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Review RPG Codex Retrospective Review: An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire (1997)

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Feb 22, 2016.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Tags: An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire; Bethesda Softworks

    Last year, esteemed community member Deuce Traveler embarked upon a quest to play through and review the entire Elder Scrolls series. Having finished his reviews of Arena and Daggerfall, Deuce had originally intended to continue right on to Morrowind. However, he was persuaded by our editoress Crooked Bee (who is currently on a top secret mission deep in the heart of Europe) to take a break from the main Elder Scrolls series to give some attention to a favorite of hers, a game called An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire.

    Released in 1997, Battlespire was the first of two Elder Scrolls spin-off titles released by Bethesda during their pre-Morrowind hunger years. Largely unsuccessful and nowadays semi-obscure (Bethesda didn't even deign to include it in their Elder Scrolls Anthology boxed set), Battlespire used the Daggerfall engine to create a more traditional first-person action-RPG centered around a single detailed environ - the titular Battlespire. Think of it as the Ultima Underworld to the main series' Ultima.

    No big fan of Daggerfall's gameplay even in its original context, Deuce Traveler was understandably not greatly enthused with Battlespire. Still, his review gives it a fair shake. The game's contribution to the Elder Scrolls lore, for example, is singled out for praise:

    The Battlespire is a research facility and school that has been overwhelmed by attacking daedra (the demons of the Elder Scrolls setting), who seek to use it a staging point for a greater invasion of Tamriel. The attack comes as your character is visiting the installation, and you soon discover that nearly every Imperial mage and soldier inside has been killed. A friend you intended to visit is still alive and wreaking havoc upon the daedra, while the invaders themselves are split due to political rivalries. Over the course of the game, you discover that Tamriel is not the first world to have been threatened by the daedra, and you even get to visit other worlds that have suffered from such invasions. Your quest is to survive, sabotage the invasion as much as you can, and escape Battlespire (and the various planes of existence that are connected to it) so you can warn the Emperor.

    The planes you explore outside of Battlespire help change up the scenery a bit, while adding to your understanding of the threat that Tamriel is under. You meet various characters and find books discussing what it was like before the daedra invaded. One particular plane is filled with lost souls that cannot easily be killed by the weapons you carry, and you must constantly flee them while trying to find clues on how to lay them to rest. Another plane is the home of an insane mage who was one of the few mortals to get one over on the daedric lords, but at a horrible price that laid waste to the surrounding land. I especially liked one level where you're chased by daedric hunting parties, a frightening charade where they acted as hounds while I was the fox. There's a lot of discussion of the plane of Oblivion - it's described as a purgatory of sorts for the daedra when they are defeated. The game hints that they can never be destroyed, only banished to that bizarre plane. This description of Oblivion does not match what we would later see in the Elder Scrolls game of the same name. It sounds much more dangerous and bizarre than that Oblivion, with odd beings that attack even the more powerful daedra trying to escape it.

    Battlespire does contribute quite a bit to the lore of the Elder Scrolls series, specifically the lore of the daedra, who probably have their most in-depth representation in this game. They are shown to be highly arrogant, regarding human beings as we would regard animals. One amusing aspect of this is how often they mistake your character for another human survivor, despite age, race and gender differences. The invaders are often more concerned with jockeying for status and avenging ancient slights than they are with their invasion, and so are often willing to negotiate with you if it means you might be able to cause problems for a rival. However, the game does make it clear that the daedra are not to be trusted. Humans who have dealt with them in the past have suffered betrayals, twisted into monstrosities or tortured and killed when their usefulness ended. That adds a sense of danger to your conversations with them, and negotiations will indeed often break down into violence.
    But alas, the game also insists on doing things like this:

    Battlespire's interface is a very mixed bag. The standard movement and attack functionality works well enough, but everything else is quite the mess. When you access your inventory, some elements of the game pause while others do not. Enemies remain frozen in place, and attacks don't you, but time moves forward in other ways, such as the timer showing how much oxygen you have left if you're underwater. There were times when I was swimming and opened my inventory to look for a potion, only to find my character had drowned in the meantime after exiting it. Buff timers work in the same way - if you apply multiple buffs on yourself, the first one will have a reduced timeline remaining by the time you exit your inventory. Compounding the problem, the inventory screen can be difficult to navigate, although this can be mitigated with foresight. Hilariously, this flawed mechanic can also serve as an exploit, since negative status effects also wind down while you're in your inventory. A few times in the final level of the game, I went into the inventory screen, left my computer to read a page or two in a book, then returned to find that the poisoned status effect I was suffering from had expired, all without losing any health.​

    Read the full article: RPG Codex Retrospective Review: An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire (1997)
     
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  2. Ludo Lense Self-Ejected

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    Excellent review Deuce Traveler

    Sometimes there are games which are diamonds in the rough and you focus on the diamond bit. Sadly in this case you can't ignore the rough parts in the way.

