STAFF REVIEW of Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind GOTY Edition (Xbox)

Tuesday, November 4, 2003.
by Se7en

Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind GOTY Edition Box art Fantastic. Playing 'The Game of the Year Edition' of Morrowind has really reminded me just how much I enjoyed the first one. While this version offers gamers the chance to use their "old" character saves (from the previous edition), I've chosen to begin anew. I haven't yet delved into Tribunal, but playing BloodMoon has been a blast! (Note to novices- the expansion packs seem like they're intended for higher level characters). Being able to morph into a werewolf is only the tip of the iceberg though, this edition features new enemies, lands, armor and weapons. The overall presentation is definitely nice, though my game has locked up a few times, and the load-times (on my launch Xbox) don't seem markedly improved. In fact, my roommate's disc is almost unplayable (we may have gotten bad copies out of the same lot however). All-in-all though, I'm having a great time with this game, and I highly reccommend to first time players to really explore Vvardenfell: join a few guilds; explore some caves; take advantage of those in need =]. While the game's primary quest is certainly engaging, I think all of the side quests are really this game's shining point.

The gameplay is largely intact from the first installment. A few menus here and there are easier to navigate, and toggling spells and weaponry seems easier too. But I honestly think the biggest improvement to the gameplay is the addition of an 'Enemy Damage Bar.' I know it might seem like a small deal, but I remember hacking and slashing away at countless enemies in the original, where I had NO clue if I was just about to kill them, or if I was even hurting them at all. Well, this game makes it abundantly clear when it's simply time for a bargain health potion, and when it's time to turn Dark Elf rump and run. The button layout is identical, and new and experienced gamers alike should have no problem picking up and playing.

The graphics are pretty much identical, with the exception of a few minor touch-ups here and there. The new areas (from what I have seen) look to demonstrate a little more detail than the areas from the original. One thing I'd like to note though, is that some of the other reviewers mentioned that the far off environments no longer appear out of nowhere as you approach them- I still see this all the time, especially in the cantons near Vivec, or some of the larger mountains on the way to Marandus. It's not a big, big deal considering how expansive the whole Morrowind universe is, but it's a deal nonetheless. Overall though, the game looks sharp, and for the amount of content- it's great.

Again, the sound remains largely intact- which is again, a good thing if you liked the first. Different animals have different shrieks, and unsheathed weapons all have fairly distinct sounds. The music is ambient, and blends in nicely with the theme of the game. Volume levels are all consistent, though there isn't enough voice acting in the game to really have that be a factor. And while voices would have been really cool in this game- I think they'd still be in production given the HUGE number of NPCs and baddies in this one. The sound is certainly solid for what it sets out to accomplish, and I really couldn't expect too much more.

Great Job done by all who worked on tying these three games/expansions together! If it were possible, removing even more of the bugs and slow-load times would be key. Otherwise though, this game is great- a little spit shine here and there could never hurt, but GOTY has really won me over... all over again.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 10.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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