| paleface [sys=PS3; cat=Role_Playing; loc=NA] |
|A first-person dungeon-crawler in which you can wander across a large, seamless land, fighting one to two monsters at a time, and lugging their loot back to a town to sell. There's also some kind of main plot involving Patrick Stewart being killed, and that's bad because he was the grand high poobah, and now demonic gates are appearing all over--and that's bad because you have to go into the little demon world in each one and beat up all the demons there to shut it down--and that's bad because they're all the same, and there are dozens and dozens of them.|
To wring insane amounts of play time out of a limited (though large!) amount of content, the designers made enemies auto-scale to about your level. So you go into random dungeon x, at level y, and the enemies there are level y-type enemies, probably the same that you'll encounter in dungeon w and dungeon z. If you're at level r, though (I'm running out of cool letters), dungeons w and z would have the level r-type (oops) monsters.
So wherever you go, you usually fight the same type of monsters for five levels or so, then you graduate up to a new type. They're all about the same toughness relative to you, though, so it isn't clear what the point of all this levelling actually is. There are a few side quests that seem to be fixed level, but they're a drop in the Oblivion bucket.
No, mostly you fight the same monsters, who are about as hard as all the other monsters, and come at you one at a time, although they also usually summon a helper monster, and you summon your helper monster, so it's two on two, then you slug it out, swinging a sword or throwing fireballs at them in first person, which often involves a lot of fumbling around and bumping into each other. Your magic is limited, but it regenerates quickly, so if you're down on health and don't have enough magic left to use your heal spell, just jump around like a maniac for a while to keep out of the level-scaled monster's clutches until your magic comes back up.
Jumping, though, may backfire in the long run. See, in Oblivion, you level up after doing a certain amount of things for a certain amount of time--and jumping is one of these "skills" that can be involved in gaining a level. So all that jumping might raise your level, then you go rest (you have to find a bed and lay down for at least an hour :p), and then your level goes up, and you get some points to stick in some skills or whatnot. How effective these points are depends on what you've been training in, what your background is, etc.
The character creation system is kind of cool, because you can mold your face, and make your own character class if you want--I made a combination fighter/mage sort of thing--but with the levelling you can really screw yourself for later in the game--which I think is kind of what I did. Anyway it's easy to level accidentally on the wrong skills, and then spend your earned character points sub-optimally, which is kind of a downer once you realize it. I think I'm doing about average, because the monsters at level 29 are about as hard for me to take down as they were at level 2. Yay. The spells and weapons are pretty much the same, only incrementally more powerful. Yawn.
You wander around to the six or so towns/cities and talk to the ugly people (you can mold your own face, but it took a lot of work to make someone who looks only halfway decent), and some of them sell you stuff, some of them train you, some of them repair your gear (which is constantly wearing down), some of them have little quests to do, and many of them just waste your time.
But time wasting is the name of the game in Oblivion, so if you're into this sort of thing, you probably don't mind. I've had my fill of samish-looking dungeons and samish-fighting enemies, though, so I'll consider myself fully accomplished at my mediocre level 29. Hm... I can't even remember what I was supposed to be doing in the main story. It's easy to lose track, not only because little side quests pop up at every turn, but also because the main story is pretty boring.
Oblivion only runs at 720p, but it's fairly pretty, at least in the countryside (and away from the ugly people), and my Xbox-owning friends seemed to think that the textures in the PS3 version were higher resolution than those in the slightly earlier Xbox 360 version. Framerate is an issue, though; it's never very good, and even just walking around outdoors can be pretty stuttery; get more than three or so people running around in a battle, though, and the game becomes a slide show. I suppose that's one of the reasons why they limit almost all encounters to just one or two bad guys at a time.
There are also a lot of bugs. Heck, I fell to oblivion through a hole in the floor of the *tutorial* dungeon (and kept popping back into the room, then falling through the floor again; the rat who had been attacking me was pretty surprised, I think); I also ran into things like sitting on a bench that spit me out inside the wall behind it when I tried to stand up, leaving me stuck there. The game autosaves every time you go in or out of a building, and you can save as many saves as you want anywhere, so it's best if you do, because you never know when you'll run into some sort of glitch that gets you trapped or killed. The one that finally killed any remaining impetuous I had to shut down yet another cookie-cutter Chaos Gate was when a sword or something that a dead NPC dropped got stuck somewhere in the rocky ground, or something like that, and the framerate was just horrible everywhere--another triumph for the game and the 3rd-party Havok physics engine.
Anyway... If you really need a game that will suck up a ton of time, and you dig sort of weird, blandish fantasy settings (Oblivion has its own creatures rather than the usual fantasy menagerie, for the most part, and some of the designs aren't that fascinating) and you don't mind repetitive sluggish slogging around, then Oblivion is the game for you. The main story might get awesome later on, too, for all I know.