Game of Thrones – Season Four Episode 9

got4This past weekend, the penultimate episode of Season Four of GOT aired, and an event which was a long time in coming was finally showed. Yes, after two seasons of build-up, the Wildlings under “King” Mance Rayder’s leadership, assaulted the Wall. Strangely, Mance was nowhere to be seen during this assault, but from the way they ended the episode, I’m sure we’ll be hearing from him soon enough. And as usual, I got some bones to pick with the writers, but not the same reasons others have.

After this weekend’s episode aired, a common thing I noticed from the critics was the statement that the attack on the Wall was no “Blackwater Bay”. Much like Season Two’s smash-up where Stannis and his armies lay siege to King’s Landing, the entire episode was dedicated to this one battle and those involved. And while it didn’t exactly have the same epic scope and grandeur as that battle, I think this is an unfair comparison.

One cannot expect a massive siege every season! It’s just not cost effective. No, in the end, I felt this battle fell a bit short because of the way they changed things around in the story, not to mention the way they shot the whole thing. By the time things really got started, I wasn’t sure if I was watching GOT or Lord of the Rings. Somehow, it felt like Peter Jackson was at the helm and not George RR Martin. But first, a recap…

The Watchers on the Wall:
GOT4_9_1The episode begins with Jon and Samwell standing atop the Wall and discussing love. Sam asks what it was like being with Ygritte, while once again lamenting the fact that he left Gilly at Moletown, where he suspects she died. Jon sends Sam below to get some rest, but he instead goes to the library to learn what Wildlings are known to do to their captives. Aemon finds him and they spend the time talking of lost love.

Going back outside, Sam comes to the gate in time to see Gilly knocking at Castle Black’s gate and asking to be let in. After convincing the Brother guarding it to let her in, he tells her they will never be apart again. Their reunion is interrupted when they hear a horn sound. From atop the Wall, Jon and the other brothers spot a massive forest fire looming in the distance. Mance’s signal to attack is issued, and thousands of Wildlings, giants and mammoths form up.

GOT4_9_2Under the command of Ser Alliser Thorne, the Brothers begin preparing their defenses, and he takes a moment to let Jon know that he will be equal to the task of leading them. The mammoths move forward to the gate while other Wildlings begin scaling the Wall. Sam places Gilly in a chamber below and locks the door, telling her she must hide and he must stand with his Brothers. He kisses her goodbye, and she makes him promise he won’t die.

South of the Wall, Ygritte, Tormund, the Thenns and their raiding party are preparing to make their assault. While they wait for Mance to send the signal – “the biggest fire the North has ever seen”. When they spot it, they launch their attack on Castle Black’s gates. Sam and the others let loose on them with arrows, but are quickly overtaken as the Wildling party moves in and scales the short walls that guard the southern approach.

GOT4_9_4Hearing of the attack on the Castle, Thorne goes below to organize the defense, leaving Slynt in charge. Below, two giants lead a mammoth to the gate and hitch ropes from its harness the doors, intending to pull it off. Slynt quickly proves unequal to the task of leading the defense and begins muttering about how it was so much easier commanding the Kingsguard. Grenn then tricks Slynt and tells him he’s needed below too, which leaves Jon in charge.

Relying on the lessons he learned during his time among them, Jon has his archers fire arrows onto those scaling the Wall and drops barrels on those at the gate. Below, the battle in Castle Black’s courtyard turns bad. The brothers lose many men, Thorne is injured and incapacitated, and Slynt runs and locks himself in the same room as Gilly. Jon decides to go below with Grenn and some others, and orders Eddison to unleash fire on the mammoths.

GOT4_9_3This he does, which kills most of the Wildlings and sends the mammoth running. One of the two giants is then killed by a Scorpion up on the Wall, sending the other into a rage and leading him to begin prying the gate open with his bare hands. Jon arrives below and tells Grenn and the others to get to the gate an hold it at all costs. He then has Sam unlock Ghost from his cage and begins fighting his way through the Wildlings.

