Oblivion is one of those games that you either love or hate. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, there's no denying the scope of the game's achievement. This is the western role playing game genre at its most epic and it is easy to lose yourself for hours in the world of Tamriel without even making a dent on the main quest. The Game of the Year Edition includes the expansions "Shivering Isles" and "Knights of the Nine" which add even more depth and value.
Zavvi are currently offering the Game of the Year edition of the game for £9.95 which is a considerable mark-down; even used copies on Amazon are more expensive at the moment and the next cheapest price for a new copy is £14.73 from thehut. It's worth bearing in mind that confusion can arise when shopping around for this game thanks to the differing prices between original and platinum versions.
Oblivion is the most recent instalment of the Elder Scrolls series and, it seems, the last one we are likely to get for some time, as mentioned in the recent gaming news post. Set in the lush but rather generic province of Cyrodiil, you begin the game as an escaped prisoner and go on to become... whatever you want!
Follow the main quest and you can close the gates to Oblivion to become the hero of Tamriel. But you can just as easily avoid this path altogether and choose to be more of a small time saint/lonely mercenary; visiting villages and towns, running errands and solving problems for the citizens. Or you can follow the path of magic in the Mages Guild, sneak through ancient ruins, dank caves or abandoned mines, looting and pillaging or even become a cold blooded assassin, as part of the scourge of Cyrodiil "The Dark Brotherhood".
The world is huge, often gorgeous and bursting at the seams with places to explore, mysteries to uncover and people just waiting to see you for a chin-wag. The Shivering Isles add-on gives you a whole new world to explore, filled with very different characters and far more colourful and exciting scenery than that present in the main game.
Combat is frantic, fast and fun and magic is far less fiddly and frustrating than in the previous Elder Scrolls title Morrowind. It is visually very pleasing and the soundtrack fits well, despite being repetitive.
Oblivion is by no means perfect: many people see the game as hollow, lacking in characterisation, devoid of any real choices and shallow despite its scale. Other complaints centre around the level-scaling which can seemingly remove all reward for increasing your own level.
The vast swathes of non-player characters, with just a few voices to share between them is jarring and can zap you straight back to reality. At times, the voice acting is hilariously hit and miss, with beggars sounding suitably down-trodden when approaching you for a coin, in order to "git some shoes" then suddenly switching to perfect clipped tones when responding to a question. (But hey, maybe it's not so weird when coming from "Irlav the faker"...) Perhaps worst of all the game often suffers from glitches that can vary from causing mild irritation to potentially ruining your game - serious stuff when saved games can incorporate hundreds of hours of play.
Despite all these concerns, I personally love Oblivion and rarely get tired of trawling through cave after cave, sneaking and looting... but then this could just be because I am the kind of simple minded fool who would probably spend hours at a time chasing my own tail, if only I had one.