Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Here's something new about my weakness for games. I started playing "Oblivion" a couple of days ago. I didn't get far yet - it's a complicated role-playing game with a vast, very picturesque world ... and I had a lot of other things to do. (See "I've got a new job!" for details.) Nevertheless I think I'll like it there.

Okay, the first thing I realized - and had heard about before, anyway - is that sometimes the translation, especially the sub-titles, does not work the way it should. That's bad, but I can live with it (and by now there are mods out there to fix it). The next thing I realized was just how realistic the surrounding was (that was while I was escaping the dungeons of Imperial City). I shot an arrow at a hanging bucket and it swung realistically. I'm more of a hands-on person in role-playing games, I like to go into close-quarter combat, but during the escape (which is the game's tutorial) I used the bow as well.

(Quite some time later I cursed the realism of the world when I climbed off my horse and the creature ran away because there were wolves around. I ran after it and - after a long and fruitless search and the demise of one of those wolves - loaded up the last save game, because I was sick of searching for the dumb animal and didn't have the money to buy a new one. Had anyone else seen me, they probably would have found it amusing, both in the game world and in the real one. I was sitting in front of the pc, my character sprinting up- and downhill through high grass and flowers with the sword drawn, and swearing under my breath. Had he been able to, my character would probably have sworn as well.)

I'm still fascinated by the mere freedom I have in the game. There's probably at least one hundred ruins around, each of them full of enemies to defeat (they are always adjusted to the player's current level). There's flowers you can pick (and use to create potions and poisons). There's loads of people around, each of them leading their own life. While I usually have at least one objective, I can decide when and mostly even how to accomplish it.

What else can I tell you? I'll start by telling you how the game starts. I was in a cell - I've still got no idea what kind of crime my character (a male Dark Elf called 'Cay') had committed, but while I was listening to the guy in the cell opposite to mine, I felt the deep desire to go over and shut him up forever. I've read that if I become a member of a secret brotherhood I'll actually be allowed to do it ... and it's tempting. Anyway, I was in one cell, he was in another, so he was safe from me. Then, suddenly, the emperor himself and his bodyguards entered the cosy cell I was in - because, as it turned out, it was the gateway to their secret escape tunnels. So, really, what do you think I would do after they'd passed through (and the emperor had stated he'd seen me in a dream before)? Of course I followed them.

A couple of fights later - most of the tutorial, which is very well done - I witnessed the emperor's death and had my first real mission: to take his amulet to a priory not far away. After I'd gone to the priory and spoken to a guy named Jauffre, I was on my way to another city, to find the last living son of the late emperor. A fast career, wouldn't you say? From a criminal waiting for execution to a man trusted to find the next emperor and help him to ascent to the throne. And I'd gotten my horse. Well, it wasn't my horse as a such, it was just led to me by one of the brothers there. But as he was dead when I came back with the emperor's son (whose name is Martin), I consider the animal my possession anyway.

By the time I came back, I had travelled to the demon realm called "Oblivion" for the first time, I'd killed my first demons and I had more or less freed the city of Kvatch. I was all set to become some sort of hero. A little while later I even became one of his bodyguards. Yes, I'm a blade now and it's not bad, either - they get a katana and I just love katanas.

The strange thing I've found out about myself while playing games in which I can decide whether to be good or bad is that I tend to be good. In "Jedi Knight", for example, I always took care of not killing innocent bystanders (even though I would have loved to gain the possibility to shoot those Dark Side of the Force Lightning Bolts from my hands, just like the Emperor). In role-playing games I usually create some sort of fighter - I don't like playing a pure mage, even though I learn a few spells, provided the game mechanics allow it for a fighter to use magic ("Oblivion" does) - and even though I'd like to, I've never played a thief or an assassin (except for the three parts of "Thief" in which, logically, you play a thief, because that's the point of the game; but even there I tried not to kill anybody). In "Oblivion" I will at least train my abilities in alchemy, because being able to create your own potions and poisons is quite useful.

I often wonder about this, because I surely can imagine to be a bad person. I'm sarcastic and sometimes have a very negative view of the world around me. But somewhere under this person I seem to like 'playing by the rules' and being nice to people. And, as you can see from the remark about the guy in the other cell, I'm very able to wish for somebody's death ... but only after the person has seriously pissed my off.

So I’ll go on playing warriors and going for close-quarter combat - with a little magic on the side - and I’ll go on being a good guy ... at least until I find out why I was in that cell anyway.

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