Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Elder Scrolls - Arena

Welcome to the Empire of Tamriel.
Review By Kenny51092

The Elder Scrolls Arena is very distinctive from other games released during its time, and even from the other games apart of The Elder Scrolls series. Bethesda's second release of the series, Daggerfall is the only decent comparison.

GAMEPLAY: Arena has defiantly supplied the most interesting gameplay I've experienced in a game. Other qualities of this game that might not compare to modern games certainly don't take away from this aspect of Arena. Main and random quests are available, or you may choose not to do them. Random quests can range from artifact quests to capturing someone for a king or queen.

The controls are quite unique -- melee weapons (as well as your fists) are used by right-clicking on the mouse while moving your mouse towards the direction you want your weapon to swing towards. The movement of your mouse effects the angle the weapon is used at in a visual display. There are six directions a melee weapon can be swung towards. Missile weapons are used simply by right-clicking; you may press and hold it to continue firing arrows. Magic of all forms is used through the magic button on the screen. Once clicked the game pauses for you to choose a spell. A spell that is used for combat will prompt you to choose a target once clicked.

The difficulty of Arena becomes more apparent once you leave the first dungeon. It can become very frustrating. Even cities, and villages populated with helpful villagers by day become a party of enemies and creatures by night. You are provided with taverns if you can locate them, or you may camp outside of a village, or city. The former you need to pay for, and the latter it is likely that you will be awakened by an assortment of creatures/people. This makes leveling very difficult, and at some points seemingly impossible. You can use a "camp and save" method, where you camp until you encounter an enemy, kill them, then save. When you die, load the last save, then continue on.

Another annoyance is the local or city map which isn't very helpful. Shops, taverns, temples, guilds, and palaces aren't labeled on the map. The most effective means of finding a specific building is asking local NPCs who will give you the cardinal, and intermediate directions. You can however, type in the name of a building manually, or make a note on the map. Right-clicking on a building door will tell you the name of it. Right-clicking on the map button will bring up the world map menu where you see a visual display of the provinces in the Empire of Tamriel. You can fast travel to major cities, and villages in theses provinces. The enormous size of this game always gives somewhere to explore.

STORY: The story of Arena is interesting to say the least, though it isn't that unlike other role-playing games in that respect. The beginning of the story is told when you start a new game. The main plot is however, retrieving eight pieces of the Staff of Chaos that was used to expel the emperor of Tamriel by Jagar Tharn.

GRAPHICS: The graphics are very good in relation to the gameplay, story, and sound, but for obvious reasons they aren't perfect. Some aspects of Arena's graphics, like the animations, were implemented in a way that, for me, are better than that in Daggerfall and Morrowind. The game's graphical capabilities didn't hold them back from making it "gorey". When you strike an enemy their blood will shroud in a fine array, and when they die their corpse is displayed covered in gore. If you're playing this game for the first time you will notice a stronger medieval theme than found in the other Elder Scrolls games. The weapons graphics are a bit monotonous; all equipped blade weapons look the same in gameplay, as do bows, flails, axes, and so on. However, they're distinctive when you're on the character menu, or equipment menu. As the days and nights progress, the sky displays a variation of conditions, from stars, to clouds, to red skies, to blue, to black. The graphics governing weather and time of day are impressing given the release of the game, and it's another aspect of the graphics that add to the gameplay.

SOUND: You can hear the auditory essence of the medieval ages. Unsurprisingly, different conditions effect which music is playing. Taverns have a classical medieval melody, and the mages guild has very mystifying music. The time of day effect what music is playing, and as far as I know the condition of the weather does too. When you use a melee/missile weapon, it makes a whoosh noise. When you hit a target it makes a sound indicative of someone being hit, and when the hit doesn't cause damage, it makes a blocking sound like steel hitting steel. Basic sound system, but it doesn't leave you guessing like in Morrowind, where it sounds like a dull knife cutting broccoli no matter the condition of the hit. Once in a while the weapon sound cuts out, and is mute. This seems to occur when an enemy is making a sound, like wolves, rats, or goblins, or when in certain buildings.

OVERALL: The Elder Scrolls: Arena is by far my favorite of the series. It's offers hours upon hours of fun. I'd suggest this to all Elder Scroll fans, even though the gameplay and graphics are a lot different than the others in the series. Bethesda is providing The Elder Scrolls: Arena for free. I suggest you install it, and enter the Empire of Tamriel.




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