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There are some video games out there that make people wish that they had never been born. There are others that make them wish that they had a better video card. The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind is one of the latter. Not only is the game itself very open ended, but it also has two official expansion packs, eight official 'plug-ins', or modifications to the game, and countless unofficial plug-ins. These plug-ins essentially make the game endless.
Morrowind is a role playing game. Yes, in all games you play as a character, but role playing games take it to a different level. There are many role playing games out on the market and are generally divided into two groups: Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Games, such as Everquest, and Single Player Role Playing Games, such as the Final Fantasy series. Morrowind is a single-player game. Unlike Final Fantasy, however, you do not have developer-created characters, parties of heroes, or turn based combat. You create the character you want, quest on your own and can attack your enemies however, fast or slow you want to.
History Of The Series
In 1994, a game by the name of 'The Elder Scrolls: Arena' came out. It started out with you in a dungeon, learning of imperial treachery. Throughout the game, you quest was to reassemble the Staff of Chaos with which you bring the true Emperor back from Oblivion. In the end, you succeed and the empire is saved. This game took place across the whole of Tamriel. The second game in the series, 'Daggerfall', takes place in the lands of High Rock and Hammerfell.
In truth, the story and main quest are completely optional. That's right, you don't ever have to even start the main quest. You can take the important items you are given at the start and throw them into the ocean, for all the game cares. Of course, if you want to play the main quest, you'll have to start all over again.
For those of you who do want to complete the main quest, the story is a slight twist on the 'prophesised hero comes to save the world' storyline so common to Role Playing Games (RPGs). The game starts out with you as a simple prisoner, eventually becoming the hero of an entire province of the empire. On the way to heroship, you go through many tasks. The aim of this game is to defeat the evil enemy of the Tribunal (the gods of Morrowind). The back story can be discovered by reading books and manuscripts in-game, as well as on the official website.
Creating a New 'You'
In this game, you create your own character with an easy to understand system. The process starts when you choose a name for yourself; a simple process, but not before a bit of one-sided dialogue. After that, the game lets you become acquainted with the basic movement system and you are asked to choose your character's race. There are a number of different races that you can choose and it is really a matter of personal preference. There is a total of ten options that you get for this part, not including general appearance and races added by plug-ins. In order to best give information on each of the different races, the Races section of the website lists the choices.
After you have made your decision of race you need to decide on a class, with three different choices of doing so. The first way is through answering some questions. Based on your answers, you will be assigned a class. A second option is to choose a pre-made class from a list. The third and final option is to create your own class by choosing your own primary stats and skills. After choosing your class, you also have the option of your birth sign. This is a choice of one from thirteen, each one giving different bonuses and drawbacks.
The true reason for playing a game instead of watching a movie is the gameplay itself. The game is played in a first or third person perspective, depending on the user's preference. Combat is very simple, with three attack methods using either a weapon, fists or magic. Not only is there fighting, but also interaction with in-game characters. If you are a criminal, most of them won't want to do business with you. If you are a hero, however, they will show it when they talk to you by saying things such as 'I can't believe it's really you!' Shopping for goods is simple and all merchants have the ability to buy anything that they sell. This means, for example, that an armourer will buy any kind of armour he can afford, even if he doesn't sell it normally.1 If you kill someone important to the main quest, the game will tell you.
The main thing about the game is how diverse and flexible it is. If you want to be a mage, you can be a mage. If you want to be a notorious thief, then by all means you can do so. Locks can be picked with the right equipment and the more you do the better you get at it.
An important part of all RPGs, whether multiplayer or not, is character levelling. In the game of Morrowind, you could be level 27 before you killed a single thing if you wanted to. Of course, that would require either a lot of gold or many major and minor skills that can be trained out of combat. Some skills that are used by the player include many different weapon skills, about six different magic skill groups, four different armour level skills and a multitude of 'miscellaneous' skills such as Sneaking, Armouring and Acrobatics2.
Magic and Combat
Magic effects fall into different categories such as Conjuration, Destruction and Mysticism. There are a countless number of actual effects and thanks to the in-game Spell Creation System, an infinite amount of actual spells. Spell effects can also be enchanted onto different pieces of equipment so that you can use these effects in a different way. Some example effects are Fire Damage, Bound (insert weapon or armour here) and Invisibility. 'Bound' items are nearly weightless, are some of the best of the weapons in their category and enhance your skills in the category that they fall under. For example, a bound dagger would make your short blade skills better. Another 'magic' skill is Alchemy. Using alchemy, you can create potions to restore your health or magic power, allow you to levitate, protect against certain ill-effects, or even fortify (temporarily increase) certain attributes.
Combat is very simple. This can be good or bad depending on your preference. To attack, you use the left mouse button. That's it. If you want to stab, you move forward or backward when you attack. To slash from right to left, you move to the side and click. And to slash from top to bottom, you stand still and attack. Basically, most people might just want to use the 'always use best attack' option from the options menu, because of how easy the combat system is. If you do want to make things that little bit more difficult, there are expansion packs that can make combat more of a challenge. If you are to buy the game, the Game of the Year version is recommended as it comes with both expansions.
The enemies in this game are mostly creatures that are encountered in the wilderness. One such creature, which the developers admit to making far too many of in the game, is the cliff racer. It is a flying dinosaur-like animal that constantly swoops down upon the player, making them wish that there was some way of getting rid of them. Which there is, thanks to the Construction Set. Other enemies include creatures from other realms known as Daedra, primarily found near Daedric ruins. Each enemy has its own enchantment value, which means that you can get a far better enchantment from a Golden Saint (worth 400) than from a rat (worth 10).
Audio and Video
They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. In The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind, the game's cover gives very few false or bad impressions. In the normal version, character models are very blocky and somewhat unrealistic, but this is easily fixed with third-party mods. However, the environments are stunningly beautiful, with swamplands, rolling plains, dry ashlands and many more. In fact, the main game takes place on an island where many different climates can be found and each one has its own storms, towns and people.
There are four distinctive styles of architecture in the game. There is the very 'western' Imperial style, which is the closest thing to European in the game. It has stone fortresses and wooden buildings, for the most part. The next style someone playing the game may come across is the 'House Hlallu' style. House Hlallu (merchants and the like) is one of the game's three joinable noble houses, accompanied by Redoran (warriors) and Telvanni (mages). Hlallu architecture is primarily rocklike, with regular shapes, sizes and interiors. Redoran architecture is a bit more grandoise, with more irregularities in size and shape, but still very simple. Telvanni architecture is very strange, as it seems to be entirely made of living plantlike things. The homes of the normal people are inside of mushrooms, and those of the nobles are giant plant towers that are hollowed out on the inside. Due to the magical quality of the Telvanni, there are few or no staircases in their towers, so levitation is a must.
The sound, what there is of it, is superb. However, there is a very small amount of music in the game. Unfortunately, this small amount means that the player hears the same sound repeatedly throughout their journey. The voices in the game are only short greetings that non-player characters make when they encounter yours, or during fights. One interesting thing about the voices is that based on what they think of you affects their greeting, along with other things such as what you are wearing and whether or not you have a bounty on your head. But there is very little variety of music and sounds in the game and that hurts it in this category.
The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind is an amazingly good game that should be in every gamer's library. It does have its problems, but they are easily fixable with the Construction Set.