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Elder Scrolls 3 - Morrowind: Tribunal
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Fitz_Chivalry has rated the following games:

Elder Scrolls 3 - Morrowind: 10/10 points

There are two things you must have to give this game a 10/10 rating like I did. First, you need an imagination! This is not a game that paints a picture. It's in a beautiful open-ended world, but there are no audio tracks for dialogue, the daily toils of your life are more important than an epic story (although there certainly is one!)... in other words, it's one of those games that require you the gamer to invent the story as you go. This sounds like a cop out but it isn't. While you could certainly exploit the game and pick the easiest career path, you DON'T HAVE TO. This is one of those games that is so non-linear, it is up to you to provide the direction. I can count on one hand the actions that you cannot do (most of them consist of killing game critical characters) but everything else is fair game. So you need an imagination to invent the story as you go along and an ability to live vicariously through your custom hero if you want to truly appreciate this title. The second thing you need is access to the incredible mod community for this game. If you download a few key mods such as Pumaman's Giants, Better Heads/Bodies, Ice's Hideaway, additional quests and weapons/armor, then you will have a game that is entirely different than the original game. Not because the game is so boring it requires this, but because the developers of Morrowind were cool enough to insert a very easy toolset with the game that also makes sure mods don't conflict with the core game files nearly as much as other games and their mods would. On top of the subject of mods, I would also highly recommend both expansions -- Bloodmoon and Tribunal -- because they add much more content to the game and most of the user-made mods don't work unless you have installed both expansions. Check out the official message boards or a site like www.thelys.org to get started with the incredible Morrowind mod community. Like Gothic, this game plays out like an offline MMORPG, only it's not nearly as difficult. Like many RPGs today, my biggest complaint with Morrowind is that it's too easy at higher levels. But if you enjoy the action-combat system in this game, you're willing to forgive much of that, ESPECIALLY if you install a mod like Giants that adds much tougher random creatures. This game would rank as one of my top CRPGs ever made but it's also a game that has a lot of detractors. You really have to enjoy the vast non-linear system they built for this game to fully enjoy it.

Gothic: 9/10 points

Read my review on Gothic 2 to get a feel for the gameplay. Basically, it plays like an MMORPG: action-combat, difficult tedious leveling that requires plenty of killing, and no linear track which means everything is fair game at any level. If you don't like that type of gameplay, you'll never love the Gothic series. If you do enjoy that type of gameplay, you'll fall in love with Gothic as long as you can get used to the controls. Overall, Gothic 2 is a superior game to Gothic 1 but the first game is still an underrated gem in itself which probably has more "personality" than the sequel. It has much smaller land plots to explore compared to Gothic 2, but I enjoyed the dungeons (especially the last one!) in Gothic 1 much more than I did Gothic 2. I also thought the factions and story were cooler in Gothic 1. The old and new camps full of brute thugs, and the cult sleeper camp are a riot to explore. This game is becoming more and more difficult to find, you might have to go to Ebay to get a copy. I recommend you begin with this one first, but if you couldn't get into the clumsy control system, try Gothic 2 first because it's more streamlined.

Gothic 2: 10/10 points

There is something oddly addictive about this game. I would place it with Final Fantasy X (PS2) and Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind (PC, XBOX) as the top RPG on any system as of early 2006. I've played it three times and I love it every go-around. Recommended for gamers who don't mind difficulty in their games and prefer the grueling level-by-level non-linear hack fest that most MMORPGs employ, because that's what this game feels like. Don't get frustrated at first, this game won't hold your hand like many of the easy CRPGs on the market these days. Once you get used to the gameplay, this game will whip your social life away! Gothic 1 not required, but it does help to know the story in the first game, because you will again meet many of the key figures from the first game. I think another thing I enjoy about this game is it doesn't have the same obsession of good vs. evil that other RPGs uilize. Everyone seems to have large shades of grey in this game. Highly recommend that you buy the Gold Edition which comes with the expansion, Night of the Raven.

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords: 8/10 points

If you enjoyed the first KOTOR, you will also dig this game, but it's nowhere near the classic the first KOTOR game was. It seems the developers were forced to finish this game by an Xmas deadline because the storyline sometimes feel rushed. I even read that there was a whole new planet they had planned on putting in the game but didn't have time to complete. It keeps the same basic gameplay engine of the first game, but also inserts several clever improvements. You can now breakdown useless inventory to build your own devices, the henchmen system is vastly improved even if the new henchmen aren't as interesting as the last KOTOR. You are now allowed to turn your henchmen into Jedis if they appear force sensitive as long as you pick the right chat options, and believe me, it's not easy to figure out they want to hear. You'll probably end up going to a website like GameFAQs if you truly want to open the force track for all your henchmen. The sequel does not require you to play the first game, and that's one of my biggest complaints. The first KOTOR had such a cool story that I was eager to complete it in the second game but alas, I guess we have to wait until the third KOTOR to finish the Darth Revan storyline. Some of the henchmen in KOTOR 1 make cameos in KOTOR 2, but that's really it. The sequel tries to provide its own "Sixth Sense ending" like the first game but it's lame. ESPECIALLY the final conversation. That's where you realize that without a doubt they had to rush this game. I'll let you discover the downer of an ending yourself to see what I mean by that. Continuing a weakness in the first game, KOTOR 2 is too easy in the ending, and the bosses are pushovers. All that tension built up for a quick easy victory. Meh. After writing all this, I'm surprised I give it an 8/10, but for all the negatives, it still does give you a little of the KOTOR 1 magic, just not nearly as much. Low replay value.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: 10/10 points

Probably the best turn-based RPG in existence. And by turn-based, I mean strictly turn-based -- a game capable of pausing and putting all your future actions in a que -- not Baldur's Gate that is technically turn-based but doesn't have gameplay to reflect it nor Final Fantasy VII which is more of a real-time engine. The only prerequisite for the game known as KOTOR (Knight of the Old Republic) is an enjoyment of the Star Wars universe. Honestly, I think you could still enjoy this game if you know nothing about Star Wars, but you certainly need an imagination. The ending is one of the best endings in RPG history. If you don't catch the subtle hints sprinkled throughout the game, you WILL be shocked when the truth is revealed near the end! It's also the best RPG in existence to use a good vs. evil concept, probably because the light side and dark side are second nature to the Star Wars universe. My only complaint is that this game is too easy. If you catch on to the gameplay quickly, you'll soon learn that some Jedi powers are unstoppable and a second playthrough, while fun, is too darn easy because you now know how the game works.
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