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OBLIVION IS HERE

25 March 2006

A while ago, Tim reminded me of a conversation we had three years ago while sitting on a bench in Utrecht. We were discussing Morrowind and what was lacking in that title. I've always been of the opinion that it was hugely flawed, but infinitely loveable in the areas that mattered to me. Its gameplay was clunky and boring, it's inhabitants static but most devastating of all, there was no real interaction.

Despite the wealth of paths to follow and choices to make, no matter who you became or what you did it didn't matter. Nothing you did had any profound effect on the world. Yet I wanted to topple empires, see people run away from me in terror or shift the balance of power by serving whichever faction I wished to work for. That's a bit grand of course, but it serves to illustrate my point: Morrowind had faux interactivity. We hoped desperately for a change of that in Oblivion.

I go the Collector's Edition of Oblivion today. I've played a bit and I will tell you it's far too early to say anything. Until I've played at least ten hours I'm not giving any judgement on it. Yes, the interface feels less 'hands on', possibly in a bid to serve the console-crowd, and takes getting used to. It feels a step back. Other things are noticeably better. There's cool physics and the fighting system is more entertaining. Hey, I might actually enjoy the gameplay here for itself! Other than that, I'll be sure to get back to you on in a few weeks.

We were full of ideas back there, on that bench in Utrecht. Me and Tim. But now that Oblivion is upon us and we're in the middle of it, all of a sudden it's all clouded and we can't really see the big picture anymore. Not that I'm dazzled by the graphics; the Elder Scrolls will always have design that I find unattractive, and no amount of bloom or polygons is going to change that. Besides, my PC barely has the power to run it with the minimum of graphic options. Rather, it's all happening so suddenly. Where we first heard all these great things about Radiant AI and battle systems; it's difficult to see the big picture now we first have to learn how to walk again and throw a fireball.

Again, this will all come after a few dozen hours of play. I will get back to you. With great and terrible stories of my conquest. Or tales of bitter defeat and disappointment. Will enthusiasm win over lethargy? Time will tell. Only Akatosh knows.

Roderick.