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Review Computer Games disappointed with Oblivion

Vault Dweller

Commissar, Red Star Studio
Developer
Joined
Jan 7, 2003
Messages
28,038
Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

<a href=http://www.computergames.ro>Computer Games</a> has posted a 7-page <a href=http://www.computergames.ro/site/p/articles/o/review/lng/en/artid/748/the_elder_scrolls_iv_oblivion.html>review</a> of what seems to be the most perfect game ever - <a href=http://www.elderscrolls.com/home/home.htm>Oblivion</a>. The reviewer rated gameplay at 74, impressions at 70, and the final score at 84 due to high graphics and sound scores.
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<blockquote>Next up are the skills, 21 in all, from which you will have to choose 7 major skills, the rest becoming secondary. Again, you can go for any combination you want, but some skills are better suited for a certain character type than others. As you increase you skill level, you will also increase your proficiency, gaining perks along the way. Therefore, there are a lot of possible combinations to experiment with, which coupled with the huge world and hundreds of locations to explore would guarantee an excellent replay value. You’re probably wondering why I said “would” instead of “guarantees”. Because, at least from my point of view, Oblivion doesn’t have a really strong reason for me to want to play it. Which for an RPG is disastrous.
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The biggest gripes I have with the game can be summarized in two notions: level scaling balancing and credibility.
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First up, level (and loot) scaling. As you will discover during the game, and as “advertised” on the official forums (curiously, this little feature isn’t noted in the game manual) the world of Tamriel adapts to your character level. Meaning that the enemies will be replaced by more powerful ones as you level up (bears instead of wolves for instance) or they will just level up and get better equipment when you do as well. Erm, ok, so what’s the point in advancing my character then? Before I continue I have to stress the fact that the idea of level scaling the monsters is generally a good idea for a game this size, but in the case of Oblivion, the balancing is way off. This design decision made quite a stir on the official forums and caused a huge rift between Oblivion players, with one side saying it’s a good idea, the other claiming the contrary. The problem is that the level scaling can get coupled with some odd bugs, which can easily make your life miserable. For instance, at the beginning of the game, if you follow the main plotline, you will get to Kvatch, the town I mentioned earlier that has been overrun by demons, where you have to close one of the many gates to Oblivion. If you postpone this quest and return when you’re level, say, 10 or 15, you will have the unpleasant surprise of seeing that all your NPC allies get owned in the first 30 seconds of the battle, leaving you with 6, 7 or more enemies to handle, enemies which are of course as powerful as you are, because of the level scaling. The immediate result of this will be a swift death on your part, or a prolonged one, depending on how many health potions you have. If, by some Godly miracle, you manage to retreat and run for it, the stated policy would be to try and bait one enemy at a time, fight him for some obscene amounts of time, heal and spend a fortune on repairing your equipment (if you want to save a lot of money, the Armorer skill is your friend) and then do it all over again.
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The same balancing issue with the level scaling system also created some embarrassing moments, when I couldn’t actually believe that they were happening. Situations in which me, Dragonheart, Champion of the Imperial Arena, the greatest fighter in history, having defeated the previous Grand Champion and all gladiators in-between, with a Light Raiment of Valor as armor, is almost killed by a wolf in the forest. This though happened when I was level 6. You wonder how I got to be Champion of the Arena at level 6? Well, let’s just say that the Arena is not all that it’s cranked up to be. It may sound funny at first, but trust me, it isn’t. And let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the monster level scaling wasn’t an issue. That it makes the game challenging long after you’re done with the main quest, which is true. But the same principle applies to the loot and equipment that you find or steal, which is scaled according to your level. You’ve defeated a mighty Minotaur? Very good, you can sell his weapon and armor without remorse, because it won’t be any better than yours. You managed to lockpick a “5 tumbler” lock, which rates Very Hard on the difficulty scale, while being level 2? Congratulations, you’ve found 20 septims and a carrot. Basically, even if you do manage to pull of an incredible feat in the game, like breaking a “5 tumbler” lockpick, you’ll never get something spectacular as a reward, or at least something that would justify the effort. So I then ask myself the grueling question: why do I play the game then? Why do I keep improving my character? Why do I explore the world, all the dungeons, catacombs and forts? For what? So that when I buy a new weapon or a set of armor, everyone else would automatically get something that’s equally good? To level up and see that all the enemies are suddenly just as good as I am?</blockquote>Great review, Bossman. Drop by and say Hello, we haven't seen you since that Bloodlines incident ;)
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Thanks, Tintin
 

DarkUnderlord

Professional Throne Sitter
Staff Member
Joined
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Messages
28,375
Oblivion is like the quintessential hot blonde. Damn does it look fine and hot diggity she can do the dirty talk real nice but when you get it back to the shack, it's like sleeping with a dead fish. Cold, wet and miserable.
 

