Well, Ragnaviper asked why I was disappointed with Oblivion, and I think a journal entry was the best way to tackle my issues with the game. I think a big problem is that most people haven't really played it long enough to notice all the flaws of the game. My first impressions were amazing, but as I got further (and especially after I completed the main quest) the game - for me, at least - fell flat on its face. This is probably why so many reviews out there are positively glowing - most official review sites/magazines don't get to play a game for too long (also why would they criticize a game that's being advertised all over their site/magazine, and thus bringing in revenue?), so they make the game seem flawless, when there are in fact numerous flaws in the game. It's not really a "bad" game per se, but more a victim of too much hype and misleading advertising. Another thing is that this game was designed for the Xbox 360 - the PC version is nothing more than a 1:1 port. This means streamlining the game so the RPG aspects are more "console friendly" - let's face it, games like Fallout or Planescape: Torment wouldn't work well on a console. Consequently, the game seems a bit "dumbed down" for me, although I do own the PC version.

Before I get into the game mechanics (the workings behind the scenes, that is), I'll get into the more superficial aspects. First and foremost, while Morrowind may have not given the player enough guidance (at least Arena and Daggerfall started in a dungeon with a basic "get out" objective), Oblivion gives the player TOO much guidance - there's nothing that you really need to actually think about. There are less "FedEx" quests, but the almost all the quests are A-B-C, with the exception of a few quests where you can actually approach them from multiple angles. Another problem is that the game basically forces you to increase minor skills. For example, even as a warrior, you're going to need to either pick locks or open them magically - a "bash" option (like say, in Ultima VII) would've been really nice.

However, the majority of the game's problems lie within its mechanics. The first thing you'll notice is that, without a certain .ini modification, you can't kill ANY quest essential "named" NPCs (even for the most minor quest). I heard somewhere that this makes 30% of the game's named NPCs unkillable. Maybe not a major problem, but it sort of kills the immersion factor. The biggest problem, however, is with the absolutely terrible implementation of the level scaling system. Essentially, the game makes ALL NPCs the same level as you. Numerous RPGs have used it (Diablo, not to mention the last two Elder Scrolls games), but what makes Oblivion's implementation so bad is that is scales everything - loot included. This means that, at level 2 or 3, even with an extremely hard lock, the chest may only contain 20 gold pieces (I believe they're called septims) and a rusty iron dagger. At higher levels, it also leads to such implausible situations as bandits having some kickass armor on them. Luckily, us PC users can download mods that fix the scaling system as much as possible (I believe Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul fixes it the most).

Now, I could mention some other problems (the ridiculous Persuasion mini-game, anyone?), but I think some fault lies with me. I was expecting an incredibly deep RPG, but what I got was a good action/adventure/exploration game with ultimately inconsequential RPG elements. Was it worth my money? I'd say yes, but I bought a game that I wasn't expecting to buy. Also, Bethesda's "pay mods" wouldn't be so bad if A) they actually, you know, released a patch beforehand (I believe a recent controversy is that they're releasing a patch you must indirectly pay for with the Wizard's Tower pay mod) and B) possibly withheld material from the game to later commercially release it (the Orrery, anyone?).