Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (XBOX) - Review  

So many options....So many dilemmas
by Arcturus

15-200 hours


Rating definitions 

   Morrowind is the latest offering from Bethesda Softworks from their highly popular Elder Scrolls series, following Arena and Daggerfall. The game is set again in the Tamrielic Empire, this time taking you to the Vvardenfell District of the province of Morrowind.

   The first task to accomplish in playing this game is to generate a character to play. This is by no means an easy task to accomplish, as the game throws out at you a myriad of options in creating a character. There are ten different races to choose from, each one with its own unique set of attributes and skill bonuses, and each also having either one or two special powers. Once that step is completed, the next task is to set five skills as major skills and another five as minor skills. Doing so gives more bonuses to the skills chosen, obviously resulting with a higher degree of bonus points given to the chosen major skills. Finally, you are asked to choose amongst ten different birthsigns, again each giving off their own special attributes. With so many choices, gameplayers can really customize their character whichever way they see fit to play.

   The complexity of the character creation system used by Morrowind sets the tone for the rest of the game, namely that there are many options open to the gameplayer in whatever endeavors the game throws out at them. Indeed, one is not limited to playing the main quest of the game. One can become a soldier of the Imperial Army, or study magic and learn powerful spells. Join one of Morrowind’s two different religious cults, or seek other gods on your own and take quests directly from them. Become a cutpurse and steal from the rich, or join the secretive guild of the assassins and take out hits on some of Morrowind’s most influential citizens. Chase down and target vampires, or become one yourself. And there is still more: Search the many ancient ruins that dot Morrowind for loot; seek out many a sunken ship; explore the world for powerful artifacts long forgotten; keep the roads safe by tracking down smugglers in their hideaways; get involved in politics by joining one of the three great houses, do well and you will be rewarded with your own stronghold; or maybe even become an abolitionist and free slaves from their cruel masters. Yet again, so many things one can do!

Explore. Explore.

   But it is not just the gameplay where one has many avenues open, there are other facets of the game where choices run rampant. For instance, while Morrowind already offers the user many different choices of weapons, armor, and spells, it also has created a system in which the user can customize and in essence create his own. For weapons and armor, this comes in the form of adding enchantments, while with spells one can create his or her own outright. There is also the option of becoming and alchemist and creating ones own potions, very useful for creating income.

   The setting of the game is truly impressive. The world is vast and unforbidding, yet complete. The game creators have paid painstaking attention to detail in creating a world that is very realistic and believable. The minutest details have certainly not been ignored. The world is also not generic, with each portion of the world having well-developed features in terrain that separate it from the rest. Be it the hilly plains of the Grazelands, the dead and volcanic expanse of the Molag Amur Region, or even the blighted deserts of the Ashlands.

A sword. A sword.

   The sound effects of the game are also very well done. Though not used very extensively, they are certainly used effectively to enliven the experience of the game. The creepy chants that emanate from the ancestral tombs still send shivers down my spine, while the shrill shriek from the scamps still pop-up in various nightmares I have. The one complaint to make here is that there are not enough unique sound effects used throughout the game. You either hear the same ones over again, or at times are dealt with nothing but complete silence. The creators of Morrowind seemed to have taken a quality over quantity stance regarding to sound effects.

   Combat in Morrowind is nothing extraordinary, and in fact could very well be the weak point of the game. Combat is done in real-time, with hit rate based upon some percentage figured out by calculating your skill set on method of combat used and the enemies defense statistics. The biggest gripe about combat comes from when one is using a weapon to attack an enemy. No matter how close you get to an enemy, when you swing the your weapon you can completely miss your intended target. This is very unrealistic when you get to within punching or kicking range of the enemy. You swing your weapon and it looks like you have certainly struck your enemy visually, but the game registers it as a total miss. This is very frustrating in the beginning of the game, where due to low levels in all skills one will certainly miss their targets many times. I was momentarily confused the first time I played Morrowind as to how to go about combat, due to the fact that no matter how close I got to an enemy, whenever I swung my weapon at it, I could not land a hit.

   On the other hand, with the gripes aside, the combat system in Morrowind is based on the skill level in the many different combat skills there are. Again, one can customize their character as they see fit with combat, be it focusing on destructive magic spells, or different weapon styles. Each one with their own benefits and weaknesses. For instance, while training in heavy weapons over light weapons means that one can deal more damage per hit, the extra weight from the heavy weapons means that one cannot get in as many swings as they could with a light weapon, while at the same time they are fatigued more by the heavy weapons.

   In summary, Morrowind is a wonderful game for those interested in the RPG genre. It has more flexibility than most RPG’s out there. The game can be completed in as little as 15-20 hours if one sticks to the main quest or as much as 150-200 hours if one wants to explore everything the game has to offer. The game can be bought for the XBOX or for the computer. The computer version comes with better graphics and features the wonderful construction set, where people can add modifications to the world of Morrowind, building their own unique domains and items. Alas, if that’s to much work for someone to do, then you can always download the modifications created by other users.

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