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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion XBox 360 Review - -

Gameplay 9.6
Graphics 9.6
Sound 9.7
Value 9.9
Distributor: Take2 Interactive
Review Date:
May 2006
Shael Millheim


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The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion


Originally a T for Teen rating, some time in early May of 2006 the software ratings board had announced they re-rated The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion for the PC and Xbox 360 from T for teen to an M for Mature. The ESRB stated that Bethesda Softworks the games developers did not properly report that the game had some objectionable content when the game was submitted the game rating.  Bethesda and it's co publisher are working on placing the new "M" rating stickers on packaging now in retail warehouses, and will also reflect the new rating on newly manufactured product of the game.  Bethesda made this statement release:  

Bethesda Softworks made what it believes was a full, accurate, and comprehensive submission on Oblivion to the ESRB months before the game's release. Bethesda used the ESRB's application forms and believes it adhered closely to their requirements. Nothing was hidden from the ratings agency. No effort was made by Bethesda to lobby or influence the agency for any particular rating.

The ESRB has concluded that the game deserves a rating of Mature because: 1) partial nudity in the PC version of the game can be created by modders; and 2) the game contains excessive blood and gore that go beyond a Teen rating. The facts are as follows:

There is no nudity in Oblivion without a third party modification. In the PC version of the game only - this doesn't apply to the Xbox 360 version - some modders have used a third party tool to hack into and modify an art archive file to make it possible to create a mesh for a partially nude (topless) female that they add into the game. Bethesda didn't create a game with nudity and does not intend that nudity appear in Oblivion. There is no nude female character in a section of the game that can be "unlocked." Bethesda can not control tampering with Oblivion by third parties. Bethesda is taking steps to ensure that modders can not continue to hack into Oblivion's art archives to create partially nude figures.

With regard to violence, Bethesda advised the ESRB during the ratings process that violence and blood effects were "frequent" in the game - checking the box on the form that is the maximum warning. We further advised that the game contained occasional torture, vulgar acts, and gore. We gave accurate answers and descriptions about the type and frequency of violence that appears in the game. We submitted a 60-page document listing the explicit language, acts, and scenes in the game. Oblivion packaging already contains warnings for "Violence" and "Blood and Gore."

We value the role of the ESRB and believe the rating agency plays a valuable role in regulating our industry. As always, we will continue work in good faith to comply fully with the ESRB's standards and policies.

We remain enormously proud of Oblivion and the standard of excellence in game development it represents. Oblivion is one of the highest rated games of all time and one of the most popular games available on the Xbox 360 and the PC. We greatly appreciate the understanding and support of our fans.

Since this was a interesting tid bit, I thought I would share the press release, now on with the review.


Oblivion is a massive game where you can play any way you want, and take however long you want. You can just stick to the main quest, or you can venture off into the wilderness and hunt for rare treasures and fight off an array of creatures hiding in caves, at forts and many other places. Oblivion is a work of art in more ways than one, and is certainly an addictive game.


You start off in a dungeon cell, and before you know it, the Emperor dies and you find yourself searching for the believed heir. Slowly but surely the safety barrier between Tamriel and the Daedric lands lower, and Oblivion gates start opening. During game play, you can join guilds if you wish, or just wander freely on your own. You can join with the Fighters Guild, Thieves Guild, Mages Guild, or the Dark Brotherhood, and the option of working your way up the chain in a guild is always present.



All in all, the world in which you play in is huge. If you wonder, “Hmmm, I wonder if I can go climb that mountain way over there,” you can! There are mountains, caves and caverns, bodies of water to explore, and lots of buildings in each of the different cities. You can go to the Imperial City (where you start in), Anvil, Bruma, Chorrol, Leyawiin, Skingrad, Cheydinhal, Bravil, and the ruined Kvatch, where an Oblivion gate has been opened.


Like first-person view? You’ve got it. Prefer third-person? You’ve got it. There are so many things you can choose in this game it’s incredible. You choose your race, gender, age, skills, birthsign, abilities, and even exactly how your character looks. You can change the face shape, bone structure, hair, skin tone, and makeup. Birthsigns include Mage, Thief, Warrior, Shadow, Lover, Ritual, Serpent, Lady, Lord, and several others. In-game, you can choose to obey the law, or break it. The ability to break into people’s homes can be more than tempting for many. Just make sure to have plenty of lockpicks and don’t get caught by the guards!



The controls take a little bit to get used to. Once you have gotten them down, doing things in a jiffy become so much easier when you figure out shortcuts, like hotkeying your spells, and being able to switch from a bow to a sword or another melee weapon. Getting really good at the controls comes in handy when battling all sorts of nasty things.


Graphics play an important role in sucking the player into the game world. Oblivion has no trouble with sucking you into its beautiful and sometimes frightening world. The graphics are amazing, and great detail goes into every aspect of the game. After escaping the dungeon in the beginning of the game, the most likely remark when seeing the outside world for the first time is, “Wow…”


Music also plays a big part in the game. Listen to the music and you will be able to tell when danger is near. When the music changes again, danger may be gone. Listen to the differences throughout the game, and you will learn what the changes mean. The sounds and music of Oblivion are very well done, and definitely add to the overall game experience.


Since the game world is so large, the option to fast travel comes in handy. If you do not feel like spending time running around on foot, you can get a horse and go a bit quicker along your way, or fast travel. However, you can only fast travel to place that you have already visited and have marked on your map. If you feel like getting a horse, you can either buy one or steal one. Be careful with stealing one though. Theft is a serious crime and will get you thrown into jail if you are caught. Notice I said IF you are caught. If you have got your horse but it keeps getting attacked by random creatures, like wolves in the wilderness or flying imps, you could log onto Xbox Live and download the horse armor pack. Then, your horse will be quite a bit more prepared for annoying creatures and Daedric beings.



On top of the downloadable horse armor, you can also download more quests if you would like. You do not necessarily have to take on the quests right away, but they are nice to have available when you want to try something different.


One thing that will excite the vampire fans out there is the fact that in this game, surprise, there are vampires. Another thing that will excite them is that, yes, your character can turn into a vampire. It can be a complete blessing, or a horrible curse, depending on how you play it out. You can become an extremely powerful being if you play your cards right. Getting to hunt around in the night can be fun, but you have to find sleeping victims to feed on. If you play a vampire, also be very careful with fast travel, if you like to use it. Keep an eye on the in-game time, because although it may be nighttime where you are at now, it might be daytime by the time you get to your destination. Also make sure you feed often enough. The longer you go without blood, the more your appearance changes, and can seriously hinder your interaction with people. With the bonuses of being a vampire come the big prices, unfortunately.


Overall, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is an amazing game that deserves to be played by many. If you have not gotten the chance to play it, or if you are wondering if it’s worth the money, this game is worth every cent you pay. Just get ready for hours upon hours of game play and possibly some sleep deprivation.


Shael Millheim

Kick back relax, let's play.


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