Product Type: Bethesda Xbox games
Newest Review: ... in at Morrowind; a fictional island of about three miles in diameter. While three miles may not seem especially huge, the developers have... more
Member Name: AverageJoseph
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Xbox)
Advantages: Diverse World, Rich Environments, Inventory System, Music, Length, Magic System
Disadvantages: Combat System, Short OST, Glitches, Loading Times
The appealing theme of freedom in a video game had never really been implemented before the likes of the Elder Scrolls series, with almost every single game requiring players to undergo tasks and practically do as you're told. Morrowind takes a different stance in that you can follow the intended main quest, participate in sub quests or simply go about doing whatever comes to mind: Explore the land, go on a murderous rampage, become a notorious thief - the prospect of ignoring the storyline however seems to lead to a life of crime. Its open world is not scaled like so many other titles (such its 2 predecessors Oblivion & Skyrim) so if you should wander off into unknown territory, you run the risk of being killed in one hit but also gain the chance to find valuable items that are far superior to anything you may have come across since. A bonus of being available to play on the Xbox 360 makes it even more worth the effort to play so you don't have to dust off the old x-brick out of the attic.. although the screen will get cropped should you play in anything close to high definition (so no 1080p).
"Each event is proceeded by prophecy. But without the hero, there is no event." (Storyline)
The origins of Morrowind is mysteriously sketchy at best, as during the '3rd era of Tamriel' you take control of a prisoner "born on a certain day to uncertain parents". Travelling on a small ship with your dark elf chum Jiub enquiring of your name and that's about it as a guard tells you to get the hell off his vessel. You go ashore and customise your character, picking from a select choice of races, altering hair, faces and switching gender. After acquiring your papers (which are gained by answering a cryptic old mans questions of morality or filled out yourself) you have a chat with a soldier and stroll out into the open, a small swampy port town known as Seyda Neen. Your previous conversation indicates you need to report to a man known as Caius Cosades in Balmora. This is your chance to do as you wish: travel on foot to find the mystery man, hop on the 'Silt Rider' (instant transport) or literally go anywhere else. The general plot is around the exploits of the Blades - the eyes and ears of the emperor - discovering that the evil forces ravaging the plains of Vvardenfell are the servants of the sixth house leader Dagoth Ur. The six houses consist of varying folk with specific skills much like the guilds (fighters, mages and thieves). Encouraged to join a great house or guild for work and experience, you gain spells, gold and attributes to aid you in your journey to unite the warring houses and take up arms against the immortal Lord. Underneath all the fantasy titles, is a pretty basic, tried and true plot that takes players on an expedition across a continent, exploring towns, cities, tombs and diseased wilderness.
"We're watching you...... SCUM!" (Gameplay)
There are 3 bars on screen, your health, magicka and stamina. Straight away you'll find a glaring flaw in Morrowind's gameplay - the fighting. Whether you throw a punch or swing an axe, in the beginning, it will glide through the air and miss your opponent who's 2 inches away from your nose. 27 skills with a maximum stat of 100, you have to keep training with individual weapons, armour and spells to increase their number and in doing so, their success rate. The skills come under 3 specialisation's (combat, magic & stealth) and under 8 governing attributes (strength, intelligence, agility, endurance, speed, willpower, personality and luck. All of these make for varying ways to create characters. Due to its large size, most people have several lines of dialogue which are spoken, whilst also having loads of paragraphs to go into when in conversation. A good start to the game is to find a suitable house (occupied or abandoned) to store all your loot and possessions. You can sleep to pass the time to make use of the time of day or weather (which is has rain, cloudy, sunshine, sandstorms, thunder & lightning). A pleasant inclusion is the level of customisation involved. For example, you can create your own class by cherrypicking your favourite (or most interested) skills for quicker levelling up and a more enjoyable gaming experience.
Provides efficient use of medium/heavy weapons/armour. Also aids in blocking and the athletics skill for running, swimming and making the most of your stamina. With the focus on the power you put behind swinging your weapon, you'll finish your foes quicker and thanks to the increase in physical stamina, you'll be able to swipe any tasty goods residing on their bloodied corpse. Needless to say it is an essential area to improve on should you prefer your basic sword and shield combatant.
