GiN’s 2006 pick for game of the year comes to the PS3. I have played Oblivion on the PC (though while my Pc was not up to the task graphically, my wife often grabbed the Xbox 360 first leaving me to play only on the PC), the Xbox 360, and now on the PS3. I am as pleased as I was on the PS3 as on the other two platforms. And I expect that Oblivion will take home some more awards this year for the PS3.
So why has The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion won so many awards and why is this a must-have game for every platform you happen to own? I don’t think there is one single answer to that question.
After a really bountiful opening cut scene narrated by the emperor, voice acted by Patrick Stewart. The game opens with you in a prison cell and the guy in the cell across the way is heckling you and telling you the guards are coming to kill you (play your cards right and you can come back and kill him later). But then the guards come and they are escorting the emperor out of the city because his life is in danger.
Luckily for you, the escape tunnel they need to use is in your cell. Strangely, the emperor seems to know you, or has at least scene you in his dreams. It is at this point that you get to select your race from amongst a human, several elves, a lizard and some other options. After following the emperor out into the sewers of the city you go through a mini-adventure where you learn about weapons, bows, and magic as well as how to open locks, sneak around, and collect mushrooms and plants (for potions) and many other things.
Eventually you meet up with the emperor again and he asks you about your birth sign. Each birth sign gives you a special advantage and some also include a disadvantage. From then on you actually travel with the emperor’s party and eventually he knows it is this time to die and he gives you the amulet of kings and asks you to take it to his one surviving son. It is right after this that you get to pick your class or make up your own class. A class consists of two primary attributes and 10 skills which you are better at from the start. Also when you improve in enough of these skills you will go up in levels which allow you to improve your attributes. You have one final challenge, which is to get out of the dungeon. The emperor’s guards, called the blades, are going to remain with the body. Just before you leave the dungeon for the last time and enter the world, you are given the opportunity to change your race, birth sign, and character class. Once you leave the dungeon, you’re stuck with what ever you have selected, and can experience the huge, open-ended world that has enthralled so many people since Oblivion’s release. The vast amount of customization of your character and the vast number of quests is one of the things that makes oblivion a game great.
The next thing that makes this game great are the many NPCs (Non-player characters) that are walking around the world either following their own daily lives or on missions just like you. Literally you can spend a day following someone and watch them get up from bed, eat breakfast, go to work, go home, eat dinner and go back to bed. And if you are playing an assassin you can use this to your advantage by removing all the other food in the house and leaving a poisoned apple on the table. Come back the next day find that with nothing else to eat, they are going to eat your apple and die. You will see the body on the floor. The same goes with shops that are only open for normal business hours. If you look about town you can find the shop keeper at home our out having dinner at the local tavern. Then you can break in and take whatever you want, so long as your are careful about it.
Graphically, on the PS3 Oblivion has the same great graphics that it had on the 360 or a PC (with a good graphics card). And while I am not going to take points away from the game, I was really hoping they would have bumped the graphics up to 1080p to take full advantage of the power of the PS3. On the plus side, the PS3 has a significantly improved load time over the Xbox 360. The world and the characters look sharper on the PS3, and you can see farther into the distance. Still, nothing is going to compare to playing Oblivion on a supped up PC with the latest graphics card, but the PS3 is a big improvement over the Xbox 360 with the latest patches.
Some other aspects of Oblivion that have not changed but do help to make this a great game are the stellar voice acting. It is hard to go wrong in a world where everyone speaks.
The interface is of course slightly different on the PS3 controller over the keyboard or the 360 controller, but it is just as easy to use and I made the conversion in seconds. I still miss the ability to use the recall spell in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, but the ability to fast travel between where you are and places that you have already visited is nice.
And finally it is hard to go wrong with a game that literally has 100s of hours of play time built in. Heck, you can even start again from the beginning with a different character class and make different choices about where you go and what you do and the game will be very different.
The PS3 version of Oblivion comes with some of the special content released through Xbox live including horse armor and the Knights of the Nine expansion pack, but does not include the brand new Shivering Isles expansion pack recently released for the PC and Xbox 360 or some of the other expansions.
I know that I have not covered every aspect of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, I don’t think you can do it with out writing a huge book, but I hope that I have given you a good basic understanding of the huge scope of the game from the many character options to the many quest options, from the main quest, to the guild quests, to the quests that you can just happen upon while playing. I have played the Xbox 360 version for 100s of hours and now without batting an eye. I am just getting into the game on the PS3 and I can guarantee that I will spend 100s of hours playing and re-playing on the new platform. GiNs number one game of 2006 gets top rating in all categories and Five GiN gems on the PS3. If you have not gotten this game yet, by all means do so right now. If you have, consider the improved graphics and load times on the PS3 to make the experience a bit better.
Consider also reading our review of Oblivion for the PC and Xbox 360 right here. And if you want to learn about the Knights of the Nine expansion, which is included in the PS3 version of the game, we have that for you as well.