In a pitch fight, Jon kills Styr (the leader of the Thenn party) with a blacksmith’s hammer and comes face to face with Ygritte, who has her bow drawn on him. She hesitates to shoot him, and is then shot with an arrow through the chest by Olly, the young boy who mans the elevator. She dies, repeating the same words she said to him, time and time again: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Inside the Wall gate, the giant breaks through and attacks Grenn and his brothers. They die holding the giant off.

got4_9_5Up top, Eddis sees that they only have the few Wildlings scaling the Wall to deal with, and orders that they drop the “Scythe” – a large metal blade at the end of a chain that combs the wall when released. This kills the remaining attackers, and the rest fall back. In the courtyard, Tormund is wounded and captured, and Jon orders him put in chains. Sam returns below to find Gilly safe, and Slynt cowering in the corner.

Surveying the damage, Jon tells Sam that this was just the first assault, and that Mance will break through before long if they allow him to continue. He then tells Sam that he will meet with Mance, during which time he will attempt to kill him so that the Wildlings once again become divided. They head to for the gate, where they find the bodies of Grenn, the giant, and the others who died holding it. Sam orders the gate opened and says goodbye to Jon.

Summary:
Well, the episode certainly was fun and entertaining. One can’t deny that an incredible amount of time, effort, and good direction went into making it. And it did manage to capture the spirit, if not the letter, of the battle as it was described in the book. But as usual, there were some things that bothered to me that had to do with changes, not to mention how those changes affected the feel and flow of things. Here’s what they were, in chronological order…

First, there was no last-minute reunion between Sam and Gilly. She had been at the castle for some time, and a romance had not quite budded between them. Second, Tormund, Ygritte and the Wildling raider party had already assaulted Castle Black at this point in advance of Mance’s main assault. Having struck at Castle Black days before, they were thwarted by a great deal of ingenuity and booby traps, which were installed thanks to Jon’s help.

Third, there was none of this shuffling around of commanders in the novels. While it is true that Thorne and Slynt did not trust Jon, he was still put in charge of the Wall’s defenses since he had intimate knowledge of Mance’s plan of attack, and because Aemon on his Brothers vouched for him. It was not the case that he had it thrust on him because Thorne had to go below, or because Slynt was a coward. This last aspect they really played up, and it felt like it was just to give us someone to hate.

Fourth, two decidedly cheesy moments happened in this battle. The first was where Sam narrowly managed to get his crossbow loaded in time to take down a Wildling. The second – and by far, the worst – was Ollie going from a frightened little boy who couldn’t stand the sound of fighting to grabbing a bow and killing Ygritte with it. This more than anything was like a scene out of Jackson’s LOTR. It wasn’t nearly as bad as Legolas riding a shield down a set of steps like it was a skateboard, but still!

Fifth, Tormund was not taken prisoner during the battle. After losing his attack force south of the Wall, he fled north again and began rallying Wildlings later. Ever since, even as far as book V, he has not been heard from. And finally, Jon Snow did not decide to venture out and assassinate Mance once the battle was over. In fact, it was Slynt’s idea to send him out in the hopes that he would die while attempting to kill Mance.

You see, after the battle, Slynt and his allies were still nominally in charge since no new Lord Commander had been elected. And he would go on to be a pain in Jon’s ass since he didn’t trust him and saw him as a threat to his possible leadership. However, the way they’ve presented him here, as an incompetent coward, is melodramatic to say the least. It also kind of complicated the plot now, since Slynt disgraced himself for all to see.

In short, it felt like they were trying to sex things up from the original material; but really, I only felt like they dumbed it down. Many things they did get right, like the way the giants penetrated into the gate, or how Ygritte died with Jon standing over her and crying. They also captured the defenders sense of desperation, knowing that they were vastly outnumbered, but still protecting by the Wall’s defenses. And I have to say that this was one episode this season that didn’t bore or disappoint the hell out of me.

