. Save a town – you will be recognised as their saviour. Unless you absolutely hate games, there is absolutely no possible excuse to not rush out and buy this game now.

No game is perfect – something we have said in several reviews here at futuregamez.net. But we can honestly say that The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a very good template for that perfect game. A few minor issues and the overall intimidating factor shy it from being the best score we’ve ever given, but don’t deny yourself this wonderful release for any reason.

Review By: Michael Hutchesson

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GRAPHICSThe next generation has hit TVs everywhere. Looks even better than the X360 release and unless your PC cost more than several PS3s, you will not get these visuals running this well anytime soon. A few minor glitches from time to time.
95%
SOUNDBeautiful orchestral score, excellent sound effect and superb voice acting.
97%
GAMEPLAYAlmost complete freedom, an amazing living world, excellent AI, great combat... the list goes on! May be a little daunting to some casual gamers.
96%
VALUEYou will probably never do everything in Oblivion... And with great replayability as different classes/races/etc., this is the best value for money we have ever seen.
98%
OVERALLThis game has something for almost everyone and is probably going to be the best value for money until the next in the series comes out! No excuse, go buy it NOW!
96%

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