NoisyKillerHPB

Scholar
Joined
Dec 15, 2005
Messages
201
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a pillar of skulls
SPOILERSSSSSSSSSSSSS

I just think the game's incredibly unpolished (obviously not talking about graphics). Being Listener of the dark brotherhood, champion of the arena, head of the fighter's guild all at level 4 seems really ridiculous to me. I'm one of the few people who's actually having some trouble beating enemies, but still I know I can beat everything, and so there's no feeling like "oh shit that guy's the most powerful Daedric lord in existence who wipes out towns with a flick of his finger!!!", cause he's gonna be my level..... And the quests, so many times just ridiculous things happened to me. In two certain Brotherhood quests (at least), your target bribes the guards to not interrupt the fight if one breaks out. But lo and behold once the guy spots me and shoots me with a bow here comes an imperial guard and a villager woman to help me out. You know what's worse, he was the head of the DB. And he was assraped by a guard and a villager. That is wrong on so many levels. AND THAT'S ANOTHER THING!!! The dark brotherhood quests are fun but they make NO sense. Half or more of the quests you get, are to murder other members of the guild. Lucien tells you to kill the 5 people you were working under because ONE OF THEM was a traitor. What kind of fucking cold blooded, calculating, ruthless, age-old clan of assassins just kills half their recruits cause ONE of them MIGHT be the traitor? AND BY THE WAY...THE TRAITOR WASN'T EVEN ONE OF THE 5 IT TURNS OUT. It gets better, too. The members of the Black Hand, the badass-est of all badasses in the DB, kill Lucien because they think HE'S the traitor. You find this out only when you return to his new hideout with EVIDENCE OF THE REAL TRAITOR!!! I yelled out loud "I DON'T THINK I WANNA WORK FOR THIS ORGINAZATION ANYMORE!!!". Everyone in my guild is an IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!! Then we go to meet the Night Mother and she calls the Black Hand members fools, and then the traitor tries to kill me. The game freezes your controls so the traitor can kill 2 DB in one hit, then he runs to the Mother and slashes her repeatedly (which doesn't even hit her cause she's a ghost) and then I can finally go kill him. Oh god there are so many things like this that just make you go "ok." I enjoy the game alot ironically but it's an extremely childish composition of quests, and the lack of forethought of how the quests actually play out is just embarrasing. I have more but I'll only say one thing, I ran into a store and knocked an apple on accident up into the NPC's face at the same time I clicked her face to buy something AND STOLE THE APPLE! FUCK!!! Play the game if you want to have a fucking HEART ATTACK or maybe an ANEURISM by wondering how stupid the people can be. GOD!!!!!!!!! Ok sorry I don't usually speak so much like a 3rd grader but I have to vent sometime.
 

Dhruin

Liturgist
Joined
Aug 15, 2003
Messages
758
It's OK. Is it good because you like the "low" score or you honestly feel this is a well-written review? It hits the mark on some points and completely misses others altogether, along with the score not representing the text at all.
 

Bossman

Educated
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Dec 16, 2004
Messages
53
Vault Dweller said:
Great review, Bossman. Drop by and say Hello, we haven't seen you since that Bloodlines incident ;)

Heh, maybe I'll drop by more often, granted I have the time. Besides, I like having a strong argument every once in a while :)

Dhruin said:
It's OK. Is it good because you like the "low" score or you honestly feel this is a well-written review? It hits the mark on some points and completely misses others altogether, along with the score not representing the text at all.

Unfortunately that means you didn't get the point of the ending of the review, where I clearly stated, among other things, that:

"From the tone of this article, the criticism and the examples I gave, you probably would have expected me to give it something like 75 or less. But I can’t, because it’s not just about giving a score to certain criteria."
 

Twinfalls

Erudite
Joined
Jan 4, 2005
Messages
3,903
That is a rather silly little caveat, which doesn't wash.

How can a game about which you have said

Oblivion doesn’t have a really strong reason for me to want to play it. Which for an RPG is disastrous.

Another major problem of the game as far as I’m concerned is credibility, which is equal to 0.

- possibly be given an 84, especially in the absence of anything positive to say about any aspect of substance (eg the quests)? If it's not "just about giving a score to certain criteria", then what exactly is it?
 