Still… where the hell was Mance this whole time? Has anyone else noticed he completely disappeared after his brief appearance last season? He better show up next week, as he’s kind of intrinsic to the plot!

Skyrim – Game of Thrones Theme!

skyrim_GOTIt was bound to happen sooner or later, what with Season Four of GOT coming to an end and the current popular obsession with mash-ups. In this video, Vimeo user Brady Wold mashed up the fantasy game Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim with the intro theme from Game of the Thrones to create something very watchable and fun. Using locations within the realm of Tamriel, the animation sweeps across the lands of Skyrim and watches cities like Whiterun, Riften, and others assemble themselves from the ground up.

Ever since it’s release in 2011, this RPG has been renowned for featuring elements that are quite similar to the HBO series and the fictional A Song of Ice and Fire universe on which it is based. This includes sword and sorcery, medieval history and clothing, dragons, epic fantasy, and an a common sense of aesthetics. And if that’s not enough for you, there’s a ton of GOT mods that can be uploaded to the game to add content and items from the series.

Skyrim_longclawFor instance, I myself experimented by adding weapons like Ice (Eddard Stark’s huge ass sword), Longclaw (Jon Snow’s bastard sword) and Needle (Arya Stark’s pigsticker) into the game with the “GOT Weapons Pack”. You can also download an “Arya Stark Follower” mod that has a version of this young character follow you around and assist you, and there are numerous others that allow for you to integrate livery and standards from the GOT universe into the game.

And there’s even a mod that makes it so whenever you fire up Skyrim, instead of seeing the opening Bethesda logo, this video animation plays. New ones emerge every week, including ones from the LOTR franchise and other fantasy universes. It kind of makes you wonder why the studios even bother making games anymore! Couldn’t an army of moderators simply build MMORPGs online from now on that would cut out the video game makers altogether?

I should keep my voice down, don’t want to encourage said folks. Some of the mods they created are already on the border between and bad taste. Lord only knows what kind of stuff they’d allow for if they had total freedom! In the meantime, enjoy the video:


Source:
wired.com

Game of Thrones – Season Four, Episode Four

GOT4_3At last, I am finally caught up with GOT and the many episodes which took place while I was either overseas or in transit. And while I’m pleased with that fact, I have to say this past week’s episode was kind of a disappointment. And there are a few reasons for that. For starters, it was loaded up with stuff that didn’t even appear in the original books. And I don’t mean they changed some things for the sake of adapting to a TV format, as they’ve done countless times in the past. No, this week, they had whole segments that were entirely made up.

Second, there was the way they explained every single aspect of the conspiracy surrounding Joffrey’s death. They’ve done this a lot in the shows, being explicit about things that were implicit in the novels. But this time around, they really spelt it out for us! And last, but not least, there was the whole mutineers at Craster’s Keep thread and the way they turned up the ugliness factor. Forget Oathkeeper, the episode should have been called “C*nt” – as in, how many times can we say it in one scene!

However, there were some parts of it that were interesting and even intriguing, mainly the ending…

Oathkeeper:
GOT4_4_1The episode opens with Daenerys’ attempt to take Mereen, which consists of Grey Worm and other Unsullied sneaking into the city through its sewers. Disguised as slaves, they made their way inside to where the city’s slaves are holding congress and discussing open revolt. Upon their arrival, Grey Worm and the others distribute weapons and tell them that Daenerys is there to free them, and that they outnumber the masters three to one.

The next day, the masters see Daenerys’ banner flying from the tallest of the city’s pyramid and find graffiti denouncing the masters. One such master is caught in an alleyway between dozens of armed slaves and is killed. The slave uprising neutralizes the defenses, and Daenerys enters into the city and is hailed as a liberator. She then orders that the slave masters be publicly crucified in the same fashion as the children that they saw along the road.

