- The Elder Scrolls III
Morrowind has earned an Editors' Choice award from all three major PC Gaming Magazines in the US and has become one of the most talked about (and reviewed) games in recent memory. It is a single player role playing game and the third in the Elder Scrolls series that included Arena and Daggerfall.
At the beginning of the game you arrive via prison ship on the mysterious island of Vvardenfell. The first playable sequence serves as a nice tutorial on the game's controls and movement modes. To create a character you are offered a choice of answers to a series of questions, selecting a predefined character or creating one from scratch. There are 10 races available with both sexes represented for each and 8 primary attributes that govern a player's abilities. You may choose to emphasise combat, magic or stealth arts to create a character that suits your playing style. A character's skills improve as they are used in the game and when skills have improved enough the character is awarded a new level and becomes more powerful.
the character creation process is over you are released into the Morrowind
world. You will notice immediately that the graphics are stunning and
the island of Vvardenfell is huge. The game is unstructured and extremely
open ended. You can wander and explore for literally hundreds of hours
of game play without getting bored. There are over 3,000 characters in
the game that you can interact with and over 30 distinct towns as well
as several hundred ruins, tombs and shipwrecks. The beauty and variety
of the terrain in the game is amazing. There are times when you will want
to just walk around and look at the scenery. There are very convincing
weather effects such as raindrops on water and ash storms that start up
slowly in the distance and soon rage right over you. There are a lot of
very nice environmental touches (dragon flies in the swampier areas, characters
that shield their eyes when an ash storm starts blowing) throughout the
different types of terrain on the island.
The interface is fairly well laid out. All interaction with the game's characters is done through a text based dialogue interface that is very easy to use. There is an inventory screen, a character health and attributes screen and a dynamic map of the island. One interesting feature is a journal that is dynamically updated with key details for each quest. Just about every object in the game can be interacted with, picked up or taken and used. This includes books, plants, weapons and magic items. All this makes Morrowind a very immersive and addictive game.
One place the game suffers is in its system requirements. It really pushes the envelope on graphics, sound and CPU utilisation. Many players with marginal systems have reported a variety of problems from slow game play to freezes. An 800 MHz or faster Pentium with 128 MB of ram and a newer GeForce or Radeon card are strongly recommended.
Morrowind comes painfully close to being perfect for deaf gamers. Close, but not all the way there. The game has a subtitle mode, which is off by default but easily activated in the options screen, that shows all audio dialogue in very readable text. The speed of the subtitles is not configurable but very easy to follow. When an enemy weapon or spell is hitting your character the borders of the screen flash red so that you know you are being struck. Most of the interactions happen in the text based mode so deaf gamers will have an easy time chatting with characters and following the quests. The journal recaps many of the main interactions and is a great resource to refer back to. Much of the interesting backstory in the game comes in the form of books sprinkled throughout the environment. These are fun to read and since they pause the game play they can be read at every opportunity (and there are a lot of them).
There are some issues for deaf gamers though. There are three main cut scenes, one at the beginning of the game, one important one in the middle of the main quest and one at the end of the main quest that are inexplicably not subtitled. This is very disappointing. There are two other major annoyances. First, there is a music cue that you are in danger that is not represented in subtitle mode at all. Secondly if an enemy comes up behind you and takes a swing and misses there is no visual indication that you are under attack. Luckily there are workarounds for both of these: The background music and danger music are easily replaceable, I was able to swap the normal music with a silent MP3 and the danger music with an MP3 of low rumbling that I can feel through a subwoofer at my feet. To make sure I know when an enemy is attacking me from behind I always use the 3rd person view when travelling. One other small annoyance is that the subtitles give no indication of which character is speaking. Walking through a crowd can be very confusing with no clue of who said what. It would have been easy to put the character names in the subtitles or colour code each characters' speech.
Overall as a deaf person I find Morrowind a very playable and addictive game. I am continually marvelling at the wonderful graphics and amount of thought and humour that went into creating the environment. There is an active modding community and Bethesda Softworks has already released a patch that fixes many game play issues. This is an outstanding game that should be around for quite a while.
Quality of text: 9/10 All dialogue is provided by text. Hints as to which character is talking would have been helpful. If they had just subtitled the cut scenes.
Graphics: 10/10 With a powerful card the graphics are stunning.
Interface: 9/10 A nice and simple interface.
Gameplay: 9.5/10 Very engaging and addictive game play.