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Morrowind GotY (Xbox) Review
Chris 'limesix' Rediske, 2003-11-20

As one of the most anticipated RPG's of all time, and a game that largely lived up to those expectations, there's been a lot written about Morrowind over the last year. In addition, although there are certainly good console RPG's out there (Knights of the Old Republic, anyone?), it's safe to say that there has never been an experience quite as open ended, deep, and, well, huge as Morrowind on a console system - games like that have classically been the realm of the PC gamer. However, with the release of Morrowind on the Xbox, console gamers got a chance to experience the kind of detailed and non-linear RPG PC gamers have taken for granted for years. The game was also an unqualified success, as it was one of only two games to be ranked among the top ten selling Xbox games from May to August of 2003 (the other being Halo).

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The success of Morrowind on the Xbox was duplicated on the PC, and Bethesda followed it up with two expansion packs over the past twelve months - Tribunal and Bloodmoon, each of which added more story, more land, and more quests to Morrowind, making an already huge game even larger. And although the Xbox does have the ability to deliver content via Xbox Live, console Morrowind players have so far been stuck with the mere 150+ hours offered by the original campaign.

Once more into the breach…

Morrowind: Game of the Year Edition aims to rectify this oversight, as it adds all of the content from both expansions to the original game in one gigantic release, as well as several improvements introduced by patches to the PC game. Chief among these are the damage bar for enemies and a difficulty slider for enemy combat. Strangely though, the damage bar doesn't seem to trigger unless you're using a weapon - if you're casting spells, you'll still have to guess at how much damage you're doing.

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Morrowind: GOTY is missing one main improvement available to PC gamers - the improved quest sorting introduced with the release of Tribunal, and with this much more game to play, it's harder than ever to keep track of the journal. Just like the original game, however, it's not a show-stopper, and fans of the game will make do as they have up till now. The best part is that rather than re-release Morrowind: GOTY as a full priced game, Bethesda has priced it at $29.99, making it a great bargain for new Morrowind players, as well as those who had already finished the main quest of the original.

One unfortunate side-effect of the additional content is extra long load times for save games - but Bethesda did make sure that saves from the original Morrowind Xbox will be compatible with GOTY, allowing high-level characters to jump right into Tribunal or Bloodmoon. Other than that, there don't seem to be any major differences in the game - it still looks quite good a year after release, although the graphics
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have dated somewhat, and though the Xbox textures and resolution are lower and generally less impressive than the PC version of the game, Morrowind is still a captivating and immersive world. The game runs at a relatively smooth framerate throughout, and loading times for other areas are not nearly as punitive as the save game loads.

Although first person games are generally better suited to the mouse and keyboard combination of a PC, Morrowind: GOTY does a good job with the controls, and the game is responsive and fun to play with the Xbox controller as soon as you get the hang of it. It's also worth noting that the Tribunal quests are not triggered until your character is at a certain level, but the island of Solstheim introduced by Bloodmoon can be visited at any time. However, you'll want to be pretty powerful before you go adventuring there - or get ready to load a save game.

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As good as ever

If you're looking for more details about Morrowind's core gameplay, as well as that of Tribunal or Bloodmoon, please take the time to read through our reviews on each of those PC titles - the content is identical to what you'll find here, and all three are fine games in their own right. And as such, the addition of Tribunal and Bloodmoon to what was already arguably the deepest and best RPG available on any console system makes the Xbox version of Morrowind: GOTY an absolute must have. Hopefully you'll have 300+ hours free, because the game will definitely keep you busy while you're waiting for the next installment of The Elder Scrolls.

Note: Morrowind: GOTY is also available for PC at the same price point as the Xbox version.

The Verdict
Graphics (15%) 85%
Sound (15%) 70%
Control (25%) 85%
Fun (45%) 95%
Overall 87%

The ups and downs:
Cmon – It’s MorrowindControl is better on a PC
Basically three entire games..Damage bar doesn't trigger
... in one package...for spells
Old save games compatible

Reviewer's System
CPU: Xbox

Average Reader Ratings: 9.13 (101 votes)
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