GOT4_4_2Back in King’s Landing, Jaime meets with Tyrion for the first time and asks him if he is guilty of Joffrey’s death. He denies it, and Jaime believes him, which puts him at odds with Cersei who continues to hold him responsible. After asking him if he would find and kill Sansa for her, Jaime calls Brienne to him. Giving her a new suit of armor and his sword, he tasks her with fulfilling her duty to Lady Caitlyn and finding her daughter. She names the sword Oathkeeper, and sets out with Pod to find Sansa.

Lady Olenna Redwyne meets with Margaery and tells her in no subtle fashion to begin ingratiating herself to Tommen so she can defuse any attempts Cersei has at poisoning him against her. In the course of their talk, she admits that she is the one who poisoned Joffrey. Out to sea, while traveling to the Eyrie to marry her aunt, Lord Pyter Baelish admits the same to Sansa, and intimates that he did it to please the Tyrells – his new ally.

got4_4_3At the Wall, Locke has arrived and begins to befriend Jon Snow, who is there to kill – on Lord Bolton’s orders. Amidst training the new recruits, Jon comes to learn from Sam that Bran and the Reeds are travelling north of the Wall and suspects they may find their way to Craster’s Keep. He then is told by the acting Lord Commander that he has leave to go there and kill the mutineers before they can fall into Mance’s hands.

Locke and a handful of other Brothers agree to go with him, and they set out. Meanwhile, at Crasters Keep, where Karl Tanner (one of the mutineers) is running things as his own private fiefdom. When a newborn baby boy is presented to him, he is told that Craster sacrificed them to “the gods” (aka. the White Walkers). He orders one of his men to take the baby out, who then leaves it in the snow and goes to a cage where (surprise!) Ghost is being kept.

GOT4_4_4Just then, a cold wind blows in, signalling the approach of the Walkers, and he runs away. Not far off, Bran, Hodor and the Reeds are camped and sense the approach as well. They hear the baby crying, and Bran changes skin with Summer, who then wanders off in search of the baby. His wolf hears howling as well, sees Ghost in his cage, and then falls into a trap. The next day, they approach the Keep and see what’s become of it.

They begin planning on freeing Summer, but are captured by the mutineers. Hodor is chained up so the mutineers taunt and abuse him, and one stabs him in the leg with his spear. Bran and the Reeds are taken inside the keep where Karl comes to them and demands to know who they are. He threatens to kill them and Jojen begins to have a seizure, at which point Bran tells them his true identity. At this point, Karl means to ransom them or hold them hostage.

GOT4_4_5The episode ends out in the frozen wastes, where the White Walker who was seen assaulting the Fist of the First Men is riding his dead horse and carrying the baby with him. After arriving at the foot of a mountain, the Walker comes to a sort of shrine made of ice and places the baby down on an altar. Another Walker comes forward from a large circle of them and touches the baby’s face. It’s eyes turn blue, indicating that it has become an Other.

Summary:
So… where to start? I’m guessing with the stuff I didn’t like since the ending was the big exception to all that. Let’s see if I can’t break it down in sequential order. First off, the sack of Mereen, which was very quick and involved some changes from the original story. As I mentioned last time, the way the show chose to write Strong Belwas and the fact that Ser Barristan Selmy was originally hiding his identity from Daenerys out of the show. As I might have also said, this would come up this week as Daenerys’ forced sacked the city.

Basically, Daenerys learned the truth as she sat outside Mereen’s walls and tried to think of a way to breach its defenses. Not only did she learn that Whitebeard was actually Selmy and in the employ of Robert – the man who usurped the throne from her father and tried to have her killed. His confession also raised the fact that Ser Jorah Mormont was working for Robert as well. At least he was, until he chose to switch sides and prevent her from being poisoned.

Incensed, Daenerys chose to send them on a dangerous mission, which involved sneaking into the city’s sewers at night and opening it’s gates. This was the only weakness they could discern of Mereen’s defenses, and Mormont and Selmy happened to be successful. By contrast, the way they did this in this week’s episode happened so fast and quickly, it kind of made it seem like taking the city was a piece of cake. But it still worked, so no real complaints there. And the way they rendered the city was very beautiful and accurate to the text.

