I have no idea what to say about this, other than the next Elder Scrolls game has been announced and dated, 11-11-11. You should be sold by now. Still, you can watch this trailer if your interest is peaked:

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38 Studios recently announced an all-new single player RPG experience entitled Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and have just released a reveal trailer and screenshots for the game. This new open-world role-playing game is set in the world of Amalur, a mysterious new fantasy world brought to life by the New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore. This new world will feature a visual style created by none other than Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn, and will be developed under the guidance of Ken Rolston who was the lead designer for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Introduction:

With a game as vast and engaging as the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, it’s sometimes a little difficult to determine where to begin. As you should know from the title (providing you’re not Roman numerically impaired), Oblivion marks the fourth title in the Elder Scrolls series, and the second Elder Scrolls game to hit a Microsoft console (not including the Game of the Year edition of Morrowind). As far as I know, Oblivion is not linked to any previous releases story-wise – which is probably a good thing. Oblivion is darker, more intense, and sassier than any Elder Scrolls game I’ve ever played.

Gameplay:

Oblivion is a stereotypical RPG, but in a good way. It packs itself chock-full of spells, level ups, and character development, all snuggly wrapped around an epic and immersive main plot. To go over everything that’s in this game would be literally impossible to undertake, and so in this review I will only give impressions and basic descriptions of what lies in the devilish jaws of Oblivion.

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Before beginning your journey, you will need to create your character. General options include gender, race, hairstyle, eyes, age, and complexion. Speaking of race, which is very important as it will deeply affect your look and skills, you will have ten ‘’nationalities’’ per se’ to select from. They are: Imperial, Khajiit, Nord, Orc, Redguard, Wood Elf, Argonian, Breton, Dark Elf, and High Elf. After choosing the race that’s right for you, you will be taken through one of the most developed player creation systems I have ever laid my eyes on. You’ll be able to tone your face, give yourself a stylish beard, employ your desired eye color to your character, and much, much more. And for those of you who care, my character, named Gabe, is a middle-aged, blue-eyed, wavy-haired, generally white-complected, Breton reminiscent of Jack Bauer from the hit Fox drama 24.

Guilds you ask? You betcha. In addition to the fairly long main quest (more later), there are guilds complete with full-fledged missions and stories of themselves for your playing pleasure. Guilds can be a great way to take a break from the core quest to build up your character’s attributes and experience. Oh yeah, and they’re pretty darned fun, too.

I can’t help but think of Fable when playing Oblivion. Not because it’s akin to Fable in the least bit, but because I believe Oblivion is what the masses wanted Fable to be back in 2004. Not to use taglines or anything, but Oblivion genuinely enables you to be whomever you desire to be – good or evil, brave or meek, law-abiding or mischievous. This game takes this concept to entirely new levels formerly never captured in a video game. I’m not kidding, this is the real deal.

Quick travel! Love it or loathe it, it incalculably speeds up the overall sluggish gameplay Morrowind was plagued with. Hop from mission to mission, quest to quest – using the nifty quick travel feature empowers you to do it all seamlessly and with the simple press of a button. Some people feel it distracts from the game, but I really don’t see how. You’re not forced to use it in any way. However, I really don’t know why someone would want to slowly trudge through miles upon miles of terrain (although, don’t get me wrong, it is beautiful), but like I say, whatever floats your boat. For me, quick travel is a true timesaver and nothing else.

Lastly, we have the main quest. It boasts an above-average story coupled with well done missions, but it’s frankly not where you’ll be spending the majority of your time. This is mainly due to it being not incredibly lengthy (~20 hours). Even though that’s pretty long, as mentioned, guilds and side-quests are the real time consumers present in Oblivion. The story revolves around the murder of the Emperor of the land. Your job is to discover who accomplished this and along the way kick some demon-esque tail coming forth from the gates of – you guessed it – Oblivion.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion takes everything that made Morrowind’s gameplay superb and refines it. In the process, the fun factor has been raised immeasurably. The developers have also opened up and made Oblivion accessible to the casual gamer. Thankfully, it achieves all this without skewing any groundwork it may have already set. The primary objection I had with Morrowind was its clunky combat system. I’m glad to say this isn’t a setback with this latest installment in the Elder Scrolls franchise. In short, Oblivion’s gameplay is home to near-flawless execution.

Graphics:

Visually speaking, Oblivion is a graphical powerhouse. Anyone who knows me recognizes that I love mammoth game worlds. Just as in numerous gameplay facets, Oblivion takes this matter to brand new heights. Candidly, this is the largest game I have ever played. However, the aspect that’s truly staggering and refreshing is, while the environments are huge, the level of detail to foliage and structures stays intact throughout.

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Animations and textures are done in top-notch form, and the character modeling, including the breathtaking create-a-character feature, is mind-blowing. There may be countless amounts of population in this game, but everyone appears at least somewhat unique, and races make things even more varied. Overall, Oblivion raises the bar for visual standards on the Xbox 360 with its beautiful environments, including water, foliage, and fire effects, and wonderfully done characters that possess unparalleled depth.

Audio:

It’s apparent a great deal of time and work went into Oblivion’s brilliant orchestral score. The music, which changes often depending on what action you’re carrying out, is a gentle delight to the ear. I still, though, strongly recommend taking advantage of the custom soundtracks option simply because it’s gaming bliss to run through this game with feel-good rhythms blasting from your speakers.

The sound effects are especially outstanding as well, with burning and crackling effects that will slip your mind into an idyllic trance. Concerning voiceovers, I was really amazed with how distinctive the different townspeople, warriors, etc sound. The voice acting is very original, and most importantly, not overtly cheesy as in many RPGs of this caliber. All in all, the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’s audio is first-rate in every area.

Controls:

There’s not much to complain about here. The controls are about as intuitive as they can be. Menus are easily navigated, actions such as melee and weapon attacks are completed without any hiccups, and the overall sense of realism and control is phenomenal. You can even toggle in and out of first-person view for a more relaxed perspective if you wish. Oblivion utilizes the Xbox 360’s controller remarkably well.

Replay:

‘’Whoa’’ was my initial reaction when I began to discover how many things you can undertake in Oblivion. It boggles the mind. You can join a guild and thereby carryout its missions, work to level up your character, go for an evening walk to enjoy the scenery, progress through the main quest and close hellish gates, become a vampire, eavesdrop on townspeople, or just simply sit back and eat mice. Yes, you can kill and eat rats, among other creatures. There is no question about it; you will not find a game with more playable content currently on the market.

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Summary:

If you own an Xbox 360, and the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is not in your collection yet, immediately stop reading and run to your nearest retailer and pick this one up. Its gameplay, graphics, and auditory value are all off the chain. In addition, its replayability will provide hundreds of hours of wholesome fun. My only personal complaint is this: due to the immense worlds, obscene amounts of terrain, and overall hugeness of this software, I found myself becoming nauseated and oftentimes lightheaded and dizzy. You’ve been warned.