April 14, 2006

Diving into Oblivion

by psu

As it turned out, one weekend after opining about the viability of the "current generation" consoles, the Xbox 360 finally appeared in reasonable numbers. Suddenly they were everywhere. Coincidentally, I was getting tired of low resolution Madden 06. Yes, my defenses are that thin.

There isn't much to say about the console itself.

1. It's not really any smaller or better looking than an Xbox.

2. It is a LOT louder.

3. Wireless controllers are the best thing ever.

4. Why is there only 13GB free on my disk?

5. XBox live Gold: Meh.

6. Madden 2006: Madden in high resolution. No real complaints, but I'm not used to the new controls.

Basically, the 360 is like playing on a decent PC connected to a 50 inch screen, with a nice gamepad, on my couch. Who would want more?

I also obtained Oblivion, because the shooters currently available on the box that are not Halo don't really seem worth it. Why is Half-Life 2 not on this console?

I remember in my previous life when I tried to play Morrowind. I ran through the first hour, made a character, walked out the door of the character making place and was instantly bored to tears and quit the game forever.

Oblivion is a similar, but much denser experience. Here are my short impressions:

1. The beginning of the game and the tutorial level are very well done.

2. It's not hard to find things to do in the game. This makes it harder to notice that you've forgotten what you wanted to do.

3. I don't know what "radiant AI" is, but the NPCs in this game say the same shit over and over again just like the NPCs in all the other games. They even share their stock phrases with other people miles away. The difference is that if you put them together in a room, they say the same shit to each other until you talk to one of them to make them shut up. Not impressive.

4. The visuals are excellent, except for two issues. First, detail doesn't seem to gradually fall off with distance. Instead, the world is tremendously detailed up to a certain threshold, at which time the detail falls off a cliff and disappears. Second, the humanoid face models are awful. Everyone in this land was apparently deformed in some horrible childhood accident.

I have not really made it far enough into the game to say anything more than this. I don't really have the combat system figured out, so anything scarier than a mud crab still seems to kick my ass more often than not.

The open sandbox nature of the game works against it here. It's not really clear to me where I should go to obtain the things I need to obtain to not be killed by crabs on the beach. This is made more complicated by the fact that the leveling system is needlessly complicated. In order to give you the impression that you are doing something "deep", they cut up R into a dozen or so components that all increase at varying rates. This makes you really think about how you want to play the game before you've seen enough of the game to figure out how you want to play the game. It seems like it would be easier to level everything at once for a while and then let me pick later, or not at all.

Last night, in search of more power, and figuring that it should be the hub of everything, I went to the Imperial City. I walked around the walls for about an hour. It was majestic and pretty. I talked to the zombie people there who said the same things over and over again. No one gave me any idea what I should be doing or where I could go. It turns out what I really wanted to do was to go to some small town out in the middle of nowhere where the guild halls are and I can pick up some more power items.

I guess I'll go try that tonight.

Anyway, I went back and crawled around in a cave for a while, only to be repeatedly killed by a female magic user who had more spells than me. What I really wanted at this point was a nice sniper rifle. The game has a lot of darkness to hide in, but it's hard to actually sneak up close to people and hit them. A nice rifle would fix this problem.

From Pete's descriptions of Morrowind, it really does sound to me like Oblivion is more of the same, but better tuned and with higher resolution textures. The tuning and overall craftsmanship make a big difference. They certainly got me to play for more than an hour this time. We'll see if the game can keep me on the hook.

Really though, a sniper rifle would be nice.

Posted by psu at April 14, 2006 07:25 AM | Bookmark This

Two words: BOW ZOOM.

Posted by Eric Tilton at April 14, 2006 02:52 PM

4. Why is there only 13GB free on my disk?

Pre-installed videos and demos. Most can be deleted, there's about 6GB worth I think cos it's all hi-def. Take it or leave it, it's added value - or not, depending on how you look at it.

Posted by Andy P at April 14, 2006 05:11 PM

It's louder than the original??? I hate how loud the original is. I have it hidden away in a box in a drawer so I don't have to hear it. Bah! PS3 hurry up.

Posted by Doug at April 17, 2006 01:16 AM

If you put the 360, and its power supply, in a box, they will melt.

The fans on this thing don't seem to be THAT loud, but the DVD drive is pretty loud. And when it seeks suddenly it makes an intersting squeaking noise that I think is coming from the game, but it's actually just the drive.

Posted by psu at April 17, 2006 06:42 AM

Do you actually think the PS3 will be silent? My PS2 was always louder than my Xbox, though the 360 is louder than both. It's still pretty tolerable, as my living room is full of noise sources to begin with. It's kind of a white noise, too, so I don't really notice the 360 any more unless something goes wrong.
(I'm about 40 hours into Oblivion and still loving it; usually I get bored with a game after 10 hours but can't stop playing this one. gamertag: misere)

Posted by Adam Rixey at April 17, 2006 06:38 PM

No I don't expect the ps3 to be silent, but if your ps2 was louder than your xbox, something was wrong with your ps2 or right with your xbox. Anyway, I expect the games to be worth the extra noise on the ps3, and if they aren't I will rip it apart and make it quiet with nice big heat sinks and if need be, liquid cooling. I hate fans.

Posted by Doug at April 20, 2006 09:46 AM

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