However, the whole storyline in the North is something that I found rather annoying. For starters, Jon Snow never asked to go off and kill the mutineers at Crasters Keep, mainly because they had their hands full with the Wildling party that coming up from the south, and Mance coming down from the north. As Jon knew, Ygritte and Tormund’s whole purpose was to take Castle Black so that they could open the gates and let Mance and his army through without a fight.

Jon knew that the only advantage the Night’s Watch had was the fact that the Wall would be very difficult for Mance’s army to overcome. But that advantage would be lost if the Wildlings managed to seize Castle Black, which seemed likely given how outnumbered the Night’s Watch was at this point. Faced with attack coming from two directions, both of which were practically upon them, Jon’s only thought was preparing their defenses. He gave no thought to the mutineers whatsoever, since they were all believed to be dead anyway.

And speaking of giving something no though, Bolton never ordered Locke to go Castle Black to find and assassinate Jon. While it is true that he was concerned with cementing his family’s rule over the North, this involved him sending his bastard son (after he was made a full Bolton) to Winterfell where he was to marry Jeyne Poole (Sansa’s friend in King’s Landing who was now being forced to pretend to be Arya Stark). This show-wedding would have made the Bolton’s rule over the North legitimate by law.

At no point in the story did Bolton learn that Bran and Rickon were still alive, not for certain anyway. And as for Jon Snow, Bolton never concerned himself with him since, as a bastard, he had no claim to Winterfell. And to top that off, the mutineers never captured Ghost, and Bran, Hodor and the Reeds never traveled to Craster’s Keep to be captured and interrogated. All of this stuff was made-up and filler, and the way they turned Karl Tanner from a background character into Evil the Cat seemed especially overdone.

And while I get that they need to come up with things to keep certain characters and threads engaged, I would think they could do what they have been doing with Theon, who also didn’t appear again in the story until A Dance with Dragons (book five). Here, they simply used what Martin wrote about his intervening time to keep him in the story. With Bran and Jon now, they are making stuff up and diverging wildly from the text.

But at least this week, Cersei and Jaime’s strained relationship seems to have some merit. In fact, it was their disagreement over Tyrion that caused their split in the first place, not to mention Cersei’s growing paranoia and vindictiveness. That whole “you took too long” thing was pure nonsense, and the rape scene of last week was as wrong as it was unnecessary. Not in the books, didn’t fit with their characters, so I liked that this week, they ironed that out.

And of course, the ending! What can I say about that? No, really, what can I say? I ask because it wasn’t in the books either, not in A Storm of Swords (which provides the material for this season) or the two others that have come since. This means that this final scene, which was very cool and cryptic, was also providing hints as to the larger plot, stuff that George RR Martin hasn’t even revealed yet to his loyal readers. What can you say about that? Other than COOOOOOL!

Anyhoo, midseason is coming up, and we’ve got some rather major events in the works before the season ends. These would include Tyrion’s trial – which is going to have its own share of big surprises and consequences! – and of course, Mance’s assault on the Wall, which I am looking forward to with some high zest. No matter what else they’ve done this season, fight scenes and major battles are two thing they’ve consistently managed to do well!

South Park: Winter is Coming!

south_park_60532South Park once again spoofed Game of Thrones this past week. Using Black Friday as a plot line, the episode had the children dressing up as characters from the GOT universe and plotting to get their hands on the new Xbox One’s and PS4’s. In true GOT fashion, this involved plotting, making and breaking alliances, and the use of the slogan “Winter is Coming” to portend the need for swift action.

And of course, the show itself was reference, much in the same way that Lord of the Rings or World of Warcraft was worked into the plot in previous episodes. As usual, Butters is the only one who doesn’t know about it yet and is promptly told to get on it by Cartman. Plotting ensues, and a war of GOT proportions is declared.


And just like with the Lord of the Rings and World of Warcraft episode, Butters is confused by (and has some hilarious observations about) the pop culture phenomena once he actually starts experiencing it. I’m sure fans of the GOT series know exactly what he’s talking about.


