ES4: Oblivion - CRPG of the Year @ GameSpy
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January 4th, 2007, 15:45
Given the competitors I think Oblivion was probably the best candidate for GOTY.
That said, the game is mostly impressive from a technical standpoint. They managed to put together some pretty amazing features into a mostly seamless whole. When you consider what goes on, on screen, and under the hood, you can't help but be awestruck if you're running it on a decent rig.
Unfortunately they made a handful of utterly horrible design mistakes, which is particularly tragic when you think how easily they could have been avoided. Firstly, the idea of levelling encounters to match the player is simply incredible in its basic lack of comprehension of what makes a CRPG fun. Secondly, but perhaps more subjective, I've always found the character system in ES games extremely hollow. I like the idea of skillbased RPGs as much as the next guy, but the implementation in all ES games has always been unbelievably stolid and boring. No one enjoys seeing their skill go from 34 to 35, and it makes no tangible difference. I know they tried to introduce "feats" at certain intervals, but it was far from enough to compensate for the general shortcomings of the system.
Secondly, the idea that you had to anally micromanage your skilluse to avoid gimping your character (attributes) is inept to a high degree.
Those are probably the worst ideas and ultimately ruined the unmodded experience for me, and many others.
There were also some unfortunate side effects of matching the game for Xbox 360 specs, and here I'm particularly unfond of the unnecessarily small cells (causing constant loading interruptions, the horribly ugly distance textures, and last but not least the subpar interface.
I know most of these concerns are fixable with mods, but apart from that being a somewhat weak solution from Beth's perspective, it also has had the sad consequence of becoming a mini-game in itself. You know, browsing the web for new mods, always new mods, and the constant pains of trying to make them all work together. I think I've spent more time fiddling with mods than playing the damn game, and it's just not what it could have been.