Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Oblivion Mod Review - Mystery of Mausoleum

Mod Review - Mystery of Mausoleum
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Overall: All-new graphics makes for a fresh visual experience -- The Fantasy Art of Computer Games has a gallery of extensive screenshots of this mod. Horrible quest design wastes a lot of time. Can't use HDR.

Why You Would Download This: You want cool armor and weapons.

Mystery of Mausoleum introduces strongly Chinese-fantasy themed arms, armor, and architecture into vanilla Oblivion. All of it is contained in a few indoor and outdoor locations, and is unlikely to conflict with anything else.

If you are bent on using the HDR video option in Oblivion, you will probably not want to use this mod, or will have to experiment to see which pieces of armor you can use without getting a "black screen error" -- where the world suddenly stops rendering and all you get is a black screen plus your menu interfaces.
You can switch to the Bloom option and things will be fine (at least that was the workaround that worked for us), but Bloom can give a different look (especially for some types of walls and funiture), and you may not like it if you are used to HDR.

The English walkthrough discloses all the issues with the quests and the sidequests, and frankly, they are so ridiculous that one wonders why the mod was released with these issues -- like having to keep checking Rumours until a sidequest turns up.
Some of the so-called sidequests are not sidequests at all, but practically necessary to proceed with the main quest. For example, near the final area is a lake where being even close to the lake (while still being on shore) will inflict 100 Health points of poison damage per second. Having 100% Resist Poison will not help, either, for unclear reasons. An obscure sidequest is necessary to get the antidote for this. Or, you could cheat and use the console command TGM (Toggle God Mode).

Combined with adolescent entries for "Rumours", such as so-and-so modder being sexy and other time-wasting rubbish, the entire mod is irritating and an utter waste of time if not for the excellent suits of armor that can be obtained. Such entries, plus the sometimes over-the-top fan service (such as the melon-chested Elemental Servants in super-skimpy armor) simply reinforce the negative stereotype of Asian gamers being a lot of porn-obsessed geeks.

On the subject of the Elemental Servants, they cause Savegame Bloating more or less as soon as you load a game with this mod, even if you haven't played any part of the mod. You can remove this bloat with Wyre Bash.

If you just want the cool gear, you might as well save yourself frustration and console them in. For extensive screenshots of the gear, architecture, and monsters introduced by this mod, we recommend The Fantasy Art of Computer Games. Here are just two of the hundreds of screenshots available:

Ethereal Hierarch 02

ChiLian Armor 09

If you insist on doing the token quest in Mystery of Mausoleum, here are some uses of the console and other tips that can help you move along in it:

  • Speak with Chun Xiao and Sister Feng for the side quests. As mentioned in the official walkthrough, these are randomly available through the "Rumours", which refresh once a day. To force rumors to refresh in a character, you can select them while the console is open, and then use the "resurrect" command.
  • After you kill the Jade Banshee for the ingredient it drops, you can use "resurrect" on it to force it to immediately respawn so you can kill it five times for the item you need.
  • For the quest to take the beggar villager around the IC, there are no quest markers indicating where you need to go, so you could possibly wander around forever and not find the five places you need to take her. You can skip this quest by using the console to advance the quest to stage 38: "setstage aaaMomMainQuest01 38", but you will miss out on the armour she gives you. Use Wrye Bash to find the FormID and console in the armour if you like. It is the ChiLian Armor.
  • There are three cells in the maze in the Temple of King You where there is armor or weapons to be found in little chests, but there is no guarantee you can enter those cells. The maze, however, is laid out in a 6x6 grid, with the upper left corner being cell aaamazex1y1 (you can get there with command "coc aaamazex1y1". You enter at aaamazex4y6. The exit is the north door in aaamazex3y1.
  • The Cerberus Armor in the poisonous lake obscures a large part of the screen in first person and when using a bow. If you use a bow frequently, you may wish to take this into account when choosing which armor you want to use.
  • When you are fighting the final boss, try to have your back to the moat. The boss likes to move backwards and cast spells, which means he often ends up in the water if he's between you and the moat. He has high speed and a big body model, so he can get out easily, but you can't. There are two teleporters underwater, but they didn't work for us, so if you enter the water, you might be stuck.

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