|Systems Tested on:
512mb DDR ram
Soundblaster audigy player
640mb RD ram
gf3 ti500 (oooo pretty water)
Soundblaster audigy platinum
There are few games in development out these days that can
grab my attention and keep it there for week after week, and
eventually month after month. Bethesda's Morrowind is a game
that has succeeded in doing that, and has it been worth the
wait? Well read on to find out :)
|It would be difficult to
preview Morrowind without at least glancing back to Daggerfall,
part two of the Elder Scrolls which was horribly infested
with a plague of bugs. To put the fears of many at ease,
it has to be said that even despite the fact that I'm
previewing Morrowind from an early beta version (beta
1 in fact), it has been more stable than many final releases
that I've encountered (I will name no games, almost everyone
who plays games often will have come across one or two
titles). In fact I've only encountered a couple of very
minor issues, which for a beta version of a game, especially
and RPG of Morrowind's size, is absolutely exceptional,
and those issues have been fixed therefore those of you
who buy this game are definately in for a treat.
A picture of
a chitin clad assassin in the Vvardenfell wilderness,
I attempted to play on 1024x768 resolution
and maximum settings on both of my PCs. The extra processing
power of the p4 2.2ghz system seems to pay off, there is no
slowdown at all in the game even though the card is a Geforce
2 and the settings are at maximum. There is however slowdown
on the p4 1.4ghz system. Again the settings were at maximum
and there was a frame rate drop visiting towns, along with
a slight choppyness (the wilderness was absolutely fine).
I didn't feel that the performance drop really threatened
my enjoyment of Morrowind however as it was only minor and
as the character I was playing was frequently solving quests
and exploring and therefore always on the move, I was never
really in a choppy area for any significant length of time,
at lower resolutions the game ran smoothly on both systems
in all areas visited. It is of course possible to achieve
a better performance without switching resolution by lowering
various options contained within the game settings such as
shadows, and active AI distance.
In the Beginning:
The character and class choosing process is surprisingly fun
to go through, there are 10 races to choose from (you can
read about them here)
and a wide variety of skills and classes encompassing magic
endorsed mages, sneaky thieves and combat favouring warriors.
Its basically a mix and match till your hearts content system
where you can choose to play as one of the stereotypes through
to a mixture of all three. This gives the user complete freedom
in how they want to progress through Morrowind and, for me
at least, offers a breath of fresh air having just played
through Baldurs Gate 2 for the umpteenth time.
So far I have experimented with a few of the
character classes, for review purposes I have elected to play
as a Nordic Assassin. My characters for RPG's are typically
warriors, so a sip of refreshing Bird Seed Beer(tm)
by playing as an assassin will help this review stay as objective
as possible. The skills of the character being played are
|Birth Sign: The Atronach
The stats of the assassin have a reasonably good balance and
they appear to make sense. The basic attributes, such as strength,
willpower etc. are affected by the choice of character race,
and knowing that a Nord assassin would prove to be a challenge,
I accepted the character and continued forth into Vvardenfell.
Another reason I have chosen to play as an
Assassin is that they are typically light armour characters,
I have done this in the hope that Morrowind has variety enough
for the heavy armour variants and spellcasters not to be the
be-all-and-end-all of the game, such is the common affliction
of so many other Computer RPGs. I was pleasantly surprised
on this count and shall return to it in Part 2 of the preview.
After loading up the game my very first thoughts were of absolute
delight, I was playing Morrowind, who wouldn't be delighted
about that? :P My second thoughts whereas soon as the character
stepped outside were about the graphics. None of the screenshots
really do the game justice, and the environment of Morrowind
is absolutely absorbing.
There is a noticeable difference when playing
on a Geforce 3 as opposed to the Geforce 2, the reflective
water looks that extra bit nicer, the guards armour looks
sharper, the buildings look that touch more realistic. The
Geforce 2 graphics are still of a very high quality (check
out the screenshot on the right hand side below), but investing
in a Geforce 3 or even a Geforce 4 is certainly advisable
if you wish to get the most out of the game.
The area of Seyda Neen, the village you begin
the game in, offers luxurious amounts of opportunity for eye
candy, and amongst the most impressive is the giant Silt Strider,
shown in the first of the screenshots below, one of the various
methods of fast travel in the game.
the giant Silt
Strider, living ferry of the Vvardenfell wastes.
As you can see,
the Geforce 3 water looks nothing short of astonishing.
looks great on a Geforce 2, as shown by this evening
I could ramble about the graphics all day however, about the
architecture, the fact that NPCs have teeth, the planning
that has been put into the layout of the region, and no least
about the great skies that can be seen everytime you choose
to look up. However one of the most important features of
any first person game, is how the character feels to control.
Its a central concept with regards to the enjoyment that one
can get from the game, and fortunately, it appears to have
turned out all right.
If your character has a low speed and athletics
skill you might feel as though you are plodding along rather
than getting anywhere, and this was certainly the case when
my inventory was loaded down with all sorts of accumulated
merchandise. The same is true if you have a relatively weak
character who wears heavy armour and it is close to his encumbrance
threshold. However if your character is strong and fast you
will find that you can move pretty swiftly even when burdened
with a mountain of junk.
There is of course an option in the menu where
you can change the mouse sensitivity and that allows you to
adjust your characters turning speed to whatever you are most
comfortable with. The feel of the character
control is therefore tied in with your decisions during the
character creation, and this is no bad thing. In fact it is
very good because it certainly, I felt at least, adds significantly
to the immersion of the game and will have a noticeable effect
on how you play through the game itself.
Another factor dealing with the control of
the character is the third person mode. Much debate has raged
regarding whether its better to play in first person or third
person. In this respect I believe that Bethesda have succeeded
in achieving both perspectives to a high standard. If I am
wandering in the wilderness I might switch to third person
mode to get a greater view of my surroundings and to admire
my characters costume, or in battle I might choose third person,
particularly when facing multiple enemies as I can then see
everything that I have to deal with. Whilst third person is
more advantageous graphically, functionally first person has
a slight edge. It is easier to target and collect small objects
when using first person mode, and it is certainly easier if
you choose to play as a class such as the archer where ranged
weapons are the order of the day, as targeting those enemies
is made somewhat easier. In truth though both viewpoints are
very effective and well made, and it would have been a shame
to have only one of those perspectives available for use.
In Part 2 (which will be made available on
Monday) I intend to discuss the depth of game interaction
examine the interfaces available to the player. In the meantime
here are three more screenshots for your perusal.
water shot near Seyda Neen.
The Hlaalu guard
looks menacing in his bonemold armour.
Dusk begins to
engulf the Nordic Assassin
Post comments on this section
of the preview
here for part 2