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Oblivion has three major modes of moving from place to place. The first is walking (naturally enough). Walking is the slowest but you may discover many new locations by travelling along a road. You can even head straight across country.
The second mode is by horse. If you follow the main quest, you'll be offered a painted horse to ride. Otherwise, almost every city has a stable that can sell you a horse. You can also steal a horse, but stolen horses may return home eventually, plus it's expensive if you get caught.
The last mode of travel is fast travel. Any dark coloured marker on the map is a place with a known location. You may fast travel to any by selecting one of those known location on your map when you are outside. Time does pass, but you won't be interrupted by bandits or other enemies on the way.
While you can spend a lot of time wandering around talking to people in cities, sooner or later, you will need to fight. How you should approach combat depends on the sort of character you're currently playing. A character who is primarily a fighter would just wade into combat and start hitting with weapon of choice. A mage prepares spells and potions for combat. A thief sneaks through the dungeon slowly, picking off the enemies one by one.
Regularly check your equipment. It does get damaged in combat, you need to fix it yourself or pay to get it fixed. Also magic weapons have a charge, and each hit decreases the charge. You can pay to recharge the weapon, or use filled Soul Gem or Varla Stone to charge them. Varla stones are found in Elven Ruins.
This is a large game with many potential quests, side trips and a lot of terrain to cover. There are four guilds you can join; two have guild houses in most cities and two you must find and enter by proving yourself one of their type of people. Each guild has a number of ranks and you can progress to being the Guildmaster if you complete the quests involved. Even if yoyu have no intention of doing guild quests, joining a guild gives you a free bed to sleep in and access to guild trainers. At the time of this review, virtually every item in a guild building can be picked up by a member and either kept or sold.
When walking around the cities, talk to everyone. You never know when a character has something unique to tell you, or perhaps is a trainer. When slow travelling between cities; wander off the beaten track to find shrines, ruins and smaller settlements.
Oblivion has three save game modes. The first is an autosave that the game itself does when you enter an area or fast travel somewhere. Do not depend on these saves. They may be overwritten at any time. The second is quick save. On a PC, press the F5 key at any time to save the game. Press F9 to quick load the last quick save. Once again, do not depend on these saves, they do get overwritten. The last is saving from the main menu. You want to regularly do this. These are the only permanent saves and you may need to reload an older save when you realise that something has gone wrong. It may be that you've come out of a dungeon crawl to discover your horse is gone. The last autosave would be in the dungeon, and it will take going to a much older save to save your horse.
Mods are player created changes to the basic game. Mods come in a number of categories, there are ones to fix bugs, ones that add new items, changes to gameplay, new texture mapping. A few of the most popular mod sites (urls current as of the time of writing.):
One of the most popular mod is the BTMod. It improves your inventory screen (making far more items available) and the map. Another I have used fixes the fact that my female elf sounded like a male when fighting.
The first release is a bit buggy. Bugs include some things that make quests impossible to solve and the occasional crash to desktop. On my computer, this usually only happens when I'm exiting the game. After installing the game, look for and download any available patches. Some Oblivion modules created by other players also fix known bugs but if there is an official patch, install that first.
They really should have hired some more voice over actors. Hearing the same voice for almost every member of one race/sex combination (with perhaps one or two different people being key plot characters) is quite weird. After all the loving attention paid to the graphic detail, the fact that all male Nords sound the same grates on the nerves. Plus there are errors, like a beggar who starts with one voice, switches to the standard voice for the local gossip, then returns to the beggar voice after.
If you tried Morrowind and hated it, you're likely to have similar feelings about this game. The basic interface has many of the same features, though some things have been improved. If you love fast paced RPG games, like Diablo or Sacred, you'll find Oblivion to be quite slow paced. There are fewer opponents at a time and a low respawn rate.
If you want a game with a large number of things to do, many quests, locations and something that feels very realistic; you must try Oblivion. Highly recommended for experienced RPG players. If you are new to this type of game, get the Official Game Guide otherwise the game might overwhelm you.
Final rating 4.5 of 5.
My computer is only a couple of months old and has a very good NVidia GeForce 6800 graphics card. On this computer there have been no problems with running the game with all the graphic options on. Your mileage may vary on a different computer.
This is the first game I've owned where having the Official Game Guide is almost a necessity. There are so many quests, so many places to visit, so much to do that it's very easy to get confused. The game guide helps you find your way around this vast world and let's you have a peek at what you're about to attempt if you are so inclined. It has detailed maps, hints about building your character, information about the main quest, guild quests, Daedric Shrine quests and everything else.