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Old 07-16-2002, 04:58 PM   #1
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Review: Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Review from IGN.COM

Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Review
A vast world offering astounding freedom, this could be the best Xbox game since Halo itself.

June 17, 2002 - You can always enjoy a sitcom. You flip it on, there are a few jokes, a few laughs, and half an hour later you turn it off, already starting to forget what you just saw.

It takes more effort to get into a serious, high-quality dramatic series. It takes a few episodes just to get into the rhythm of the show, to pick up on the nuances and the characters. Then you have to buckle down and commit to watching every episode, season after season, to let the story arcs grow and characters change and progress. But in the end the reward is far more than what twenty minutes of laugh track can ever provide.

Guess where I'm going with this? Yeah, Morrowind is like that second kind of thing. The more you put into this game, the more you'll get out of it.

Of course if you want to be specific, Morrowind is a real-time, first-person, character-based roleplaying game set in a fantasy world. But that dry technical description -- as dry as the dust that blows through the haunted tombs of the Dunmer -- doesn't even begin to do this sprawling behemoth justice.

This is a tour-de-force, arguably the best Xbox game since Halo itself, and certainly one of the more interesting and important ones. More than four hundred quests. Thousands of NPCs. Hundreds of thousands of objects, magic items, weapons, and treasures -- all of which you can take, drop, leave wherever you want to. This game is vast. Perhaps the biggest videogame ever.

What a difference a hard drive makes.

That said, Morrowind does a superb job of bringing the player into its own sheer vastness gently and gradually. As it begins, you wake up in the hold of a prison ship, with no idea who you are or how you got there. You don't even know how to move your character around yet, either, but the basic controls are introduced one step at a time, even as your character is being created. You immediately start talking with NPCs who ask a short series of questions to get your name, your race, your gender, and your star sign. In essence, they help you create your customized character -- no pre-scripted, force-fed storyline here. During this process, you'll also figure out the controls for moving, looking, and using things, and gradually get a feel for the complex social reality of the game world.

This character creation process is about as flexible and customizable as you'd like, too. You can choose from twenty-one traditional classes, or you can answer a questionnaire that will choose a class for you. But the best way to go is to create your own character class. Using this method, you can select all the skills you really need. You might even go so far as to start several characters and through trial and error figure out which kind of character suits your style of play. This is probably a good idea, it will enhance your enjoyment of the game.

Having a well-rounded, capable character is important, since for the most part on your adventures, you're going to be strictly on your own. This is not a party-based RPG. True, there was one time this barbarian guy decided to follow me around, but shortly thereafter I went into a cave, dove to the bottom of a deep pool (there was a chest down there, you see), only to discover upon surfacing that the fool had dove in after me and drowned. It was an odd experience, but it's these kind of tasty little anecdotes that flesh out your own personal storyline -- and are the kind of thing that generally can't happen with the pre-scripted storylines of the traditional console RPG. Pity.


Closing Comments

Finally, I'll admit Morrowind isn't for everyone. It's a huge, sprawling, megapolis of a game that can take a couple hours just to get into and a hundred hours to complete. In an industry where most games present clear, linear paths guiding you from one pre-defined problem (a jumping puzzle, a monster, or some other dexterity test) to the next, some gamers will find Morrowind's open-endedness unfamiliar, bewildering, even perplexing. They'll sit there, waiting for someone to come along and tell them what to do. But others will find it liberating. Freedom is intoxicating. If the purpose of games is to provide absolute escapism, to immerse us deeply in another world that never was, and then to give us the ability to go through it and do what we want to do, then Morrowind accomplishes that brilliantly.
-- Jason Bates

Presentation - 9.0
The controls are simple and elegant, and you're brought into the game gradually, so a new player shouldn't be overwhelmed. Plus you get a map in the box.

Graphics - 9.0
Character models look rough because they're generic rather than unique to each NPC, but the environments, especially weather and water, are amazing.

Sound - 8.0
There are decent ambient effects, but the music gets repetitive after a while and should be turned off. Just throw the soundtrack to Conan or LOTR on instead.

Gameplay - 9.0
Truly a great RPG system, from character building to spell creation. There's almost too much for your character to do in Morrowind.

Lasting Appeal - 10.0
There's enough game here to keep you busy for months. If you like the game, you absolutely will get your money's worth, a dozen times over.

OVERALL SCORE (not an average) 9.4
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Old 07-16-2002, 09:03 PM   #2
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I've heard it's a great game...
Maybe when I get done with it's gameplay superior ;) (Neverwinter Nights)
I'll give'r a go.

PS. yes NWN is just THAT damn good.
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Old 07-17-2002, 12:54 PM   #3
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You can't really compare NWN to Morrowind, as they are games that focus on delivering a different kind of experience.

Also, I have to disagree with the comparison IGN draw of Morrowind to TV shows (sitcom or serial drama). Morrowind is so bloody HUGE that I can see myself playing it 6 months down the line jsut for the fun of exploring some dungeons or following some random quest, or exploring the map. Like a sitcom, I can play Morrowind for a few hours of fin, complete a few sidequests, then forget all about it while I play some other recently released game. Maybe a few months later I can come back to Morrowind and find the familiar land and its familiar people and go exploring a little more.

In that respect, Morrowind IS like a sitcom.

NWN, in comparison is like a serial drama, as the plot grips you and you are compelled to continue until you finish it.

However, Morrowind can be like that too, if you focus on the main quests. Therein lies the brilliance of Morrowind: It can be a sitcom, or a serial drama. It can be whatever you want and you can play it however you want.

Currently I am also neglecting Morrowind to play NWN, when I finish maybe Ill do the main quests in Morrowind and finish, but even so Ill still do some exploring every now and then on Morrowind, a little questing, kill time in a land I grow more familiar with every day.

The bottom line is: NWN will disappear from my HD within a month, leaving memories of a great plot and fun had, while Morrowind... I'll probably be playing it on and off for the rest of the year.

Its THAT big and open-ended.
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Old 07-18-2002, 11:50 AM   #4
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I'm gonna DIS-A-GREE with you Seska. NWN is most likely going to stay on my PC for a very long time. Where as I've spent 2 months whoring myself totally to Morrowind, I put it aside so I could play the other big game I've been waiting for years for, being NWN.
Apart form spending forever playing through quest and such for Morrowind, NWN will be on my PC permanently just for the fact that I can get together with friends and play a good round of paper D&D but on the PC. One guy makes the story and the gameworld, the rest of us connect and frolic within his PC as he judges what happens every second. IF anything, NWN has a longer life span then Morrowind. But you can't compare single player to multiplayer.

And as for IGNs review and giving Sound an 8...bah. Morrowind has excellent sound. some lovely music and some gorgeous effects. First time I experienced my first thunder storm I practically jumped each time the thunder clapped. It's unreal. 9 at least.
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Old 07-18-2002, 12:10 PM   #5
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Yes, you can't really compare MP to SP, in my post I was referring entirely to Singleplayer. Otherwise I wight want to argue that Counterstrike will be PERMANENTLY on my PC since its such a great MP game, but that has no relevance to the thread, as Morrowind itself has no MP mode at all.
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Old 07-18-2002, 02:58 PM   #6
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Well I disagree with both of you, except I didn't buy either of the games having given up my time to Warcraft III and Eternal Darkness....

I took a class in it.
('.' >)
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