Unfair Review: Oblivion

While discussing Fallout 3 with the staff at my local EB games recently , one of them mentioned that I ought to try Oblivion. Same style, same developer, and he knew at least one customer who bought it and then disappeared for 15 months… time spent putting over 1000 hours into the game.

 Time investment like that is unheard of in offline games, and the most I’ve ever put into one – outside the context of some kind of multiplayer mode – is around 120 hours. I ended up walking out of the store with a used copy of Eternal Sonata, which eventually presented its own set of problems. The parade of games I’ve been playing in the recent release drought (Dead Space, H.A.W.X., and Eternal Sonata) have gone from good to pedestrian to occasionally infuriating. I needed a winner.

Dak doesn't deserve this crap.

 After a recent LAN destroyed Dakalos’ 360, he lent me his copy of Oblivion. He recognized that the game had its flaws, but had sold him enough to level his character to 20 without ever digging into the main quest.

 That sounded refreshingly like the experience I had playing Bethesda’s excellent Fallout 3. Surely I would be able to get over my nagging case of fantasy burnout if it meant more freeform roaming in an engaging game world.

 Dakalos is a good man. He played this game for quite a while. Metacritic compiled an almost impossibly high 94 for it – a higher rating than even my beloved Fallout 3. I lasted about two hours.

 Things started off with a bang; I read a lot of race descriptions, and scrolled through some very ugly character customization screens. I would harp on this, but both Fallout 3 and (to a lesser extent) Mass Effect suffered from the same problem. Not being well versed in the Elder Scrolls back-story, a lot of the fluff didn’t make any sense to me.

Probably not chosen for his looks.

Probably not chosen for his looks.

I then sat around in a prison for a bit. Soon afterwards, the king showed up and told me that I might just be the chosen one, and then abandoned me. I followed him because that was what I was supposed to do, and watched his bodyguards have all the fun beating off a horde of black-armored assassins. Too bad for the hitters, I thought, their fly gear will soon be mine! Then… Poof! Their heavy armor and battle swords magically disappeared the instant they died. I (the player “I”) became mildly displeased.

The game then separated me from the king and had me run in a huge circle, grinding some basic enemies until I met the king again. Picard then told me a bunch of shit I didn’t understand, which culminated in choosing the “sign” under which I was born. Each sign conferred different spell abilities or stat modifiers, but since the game hadn’t explained how any of this worked yet, I was shooting in the dark. I chose “warrior,” because I figured that would help me stab people with my rusty knife.

 The king was soon killed and, after grinding some more simple monsters, I was turned loose in Oblivion’s vaunted open province, Cyrodiil. The draw distance in this game was reputed to be excellent, but the opening area looked nice for two loads and then got very foggy. I walked along a 70 degree incline for a few minutes, occasionally killing giant crabs.

She looks nice, but she basically f*cking assr*ped me.

She looks nice, but she basically fucking assraped me.

My next encounter was a peasant tiger woman. She told me that things were bad since the emperor died. Being so well informed – the emperor had died only five minute before, at the bottom of a well – I assumed that she was some kind of spy and tried to kill her. She quickly proved me right by effortlessly murdering me with her fists.

 I reloaded and tried again. This time I escaped the peasant spy tiger lady and jaunted further along the slope until I was attacked by a pack of invisible dogs. I don’t think they had magic powers; they were just some glitchy, barking, invisible dogs who were slowly killing me in the fog, on an implausibly steep hill. My next move was to quit the game, put Fallout 3 back in and wonder how a Shishkebab build would treat me.

 So my unreasonable, ill-informed review of Oblivion is that it sucks. The story is incomprehensible fantasy gibberish and the graphics are lost in (what might be natural) fog (that probably would have cleared up). The gameplay was circular and repetitive. I hated it.

 I hated it enough, actually, to visit metacritic to find out which all-time classics were apparently worse than this piece of fluff, whose defining characteristics were incomprehensible dialog, stupid enemy leveling, and a tendency to put too many vowels in its place names.

 Here is a list of games that this massive shitpile is allegedly superior to:

  • Mercenaries (86)
  • Beyond Good & Evil (87)
  • Deus Ex (90)
  • Portal (90)
  • The Longest Journey (91)
  • Chrono Trigger (92)
  • Final Fantasy VI (92)

Moral: a lot of people really, really like fantasy games.

Moral number 2: do not to let Rusty review D&D games, he’s shit at it.


Details On Your OpSat

Fluffy Gets Tactical

quote: “Drivers or pilots could see a vehicle’s speed
projected onto the windshield. Video-game companies
could use the contact lenses to completely immerse
players in a virtual world without restricting their
range of motion. And for communications, people on the
go could surf the Internet on a midair virtual display
screen that only they would be able to see.”

For those of us still still phrasing questions in the Future Tense, this is very ineteresting.

Update – quote: “let’s face it: once people can get online without even having to get out of bed, they’ll NEVER log off.”

Is Tanith on the money? That’s up to you to decide, but William Gibson agrees.