Friday, May 18, 2012

oblivion vs skyrim

I've been playing The Elder Scroll IV: Oblivion over the past couple of days. I got the PC version on Steam even though I already have the game for XBox360 because

1) I've heard on several accounts that the PC version is the best one on account of having higher resolution, more memory to play with, more hard drive space, and a much more open modding capability, along with an ever-maturing collection of mods available for the game.

2) I'm lazy when it comes to playing video games, and would rather play one at my desk on my high-powered Core i7 PC with 20GB RAM and terabytes of hard disk storage than go out to the living room and play one on a five year old console with the computing power of an obsolete Macintosh.

3) On my PC, I can play a game fullscreen on one monitor in one window and have, on the other monitor in another window, any of the following: the help guide for the game, Twitter, Facebook, or the thing I'm actually supposed to be working on, which I can shift to during pauses in the gameplay and sometimes think about while I'm playing.

With these in mind, I now find myself a little puzzled as to why the focus for Skyrim was apparently shifted over to the console versions. While I'm not going to deny that the game has been very successful in the marketplace, the PC version didn't do too badly, and I've read that there has been a significant amount of (mostly technical) trouble with the PS3 version.

Anyway, so I was playing the PC version of Oblivion, and noticed a few interesting things about the game. The game obviously lags behind Skyrim in terms of graphical detail, the quality of most of the voice acting, the leveling system, among others. What's interesting is that there are a few areas where it actually seems to be subjectively better than Skyrim: the landscapes are more colorful, the cities are bigger and more populated. The Thieves Guild quests have a much greater emphasis on actually stealing things and is more like Robin Hood vs Skyrim's mafia-esque thieves guild that is largely in the employ of the rich and underhanded. Oh, and spell crafting can be pretty awesome.

This isn't necessarily to say that one game is better than the other, and to give BethSoft credit, there is quite a bit more to like about Skyrim for the millions of folks out there who just want to play a fun game and maybe get lost in it for a few days. Where Oblivion still seems to shine, to me, (at least after a few hours of playing the PC version) is a certain depth to the game world.

Maybe “depth” isn't the best way to put it –  but it does seem like there are more people who attack you in Oblivion that actually have names and maybe even a bit of backstory to them –  kind of like Star Wars, in a way, where practically ever character that appears on screen has some kind of story behind them, even if it is never explicitly referred to it the movies. There are quite a few instances in Skyrim where the player is fighting named opponents –  even some of the dragons are named. In Oblivion I've been getting the impression that this is happening a bit more at the lower level, like even some of the grunts you fight have names.



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