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Old 10-13-2005, 07:21 AM   #1
bapenguin
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[360] - The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion Hands on Preview

The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion Hands on Preview
by: Nicholas "bapenguin" Puleo, Editor-in-Chief

The one game everyone has been asking me about is Oblivion. As the only RPG coming out in the launch window thereís a lot of fans banking on this title being a solid addition to the series. So will it live up to expectations? Iím really not quite sure yet.

I got to sit down and play through some of Oblivion at the show. The rep told me it was a slightly older build of the game, and it was limited. I could only play through the character creation process, but I still got a pretty good feel for the game.

Like previous Elder Scrolls titles, in Oblivion your character starts out in jail. You start by choosing your characterís race, and then customize your characterís appreance. Thereís a ton of customization options here and virtually unlimited faces you can create with the tools given to you. In fact, all the faces in the game were created with this tool so no two NPCs look alike. After setting up your characterís appearance the story starts. The Emperorís sons have been killed, so the Emperor is being taken away to a safe place. Of course, the secret passage out for the Emperor is right through your jail sail. The Emperor (voice by Patrick Stewart) sees you and talks about how heís seen you his dreams and how great things will happen to you.

After he leaves you are free to take the secret passage as well. When you get to a certain point the Emperor and his guards get attacked again and the battle ensues. Hereís where you can get your first weapon, a nice long sword. Attacking seemed fairly similar to Morrowind. Clicking a button swings the weapon, but the difference is combat is contact based not just based on underlying numeric game rules. I was surprised at how well the game controls on the Xbox 360 controller. I played through Morrowind on the PC and wasnít sure how well it would translate to the Xbox, but I can say the controls were tight and responsive. Everything felt natural.

At anytime you can access your inventory and equip various objects and items. Since I was in such a dark place I equipped a torch that I had found. This really showed off the lighting system. Itís amazing how the shadows are cast off objects and the way the room gets lit up. Even the way the light glimmers off your sword is very convincing.

Most objects in the game are governed by physics as well, chains react to hitting them, and objects fall off tables realistically. Thereís a well with a hanging bucket you can hit and watch it swing realistically. Itís all well and good, and helps keep the immersion factor up, but I didnít see any use for the physics in game play.

Your first task of course is to fight off some rats as you make your way through the underground passage. No RPG would be complete without big rats to kill. More or less you keep working your way through this area picking up various objects and seeing various aspects of the game. Thereís a bow and some magic spells that can be acquired as well. All this is part of the character creation process. When you get to the end of this section the game will suggest your character type based on how you played through the beginning of the game. You can then choose that type or pick another, itís up to you. Itís a very intuitive way of doing this. The only problem I see with this method of character creation is for replay ability, when someone comes back and knows the kind of character they want, theyíll be forced to go through this early part of the game. And itís by no means short, itíll take a good 45 minutes to an hour to get through the creation process.

Update: It's been brought to my attention the solution is simple for readoing character generation:
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathode
At the end of the "character generation" dungeon/sequence, you're given a chance to redo all your character options over again - face, class, skills, etc etc. If you make a save right before that point, then when you want to start a new game you can load right there and pretty much be ready to instantly create a character and get out into the world.

I was kind of disappointed I was limited to this area of the game, I didnít get to see any towns or outdoor environments. I really wanted to check out more of the alchemy system as well as some of the stealth type missions. I really wanted to see the Radiant AI in action as well. I also managed to lock the game up twice while playing it, so maybe the recent delay isnít such a bad thing. From what I saw the graphics were top notch and the game play seemed a bit refined. The game isnít a drastic departure from the previous titles, but thereís enough new stuff to try out to keep it fresh.

Overall from the demo Iím not completely sold. But if all the things promised from other previews hold true this will be a solid RPG for the Xbox 360.

Last edited by bapenguin; 10-13-2005 at 01:48 PM..
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Old 10-13-2005, 08:03 AM   #2
MadHiro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bapenguin
The only problem I see with this method of character creation is for replay ability, when someone comes back and knows the kind of character they want, theyíll be forced to go through this early part of the game. And itís by no means short, itíll take a good 45 minutes to an hour to get through the creation process.
And this sums up precisely why I'll be waiting for the PC version of the game, and why I won't be buying an XBox 360 at launch. This is the game that would sell the system for me this christmas, but it will be so much more functional on the PC. I can bet that there'll be a mod that skip fowards past the character creation process, just like there was in Morrowwind. So much of the appeal to this game is its modability, and I'm just not convinced that this will be translated to a system without a hard drive by default.
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Old 10-13-2005, 08:26 AM   #3
Nesta
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Aye, PC for me all the way. I have a higher end machine, but even so, I would rather play it on lower settings than play it on the Xbox. About 6 months ago, I made the mistake of picking up Morrowind GOTY for Xbox and I hated it. I saw the PC GOTY edition in Target a few weeks ago and picked it up. After downloading the nice mods out there, it simply blew away the Xbox version and seemed to be less buggy and more intuitive with mouse/keyboard control.
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Old 10-13-2005, 08:53 AM   #4
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Quote:
The only problem I see with this method of character creation is for replay ability, when someone comes back and knows the kind of character they want, theyíll be forced to go through this early part of the game. And itís by no means short, itíll take a good 45 minutes to an hour to get through the creation process.
At the end of the "character generation" dungeon/sequence, you're given a chance to redo all your character options over again - face, class, skills, etc etc. If you make a save right before that point, then when you want to start a new game you can load right there and pretty much be ready to instantly create a character and get out into the world.
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Old 10-13-2005, 09:05 AM   #5
Taco
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There should probably be an option to skip to that point. I remember doing the same thing with another game for the same reasons(I forget which). Saving and loading worked fine, but I'd rather not have to worry about overwriting that save.
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Old 10-13-2005, 09:17 AM   #6
King Drewsky
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360 is the only version of the game I am interested. I spend enough time at the computer at work, there is no way I am attaching myself to the thing in my free time as well. Gaming is for the couch.

