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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Bethesda

 

Developer

Bethesda

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

June 2002

 

 

- Probably the most engrossing and involving videogame you’ve
ever played
- Excellent interweaving stories
- Near endless play
- Great presentation
- Huge world to explore
- Hones the RPG conventions
- Extraordinary music

 

 

- Takes a while to pull you in
- No way to tell how damaged an enemy is

 

 

Review: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (360)

Review: Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC)

Review: Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal (PC)

Review: Fallout 3 (360)

Review: BioShock 2 (360)

 

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The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Score: 10 / 10

 

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After “finishing” Morrowind, I’m left wordless to describe the experience. I could use words like “good”, “great” or “fantastic.” Even “superb”, but they all fall short somehow. So with that in mind, bear with me.

Previously my experience with role-playing games (RPG) went as far as the Legend of Zelda games. Morrowind by comparison is a 12-ton gorilla – this is a hardcore

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RPG: stats up the wazoo, spells galore, unique items to pillage, steal and buy, thousands of NPCs roaming the landscape and towns, a huge – huge – number of quests, some political machinations, a prophecy unfulfilled, the chance to become a vampire… Truly, the list could go on. RPG fans will revel in it all, but newcomers might be intimidated.

Morrowind is probably

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the most intricate videogame world ever created. Underline the word “world.” Morrowind is a huge place with plenty of nooks, crannies, and caves to explore. Take for example, the books of varying length to seek out and discover that flesh out Morrowind’s history and tell you about items that can be found in Morrowind. And you’ll never play the same way twice. Besides choosing Race (there are 10), character class (21), and sex, you can also join a Faction (or guild, if you prefer). All these attributes, plus a few I haven’t mentioned, affect your interactions with others and what quests can be completed. There is a specific main quest that completes your prophesized place in Morrowind history (and is very entertaining and full of surprises), but there are many ways to complete it. (And when you’re finished that you can continue on, visiting places you may have overlooked on your way to the top.)

If you love linear gameplay, stay away from Morrowind. This game is about as linear as a bowl of spaghetti. Rarely does point A lead you to point B. You may eventually reach B, but not before crossing M, G, and C. Which is not to say you can’t progress linearly, it’s just easy to get distracted by the side quests – and that’s part of the joy. I like games that don’t funnel me in a straight line. One of Morrowind’s biggest strengths is its open-endedness. Just steal the book and make a break for it? Or kill the guards and walk away with the book (and risk jail time)? Or forget about getting the book altogether and do something else?

The depth of Morrowind’s gameplay and overall design is matched by the audio-visual presentation. Hands down, Morrowind’s soundtrack should be released on CD – once you’ve heard the opening chords you’ll be humming it for hours after first booting it up. And it’s not just the music – all the environmental effects have been nailed. (The whale song of the stilt striders is haunting!) Speech is sparse but with 2,000 NPCs I can’t fault Bethesda for the text presentation of the interactions. (Seemingly everyone has something to say or a possible quest to complete.) The action on-screen moves fluidly and the landscapes and landmarks are gorgeous. So much so, I always expected to find a tour guide hawking a Morrowind Tourist Guide. (“See Vvardenfall by Stilt Strider!”)

 

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Not only is Morrowind a serious RPG with countless small details, there is also a fair amount of humor throughout. Witness the failed Icarus Spell. Some of the books you find along the way are a very funny, too.

If I were to find fault with Morrowind it would be with the length of time it takes to really be immersed in the experience. Most games do their utmost to pull you in with the first 30 minutes of action. With Morrowind you might still be tinkering with your stats. If you’re looking for Halo-type action, you won’t find it here (although toward the “end” things get pretty hairy). I highly recommend Morrowind but I’d also recommend you schedule a 3 to 4 hour block of time for your first outing. Getting a handle on the controls and the basic mechanics of equipping spells and equipment is no problem. The manual is exhaustive so you should never be at a loss of how to interact with things around you. It’s getting into and understanding the situation that takes a while. You start with zero knowledge (much like your digital avatar fresh off a prisoner ship) and have to bring yourself up to speed. It’s like being dropped in a strange city, knowing no one, owning nothing, and not quite understanding the language – some of the names are difficult to remember. Just think of Morrowind as a big swimming pool (or huge bowl of spaghetti) that you have to ease into – but once you’re in, the water (or sauce) sure is fine!

So I’m not exactly wordless on my opinion of Morrowind, but the above still feels inadequate. Morrowind takes gaming to new levels – not only is it a great game, it borders on a work of art. You have to play it.

- Omni
(July 6, 2002)

 

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