    The combat is just too tedious and finicky for how combat-centric this game is. The level design fluctuates from excellent to downright amateurish. The lore is indeed a highlight but the story is very weak so many players will probably shy away by time they would get invested into the world-building.

    Overall it is a quirky footnote in the history of RPGs and Dungeon Crawlers, depending on how you look at it.
     
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  3. markec Twitterbot Patron

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    Battlespire is a heavily flawed game, yet in my opinion its strengths (atmosphere, level and monster design) outweighs its flaws. Overall I consider it the best TES game after Morrowind.
     
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  4. Zerth Learned

    Zerth
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    Neat. It seems Daedras are more threatening in Battlespire than any other TES games. Would play for lore and challenge. I have my reserves in trying it because all these pointed out bugs tho' .
     
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  5. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

    felipepepe
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    Damn good game & review. The character creation isn't as in-depth as Daggerfall, but adds the whole "spend points to buy cool gear" thing, which is quite cool - though arguably a poor choice in the long run.

    [​IMG]

    Also, boobies:

    [​IMG]

    Also, the sexual life of spider demons:

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. HiddenX The Elder Spy Patron

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    Thanks Deuce Traveler !

    I love the game, because you have to be a real Battlemage to beat it.
    I played the original when it came out and I don't remember many crashes.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
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  7. Paul_cz Magister

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    Heart of Europe, could Crooked Bee be visiting a certain war horse per chance ?

    Anyway, Battlespire and Redguard always quite interested me, but never played them..this write will have to suffice.
     
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  8. Bubbles I'm forever blowing

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    That's the buttocks of Europe. "Heart" means she's in Merkel land.
     
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  9. Deuce Traveler Prestigious Gentleman 2012 Newfag Patron

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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Divinity: Original Sin Torment: Tides of Numenera Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Thanks for the kind words and I'm glad you enjoyed the review. I promise the next one will be quite special. :)
     
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  10. oldmanpaco Master of Siestas

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    [​IMG]


    :troll:
     
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  11. Invictus Arcane The Real Fanboy

    Invictus
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    Really love how the TES games before Morrowind were more sword and sorcery Conan stuff with a more daring and mature athmosphere (and yeah bubbies) that really worked, it might have been a little derivative of D&D but at least it had style.
    Nowadays it is like a bizare clone of itself, Todd did the same frankenstein shit on TES he did on Fallout
    I wonder what would have happened if Rolston had not let Todd take over in Oblivion and they had mainted at least the lore aspect of the earlier TES games
     
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  12. MicoSelva Prestigious Gentleman Monstroterratum Furiosum Patron

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    Thanks for the review, Deuce Traveler . I have not planned on playing this, and your review makes me stick to that plan even more, but it is always cool to learn more about RPGs of yesteryear.
     
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  13. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

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  14. Zeriel Arcane

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    Yeah, I miss the art style of the 90's. Seems like it went away pretty thoroughly past a certain point.
     
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  15. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    It wasn't Oblivion that took away the NSFW stuff, though.
     
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  16. abnaxus Arcane

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    [​IMG]

    Todd was already in charge during Moronwind
     
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  17. Invictus Arcane The Real Fanboy

    Invictus
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    Yeah but at least there was someone to stop his fuckery and keep the decline at bay...now only the dark side remains
     
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  18. abnaxus Arcane

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    I'd point fingers at Rolston instead of Todd. Rolston was lead designer of both Morrowind and Oblivion. After he left he made Banalur while Bethesda made Skyrim which was a huge incline after hitting rock bottom.
     
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  19. Invictus Arcane The Real Fanboy

    Invictus
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    Mmm good point yet Todd fucked Fallout in the ass much worse, Skyrim gave us some hope for 4 and it is way worse than 3 let alone new vegas
     
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  20. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

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    Morrowind is Rolston's baby, Skyrim is Todd's baby. Oblivion is a horrible compromise between both.
     
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  21. V_K Arcane

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    But what is Amalur then?
     
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  22. markec Twitterbot Patron

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    A bastard child noone speaks about.
     
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  23. Invictus Arcane The Real Fanboy

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    Oh come on Amalur isnt that bad, the combat system is fun, customization is awesome and while the lore and game is fairly vanilla it isnt attrociously so. It wanted to be an MMO but to me is whas the perenial "too many cooks" scenario
     
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  24. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

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    You can't jump in Amalur, can you?
     
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  25. V_K Arcane

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    Only none of that matters because of dull and featureless maps.
    I fails even as a hiking sim, because the visuals are too repetitive and uninspired.
     
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