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Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
System Xbox 360
Genre: Single-player RPG
Release date: Available now
Review by: Michele White
So you’ve beaten back the forces of Oblivion and saved Cyrodiil. You’ve become master of all guilds and the hero of…well…everything. What are you going to do now? Have you ever wanted to rule your own plane of Oblivion? Shivering Isles, the expansion pack for Bethesda Games’ blockbuster Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, allows you the opportunity to do just that.
Unfortunately, you can only get it from the Xbox Live Marketplace, and the download process takes about an hour. For new characters, it takes an additional hour of gameplay before “a strange doorway appears on an island in Niben Bay,” and it’s quite a cross-country hike for a level 1 character, so take your time and enjoy the journey there. If you’re using a saved character, the doorway appears almost immediately after the download completes, and it’s just a short fast travel bleep and swim to your new adventure. The wait time might seem endless, but it will be worth it once you arrive.
After your swim, exotic plants (ready for harvest) greet you to signify that you’re on the edge of another plane. Shortly, you come to the gate (posing as a door), but instead of flame-throwing atrocities from hell, crazy people begin to pour out. You almost feel sorry for them as your blade slices through their flesh, but these things happen in the Isles. A voice bellows “Unworthy! Bring me a champion!” You look around. Yep, it’s you, but don’t expect your standing as the Hero of Kvatch to hold any weight. Once again, you’re the new kid on the block and your fame/infamy means nothing.
Through the doorway you go, expecting all sorts of dimensional demons to swarm you, and then…a butler? Yes, this plane of Oblivion is indeed different. The horror that awaits you is merely Haskill the Chamberlain sitting behind a table. He orders you to “have a seat.” On the surface, all appears quite civilized here on the Isles, which, while comforting, will cause complications for you later. It’s not like the previous plane of the Parent game, where you can kill all you encounter. This plane requires quite a bit more thought and finesse.
The storyline is far from straightforward, with choices always being thrust upon you. The bipolar Prince of this realm might choose to reward you with cheese or devour your soul, depending upon his mood at that moment. His lords and ladies are just as temperamental, and fetch quests involve everything from a drug addiction cure to collecting the components for your own staff of power. For this reason, the rating of the game is somewhat justified. Younger children might not understand the nature of the game’s drug use, but it should be okay for most tweeners and teens.
Like Oblivion, there are numerous side quests to complete, and while the expansion pack isn’t nearly as large as its parent game, there is plenty to keep you busy beyond the estimated 30 hours recommended to complete the game. You can also take all of your items, though not all of your magic, (even gods have limitations) back to through the doorway to Cyrodiil, and you can move back and forth between realms. Fast travel between planes is still not an option. So grab your favorite sword, strap on your armor and don’t forget your sense of humor.
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