The most anticipated
(and so far only) RPG for the Xbox has finally
arrived. We rip open our copy and report on
what we find.
Morrowind is definitely not
a game for everyone. (What a way to start
out a review, eh?) If you are truly interested
in appreciating all that Morrowind has to
offer your going to have to dedicate a significant
amount of time to really appreciate the work
that Bethesda put in the game. There never
really has been a console RPG like Morrowind
and if you're a fan of the Final Fantasy
type RPG then Morrowind may not be the game
that you are looking for. Morrowind is ultimately
about freedom: the freedom to do and play
the game as you see fit.
Playing through Morrowind
is a huge undertaking, thousands of NPC characters,
thousands of individual locations where the
player basically can make his own way and
make his own adventure. Sure there is a main
quest but players can spend as little or
as much time as they would like with the
main quest. At first, at the very beginning
of the game I can see why many players will
be overwhelmed. The players start the game
weaker than pretty much anyone. It isn't
till players spend the necessary time in
leveling up (done by improving your major
and minor skills, which you can set and customize
from the very beginning) that things get really interresting.
Players can choose their character from 10
different races each with their own unique
skills and abilities. Then players can further
customize their character by picking their
class. And from their they then can pick
a birth sign, which gives the players even more abilities.
The Xbox version looks very
comparable to what Morrowind looks and plays
like on a pretty hefty PC. The texture details
looks great from afar but once you get closer
the textures don't look that good. The water
is very nicely done, as are the lighting
effects - all do a great job of establishing
the mood. Some of the underground caverns
are downright spooky. One of my favorite
Morrowind moments was when I was climbing
a hill, finally reaching the precipice and
saw the sun setting over a lake. It was a
very nice moment. Morrowind is filled with
these types of moments.
The frame rate in Morrowind
does stutter a bit, however, since I lack
the PC that can properly run Morrowind even
on its lowest settings, the Xbox version
is more than adequate for me. This won't
really detract from your enjoyment of the
Players can choose from either
a first person view or a third person view.
The problem with the third person view is
that it lacks the cursor so it makes it difficult
to look at a specific item. It can help though
with combat. Find your own balance.
Draw in is another problem
that I noticed while playing the game but
with a game world as massive as what Morrowind
features it's an understandable problem that
can be easily overlooked. The animation while
in third person mode is also a bit jerky
and not as smooth as it should be. With those
small nit picking items aside, Morrowind
is a beautiful title and while the graphics
are not the best, it still can be appreciated
with the over all scope of what Bethesda
tried to accomplish (and for the most part
succeeded) in Morrowind.
The controls are very much
like they were in Halo. The huge menu system
is a breeze to go through with the Xbox controller.
A problem that I have noticed however is
that combat can be an iffy proposition even
at the best of times. It just does not feel
as intuitive as it should be. The game provides
very little feedback on how much damage or
how much health an enemy creature has. And
with the amount of time players will spend
in combat, this portion of the game could
have been done better than it turned out.
The term quality over quantity is an appropriate
slogan that the developers should have followed.
However, with the overwhelming amount of
things and places to do, the control and
battle squabbles can be forgiven.
The music score has a sweeping
feel to it. The music goes very well in establishing
the mood that a game like Morrowind needs.
The sound effects are also done well. Morrowind
features a ton of voice acting and most of
it is top notch.
In Morrowind, no 2 players
will play the same game. With all of the
different races and tasks, and quests and
adventures that you can choose to go on,
Morrowind feels like a different magical
world. The replay value of this game is basically
as limitless as the players' imagination.
If you don't like the character that you
are, you can always make another. That was
the main reason why I had to drag myself
away from my level 10 Nord Barbarian to write
this review. With an open ended, non-linear
story line most players should expect to
dedicate a significant amount of time in
completing the game. Even after you complete
the main quest, the game is not officially
over and there will still be plenty to see
and do. Morrowind is a game that the sum
of the whole is greater than the individual
parts. It's obvious that Morrowind was a
labor of love by the developers who produced
this title. Morrowind is a game for the hard
core players of RPGs, and if you're used
to playing typical console RPGS like Final
Fantasy and the other ilk you may want to
stay away from Morrowind.
There have been some comparisons
of Morrowind with Grand Theft Auto 3. In
some ways, that would be a correct comparison.
Both games are all about freedom and giving
players a chance to live in a different world
and playing a small or in some cases a large
part in the history of that world. Morrowind
is a genre setting title and I really see
more games like Morrowind being released
in the future. Once developers give players
the freedom that Morrowind provides it will
be very difficult for players to settle for
games that do not offer that same amount
Diving back into the fray.
III: Morrowind: The Scores
Morrowind is different things for different people. It
definitely wins the award for the largest game on the
console. Bethesda should be congratulated on bringing
a title like Morrowind to the Xbox. If you're a hard-core
RPG fan and looking for a game that doesn't lead you
by the nose like Final Fantasy then Morrowind is the
game for you.