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Review by: Chris Harding
Published: December 6, 1998
If you’re like me you desperately wanted to love Arena, Daggerfall and Battlespire — the three games from Bethesda Softworks bearing the Elder Scrolls name. And like me, while you were enamored with each game’s potential, you were ultimately disappointed in the end, most likely due to an inordinate number of bugs or perhaps due to technical frailties that you could not overlook, as the case was with Battlespire’s lack of 3D acceleration support. While they have certainly made some mistakes along the way, Bethesda’s commitment to the true full-scale world has been solid, and even with the problems they have encountered I think overall their endeavors have not been in vain. Tamriel, or the world in which Elder Scrolls takes place, is only rivaled in size and scope by TSR’s pen and paper worlds of AD&D, no computer world, even the Ultimas can compare in scope. Creating that type of experience on the digital screen is quite an undertaking, and like our publisher Brian Clair says in his review of Daggerfall, their goal to be the definitive RPG — all things to all people — while commendable, is ultimately self-defeating. Their last game that adorned the Elder Scrolls name tried to bridge the gap between the RPG purist and hardcore 3D action gamer, and was only met with limited success.
To say that the Elder Scrolls universe is at a crossroads would be an understatement, and most people agree that the next title from Bethesda Softworks will determine the company’s future plans and product line. At or near the completion of Daggerfall, work began on a title that hopefully would bring the Elder Scrolls line to its intended fruition. The idea was to create a game that had all the vastness and depth of their RPGs and put it in a smaller setting, one focussed on individual characters and specific stories. The idea was Redguard, and is the first title in the “Adventure” series of the Elder Scrolls universe from Bethesda.
Those who are familiar with the world will recognize the name as one of the races that inhabit the land of Tamriel. The Redguards are blessed with hearty constitutions and quickness of foot. They are natives to the western province of Hammerfell, and are the most naturally talented warriors in the land. It is here in Hammerfell, off the Abecean Sea, on an island called Stros M’Kai that our adventure takes place. As the player you take the role of Cyrus, the prodigal son of Hammerfell and a mercenary for hire who left his homeland after a family squabble — you killed your sister’s husband. Now, over ten years and a civil war later, you get word that your sister has turned up missing, and foul play seems to be the cause. The adventure then begins, after the most entertaining introduction I’ve seen in ages, with you the hero setting sail for your homeland. While at first glance some may say this is just a really pretty third-person adventure a la Tomb Raider, all they’d have to do is speak to someone to negate that perception. Now that I’ve defined what Redguard isn’t, let me tell a little about what it is.
Redguard combines the best elements of adventure, action, exploration with hints of role-playing, and is scripted in a lusciously detailed 3D world full of pirates, swordsman, archers, magicians, dirty politicians and one devious assassin. In the quest to find your missing sister you will uncover some of the secrets to the kingdom, which include answers to the disappearance of the ancient Dwarven race that was said to once inhabit Tamriel. While there are the basic elements of adventuring here, how the game handles them is quite unique. As the player character, Cyrus, you have the freedom to go anywhere people will let you, talk to anyone that will listen, and pick anything you can find. What makes this game so special is the method in which you accomplish all these tasks. Talking to non-player characters is exceptionally well done, and over 30 of them inhabit the island, each with their own personality and political ideologies.
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