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The main storyline of this game is fairly straightforward. You wake up in jail, and then you escape only to find the king in the tunnels too. Before his untimely demise, he sets you a task - to find the only living royal heir and save the kingdom from evil. Once you find the heir however, things get complicated. To save the kingdom you have to close a whole series of gates to Oblivion worlds, which are populated by all sorts of monsters. How do you close the gates - from the inside, of course.
The beautiful thing about this game is that you can chuck the main plot. If you want, you can make your own story. If you are really ambitious, you can do both at once. This reviewer played the main quest on one character and become a vampire assassin in another.
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Developing your character
One of the great things about this game is its character customization. Customization itself is nothing new, as many RPG’s have tried it. The thing worth noticing is the level of customization you can take your character to with Oblivion.
You have a set of basic traits that are assigned to you when you choose your race. These attributes are then modified by your choice of Birthsign. Then you can complete your character customization by adding skills.
How much you have of one or more of these attributes will determine what you can do. For example, you stand a much better chance of manipulating people if you are high in Personality, Luck, and Intelligence. Other than that, there are basic aesthetic preferences like hair and skin color, but those are only the tip of the iceberg. Your first choices are you race and sex. Sex is pretty self explanatory; your character is either male or female.
The choices of race are:
- Dark Elf
- High Elf
- Wood Elf
Each race has its own special abilities and skill bonuses associated with it. You will want to be sure to pick a race that is compatible with your birth sign. There are 13 birth signs you can use to set you on a career path. Your birth sign choices are as follows:
- Mage: Magica+50
- Apprentice: Magica+100, Magica weakness 100%
- Warrior: +10 to agility, speed and luck
- Shadow: Invisibilty once a day
- Lover: Paralyze and lose 120 points of fatigue per day
- Ritual: restore heatlh once a day and turn undead
- Tower: Reflect damage and open lock once a day
- Serpent: Damage health, dispel, cure poison, damage fatigue all once a day and simultaneously
- Atronach: Magica+150, no magica regeneration
- Lady: +10 to willpower and endurance
- Steed: +20 to speed
- Lord: Restore health and weakness to fire.
There are 3 main classes of skills each of which fall into 3 main categories: combat, mage, and stealth. It is wise to figure out what you want to be before you pick, and you want to stay mostly within one family of skills. Not many mages have call to wield a two handed broad sword. You gain access to new skills based on how you play. For example, you will gain the ability to use new spells by using the ones you already have. One thing to note: it has to be a useful casting. Setting the trees on fire might be fun, but it won't help you. Also helpful, if you join a guild you can sometimes acquire new skills at the guildhouses.
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There are four main guilds that you can join, each of which can give you access to new tasks. Joining a guild will help you to enhance your game play. The guilds are:
- Fighters guild
- Mages guild
- Thieves guild
- The Dark Brotherhood (an assassins guild)
A note to the mages: you definitely want to consider joining your guild and stopping by the guild house in each town. These guildhouses can teach you a new spell to add to your book, and everyone loves a free spell.
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The graphics in this game are extremely well done. Characters are detailed and except for the guards, completely unique. Backgrounds are also beautifully rendered. If you hate seeing the same inkeeper in every town, this will be a big relief to you. I for one, was starting to wonder how many brothers that guy had. The developers used real world travel photos and books as their inspiration for the world designs. Who knows, you may run across a place you have actually been to in Oblivion. Another thing that you will notice is the decidedly craggy terrain. No more endless smooth fields and domed hills that you remember from Morrowind. This little trick was created with erosion algorithms that were incorporated into the landscape generation tools. Another interesting factor in the buildings is the ever changing weather in Oblivion. The weather changes randomly, and seeing the same building in the sun as well as during a storm is truly cool. You may actually notice textures that you didn't see in dry weather when the rain comes. This is no small feat when you consider that the game world is estimated to be about 16 square miles. With the new extended sightline, you will see more of the world in each screen. If you take a second to look at the distance, you can see the outlines of distant towns and forests in clear detail. It is also worth telling you that despite the great graphics, you will encounter only a few load screens. When you go from indoors to outdoors you will see them, and when you fast travel you will have a load screen. During neither of these times will you experience a long load time.
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Adaptive Difficulty and Combat
This game features an adaptive difficulty system which allows the player and the challenge to be equals. This may sound irrelevant, but lets say that you decide to free play before taking on the main quest. The adaptive difficulty will keep you from being bored. If - while at a lower level - you move to a harder side quest, it will keep you from constantly dying.
With combat, you have two main tactics to choose from. You can be a hand-to-hand combat specialist, or go the route of a sniper. This will be determined by the weapons you choose to use. For the most part, if your main weapon is magic, expect to deal with ranged attacks. If you choose to go the hack and slash route with hand-to-hand combat then you will want to consider how you plan to heal. Don't worry, this does not have to be expensive. Go out into the fields and woods to find yourself some herbs. Many herbs you find growing in the world will heal you or give you other bonuses, and they won't cost you a dime. Just be sure not to eat a poisonous one! Archers and Mages will want to consider having at least a quality dagger (or better a sword) at their side. You never know when you will be ambushed and you can't always run away. It may be a life and death decision. Be careful in the dark, and if you want to get off accurate shots (the kind that kill without your digital enemy knowing what hit him) take a few seconds to examine their pattern of movement.
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Becoming a Vampire
If you want to become a member of the undead here is what you do.
1. Find a computer generated vampire in the game.
2. Fight the vampire and contract his disease. This may not happen the first time. You may have to find multiple fights to do this.
3. Don't use any method of curing disease for 3 in game days.
5. Wake up as a vampire.
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- 3 Ghz Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent processor
- 1 GB System RAM
- ATI X800 series, NVIDIA GeForce 6800 series, or higher video card
Minimum System Requirements:
- Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows XP 64-bit
- 512MB System RAM
- 2 Ghz Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent processor
- 128MB Direct3D compatible video card
- and DirectX 9.0 compatible driver;
- 8x DVD-ROM drive
- 4.6 GB free hard disk space
- DirectX 9.0c (included)
- DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card
- Keyboard, Mouse
Supported Video Card Chipsets:
- ATI X1900 series
- ATI X1800 series
- ATI X1600 series
- ATI X1300 series
- ATI X850 series
- ATI x800 series
- ATI x700 series
- ATI x600 series
- ATI Radeon 9800 series
- ATI Radeon 9700 series
- ATI Radeon 9600 series
- ATI Radeon 9500 series
- NVIDIA GeForce 7800 series
- NVIDIA GeForce 6800 series
- NVIDIA GeForce 6600 series
- NVIDIA GeForce 6200 series
- NVIDIA GeForce FX series