And there’s even a thread where Randy Marsh (Stan’s dad) joins the mall cops, ostensibly to earn more money for the holidays, but really so he can get a better shot at scoring some Black Friday deals. After the head cop, an old man with a scarred face, is stabbed and passes leadership onto Randy it’s clear they are alluding to John Snow and Jeor Mormont of the Night’s Watch. While I could not find a clip of that part, trust me when I tell you its quite accurate.

This is the second time that South Park has referenced this show, and about the millionth time that GOT was spoofed, referenced, or satirized in some way. Man, that show has made some serious inroads into popular culture, and dammit if they aren’t taking their precious time getting Season 4 out!

Bad Lip Reading: Game Of Thrones

game-of-thrones-air-guitar_510At long last, the people at Bad Lip Reading have tackled the first season of A Game of Thrones. And wouldn’t you know it? They even provided a theme this time around! It’s called “Medieval Land Fun-Time World”, and chronicles the attempts of Eddie (Eddard Stark) and a gang of misfits as they try to save their medieval-themed fun park.

Yeah, if that sounds like the plot of a really cheesy comedy, that’s because this is what they were going for. The whole thing is pitched like an extended preview for a film jam-packed with bawdy fart humor and cheap jokes, with hilarious results. And they even managed to squeeze in some CGI and special effects to make the illusion complete.

Seriously, this has to be their most elaborate video to date. Check it out:

GOT Fanfilm: A Tale of Benjen Stark

A-taleofBenjenStarkThough season four may still be many months away, some in the fan community have bravely stepped up to make sure the die hards of Game Of Thrones get a dose to tide them over. In this case, the fans in question are the good folks behind The Von Wong and Five Knights Productions, who have created A Tale of Benjen Stark, a short fanfilm that addresses a hole in the series’ story.

Basically, the film explores the question of what happened to Ben Stark, Lord Ned Stark’s brother and a man of the Night’s Watch. As fans of the book and TV series may recall, Benjen set out north of the Wall in the first installment, seeking to find what was behind the reported deaths of several Wildlings and the disappearance of his brothers. After setting out, he was never heard from again, and only passing clues were given as to his fate.

A-taleofBenjenStark1In A Tale of Benjen Stark, his adventure north of the Wall is chronicled, as is the discovery he makes that is later uncovered by Jon Snow. As expected, the production values are not as good as the show itself, and it kind of borders on a zombie B movie, but it still manages to address something that was never fully resolved in the story.

And based on the success of this movie, the production team has indicated that they are open to making a second installment. If all goes well, they should be able to wrap up Benjen’s entire story arc, culminating in the little “gift” he left behind for his brother’s to find. Enjoy!


Source: theawesomer.com

Elder Scrolls IV – Oblivion: A Video Game Review

elder-scrolls-iv-oblivion-oblivion-logoIt’s been awhile since I did any video game reviews, and since my purchase of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I’ve been to do one. But before I could cover the latest fantasy installment from Bethesda studios, I figured I should build up to it. After all, its predecessor was a big hit with me in its time, and I got countless hours of gaming enjoyment from it for many years before I retired it.

Such is the nature of these games, they are the gift to yourself that keeps on giving! In any case, Oblivion was the first Elder Scrolls that I ever played. Prior to it, I didn’t even know about the series and didn’t have the slightest idea of what it was about. My thanks to my friend Doug for introducing me to this, and others like it!

Background:
As the fourth game in the series, Oblivion takes place within the fantasy universe known as Tamriel. In previous games, players were introduced to several different provinces in the realm, and were treated to snippets of the ongoing history behind it all. It would be no exaggeration at all to say that universe is as vast as anything envisioned by Tolkien or Martin, and was most likely inspired by one or both.

tamriel_mapThe realm of Tamriel is made up of nine provinces – Cyrodiil, Morrowind, High Rock, the Summerset Isles, Hammerfell, Black Marsh, Skyrim, Valenwood, and Elsweyr. Each serves as the home of a specific faction in the series, such as the Dunmer (Dark Elves) of Morrowind, Orsimer (Orcs) in High Rock, Altmer (High Elves) in the Summerset Isles, Argonians (reptile people) in Black Marsh, Bosmer (Wood Elves) in Valenwood, and Khajit (feline people) in Elsweyr.

