In light of the whole 360 shortage fiasco, my Thanksgiving weekend was spent playing regular old X-Box, instead of the nice new copies of Perfect Dark Zero and Call of Duty 2 which are in my possession.
Then, to add salt to the wound, when Comcast shows up on Saturday to finally hook up my cable and internet, the guy tells me that the construction workers that remodeled the apartment apparently cut the cable connection, plastered over it and put new molding there, so he did not have access to the cables he needed. So, no cable, no internet and no 360 for my much anticipated 4-day weekend. Joy!
I’ve taken a slight break from Ninja Gaiden Black. Since I’m playing through the game on hard now, if I didn’t take this break I foresaw broken controllers in my future. I tried playing Jade Empire, but for some reason, I wasn’t feeling it. Since I hadn’t played the game in almost a week I was finding it really hard to get back into it. Surprisingly, this same thing happened to me with Bioware’s previous game, KotoR. I stopped playing it for a while and really didn’t get the urge to pick it up again for months. This is strange because with Jade Empire (much like KotoR), when I’m into it you can’t pry the controller from my hands.
So, that pretty much left me with no games to play. I glanced through my game collection for something I hadn’t played in a while and one game caught my eye. Elder Scrolls: Morrowind Game of the Year Edition (long ass title!!). I bought this game over a year ago when it went down in price to $19.99 (I think it’s $9.99 now) and never really played it for more than a day. I had read all about it and I was always intrigued, so I had decided to buy it. I was never able to get into it since the game starts off pretty slow and it can be very overwhelming to a newcomer.
Since I had no 360 and one of the 360 titles I am most looking forward to is Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, I decided to give this game another shot.
Man, this game is fantastic. Sure, it takes about 20 freakin’ minutes to load up, but its level of freedom and depth is unmatched by any other game I have ever played.
The main thing you need when starting out is patience. Lots of patience. When it begins you are one weak, pathetic bastard. I was getting my ass kicked by rats, crabs, and pretty much any enemy I would come across. And since combat appears to be in real-time but the outcome is completely based on your stats and your enemy’s stats, it can get frustrating when your swing you sword at an opponent, or level arrows right at their chest, but you don’t hit them because your combat skills are too low. But one of the best aspects of the game is building your character from a pathetic fool to a total bad-ass. Although, keep in mind, that will take a VERY long time.
But what makes this game so great? The graphics are dated, the frame-rate takes a hit most of the time, the game tends to freeze every now and then for a few seconds and if you need to load a previous save, get ready for that 20 minute load screen again (for the record, it’s not really 20 minutes, it is more like three, but that’s still a long ass time!). But, this game is so ambitious and open ended, it overcomes all that.
Do you know how Fable was touted as being this amazingly open-ended RPG where you could do pretty much anything and go anywhere you wanted? Well, turns out it wasn’t. The funny thing is Morrowind was already all that and more.
When you’re starting a new game, you can customize your character to a surprising degree. You choose a race, birth sign, and character class. If you’re not sure which class to choose you can answer a few questions and have the game choose the best one for you based on your answers. Or you can create your own class, choosing the properties you want from all the different ones. Once the game starts you can then basically, well, do anything you want. The game will give you a letter and package to deliver to someone in a far off town and that is the only thing pushing the main narrative forward. You may decide to quickly deliver the package or just explore and find your own quests. Like I said, it can be overwhelming for newcomers because the game does not hold your hand and force down a certain path. All you have to go by is your journal, which you use to keep track of important events, conversations and quests as they come up, but it is up to you decide what you want to do and when.
One of the most impressive aspects of the game is that practically every item you see in the game world can be interacted with. The pen or paper on the desk, the cup, spoon or plate on the table, the bottles or jugs on the shelves, everything can be picked up, taken, stolen, and everything has a weight and value. Of course if you get caught stealing you will need to pay a fine or go to jail. But that’s only if you’re caught. A moral player can play the game never stealing a thing. Or, like me, you can join the Thieves Guild and steal until you can’t carry anything else. Speaking of Guilds, there are many to join and they are a great way to advance your character and get quests.
The game world of Morrowind consists of one giant continent that you can traverse however you want. You have to physically walk everywhere and it could take you an hour to walk from one side to the other. Luckily, the game offers some quick transportation from the main cities and towns in the form of Stilt Riders - big, ugly, insect looking creatures that transport you from location to location - or if you’re a member of the mage’s guild you can use their teleportation portals.
You can buy or find countless weapons and armor, some magical, some valuable and expensive, yet all of which show the wear of time after a while. So that nice sharp long sword won’t be so nice and sharp after slaying 100 foes and that new armor will have a few chinks in it after absorbing all that melee combat damage (the wear and tear isn’t visual though, but a meter next to each item lets you know its condition). These items can be repaired at a blacksmith for a price, or, if your character is proficient in it, you can repair them yourself if you have the proper tools to save some cash. The game gives you countless options. Savvy magic users can create their own spells, aspiring chemist can create their own potions using the game’s huge array of various plant life, animal remains, ingredients, etc. Experimenting with alchemy can yield surprising results.
Scattered throughout the world you’ll also come across hundreds of books, which you can actually read page by page. Granted, most are only a few pages long, but this just goes to show you just how insanely deep this game is. Some books even raise your character’s skills depending on the subject of the book.
Your character has a health bar, magic bar and a fatigue bar. The fatigue bar goes down whenever your character exerts himself, such as during combat or when sprinting, jumping or swimming. How much weight your character is carrying also comes into to play, since carrying close to your limit not only drains your fatigue bar faster, it also makes you move slower.
The game world changes from day to night and there is random weather, such as rain, thunder and fog. Depending on your race and affiliation, NPC characters will treat you different. NPC’s that like you will give you more information and offer you better rates when purchasing items or training. There are also Vampires and Werewolves in the game and if you get infected by those you become one two. You can try to have the curse lifted, but if you don’t within a certain amount of time, you are doomed to stay a vampire or werewolf forever, forced to feed on the blood of others. I haven’t had this happen to me yet since I’ve only been playing for a few days. And there are still many, many other things in the game I have not mentioned or even seen yet.
Of course, it is not perfect. Aside from the long load times and game freezes, there are a few questionable design choices. For a game that is so realistic and detailed, I find it funny that you can walk into anyone’s home and just wander around freely, going upstairs unsupervised and the owner of the house will not care or follow you. I also find it annoying that if you are caught stealing, when the guards confiscate your stolen goods they take ALL your stolen goods. Even stuff you might have stolen weeks ago in some town miles away. They should have no way of knowing what items are stolen, except for the ones you were caught taking at the moment.
Anyway, I’ve probably only put in 15 hours in a game that has well over 100+ of gameplay. Seeing just how amazing this game is, I really can’t wait for Oblivion. Like, I REALLY can’t wait. Since it looks like I won’t be playing a 360 anytime soon, I’m glad I discovered this game to keep me entertained. I only wish I would have realized just how cool this game is sooner.
There is No End
2 years ago