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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Game Play: Oblivion

The main concept of the Elder Scrolls series of games is one of those aspects of role-playing games that most game developers gave up long long ago - provide as much world as possible and let the gamer sort it out. Even notable breakout titles like Ocarina or Grand Theft Auto seem small in scope compared to Morrowind, the third in the series. Oblivion is essentially an extremely tweaked Morrowind. Liked Morrowind? You'll probably love Oblivion.

I got a few hours in last night and I'm already moderately hooked. I would like to hit Nightfall this weekend and write a comparison of the two - but it will be hard to tear myself away from both this and Guitar Hero II.

Still, I have a couple of complaints from my early visits. First and foremost I wish Bethesda would create the same kind of ingame time demo that the Lost Planet demo had. There are loads of tweaks you can apply to get the best performance out of the game and when you need to restart for half of them - it becomes meddlesome at best. Right now I'm going with high resolution, no AA and am going to try and figure out how much detail I can maintain. Apparently "tdt" in the console will cough up the framerates. Consider how much of the gameplay is eye candy orientated, being something of a "wandering" game - being able to max out the beauty seems somewhat important.

The second thing, and this is one of those tidbits I would never actually expect a developer to think of including, is the nature of character creation. I think they have a great system, but some of it is trial and error and while you can technically learn skills outside of your class, it seems harsh on novice players to pick classes/skills/traits on a "that sounds neat" basis.

Rather allowing flexible retcons on a character, though, I'd rather have the ability to maintain multiple characters in the same world. My real caveat to starting a new character is having to go back and remap this huge world. So when you go find a tavern, for instance, it would be great to have a location where you could make a new character and swap them out. I'm sure this swings all kinds of smackwise into quests and the like - but it would allow me to play with multiple class builds without starting all over.

That said, I love the game. And Oblivion has custom class creation, so at least when the class I'm stuck with is "Pirate Lord".

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