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The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind - Review

Open-Ended Adventure at Its Finest.

By Joseph Witham


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 7
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 6
   Plot 5
   Replay Value 10
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

50-200 hours

 
Overall
8
Criteria

Morrowind
 

   Under development for years, Bethesda Softworks' long-awaited sequel in the popular Elder Scrolls series has finally arrived. Taking the industry into places never before thought possible, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind proves that innovation is still alive and fresh in the minds of developers today. Morrowind is, simply stated, role-playing evolved. And now that the game is being enjoyed by PC and console RPGamers alike, that fact is undeniable, Morrowind is a revolutionary title.

   Following in the tradition of the previous installments in the series, Arena and Daggerfall, Morrowind takes players on an unforgettable non-linear adventure, where the world is what they make it. Without a doubt, the greatest aspect of the game is the freedom it offers, the virtually limitless options available to role-players. Presenting the player with a highly dynamic character creation system, modeling your persona is only the beginning of your free-willed adventure. You are able to choose from a list of several classes, all with their own, unique niches, from the stealthy Khajiit to the magically endowed High Elf. Once you choose your race, you are free to choose from a class from of a list of over 20 professions, or create your very own rules and specialties for a home-made character class. After choosing your profession, you are, quite literally, free to do whatever your heart desires. Miles and miles of virtual world await you in a huge, expansive world. You may explore the giant island of Morrowind as a dashing Knight, saving one of the thousands of damsels-in-distress or bare-naked barbarians as you go. On the other hand, you may have a darker side, and it may be to your advantage to steal from the rich. Don't like someone? Well, if your heart is black enough, they will meet their demise by your blade. Just don't get caught, because there is a strict system of laws, and you'll rack up unimaginable fees and penalties if you're not careful with your criminal activity. People will respond to you; if you go about, ensuring their safety and gaining reputation, shop-owners will sell you their items for less, and important political figures will lend you favors. But don't walk around in your underwear, because everyone notices, and even you, as the player, will feel embarrassed for your character. This is only a glimpse at the sheer level of interactivity available to you.


One of the many beautifully-crafted cities cities you'll visit.
One of the many beautifully-crafted cities you'll visit.  

   Morrowind's battle system is fully real-time, every action you make is because your finger pressed one or another button. This approach is a nice departure from the point-and-click system used in PC RPGs and the overly used turn-based system of console RPGs. Everything is on the spur of the moment: if an enemy jumps out at you, you better be quick in unsheathing your weapon. If you're hit with a paralization spell, you better pray you remembered to bring the correct healing potion. Offering a huge arsenal from traditional weapons like swords and axes to innovative throwing darts and javelins, you're free to master whatever type of melee or long-range weapon you like. Spells are innumerable in Morrowind, as the player has the liberty to create unique magic through a spell-making system. The battle system, while almost flawless, comes with a few drawbacks, such as the low hit-rate, causing weapon strikes and spells to hit with very low accuracy, at times. This can all be corrected, however, if you continue to develop your skills in certain areas.

   The game's story is interesting, with a whole world of unique history and a mysterious plot line, the game is sure to hold the interest of player's finding their way through the main game (yes, there is a main storyline, despite the fact that the game is made up primarily by side-quests). Players can search one of the hundreds of bookshelves for in-depth, lengthy books describing Morrowind's entire history and culture. On the other hand, the one thing the story lacks is excitement. In many story-driven RPGs, we get to participate in many miraculous chains of events, like epic battles, government conquests, and deep romance stories. In Morrowind, the story unfolds in a much more discreet manner, with more of a dungeon-crawl feel for a lot of the quests. However, the game's deep theme of culture and racial interaction is a great reflection on our own world; you will likely learn a thing or two from Morrowind's story.


Lush, diverse environments
Lush, diverse environments.  

   Morrowind excels graphically. The game uses top-of-the line technology to bring out some of the most amazing in-game effects. Entire cities are built up beautifully, and show that video game architecture is a thing in and of itself. However, to tap into the graphics' full potential, you'll need a well-equipped PC. Just running the game smoothly can be an obstacle for older systems. The Xbox version of the game looks great, but, because of the system's inferiority to top-of-the-line PCs, the console player will never see the game's full graphical potential.

   Acclaimed video game composer, Jeremy Soule, produced Morrowind's awesome soundtrack. Known first for his work in Square's Secret of Evermore and later in RPGs like Icewind Dale and Dungeon Siege, Soule has a great track record behind him. The main theme expresses the feeling of Morrowind perfectly, but is, unfortunately, overused. Throughout the entire game you will hear renditions of the same piece many times, but it is made up for in quality. Whether you're in a dark cavern or a brightly lit fortress, the music always fits the mood.


You'll meet a variety of strange creatures on your journey.
You'll meet a variety of strange creatures on your journey.  

   Morrowind excells as a non-linear game, offering players more freedom than most other RPGs on the market today. The game is incredible in many ways, lacking a little in the departments that American RPGs often have trouble perfecting. In the end, if you're someone who loves deciding what to do, when you want to, how you want to, then this game is for you. However, if you prefer more heavily story-driven RPGs, than Morrowind probably won't appeal to you.





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