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And the importance of the words ‘real-time’ shouldn’t be underestimated. Finally, how you swing your sword and block with your shield makes a difference. Bows and arrows are actually useful, and your sorcerous blast of fire could miss because your aim and timing are out, not just because the stats say so. Levelling up and allocating skills points is still vitally important, but there’s a greater sense that skill, courage and strategy count. You can sense that, while Bethesda haven’t turned away from the path of the true RPG, they haven’t been afraid to learn from other genres, including console action RPGs and PC action games.
Needless to say, this is a hugely addictive epic, and one you’ll spend days locked up playing when you could be out enjoying the spring sunshine. Apart from the minor quibbles mentioned earlier, it would be flawless: even the dialogue and voice-work is top notch. Sadly, however, I do have to dock a point for the worst possible reason: bugs. During the hours I’ve been playing, I have had the game freeze and crash on several occasions, and that seems unreasonable for a console game – even one as ambitious as this. Save often is my advice.
That word of warning over, I can only recommend that you pick up a copy of Oblivion as soon as humanly possible, even if you have to buy a new graphics card or an Xbox 360 to play it. It’s the sort of landmark game that makes such purchases worthwhile.
Easily one of the finest, most engaging RPGs of any era, and a stunning advert for the world-crafting capabilities of a new generation of games machine. If you have the time to spend, Oblivion has all the adventure you need to fill it.