Essentially the opposite of the combat section. Useful in almost any situation, you can learn offensive magic like the classic fireball, conjure weapons, armour or in game minions to do your bidding, mix ingredients together for potions, heal wounds and diseases, enchant your items with customised abilities, create illusions to fool enemies, or alter your surroundings to suit your needs - mimic jesus' feat of walking on water. Possibly the hardest to get into but the most rewarding section in later levels.
This section is more of a luxury than a way of life in Morrowind, especially since its abilities can be similarly obtained via different methods (lock-picking vs. an 'open' spell). Because of its light heartedness, it also has quick fighting styles like short blade, marksmen and hand to hand. Its acrobatics skill is one of the fastest levelling skills in the game as it aids in jumping and landing. Then there is speech-craft and mercantile - one for persuading people to dish the dirt, taunt people into blind furies and the other for a handy discount in shops.
"Speak quickly outlander, I haven't much time" (Environments)
A strong reason alone to consider the game, Morrowind's surroundings are diverse and richly thought out. The game comes with its own A3 sized map to display on your wall as you make your way through the gigantic province of Vvardenfell. With the elder scrolls games all having definitive climates (skyrim is like a constant winter etc) Morrowind is a combination of searing wind shaped mountain regions and rainy fields of flowers and trees. There are several small villages and towns where gold is scarce and spirits are low, but also a couple of large cities and one major place, Vivec which has 8 cantons related to the great houses previously mentioned plus a 'foreign quarter' for refugees and a temple. It all appears quite dark and grim though as there is usually very little light besides the flickering of a candle or glow of a lantern. Of course being from the early years of the Xbox (2002) its graphics haven't aged too well with blocky NPC's, recycled details and being stuck between objects and doors.. the camera and movement are very smooth though. Which brings me onto the view type - Morrowind offers both first person view and 3rd, something not many games did back then, let alone do now. Of course, with the decrepit visuals, its best to save 3rd person for checking out how your character looks in his new robe and helmet :) Of all the memories the game has been responsible for, traversing dungeons, breaking into vaults full of treasure, battling demons in underground sanctuaries, the one that stands out is...
'Tukushapal' - one of the many miscellaneous quests to undergo
This place is initially heard by a drunk in a tavern, who tells you the story (and gives you the key) if you buy him a pint. When you find the well hidden, doorway in the middle of no where, you'll find a massive stone maze, filled with scimitar wielding skeletons - already you get the feeling they're guarding something goooood.. and if that isn't clear, the level 90 locked doors will certainly peak your interest. Experienced or resourceful enough to enter, you'll bear witness to the holiest of holies in terms of treasure, greater than a pharaoh beneath his pyramid... A viking outlaw king Olmgerd, decked out ceremoniously in an his battle armour with his legendary axe Stormkiss, in Tukushapal's sepulcher featuring sulfurous steaming rocks, stalactites and oh yes, the mans very own viking ship - awesome. His corpse strewn with various precious materials and wealth, it is one of hundreds of stunning scenes just waiting to be found.
Its a shame that the battle system has been a stumbling block for so many gamers, with its no doubt frustrating way of combat. Should anyone stick with it long enough, they'll find a vivid and imaginative fantasy world full of little secrets for you to unravel. Its definitely nerdy in all aspects, like the enchanting (and naming) of weapons, the thought process in even contemplating a new voyage (weight plays a big part too as you can only hold so many essentials). KOTOR composer Jeremy Soule has made a handful of tracks for Morrowind (all fantastic orchestral magic) however since there aren't too many, you're bound to hear the same themes several hundred times... which surprisingly isn't as repetitious as it sounds because they aren't loud, brash songs but subtle atmospheric tunes that match the mood. The game has its own wiki page that continuously gets updated with more details - surely this is a good indication of the scale of the game... and lets not forget how it has raised the bar for both Oblivion and Skyrim.
Summary: Possibly the biggest game on the original Xbox, easily the one with most Freedom.