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Shivering Isles reviews overload

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Shivering Isles reviews overload

Review - posted by Vault Dweller on Fri 6 April 2007, 17:19:48

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

The moment we've all been waiting for is finally here. The Shivering Isles has been released and reviewed by the captains of gaming media. Let's take a look:

GameSpy still insists that it's da bomb - 90%:
While the Shivering Isles are big, reportedly a quarter the size of Oblivion's playable province, most of the Isles aren't worth taking a trip to. Sure, generic fantasy is boring, but fantasy this weird is stressful. Like the cliffracers in Morrowind (small, easily defeated flying enemies who were everywhere, making travel bothersome), the wilds of the Isles are full of clever ideas that don't gel well. The biggest culprit here are the dungeons, which are more irritatingly random than intriguingly chaotic...​
Noobs. Everyone knows that half-assed implemented ideas are Bethesda's trademark.

GameSpot is certain that Oblivion is now better than evar! - 86%:
The quests, characters, and world in Shivering Isles are all as creative and intriguing as in the rest of the game. Oblivion was huge before, but now it's bigger and better than ever.​
That's all we needed to know, thanks.

GamePro assures you that the expansion is filled with "the same great gameplay that made Oblivion such a huge success" -90%:
Even the side quests are inventive and interesting, such as helping a depressed citizen of Dementia commit suicide and finding an NPC named "Big Head" his magical fork. ... In short, the expansion delivers on the best parts of the core game: imaginative and immersive quests that really take advantage of the immense, open setting.

We should note, however, that while the vast majority of the quests are a lot of fun, there are a few that seem forced and out of place. This is especially true in the latter stages of the main quest, when you encounter a number of tasks that were plainly added to simply stretch out your playing time.​
You mean there are quests that are not as imaginative and immersive as looking for a magic fork? How disappointing.

Eurogamer boldly claims that Oblivion has flaws. LIES!!! - 70%:
But anyway, there's a rather more significant problem trotting along behind all this madness stuff, one that does degrade the entire experience. It's this: if you're going to use madness as your core fictional motif, then it suggests you're going to pull out the big guns in terms of story-telling. You know the stuff - paranoia, hallucination, betrayal, trickery, illusion, misdirection, and outright weirdness. A realm of pure madness shouldn't be, well, a teeny bit dull. And that's the problem: The Shivering Isles is mildly eccentric and quite pretty, but it's definitely not ecstatically, brain-boiling insane. As such it's a wasted opportunity. All the characters you meet are supposed to be loonies, but instead they generally just say something a bit odd when you meet them. They have over-the-top character traits, but isn't that a bit like all videogame characters, ever? Instead of making us want to take a step back with this screaming lunacy, or putting a chill in our bones with their grotesque fantasies, they're just a mildly weird. One guy is interested in meat (who isn't?!), another is a bit patronising. One person believes she's going to die, another is worried about diseases. One guy is hungry. Are mad people just hungry? It would explain a lot. One guy - get this - wants a house. The crazy fool!

All this might be excusable with a grand turn from the prince himself, but he's just vaguely amusing. It's a childish portrait of a lunatic. He's like the evil madman might be in a children's TV show - all camp and without substance. He never really seems threatening, in the way that the truly disturbed do. It's all an act, and thank goodness he's got quests to dispense so you can get back into that exquisite world...​
Well, it *is* a game for kids after all...

'Nuff said.

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