Oblivion: Shivering Isles
If you're looking for something new to play, look no further. Assuming you've played Oblivion at all ( and if you haven't, why not! ) you want to do yourself the favor of running out right now and picking up a copy of Shivering Isles, the new expansion pack for Oblivion. The expansion adds a new plane of Oblivion to the game that is said to be 25% of the size of the main game. So there's lots of places to go, people to meet, and things to do. For those of you who thought the main game was somewhat bland and generic, you won't have that problem with SI. The lands of Sheogorath are rich and diverse, offering plenty of unique places and people. Add to that the unpredictability of insanity and you've got yourself a whole realm to explore that will keep you wanting to come back for more.
As usual, the graphic quality is unmatched. SI adds several unique landscapes to wander. The dark and dreary lands of Dementia set the mood perfectly. Balanced against that are the bright and colorful lands of Mania which are quite stunning to see. Twisted trees and odd looking roots sticking out of things add some new flare that Cyrodiil was lacking. Have a romp through the gallery here. I've got plenty of Oblivion and SI screenshots :)
New creatures have been added for your combat pleasure. Ranging from the slightly bothersome Baliwog to the formidable Grummites, you'll have no problem finding a nice challenge. Wizardly types need to be on their toes as well as some of the new creatures have inherent magic resistance that might come back to bite you. And for those of you who like your humanoid NPCs to be scantily clad, you won't be disappointed. Lets just say the Dark Seducers look like they'd be a lot of fun :)
The plot line for the expansion is very well done and keeps its continuity throughout. What starts off as a seemingly random trip through a portal in the Niben Bay soon turns into an epic trek through the lands in an effort to defend against the forced of order. During your travels a rich culture is discovered, along with a good back history to go with it. Along your way you'll meet plenty of cool people and have plenty of interesting things to help them with.
You'll have no shortage of loot, and at least one piece of loot is about as kick-ass as kick-ass can get. The Dawnfang/Duskfang sword you get as a reward is probably the coolest weapon I've seen in a TES game so far. Fortunately my main character got full use of it since he's a blade wielder. The amber and madness armors/weapons are also interesting. Throw in a matrix of the right type and you get some goodies that rival the Crusader equipment from Knights of the Nine. There's also plenty of really good rings and amulets to stock up on that blow the standard Cyrodiil loot out of the water.
SI is marred by one very serious bug that was discovered sometime last week. It manifests itself by items disappearing when you drop them, save, and then reload the game. It's a very serious problem that has to do with how FormID tags on items are used to keep track of them, and some scripts on some guards in one of the main quest dungeons that fire off continuously whether the player is in the cell or not. The scripts are continuously running and generating thousands of FormIDs while playing. It's been estimated that once SI is installed you could run into the bug sometime between 75 and 150 hours. It depends on the framerate of your game. That's not the only bad thing about it though. Once the FormIDs roll over to 0 it isn't long before this begins to risk corruption of your character data. Some people have reported loading affected games only to find their characters have been wiped clean. Bethesda is working on a patch and has released it in beta for those who want to help test it. There's also a user mod patch which will kill the offending scripts until you're actually in that part of the game.
Overall, SI is well worth your time. Bug and all. A definite recommendation.
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil
Well. I guess that's that then.