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Volume 68, Issue 11, Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Arts & Entertainment

‘Morrowindi offers worthy role playing

By Paul Saleeba
The Daily Cougar

Bethesda Softwareis latest offering to the PC and Microsoftis X-Box is a chapter in the Elder Scrolls saga, Morrowind. This is an excellent PC-style role playing game (RPG) and a worthy addition to any collection on its own, which focuses on character and plot freedom over everything else.

When the game starts, your character has just been released from prison after a lifetime residence. You are given a package and a meeting place and left to create your character. 

Character creation includes choosing from one of the gameis many unique races, faces, hair types, bodies, birth signs and genders. Then, you choose a class, and if none of them appeal to you, you may build your own from the gameis skills.

As per any PC-style RPG, you are free to do as you wish; the game has several guilds, political factions, three kinds of vampire clans, two churches and one underground assassinsi guild you can join, which provide subplots to the primary quest.

In fact, if the main quest of saving the world does not appeal to you, you can completely ignore it. Freedom is this gameis pillar. You can customize your weapons, skills, build custom spells, collect a wardrobe, establish your own household, or even just outright kill someone and live in theirs. There is no set course; the path you choose is entirely up to you.

The game does not hold you back for not advancing the main plot. You can murder any character in the game. Donit be surprised if the town guards come after you or an angry mob forms. Yes, you can kill these too.

Morrowind doesnit stop shining there. The graphics are some of the most breathtaking on the X-Box or the PC. Bethesda has taken full advantage of both platformsi DirectX power to render a world where day turns to night, rain falls and thunder booms loud and clear.

Skies are generated by the worldis weather and sky engine, which doesnit use any pre-rendered bits. Youill never see the same cloud twice. The world is just as detailed; there are books which tell you the worldis history, fiction and, if you look hard enough, even a few jokes. Non-Player Characters, called NPCs, occasionally comment on your dress; if you are running around naked they comment on your lack thereof. Others may talk about current events or sling racist slurs and refuse to make transactions with your chosen group.

The differences between the X-Box and PC are minimal in terms of game play. But the PC version allows you to download updates. You can even build your own with the built-in editor. The game can look better on the PC than the X-Box, but requires a rather powerful computer and 3D card. But if you own both, Iid recommend the PC version as new quests and even new games have been built on the gameis engine.

My only complaints about the X-Box version is that it has a tendency to crash after five or so hours, and the load times take longer than on a PC.

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