Tchan

Scholar
Joined
Feb 6, 2006
Messages
165
Oblivion sounds like it fails exactly where Morrowind failed.
Stupid NPC's, crap main plot, and a generally pointless experience.
I'm not getting this game....
 

Bossman

Educated
Joined
Dec 16, 2004
Messages
53
Twinfalls said:
What? Sorry but that's a rather silly little caveat there, which doesn't wash.

How can a game about which you have said

Oblivion doesn’t have a really strong reason for me to want to play it. Which for an RPG is disastrous.

Another major problem of the game as far as I’m concerned is credibility, which is equal to 0.

- possibly be given an 84, especially in the absence of anything positive to say about any aspect of substance (eg the quests)? If it's not "just about giving a score to certain criteria", then what exactly is it?

I mentioned twice in the article that the side-quests are well made, some even excellent, which is a big plus for a game of such scale.

Regarding the score, it got 84 because of the high marks received for sound and graphics. I gave it 74 for Gameplay and 70 for Impression, which was as low as I could go. Any lower would have simply been ranting and ill will from my part, because not everyone will complain about the poor storyline, level scaling or lack of credibility.

Twinfalls said:
If it's not "just about giving a score to certain criteria", then what exactly is it?

It's about putting those criteria into context and looking at the big picture. Yes, Oblivion is flawed IMHO, but on the other hand it's one of the best games to come out in a while. Yes, it has demanding system requirements, but the world is created in exquisite detail. The dialogues between the NPC's do get repetitive rather quickly, but all of them are spoken, which is a remarcable feat.

I may be dissapointed with it, because it could have been so much more, but that doesn't mean I can trash it just because I don't like certain aspects and completely ignore the good parts.
 

Dhruin

Liturgist
Joined
Aug 15, 2003
Messages
758
BossmanCG said:
Unfortunately that means you didn't get the point of the ending of the review, where I clearly stated, among other things, that:

"From the tone of this article, the criticism and the examples I gave, you probably would have expected me to give it something like 75 or less. But I can’t, because it’s not just about giving a score to certain criteria."

I didn't post to argue with you over your review, which I imagine is honestly written. I even agree with lots of your points. Still, if you want to discuss it - here goes.

That comment is a complete copout. The score needs to compliment the text. Every individual gamer always has their own opinion about every game - this is yours. So which is it? Almost no reason to play or 84%, which is a damn good game?

Actually, as far as reasons to play - how about the "excellent" quests you mention in passing but failed to explain any further at all? I would have thought quests would be a pretty central point in a cRPG review.
 

Dhruin

Liturgist
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Aug 15, 2003
Messages
758
Sisay said:
Dhruin, will you write the RPGDot review of Oblivion?

No. Rendelius is writing a PC one and a guy called Limesix is writing the Xbox 360 one.
 

Bossman

Educated
Joined
Dec 16, 2004
Messages
53
Dhruin said:
That comment is a complete copout. The score needs to compliment the text. Every individual gamer always has their own opinion about every game - this is yours. So which is it? Almost no reason to play or 84%, which is a damn good game?

Actually, as far as reasons to play - how about the "excellent" quests you mention in passing but failed to explain any further at all? I would have thought quests would be a pretty central point in a cRPG review.

I said the game doesn't offer me any serious reason to play, there's a difference. And 84 means that there are reasons to play the game, like the quests, but there are also flaws that you might notice/observe or just blow right past them.

Yes, some of the side-quests are excellent, like the Dark Brotherhood "Mansion" quest or the one with the painting, but on the other hand, I'm not writing a game guide. It's up to the reader to discover them and appreciate them. I don't see what good it would have done if I was to write about the whole idea when you need to kill those people at the party.
 

Twinfalls

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Jan 4, 2005
Messages
3,903
BossmanCG said:
Regarding the score, it got 84 because of the high marks received for sound and graphics.

This is touted as a role playing game - and not a graphics/sound tech demo - but each to their own I suppose.

Edit: okay, so quests are part of that score. You don't need to summarise what happens in quests to provide some detail on what makes them so good. You might talk about whether they are varied, they allow multiple approaches, they involve clever or interesting or unusual plot mechanics, they are unpredictable, how they complement TES lore, etc etc.
 

Bossman

Educated
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Dec 16, 2004
Messages
53
Twinfalls said:
This is touted as a role playing game - and not a graphics/sound tech demo - but each to their own I suppose.

