PC Game -- Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Unlike DDO: Stormreach, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a dyed-in-the-wool single-player role-playing game (RPG) - so you can dip in and out of it without having to spend hours trying to assemble a party. The trouble is, while the dipping-in is proving all too easy, I'm having real trouble with the dipping-out part afterwards.

Like Morrowind (Elder Scrolls III), Oblivion's game area is impressively large (the equivalent to 16 square miles, apparently), but this latest chapter is the first to fill a map with such luscious detail and gorgeous scenery that it's all too easy to just wander blithely through the beautiful and varied landscapes. In fact, you're actively rewarded for doing so, with a seemingly endless array of missions, temples and dungeons only appearing on your map when you get close enough to see them.

The usual RPG elements - like character customisation, an "only you can save the world" storyline, and heaps of side missions - are all present and correct, and you can choose to rigidly follow the main storyline, or put the end of the world on hold for a bit and play the wandering adventurer instead. It's entirely up to you.

Unlike other RPGs, which typically give you generic experience points for achieving mission goals and levelling you up when you reach set totals, Oblivion's character advancement is different. You only level up for advancing your character's specialist skills, so while a Fighter character can cast as many spells as he has the magicka (mana) for, he'll only level up for killing things with weapons. While this helps to keep you true to your character type without placing unreasonable limitations on what you can do, there's a potential flaw here. Because the game balances the strength of your enemies based on your current level, characters who choose non-combat skills as their specialties (acrobatics, stealth, alchemy, speechcraft etc) may find themselves facing opponents who are a lot tougher than they are. So making the right character choices is crucial.

That aside, Oblivion is just about everything you want from an RPG. While there'll be times when you want to shout "I just saved your poxy village from rampaging Heckspawn, so a little appreciation wouldn't go amiss!" the world is pretty immersive. Characters mill around, do stuff and go places, and you'll often be given the chance to alter someone's destiny and see the end result at a later stage of the game. Some of the vocals are a little generic, but Patrick Stewart, Sean Bean, Lynda Carter and Terence Stamp provide theatrical flair for the game's set pieces.

In fact, there's nothing here that's likely to jar you out of the blissful reverie and involvement of this utterly compelling adventure - with the possible exception of your partner, who'll probably want to know if you intend to come to bed before 4am.

Click here to view screenshot 1. Click here to view screenshot 2.

Verdict: It plays well, sounds great and looks absolutely stunning. Oblivion is a must-have purchase for any solo RPG fan, and would be a great introduction to the genre for anyone else.
Score: 5 stars
Publisher: 2K Games
URL: www.elderscrolls.com
Price: $89.95

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Laurence Grayson

PC World
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?