Sunday, August 8, 2004
I usually review newer games, but after picking up a copy of "Morrowind: Game of the Year Edition," I had to review it. I love this game. It's in-depth, creative and innovative, and most of all, it's totally freeform. You can go anywhere at any time. You are given specific missions, but the world is open to you. There are three "continents." Each one contains a core quest, which the player is pushed towards constantly, and hundreds of varied quests, which have to be discovered and explored. The missions range from delivering a letter to killing a god. Likewise, the difficulty fluctuates greatly. Replay value is almost obsolete. You will be totally content without replaying anything.
Your character is fully customizable, with many races, faces or species to choose. There's even a system that allows you to make a totally new class. Micromanagement freaks will be in heaven, but you can simply choose a pre-made class. The world is completely open for conquering. In the beginning, you're a peasant with an iron dagger and a couple of coins to your name. In the end… well, let's just say it's significantly better.
The expansive storyline takes a long time to understand. One of the features is a journal that records everything significant. Toward the end, it's about 750 pages long. You actually fill a book with enough actions to make a novel. Exhaustive is an understatement.
But is it good? If you can understand it, which you probably won't until the end, then yes. I won't divulge too much, but it has to do with your being the sole bearer of a legendary prophecy. Unfortunately, the church isn't a big fan of prophecies—which makes you Public Enemy No. 1. Fun.
The music is cinematic and fitting for a game like Morrowind. The sound can be erratic, but the voices are surprisingly well done. I only wish they were used more. The game's graphics are adequate. So much work went into the gameplay and storyline that there wasn't enough time for a graphical overhaul. The water effects are crisp, there are almost no jaggies, and the weapons are well-made. However, the biggest problem is the character's faces. Some are OK, but most look worthy of fugly.net.
You can seamlessly switch between Third Person and First Person. Explore the world in Third Person to avoid an ambush, and then switch to First Person for more precision in battle. You get several houses and fortresses in the game, and you can outfit them with whatever you want. There are thousands of items, from candles to books to swords to mortar and pestles. Armor, of course, shows up on your character. Choose to be a robed mage, a shinobi shozoko-wearing ninja, or a walking tank of a warrior.
Into spells? There's a library of effects, and you can make your own. The game also allows you to enchant items, making them extremely powerful. Kleptomaniac? This game allows you to steal everything that isn't glued to the wall. Winona Ryder would feel right at home. Anger management issues? If it moves, you can attack it.