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Oblivion (The Elder Scrolls IV)

Publisher: 2K Games    Developer: Bethesda Softworks    Released: 23rd March 2006    Players: 1    www: elderscrolls.com    Rating: M             

Bethesda have unleashed the most intense and detailed RPG ever with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Set in the world of Tamriel, Oblivion puts you into the centre of a massive adventure and sets you loose in what promises to be the most immersive game universe yet seen. Oblivion’s plot concerns the fall of the Emperor of Tamriel. In fact, as the game begins, your character will bear witness to these events as the Emperor (voice acted by the legendary Patrick Stewart) is assassinated in your presence, which actually involves a cool turn of events where you escape from a jail cell and begin your adventure. Because there is no heir apparent to the Dragon Throne, the dimensional rifts between Tamriel and the demon plane of existence - the titular realm of Oblivion - become unstable. You’ll find the lands overrun with demons and other ethereal creatures and not only will you have to contend with them, but you’ll also be required to track down the assassins who committed the brutal murder and find a way to send the evil forces back to their own realm for good.
The often annoying act of character creation is extremely impressive in Oblivion, allowing you to use simple sliders to adjust facial features and select your general class and abilities. You can really go in-depth here, producing exactly the look you want for your avatar and outfitting accordingly including eye colour, complexions, hair length and style and even your hero’s age. Right away, the depth of this title is quite apparent. Now add to that a world full of completely interactive NPCs, realistic weather, day/night cycles and perfectly groomed forests that support a functional ecosystem and you start getting the idea. The entire world of Oblivion is teeming with life and the game is populated by over 1,000 NPCs. Each of them follows a “life” schedule. Eating, sleeping, working – whatever. They do it 24/7, whether you’re in the area or not. This leads to all sorts of realistic interactivity that wouldn’t be possible on lesser hardware, or with more rigidly scripted AI behaviour. For example, a hungry peasant may buy his meal, or lacking funds he might hunt for it in the forest. This could have consequences for your character if you cross paths. He might try to steal from you, or may flush out a wild animal while foraging in the brush that lands in your lap. All on the fly, all the time - that’s pretty amazing when you think about it. NPCs will also engage in real-time conversation about the happenings in town and the surrounding areas, so you’ll be able to pick up side quests just by listening in and inquiring when something interesting presents itself.
Combat in The Elder Scrolls IV promises to be both visceral and engaging using the controller of the 360 version beautifully. Your available weapons include mighty broadswords, maces, axes, daggers and shields (not to mention a bow and arrow as well). Magic is also a viable source of combat power in the world of Oblivion, represented by six different disciplines including Illusion, Mysticism, Destruction, Alteration, Conjuration and Restoration. You’ll also be able to create custom spells if you choose the path of a Mage. As you work your way through the adventure, you’ll soon be riding horse-back through deep forests, entering vast kingdoms, into underground dungeons, forests, swamps, ancient ruins nestled deep within overgrown trees and vines, as well as nine (that’s right, nine) tremendous and unique cities. You’ll go from snow swept mountain caps to a port borough on the beach and everywhere in between before your quest is through. This game is huge and could quite easily achieve its title of “Best RPG game of 2006” – get your hands on it now.

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