There are also several factions of “Men”, which include the Bretons of High Rock, the Redguards of Hammerfell, the Nords of Skyrim, and the Imperials of Cyrodil. At some point in the series’ history, the Mede Empire was formed by uniting the provinces of Men with the Khajit, Argonians and Orcs, either through conquest or alliances, and the Imperial City established as the administrative center of Cyrodil.

The-Elder-Scrolls-OblivionBeyond the Mede Empire, which is made up of Cyrodiil, Morrowind, High Rock and Skyrim, there lies the recently-independent Hammerfell. In addition, there is the competing and often hostile Aldmeri Dominion (comprised of the other four provinces) which is ruled over by the Altmer (High Elves).

At one time, it is indicated, High Elves ruled over much of Tamriel as the Ayleids, an empire which has since fallen into ruin. Another extinct civilization is the Dwemer, a highly-advanced society of Dwarves who were masters of machinery and automation, and who apparently knew much of the Elder Scrolls. Throughout the various games, these civilizations ruins provide all kinds of treasures and the keys to ancient mysteries.

elder_scrolls_racesWithin the realm, the established religion is the worship of The Nine (echoes of the Seven in GOT), gods that represent various virtues and powers. But of course, other faiths exist as well, such as the Nords faith involving dragons, mythical beasts which are apparently extinct at this point. But the other major faith is the worship of the Daedra, gods of “First Causes” that predate the Nine and are both good and evil.

The Daedra and their intervention serve as a major motivating force in the game, contributing to both the main storyline and missions of lesser import. At many points in the series, the coming of a Daedra lord to the mortal realm is the main plot line of the story, usually as a fulfillment of some major and ancient prophecy.

elder_scrollAt the center of it all however, are the Elder Scrolls themselves. These are rarely ever featured in the game, but serve as a plot framing device, where the events in the game “were foretold in the Elder Scrolls,” basically. These objects, which were apparently forged by the gods themselves, contain incredible power and are often incomprehensible to mortals.

Game Summary:
The_Elder_Scrolls_IV_Oblivion_coverThe story opens with an intro movie showing the last Emperor, Uriel Septim (voiced by Patrick Stewart), talking about how since the dawn of time, the Tamriel has been shut off from Oblivion – the hellish realm where the Daedra rule. However, he is haunted by dreams that the gates are about to open again, fulfilling an ancient prophecy that also foretold of the death of the Septim dynasty.

The game then begins with character selection, where you are required to specify your race, gender, class, etc., before things proceed. Once that is complete, you find yourself in the Imperial City dungeons, having been imprisoned for reasons you don’t fully understand. Believing the guards are coming for you, you are then surprised to see members of the Blades – the royal guard/secret police of the Empire – come to your cell with the Emperor himself.

You then overhear them saying that the royal heirs have been murdered, and they are apparently looking to smuggle the Emperor out through a secret tunnel that runs underneath the dungeons. You cell, which was supposed to be vacant, holds an entrance. After telling you to stand back, the Blades let the Emperor in, and he spots you and tells you he has seen you in his nightmares. After this introduction, he asks you to come with them.

Elder_Scrolls-Oblivion_urielIn the tunnels, you are beset by a number of agents that belong to a sect known as the Mythic Dawn. You are also able to learn from Uriel what is going on. He says that the Dragon Fires, a holy beacon which keep the planes of Oblivion and Tamriel separate, have gone out. They need to be relighted if Tamriel is to survive, but agents are pouring over the city trying to kill him and his sons.

