Review: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

With the upcoming release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the memorable date of 11-11-11, I started thinking about the previous game in the series, Oblivion. I was fortunate enough to be given the game as a gift a few weeks back, and after 42hours and 13 minutes, I have successfully completed the game for the Xbox 360. So how does the 5th anniversary treat Oblivion? Well let’s just say I’m pretty damn excited to play Skyrim next month.



The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Bethesda Game Studios
Xbox 360
Release Date: March 20th, 2006

The Elder Scrolls series of games are known for their deep and engrossing storytelling, RPG elements, and highly customizable evolution and advancement system. Each game in the series seems to add more to the previous, and Oblivion was known for it’s graphical facial features, characters that have lives independent of your actions, and a revamped combat system. So how is the game? Let’s get right into it then, shall we?

The emperor Uriel Septim (Played by Patrick Stewart) has a large task for you.


Perhaps the greatest part about any RPG is the story. A well crafted story can make all the difference in a game, giving it the flair and finesse that no other element can give. Oblivion has one of the best and most realistic stories in any RPG I’ve played. The main story is focused around the death of the emperor Uriel Septim, who is killed by a cult group worshiping the god of destruction. Septim’s estranged son Martin needs to ascend to the throne, but Martin has been living out his life as a monk, unknowing of his true lineage. Making matters worse, if the throne isn’t filled, and the amulet of kings isn’t returned to the rightful heir, the demonic daedra of the plane known as Oblivion are going to complete their invasion of the land of Tamriel, causing their god Dagon and certain destruction to all its inhabitants. Yeah, the story is pretty epic. The main story is engaging and memorable: there are plenty of set pieces and interesting battles that you’ll go through on your quest to seat Martin on the throne. It’s really nothing short of epic: the story in Oblivion can compete with the likes of written works by Tolkien. Outside of the main story you’ll find a multitude of side quests, sub-stories, and plenty of characters to interact with. I think the best part of the game is actually the sub quests. The six or seven cities you’ll come across have their own habits and interesting problems to uncover and aid (or not aid) in. There are guilds to join, people to help, treasure to uncover, items to find, equipment to make, and just about anything else you can imagine. Oblivion’s story is nothing short of brilliant: This is easily the most expansive and awesome story I’ve seen in a game.

The land is expansive and beautiful. You'll spend hours just exploring the hills and valleys of Tamriel


General Gameplay: General gameplay is what you’d expect from any RPG. You can pretty much do whatever you want, go wherever you please whenever you please, and be a good samaritan or an evil doer. The ability to have free range over everything you do is a great aspect to have in an RPG, and I think it’s a shame other RPG’s don’t allow you complete freedom like this.
Combat: Combat plays a large part of the game. Oblivion is an action RPG, so no turn based battles here. You can attack with your fists, swords, bows, claymores, magic, and even poisons. Holding up your shield is the only way to truly block an incoming attack, and swinging your weapon harder can stun your opponent and cause them to stumble. The combat takes some getting used to, but it is rewarding and fun. You’ll find a play style that suits you after some fooling around. The magic system is pretty strong too, featuring a multitude of spells in a variety of magical families. I didn’t take a magical path with my character, but the depth in spells and skills are unprecedented. I focused more on a thief for my class, so I used stealth to sneak up on enemies and deal extra damage. The point is, you can really customize your combat experience to fit your needs and wants.
Skills: Outside of combat you have several skills to upgrade to enhance your character. Improving these skills adds to your overall level, but also increasing your skills in said abilities. Getting higher levels in your armor skills lets you wear armor without taking high penalties to combat, improving security skills lets you pick locks more easily, and using your weapon improves proficiency in those skills. It all works out to you being able to tailor your character to exactly your preference. It’s nice.

Oblivion Gates pop up all across the land, and you've got to shut them to save the world.

What I Liked

– I like any game that allows me to solve problems with anything but combat. There are several times where you might get out a situation because your speechcraft skills are high, allowing you to not fight for your life but speak for it instead. That’s really a cool ability.
– There are a lot of side stories to complete. A LOT of side stories. You can easily get lost for hours upon hours of side quests without ever doing anything related to the main plot. It sort of takes away from the direness of the whole situation, but it’s still cool to have so many options.
– Characters don’t just wait around for you. They have their own lives and things to look after. This makes the game world feel alive, and not just there for you to run through. Having to meet people at certain places, at certain times, and maybe even breaking into a king’s quarters is cool and engaging.

What I Didn’t Like

– The quest claims that the situation is dire and needs to be taken care of immediately. Yet you can tackle quests are your leisure. It sorts of takes away from the overall feeling of the main quest. But it really can’t be helped. If there was a time limit the game wouldn’t be nearly as fun, so I can look past it.
– The controls can be a bit finicky. The game is set to a first-person view, and it definitely takes some getting used to. Riding on a horse is a bit of a struggle as well. You can assign items or spells to a quick-select button with the D-Pad, but there’s only 8 spots, and they are not easy to push. Again, it can be looked past, but this is something that I’d like to see improved upon in Skyrim.

You'll fight plenty of demons as your seek out the Oblivion Gates.


The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is an impressive video game. The RPG elements, combat, customization, and story all combine well to make for an exceedingly fun and engrossing good time. The deep and involving gameplay won’t sit well with all gamers, but those that are willing to put in the effort and play the game will be greatly rewarded. Oblivion leaves a great impression and is a game that won’t be forgotten for years to come. Or at least until Skyrim releases.


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I've been writing about video games for years and playing them even longer. You'll find me playing all types of games, old and new. Mega Man III is greater than Mega Man II.

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