10 out of 10
This is beyond a doubt the best game available currently for the PS3. That being said, it takes the right kind of video game player, to fully enjoy this game.
First off, you have to be a fan of RPG’s (Role-Playing Games). If you are not, then find another game (Madden perhaps?). Second, you need to devote a good six months to playing this game straight. I don’t know how much vacation time you have saved up, but use it. The world is massive and with enough side quests to fill around 400 pages in the strategy guide, you wont’ be bored.
While the main quest is short, the side quests more than make up for it. You can make your character do anything, be a fighter, mage, thief, murderer. You can even become a vampire and really go to town.
The most interesting thing about the game is time. With the graphical capabilities of the PS3, the sunrises and sunsets are awesome to watch. The weather effects great and the details stunning. I find myself spending a lot of time just looking at the graphical details. With virtually no load time between wilderness sections (just a little stutter) and short few second loads when entering buildings, caves, towns etc. You are never out of the game long. I also like the way the landscape changes, in the south it is swampy and full of vegetation (and seems to rain all the time). In the north, there are high mountains, evergreen tree’s and snow… While in-between it is as you might expect, temperate. The draw distance (The distance your character can see oncoming objects) is great, on a clear day (no fog or other clouds) you can see the Imperial City from the mountain tops at the extreme northern part of the map. If you were to walk from there to the city it would take about 20 minutes real time, which shows how massive the map is.
Gameplay is solid. The first person mode is the best and allows you to see the world the best. 3rd person is useful in wilderness situations, but is lousy in combat. Combat is difficult because of the camera angles, but mostly because of the adaptive difficulty of the game. As you level so do the monsters, which makes you take care to make your character as balanced as possible. When you are a level 1, Rats are pretty easy to kill at level 20, the Rats are level 20 too, and pack quite a punch. The NPC (Non-Player Characters) are what really set this game apart. The follow their own schedules. For example, one mission might ask you to rob the house of a rich woman. She sleeps between 12 and 7 am, works between 7 and 11, has lunch at a certain inn between 11 and 2, goes back to work between 2 and 5, then goes to a second inn to have dinner between 5 and 12. Things can get even more complicated because on Thursday’s she visits her friend down the street and on the 17th of the month she travels to the Imperial City, wile the last Sunday of the month, her friend comes to visit and she spends all day in her home. Without the aid of a strategy guide, this part of the game can get difficult and you will end up spending a lot of time in jail.
One disappointment in the game is the lack of large monsters to fight. No giants, trolls, dragons etc. In some ways this is a good thing with adaptive difficulty. The game has something for everyone and is a particular hit amongst female gamers. With so much to do, so many different ways to do, hours of simply exploring the environment and marveling at the graphics in somewhat HD (only goes to 720p), this is perhaps one of the greatest games of all time. It is also available on the X-box 360 (for the last year), but has load and crashing issues. It is also on PC, but your PC must be top notch to run the game, otherwise you will also have crashing issues. For the PS3 I have yet had the game crash (or any game for that matter). Playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion almost makes paying $600 for the system, a bargain.