Thursday, October 11, 2012

Oblivion Mod Review - Famous Battles of Cyrodiil

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Mod Review - Famous Battles of Cyrodiil (ver 1.0 Final)
Score: +1/-3

Summary: Combat scenarios with limited gear.

Why Get This: You want short battles with limited gear instead of your usual uber loadout.

The concept is interesting, but the scenarios fall far short (in part due to engine/scripting limitations), the story is nonsensical, and the ad copy is utter rubbish. "Save a doomed city from certain destruction at the hands of Mehrunes Dagon"? Uh, no. You don't even make it past the throne room.
+ Interesting lore-based concept. The missions would actually be interesting if they could be scripted better.
- Missions are implausible and play out in an uninteresting way.
- Badly thought out mission design. We'll talk about each mission below. WARNING: SPOILERS.
- Nonsense story that doesn't make sense. You see the diorama maker too...? It sounds like you want to make sense of what happened to Kvatch. Somewhere it becomes saving the model-maker's daughter who probably died there. Then magically he can transport you into miniature worlds. But he's just a toymaker for Azura's sake. Sheesh. Example: Reading a book about one of the famous battles of Cyrodiil leads you to imagine what it must have been like, then cut to the action as your "imagination".

Mission Critiques:
Mission 1: Commando squad infiltrates a facility to capture enemy commanders.

  • As with all missions, you start stripped of your usual gear. There's nothing wrong with this, but REMEMBER TO UNEQUIP QUEST ITEMS. If you don't and they are forcibly unequipped, you will end up with permanent enchantments and will be unable to equip the item when it is returned to you.
  • At the start of the mission, one of the squad members stealth-kills a sentry with a single firebolt. You are then placed in charge of the mission. Everyone is in Imperial Legion armor. This sets the tone for the mission: Stealth and stealth kills where necessary so the facility isn't alerted. However, if you play this mission at mid-low levels or higher, this mission becomes stupid (not hard, just stupid). Here's why:
  • You can swap your gear for something quieter, but you can't tell your noisy, clanking, squadmates to stay behind. Invariably they will alert the enemy. For a stealth mission, none of them are properly equipped to be stealthy. Duh.
  • This is supposed to be a stealth mission, but if the enemy has too high a Health for you to quickly take down, then you will end up in melee for possibly upwards of a minute while you and your squad hack down the enemy. Noisily. Why can't that unnamed soldier take point and drop everyone with his magical one-hit-kill firebolt? Duh. Instead we are left with a highly implausible stealth mission. It takes a very specialized character build to stealth-kill enemies once their health reaches a certain threshold. If you don't have an appropriate character, this mission will just end up being you and squad hacking one to three enemies to death in melee -- completely destroying the whole stealth-mission concept.
  • You can't change anyone's gear, so it's a melee free for all with your squad mates. In the fast-paced combat of Oblivion, it is insanely easy to hit your allies, especially when they are all jammed in melee. Three hits and they turn on you. You must then kill them because they are not marked Essential (an Essential character goes unconscious and wakes up with hostility reset and no longer immediately hostile even if you've "killed" them dozens of times).
Mission 2: Follow a scout through the jungle to find the enemy

  • You don't really get to choose to do anything here. It's linear. You look for the scout that's run ahead of you. You run through clumps of enemies that you must fight.
  • You can speak with your allies, but they either say nothing or tell you to be stealthy. But they won't sneak along with you so they get found and you all have to fight.
  • It is later revealed that the "purpose" of the mission is to teach you that alliances can't be counted on. We don't actually get to use that information, and in any case we just stumble into it.
  • The enemy wears red, we wear blue. There was an opportunity for an in-disguise mission here, maybe to expose the traitor or find the enemy commander, but that wasn't used.

Mission 3: Rally troops to counterattack the enemy.

  • It is later revealed that the "purpose" of this mission is to teach you to command troops. Except your "command" of them is to run petty errands for them. Duh.
  • One of the missions involves dragging a corpse back. Due to how dragging works in Oblivion, this is easily the most tedious if not outright impossible mission.
    • If you are stuck, use the console to resurrect the corpse. Go back to the quest giver and use moveto player on the now-living corpse to move them into place. Finally use kill on the resurrected soldier to turn him into a corpse again (i.e., kill him). He should be close enough to where he needs to be for you to get a quest update for retrieving his body.

Mission 4: Follow a necromancer to kill the Elder Council.

  • The most boring mission. The necromancer is marked Essential and the other three skeletal minions (in my play-through) were level 14 and with just under 2,500 Health -- Yes, just under two thousand, five hundred Health points. You basically just let them handle everything.
  • The "purpose" of this mission was to show you evil. It would be much more interesting if the Elder Council members actually begged for their lives and you had to choose a dialogue option to kill them.

Mission 5: Defend the throne room during the Daedra attack on Kvatch.

  • You arrive in civilian clothes and no other gear. You're not even a soldier. But for some reason you are immediately promoted and given command. Duh.
  • The most promising mission that ended up being the most disappointing because it's bugged: You have to give orders to 6 people: 5 soldiers and the Count of Kvatch. For once, it looked like you could set up a nice killzone and have NPCs obediently supporting you. But no...
    • You only get to have 5 conversations with the soldiers. If you talk to one twice to try to change their orders, that still counts toward your total. After all 5, you can't talk to anyone else.
    • They don't necessarily obey your orders. For example, the two archers always fall back.
    • There are two lines: The front barricade near the door, and a second line nearer the centre of the room.
      • Soldiers with only melee weapons in the first line immediately abandon their position and mix it up in melee, so they are now in the line of fire of yourself or anyone that might hope to be shooting. Duh.
      • When the daedra come, the second line won't move. Archers and magi there are apparently too far away to detect the enemy and shoot. Duh.
  • If you are actually good enough to survive the final wave and keep at least one of the NPCs alive, the game is stuck. Everyone needs to die in the final wave involving Dremora.

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