Game Review: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion




Open World, Fantasy RPG


PC, Xbox 360, PS3


Welcome to the world of Tamriel.  You are a nameless prisoner of variable gender and race, and you just happen to be in the prison cell that has a secret escape route that the Emperor is using to escape assassins.

You follow, fight alongside his guards, and along the way, the Emperor gives you a mission to find the next heir to the empire (right before he’s killed). If the heir wears the magic talisman and is initiated as the new ruler, then everything’s good.  If not, gates to Oblivion (because “Hell” isn’t fantasy-genre enough) will pop up all over the landscape.


This is going to be a little odd, because the action is very much like a First Person Shooter, only with swords and arrows.  And, unlike a first person shooter, you can’t fire an arrow and expect it to keep going like with bullets in Halo.

Your ability to fight, converse, fix equipment, how much you can carry, what magic you can use, are all dictated by your character statistics.  These statistics are dictated by skill levels, and you level up skills by using them – if the player likes swords, then using swords is the only way to become better at using them.

The user interface is a little complicated, because you have it broken down by four overall sections (character stats / items / spells / maps) that you navigate via the controller triggers (with an Xbox 360) then subcategories that you navigate with the controller sticks, and items can be programmed to the D-pad.  Got it?

I didn’t either, but I figured it out along the way (I got this used for $7 from Gamestop, and it didn’t have an instruction book).

It’s a little much.

And it gets better.  Because, not only is this an open world RPG (meaning you can pick up quests and missions anywhere, at anytime, and play them in any order), the player’s character can be modified in dozens of different ways, and not just by actions and activities as noted above.  You can pick from five different races, male or female, what astrological sign s/he is born under, etc.  So you can design a character in about 120 different combinations.


The graphics are not the best I’ve ever seen on a videogame, but not the worst, either.  The surroundings are beautiful, and they are great pieces of art.  The people, however, could have used some additional time in the character models.  I’ve seen better character design in almost every other video game reviewed thus far, including Lego Star Wars.

The music …. It’s got a good opening theme, but that’s about it. The rest of it the music is rather generic.


The ESRb lists this as M for Mature, meaning that only someone 17 and older should play it.  I don’t get it, really, since this is about as inappropriate as Lord of the Rings, and that didn’t get an R-rating.  There are no crude comments or blood spatters, like in Dragon Age: Origins.

Now, true, there are some aspects where morality goes out the window, but the player has to work at it.  You can join a guild of assassins …. But only if the player casually slaughters innocent people and gets an invitation.  The player can join the thieves’ guild …. If you actively look for it, and deliberately ask for it.   Most of the time, you’re too busy fighting an army of darkness without a chainsaw at hand.

In short: it is appropriate to the same audience as Lord of the Rings.


None that I can find.

Addiction Danger

I don’t really think there is. Why? The missions are short enough to make them tolerable, and you can save mid-mission at almost any point.  There’s no excuse to not stop playing and just save, short of being in the middle of a sword fight with someone actively trying to kill the player.

Also, fatigue sets in after a while.  There’s so much to do in so many different places, it’s draining after a while.

Keep in mind, I have not finished this game, even though I’ve put in over 60 hours of gameplay.  Obviously, that $7 is going a long, long way, but still, it’s getting a little ridiculous. I’ve stopped and come back to this game a few times, if only because I needed a break from it.

Problems/Ending Comments

The biggest problem parents might find with this game is that, when fighting someone in melee fashion, the weapon starts turning red, and, if you look closely, there are occasional streaks and spatters of red on the surrounding area (I say “area” because fights can go all over the place).  Notice that I don’t say “blood,” because, well, it doesn’t really look like blood. I’m not sure if that was a design decision or a goof.

At the end of the day, I’m going to suggest you look the game up on YouTube, and make a decision for yourself.

ESRB Rating: M for Mature

My Rating: PG-13, for fantasy violence.

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Copyright 2013 John Konecsni


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