Memory Lane: Morrowind

By Mary-Lynn McLachlan on January 26, 2011, 9:10PM EDT

Besides the odd MMORPG, or strategy game, it often feels like the PC landscape is dying. The PC itself has evolved from an elite workstation (I remember being the only kid in school who had one at home), to an accessible social networking tool that is also sometimes used for homework. It makes me wonder what would happen if the life support Blizzard Entertainment delivers through the form of World of Warcraft was suddenly taken away. Would PC gaming fade out of popularity completely? I have a good reason for anyone to put down a game controller, and saddle up to their PC, and that reason is The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

Morrowind is arguably one of the best RPGs of all time. From design, to story, the game is superb. The game starts off Ultima style, as can you customize your character through a sequence of questionings from guards and bureaucrats, which I love because it's instant immersion. Unlike many RPGs of the same time, Morrowind was not styled like a medieval fantasy, but was more eastern influenced, eerie, and very superstitious feeling. While the game received mixed feelings for being almost too open-ended, I believe that it only added to the feeling of ultimate immersion. There was no need to follow the main story, if you didn't want to. After all if you're a cut throat thief, or a creepy necromancer, you might be busy doing other things like robbing entire towns, or trapping souls in gems.

The combat system, which admittedly has been improved in Oblivion, was quiet good. You could set the game to "use best attack" and furiously left click with your mouse, or you could do a combination of mouse clicks, strafes, lunges, etc to perform attacks. Leveling your skills could be done through practice, purchased through NPCs, or through learning (reading books). I remember falling into a pit once that I didn't have the acrobatic skill to jump out of, and I ended up having to spam jump for thirty minutes so that I could carry on, but I got a couple of levels out of the process which was more of a win than a loss. In Vvardenfell there is literally enough in-game books to make six fantasy novels. These books when read can give skill ups, or clues, or are just simply fun to read.

Morrowind has excellent graphics, for its time, and music. Its graphics can be improved by downloading mods such as "better bodies", but be warned. Some of these mods are extremely graphic, and there was an occasion when I had to explain to my dad that I needed the pants off of a mob I killed, but that taking them off the dead foe would reveal his junk.

The only downfall of a single computer RPG these days is that you either already are a complete loner, or are about to turn into one to play it through completely. There is easily over two hundred hours of gameplay, and it's difficult to breeze through. If they would make this game just as it is, into a MMORPG, I'd never leave my house again. However, the lack of human interaction is a nice change of pace from today's more competitive gaming world.

They say that your first kiss is the kiss that you compare all other kisses to (which can't be right now that I think about it), and as such your first real RPG experience will likely be the same. However, on an industry level, Morrowind is also a benchmark, something to live up to and beyond. The success of many MMORPG, as well as other RPG franchises, has been dependent on the good reception of this one little, but oddly huge open-ended world.

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