Monday, February 18, 2013

The Elder Scrolls IV - Shivering Isles

The Core of Oblivion with a rich Morrowind-ish Crust.
Review By Cake_weed_nippl

I remember, about 5 years ago when I first stepped off the boat to Vvardenfell in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the overwhelming sense of what-the-hell-should-I-do that overtook me. Walking into an Elder Scrolls game world for the first time seems to have that affect on lots of people. Morrowind's initial awe is what wowed me in the beginning but it was the fantastic world and thick atmosphere of the game that kept me playing for many, many months. The same wow factor was present at the start of Oblivion when I began playing it, however, Oblivion's charm faded faster than blue jeans in bleach. Once I realized how standard and generic Oblivion's landscape, plot, and overall feel really were, I couldn't help but yearn for the creative and diverse lands on the continent of Morrowind. With Shivering Isles, though I found all the graphical splendor and most of the charm of Morrowind returning in grand fashion.

GAMEPLAY: The crux of the gameplay remains unchanged from Oblivion. You still find quests, complete them and receive rewards. The quests of Sheogorath's realm tend to be quite a bit more intriguing than those from Cyrodill. Less hand-holding and more difficult dungeons provide a refreshing gameplay enhancement.

SOUND: The dialogue throughout the expansion is one of the selling points of the game. Witty, yet demented. Crazed, yet sure. The spoken lines were very entertaining yet still to the point. Listening to the Mad God rave about all sorts of nonsense makes any stop in his marvelous city worth your time. The music remains unchanged, but on the PC adding a few custom tunes is fairly simple. (personally, I enjoy some of the epic tracks of Shadow of the Colossus to be playing while I venture through the lands).

GRAPHICS: This is where the Shivering Isles shines. The graphics of Oblivion were amazing to begin with, but the art style of the Isles really shows what the engine is capable of. The vibrant colors and blissful scenery of the lands of Mania really draw out the atmospheric nirvana that you feel while trekking through it. The dreary skies and lifeless feel of Dementia will push you to the brink on any adventure through those bleak lands. The landscape on both sides of the realm is a real treat. Jutting rock-faces, gnarled roots, epic waterfalls, and ripe, overgrown mushrooms splash variety into the scenery throughout all of the Isles. The otherworldly feel is definitely reminiscent of the days of Morrowind. Oblivion's standard hills, forests, mountains, and swamps leave a stale taste after a while, but this new realm is simply stunning. Bethesda's immaculate attention to detail has never been anything short of spectacular.

OVERALL: The environment in the Isles is like no other. You will know and feel the difference between the opposite sides of the realm instantly. The characters are entertaining and the creatures have fresh, distinct designs. Even the in-game books are well worth your time, as they are in all Elder Scrolls games. The expansion to last year's masterpiece adds so much fun and exciting content to the game world that you will be absorbed all over again for countless hours. My only qualm is the frightening thought that this may be the last taste of Elder Scrolls we get for quite a few years.

SYSTEM: PC, XBOX 360, PlayStation 3



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