Last week, I rediscovered Morrowind.
|Just some of the beautiful (and butt-ugly) sights in Morowind. Click on image for larger picture.|
It was a spectacle when released five years ago, and even today, in a genre that has seen Neverwinter Nights, KOTOR, Fable and Jade Empire, it stands alone.
Critics will point to its tepid dialogue system. They will single out the lackluster combat. Some will even count the immense, free form gameplay as a flaw.
Let's give them their due. There are many things the game lacks : The twisting, immersive plots and subplots of Baldur's Gate 2 or KOTOR. The satisfying, fun filled combat of Jade Empire. The wit and charm of Fable. No, Morrowind is not the perfect game. But then, what is?
If it's a true, honest-to-goodness role playing experience you're after, you won't find a more rewarding title anywhere.
Where other games make you feel like someone special from the word go, Morrowind casts you into the gameworld as a mere nobody, and challenges you to thrive. No early game feel-good whoop-ass sessions here, nosiree. For the first few hours of gameplay, I felt lonely, miserable and sometimes,( I swear it,) cold and wet trudging from town to town in a harsh, unforgiving land filled with rude, hostile and ugly (really) people. At times, I would be jumped by a lone monster, turn tail and run, not stopping till I saw the familiar, welcoming city gates of Balmora. Aaaaaahhhhhhhh! What could be better?
Yes, only the strong survive in Morrowind. The role-playing system itself if superbly designed and flexible – giving gamers the scope to create just the sort of character they want. The sheer number of skills available alone make character creation and development a delicious process.The challenges involved in gaining skills and leveling up make every victory and achievement all the more satisfying. As you progress into the game, you'll enjoy the sensation of having worked your seat off to become the cocky, fireball spewing (or axe wielding), killing machine you are. Warms the cockles.
What a splendid gameworld this is! Bethesda has created an immense nation (yes, that's what it is, with cities, villages, shopping centres ) for you to explore. Ladies and Gentlemen, THIS is free-form exploration. Unlike games like KOTOR and Jade Empire which often tease you with magnificient vistas while locking you on to a much narrower exploration path, Morrowind throws the world at you. If you can see it, you can go there. Want to find a better route? Go ahead. Feel like climbing a mountain? Suit yourself. A swim, perhaps? Nothing will stop you. While this much freedom can be daunting to newbies, the experienced role-player will savour it.
And this is NOT a game for newbies. What it is is an immeasurably excellent feast for that hard-boiled veteran of RPGs who has conquered it all and is looking for more. No other RPG makes players feel so completely immersed in the gameworld. No other RPG offers as much freedom for exporation and character building. No other RPG has anything close to the hours of gameplay that Morrowind treats you to.
For me, the flaws in Morrowind melt away as you play further and further, until you truly become a part of the world. You feel reassured when you see familiar places and things, nervous when entering a new town, small and afraid when a dust storm hits, cold and wet when it's raining. This is what role playing is all about. This is why every serious role-player owes it to himself (yeah, alright – or herself) to give it a go.
Morrowind is available for PC and XBOX.