Nice review, bap. I'm looking forward to the game.
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Old 10-13-2005, 09:19 AM   #7
bapenguin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kathode
At the end of the "character generation" dungeon/sequence, you're given a chance to redo all your character options over again - face, class, skills, etc etc. If you make a save right before that point, then when you want to start a new game you can load right there and pretty much be ready to instantly create a character and get out into the world.
Ah good point. Thanks for cleaing that up kathode!
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Old 10-13-2005, 09:27 AM   #8
Rakael
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kathode is teh haxor1!
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Old 10-13-2005, 09:54 AM   #9
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I'm going to go PC version. Frankly, I don't see myself getting an XB360 until at least the first price drop. On the other hand, I'm an RPG addict. That means the PC version will be a far cheaper option for me.
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:00 AM   #10
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I can't wait for the PC version. But this is a little annoying, from the Oblivion website.

Quote:
What are the PC system requirements?
We don't know at this time, but it will certainly look the best on the latest hardware available when the game is released.
The game comes out in about 4-6 weeks right? Why don't they have minimum specs yet? If I need to upgrade my system I'd rather know far enough in advance instead of scrambling to buy new hardware at the last minute.
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:08 AM   #11
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Ugh, I already pre-ordered an XBox 360, and I am DYING to play Oblivion...but I can make a case for either system.

XBox 360:
+ Will supposedly look as good as it can out of the box
+ Comfort of gaming in front of a TV
+ Supposed to get major mods available in the marketplace (for free?)
- Will not have all the mods the PC community will
- Controller might not be as user-friendly as the PC

PC:
+ Slightly cheaper (10 bucks, correct?)
+ Tried-and-true mouse+keyboard gaming
+ Access to countless mods, probably all of which aren't available on the X360
- Probably needs an insane computer to run at full capacity (matters to me)
- Have to settle for a smaller monitor compared to a huge HDTV


UGH, which to choose?!
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:20 AM   #12
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It's the PC version for me for sure. My machine could already run this fine, but it gives me an excuse to upgrade. I am one of the people who actually enjoy upgrading machines.
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:29 AM   #13
Taco
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Everyone enjoys upgrading. It's the money part that's a bummer .
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:36 AM   #14
MrWonderstuff
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Out of interest is the movement of your character more realistic? I mean with Morrowind it felt you were floating around with no discernable head bob or feeling of weight.
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:47 AM   #15
MadHiro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atorak

+ Comfort of gaming in front of a TV
+ Supposed to get major mods available in the marketplace (for free?)
I don't understand why people that want to game on their TV don't just stick their PC in their living rooms. I don't regret doing so, playing WoW while sitting on a couch makes the grind a lot less irritating, because at least you're comfortable.

Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "Major Mods". The few official mods for Morrowwind were incredibly minor, and added things like birdsong to marshy areas of the game world. There is no comparision between the amount of mod content generated by Bethesda and by fans. As such, I'm not sure how Microsoft would successfully distribute a bunch of content that they didn't make, and didn't have the rights to.
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:47 AM   #16
bapenguin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrWonderstuff
Out of interest is the movement of your character more realistic? I mean with Morrowind it felt you were floating around with no discernable head bob or feeling of weight.
Hmm, from what I can remember there was no head bob.
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:47 AM   #17
Wonka
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Another thing to consider is that the last Morrowind game was really designed for the PC, and then later ported to the Xbox as more of an afterthought. But what happened next was that they sold A LOT of copies on the Xbox, so many copies in fact that they decided to make the Xbox 360 a primary sku. alongside the PC for this new version. This time, the console version will not be a ragedy looking port of the PC version since they will have designed the game to run on both systems.
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:49 AM   #18
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Yes... PC version for me... I think my PC can handle it (3500+/x800xt/1gb RAM)... and for all those people who say they would rather play on their HDTV and couch... that's what I do! My PC is hooked up to my Samsung 46" DLP HDTV with wireless keyboard and mouse, so I think I am getting the best of both worlds.

Edit: Yes... agreeing with MadHiro...
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:51 AM   #19
Rakael
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joruussuun
Yes... PC version for me... I think my PC can handle it (3500+/x800xt/1gb RAM)... and for all those people who say they would rather play on their HDTV and couch... that's what I do! My PC is hooked up to my Samsung 46" DLP HDTV with wireless keyboard and mouse, so I think I am getting the best of both worlds.

Edit: Yes... agreeing with MadHiro...
Yeah, but that PC is a LOT more expensive than a 360, and thats where I'm comming from here. I'm poor.
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:54 AM   #20
joruussuun
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakael
Yeah, but that PC is a LOT more expensive than a 360, and thats where I'm comming from here. I'm poor.
Yeah I know where your coming from... heh, it's just that I frequently make poor economic decisions with regard to electronics...
And I already had my PC in February (my old one died, so I HAD to build a new one...) so I wasn't specifically upgrading just for Oblivion, but it certainly helped.
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