Thursday, March 23, 2006

I've gone to Hell and I like it

Hell, or Oblivion as it is called in this case, is the latest version of the Elder Scrolls by Bethesda Softworks. For those who haven't gotten it yet, it is a computer Role Playing Game (RPG) - probably the best one to released this year and ground breaking for many years to come.

Since my travel last week, this has been the next largest consumer of my time since Tuesday, when it was released. Given my S&G Challenge, this might be a better way to spend my money.

I am not really planning to review it - you can follow the links to thier site and read all the reviews. More just make a couple comments on it.

Being a fan of the Elder Scroll series of games, I have been following the news about this game as it progressed through development (not as fanatically as some people - they seriously need a life). As the game started getting previewed, it was sounding more and more exciting. The graphics are <insert superlatitive here>. The game play is <insert more superlatitives>. I actually bought into it a little and was expecting to be completely blown away. I have a fairly recent computer (less than 6 months old) and it was more than their recommended system in power.

I got the game on Tuesday, and as soon as I was home from work, I installed it. My wife is used to me not paying attention, but I went out of my way to emphasize that I was not available.

Now after all the hype, I was disappointed. As someone in the software business I should have known better. Now the graphics are fantastic - I don't know what I expected - perhaps something as good as the CGI you see in some movies. It wasn't that good. It was however better than I would have expected if it wasn't for all the hype. Some of the outdoor scenes are incredibly expansive - expecially when viewed at high res on a wide screen display.

But what I think will make this game the champion I think it is - is the game play. It is very very immersive and between the audio, the graphics and more importantly the story telling, you get sucked right in and keep wanting to go back.

One of the things that impresses so far is the completeness of it. The Elder Scrolls series of games are known for their open endedness. You can do just about anything you want - very little is scripted. If you don't follow the main story, so be it. If you are following a quest and decide to do something completely different in the quest, it handles it (I mean there are obvious limits). It is very neat to decide to do something you just thought of and discover the game handles it in a way that is natural and looks it is was the normal thing to do.

The computer guy in me is amazed by the AI that drives the NPCs - the non player characters you see in the game. They are not scripted, but rather have a bunch of rules and schedules which drive them. They go about their daily lives, including eating, sleeping, working, fighting, etc. They see strangers (either other NPCs or you) and stop to say hello and have conversations. Did I mention this is all voice acted, so you can actually overhear the conversations between two NPCs on the street? If you can imagine the level of effort that went into a game where all the conversations are voice acted, it is completely open ended in terms of what you want to do. There are over 16 square miles of scenery to explore, and more than 1500 different NPCs. Overall it is supposed to take 25 hrs to just play the main story line and 200 hours to do all the quest. Wow.

Anyway, if I don't appear to play as much of that other game (poker) as normal for the next little while, you can be assured I will be on the computer playing the this game.

1 comment:

Bloody P said...

I'll admit it now. I didn't read this post. Low poker content = me no read.

I'm responding to your comments about being in Chaska.

Next time you get to Minnesota, shoot me an email, and we'll play at the Canterbury Card Room or something.

Or at least get a beer or something.