MadZab plays Oblivion – years after everyone else did.
So this week, after nine years of having the same computer, we bought a new gaming machine. The old one lost its GPU two months ago and when my first-gen Eee-4Gs power adapter died right after Christmas it was time to get a new PC. The old one was quite a beast when I got it in 2002, a frustrated replacement for a lost love, which held out quite well for a couple of years. But just a couple. The last graphics-whore I was able to play (on the lowest settings) was Half Life 2. Everything released after that was either low-spec indie-fare or not being played. Anyways, long story short, I have a new machine now and it's quite impressive for what I'm used to (though it is on the low end of contemporary gaming-PCs). So I downloaded some free games but nothing that would tax the graphics at all. MineCraft runs smooth (and I have owned MineCraft for a while now) with far sight-range and all settings on fancy – something that my old PC could only dream of (I had to change the sight-range to look at the sun/moon to check the time and then re-set it to short).
As luck had it, this week a local supermarket offered The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (henceforth shortened to 'Oblivion') in the game of the year-edition on sale for ten Euros. So I figured I'd get in on all that buzz about Skyrim going on in the local and global nerd-scene right now by playing the predecessor. Which is incredibly advanced for my terms. Here is my record of the first day playing it, with thoughts on the game, world, and the story I'm creating by playing it. Also some bitching by me. I'm a critic by heart. Day 1 refers to the day of me playing it, by the way, not in-game-time.
Installation gets me the first dark omen by being a piss-poor localization. You'd expect to be beyond All Your Base-type of language by now but the German that Oblivions install-shield-wizard is using is clearly machine-translated and not checked by anyone who actually understands the basics of German grammar. So I click myself through the Yoda-speech installation-menu, cursing the availability of Google-translate and the multi-million-dollar-companies that actually think it works well enough for them. I mean if an ad-supported free game by some Eastern-European three-man-developer on the Android-market has funky translated language that is one thing. This is a major title here. What the fuck? Well in contrast to that the readme-file is in correct German so I guess they had someone write that manually or something. This is looking bad before it even begins...
SO – I have installed the game and fire it up for the first time. See what it's all about. I think I've seen my roommate play it before, back before we both moved in with our respective girlfriends. He has two kids by now. God this makes me feel old. Anyway, Bethesda, huh? I once swore to myself never to buy any of their products for suing Mojang. Which is stupid. I have no reason to antagonize a software-company. It's not like they'd care. I guess the lack of actual antagonists in my life (besides my own laziness) makes me seek replacements sometimes. That makes it sound a little more psychotic than it should. Moving on, I bought it, that topic is now done.
First thing I notice is that the mouse moves weirdly. I go into the options for that and notice to my horror that while I can invert the mouse (which I never do) and adjust sensitivity, I cannot turn off mouse-acceleration. „What is this, a bad console-port?“ I wonder out loud. „Is it gonna tell me to push the fucking square-button during the tutorial next?“ I am still somewhat angry at the pathetic localization of the installer.
Alright, character-creation. A friend of mine was all fan-girl about this. SOOOO many options. So, at first I select race. There are two paths this could go down on. Either I create a wish-fulfillment-me character, a better medieval version of myself running around, doing what's right. Or I create a hot chick-character, set the game to third-person and spend the entire day looking at her ass, deciding on clothing based on looks, not on actual armor-class and such things. I try the latter first. The furry-races are out of the question for me. I don't want to play a cat or a lizard-monstrosity. I find it irritating enough that they're in the game. I used to play dark-elves in Warhammer, painstakingly spending my pocket-money on and painting an army of miniatures before Games Workshop decided to overhaul that army and made my entire collection basically worthless, so I go for a female dark-elf. On to the sliders!
I slide the hell out of every variable, get disappointed by the low count of hairstyles and then notice the lack of a tit-slider. There are no body-sliders at all, everyone has the same general build to them (which makes it more realistic that anyone can wear anyones clothes but there it ends). I'm a bit disappointed at that but that's not the main-problem. It is probably entirely my inability to give what I find attractive in a female into numerical-values of sliders but I am completely incapable of creating a face I find pretty. So scratch that – option one it is: Wish-fulfillment-me.
Race is the first one again – I choose Nord because I am North German and I figure that is closest to what my heritage is in real life. Instead of messing with the sliders, I randomize faces this time. After about twenty I get one I can kind-of accept. My entire character-generation is completely without knowing the game – I have no idea what it's going to be like or what the rules are. This will bite me later, I guess but I'm not powergaming this one at all. Also I can deal with high difficulty. From what I've read and seen, games have gotten significantly easier since I last played non-indie titles and I'm a fan of permadeath where possible – I don't think having a non-optimal build of character is going to stop me here. Anyways, my Nord has blond hair (like I did – as a kid), blue eyes (I do still have those!), a somewhat dim expression (I like playing warriors – sneaking in games is something I'm not too good at and spell casting with the hassle of organizing hotkeys and all that never was my thing – so my man being a bit dumb isn't that far of a stretch) and the name Martor, which is what I would be named were I born in the universe of Conan the Barbarian. Let's start this then!