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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Though E3 2005 was definitely more about hardware there were a few titles that really caught my attention and, more importantly, my imagination. One of those titles was The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. In the media-only presentation and demonstrated by a honey-sucking Todd Howard (Producer on the project) my mind went numb.
Oblivion isn’t just an upgrade over the previous Elder Scrolls game, Morrowind, it’s like the difference between a Dodge Caravan and a Ferrari F430 Spider that’s being buffed by Cindy Crawford. I’d seen screens of Oblivion before going in but they hardly did justice to seeing the game in motion. It’s absolutely gorgeous!
While the technology behind it is way beyond me – Todd rattled the specs off like a machine gun – I know what I like and I liked what I saw. When Todd proceeded to interact with objects in the environment, showing off a full spread physics engine by firing arrows into a suspended barrel I suddenly felt overwhelmed. If Oblivion achieves the same depth as Morrowind and looks this good… I might as well forget about any other game coming out within four months of Oblivion’s release. (The estimated release date is Q4 2005 – without
a doubt the busiest time of year for games – but with the scope of Oblivion, I’m actually hopeful the release date will be pushed back into 2006.)
But there is more than just good looks and a physics engine. Two words: Patrick Stewart. It was if the developers had peered into my soul and asked themselves, “What kind of game would Omni like?” There’s going to be lots of spoken dialogue – the game will ship on DVD – and Todd indicated that other high-profile voice actors were on the project but he couldn’t name names. However, there will still be a lot of text because Oblivion is just so big there’s no way it could all be voiced.
I’m aware I probably sound like a cheerleader but I couldn’t help but be blown away by it, even though it’s not done and I didn’t actually get to play it, so before I start doing cartwheels here’s the official line from Bethesda:
After the mysterious and untimely death of the Emperor, the throne of Tamriel lies empty. With the Empire ready to crumble, the gates of Oblivion open and demons march upon the land – laying waste to everything in their path. To turn the tide of darkness, you must find the lost heir to the throne and unravel the sinister plot that threatens to destroy all of Tamriel.
Another Life in Another World. Create
and play any character you can imagine, from the noble warrior to the
sinister assassin to the wizened sorcerer.
Generation Graphics. Pixel-shader
effects and high definition televisions are fully supported to create
unprecedented visuals, including lifelike towns, dungeons, and the most
realistic forests ever created in a game. [But you will not be able
to cut down trees – I asked.]
Person Melee and Magic. An
all-new combat and magic system brings first person role-playing to a
new level of intensity where you feel every blow.
groundbreaking AI system gives Oblivion’s characters full 24/7
schedules and the ability to make their own choices based on the world
around them. Non-player characters eat, sleep, and complete goals all on
features over 1,000 non-player characters who come to life like never
before with facial animations, lip-synching, and full speech. They even
engage in unscripted conversations with each other and you.
Game Play; Short Challenges. The
enormous world of Oblivion is open for you to explore at your own pace,
and shorter challenges such as fighting bandits, mixing potions,
creating magic items and persuading friends keep the challenges coming.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion practically makes me weep thinking about the possibilities.
(June 8, 2005)