Yes, it is touted as a role playing game, but that doesn't mean I can just ignore the technical aspects. Also, from my point of view, the score reflects the game: great graphics (which aren't mandatory for an excellent RPG IMHO), great sound but flawed gameplay.
 

Saint_Proverbius

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Dhruin said:
No. Rendelius is writing a PC one and a guy called Limesix is writing the Xbox 360 one.

You guys have had multiple reviews for the same game before. Write oe anyway, and go ahead and delete Rendelius's review. Anyone that said Wizards & Warriors is a great game should never be allowed to review games ever.
 

Twinfalls

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Messages
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Dhruin said:
Sisay said:
Dhruin, will you write the RPGDot review of Oblivion?

No. Rendelius is writing a PC one and a guy called Limesix is writing the Xbox 360 one.

This is the same Rendelius who, in his review of Morrowind, called it 'the greatest RPG ever made', and just *loves* the fact that his decisions in Oblivion have no consequence.

Can't wait.
 

VenomByte

Scholar
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Oct 17, 2005
Messages
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I think it's a great review, to be honest. Lets face it, if the given score was any lower he'd only wake up with severed horses heads in his bed and mysteriously frayed brake cables in his car.
 

Sisay

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Dhruin said:
No. Rendelius is writing a PC one and a guy called Limesix is writing the Xbox 360 one.

"At least it's not Corwin" is the most positive reply I can come up with right now, being the little sycopanthic Codex lapdog I am. I had high hopes after your KOTOR review.

Spoilers:

NoisyKillerHPB said:
Lucien tells you to kill the 5 people you were working under because ONE OF THEM was a traitor. What kind of fucking cold blooded, calculating, ruthless, age-old clan of assassins just kills half their recruits cause ONE of them MIGHT be the traitor?

At first I thought it was a cool way of showing these guys don't fuck around. Of course as it turns out later, they're actually all hopelessly incompetent. The quests took a turn for the worse after the cleansing thing, too. No more bonuses and they didn't seem anywhere near as imaginitive. I mean there's like two "just go beat him up, the guards won't interfere" quests in a row. I was a bit disappointed with the party quest after the hype, though I must admit having the drunkard kill the little old lady since there were only three of us left and for some reason the athletic khajit with a broadsword sure couldn't be the murderer was hilarious. "We won, we survived" and a good nice stab in the back.
 

Dhruin

Liturgist
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Aug 15, 2003
Messages
758
I have no idea what they'll hand in but, yes, I completely disagree with Rend on his review of Morrowind. But - we have a broader audience, so there's more room for different strokes.

Most of the time, I'd rather work on something else than high profile reviews. I'm a slow gamer so I'm always last after eleventy-billion other reviews. :)
 

dagamer667

Liturgist
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Jan 25, 2004
Messages
104
I wholeheartedly concur with the compaints regarding the 'balancing' system. I decided to restart a lvl13 fighter because of a few mistakes in skill choices, which made my char fall behind the scaling curve. After suffering horribly in the first Oblivion gate, I decided to cut my losses and restart with a Breton born under the sign of Powergamer. Even with efficient leveling (10 stat points per level + 1 to Luck or 15 points per level), I find myself running into trouble. The worst part is that higher level equipment only becomes available as you level up, AND all the enemies get upgraded when you do. low-life bandit rabble shouldn't be running around wearing mithril armor and elven maces. I wonder if they will be carrying daedric maces and glass armor if I level high enough...
 

Briosafreak

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Very interesting reading, although i believe some of the gameplay problems Bossman speaks about point to imersion troubles, and sound and graphics are imersion factors and shouldn't count as much in the final numbers, given that they almost but not fully, again not fully, balance the imersion problems from the gameplay, yet i find this pretty informative and a serious attempt at beeing rigorous.

Rendelius you say? Oh ok.
 

Nutcracker

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I move that Rendelius be dumbfucked. Having read some of his posts here, and more importantly on the ESF, leaves no doubt that he is a fawning Beth fanboy of the highest order
 

Micmu

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dagamer667 said:
I wonder if they will be carrying daedric maces and glass armor if I level high enough...
Yes. And they also wear DAEDRIC ARMOR - which was a super secret armor for explorers in previous TES games.

That, some other arcadish hacks and size reduction, made me uninstall the game with hate.
 

DarkUnderlord

Professional Throne Sitter
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micmu said:
dagamer667 said:
I wonder if they will be carrying daedric maces and glass armor if I level high enough...
Yes. And they also wear DAEDRIC ARMOR
You're shitting me?
 

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