Thus, the Blades are trying to get him to safety. After defeating the last of the Dawn agents in the tunnel, the Blades take off down a separate tunnel and leave you behind. However, you are able to follow them indirectly by passing through a series of side tunnels that are occupied by Goblins. This gives you a chance to collect gear and bolster your skills, and eventually you rejoin the main party.

You are soon cornered, at which point Uriel hands you the Amulet of Kings, the very thing that keeps the doors between Tamriel and Oblivion shut and can only be worn by someone of the Septim line. He tells you that their is one remaining heir, orders you to take the Amulet to a man named Joffrey who knows where to find him, and that only you and he can “close shut the doors of Oblivion”.

Uriel_Septim_VII_deathThe Emperor is then killed, and you are forced to find your way out of the sewers with the Amulet in hand. Once you’re out, you find yourself just outside the Imperial City and must then travel to Weynon Priory in the west. Inside, you meet Jauffre, a monk who is also a member of the Blades, and tell him what happened. He reveals that the secret heir alluded to by Uriel is a man named Martin who is serves at the Temple in Kvatch.

Ergo, that’s where your headed next. But when you arrive, you find the city is in ruins, with a refugee camp at the base of the hill and the guards camped beyond the gates and trying to hold the line against an open Oblivion gate. The guard captain tells you that a patrol was lost inside, and he and his men cannot retake the city so long as it is open. Battling through the hellish environment against Scamps, you find the last remaining patrol soldier and make it to the tower where you remove the Sigil Stone, thus collapsing the gate.

Oblivion-Gate_kvatchBack outside, you and the guards enter the city gates and begin retaking the place from the Daedra. After clearing the front courtyard, you find Martin (voiced by Sean Bean) inside the Temple with a group of refugees. You tell him your story, and his secret, and he agrees to come with you as soon as the city is clear and the refugees can be evacuated. Fighting your way further, you clear out the rest of the city and the main castle, where you find the Lord dead.

With Martin, you report back to Weynon Priory, which is under attack. Between you two and Jauffre, you manage to kill the enemy, but discover that they have stolen the Amulet of Kings. Once again, it appears the enemy are one step ahead. But with Martin alive, the three of you report to Cloud Ruler Temple, the Blade Stronghold in the north of Cyrodil, where Martin will be safe.

Oblivion_Cloud_Ruler_TempleOnce there, he takes charge of the Blades and you are given the option of joining them. With that complete, you are told to report to the nearby town of Bruma where enemy spies have been spotted. Once you kill them, you discover one of them is a resident in the town and search their house. Upon finding a letter, you learn they are part of a cult known as the Mythic Dawn who worship the Daedra lord of Mehrunes Dagon, Lord of Destruction.

Their plan is to open the gate of Oblivion so Dagon can reclaim Tamriel, and they intend to kill the Septim line since it is their blood that has been keeping the gate closed for ages. Intrinsic to this is opening a major gate outside of Bruma, destroying Cloud Ruler Temple, and now killing Martin. They are led by a Dark Elf named Mankor Camoran, a mage who has apparently been alive for centuries.

oblivion_pathofdawnYour next mission is to the Imperial City where you meet Baurus, one of the agents that was there when the Emperor was killed. He tells you that the enemy’s lair is somewhere in Tamriel and you must find it. The key appears to lie in Mankor Camoran’s volumes known as The Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes – a series of books about a tome of ancient power.

Already, you have found two while searching the spy’s house in Bruma, and the third is apparently on special order at the city’s book store. Meeting with the man who ordered it, you compel him to cooperate and hand it over. He tells you he had a date to meet with Mythic Dawn representatives to get a copy of the fourth and final volume.

Posing as this man, Baurus meets with Camoran’s son and daughter while you keep watch. His cover is blown when their escorts spot you and you are forced to fight it out. After killing them, you manage to retrieve the fourth and final copy and go to the Mage’s Guild and ask them for help discerning its clues. You realize that a secret message is inside the book that tells you to go to the city’s cemetery at noon when the sun will be above the White-Gold tower.

oblivion_mythicdawnWhen you do this, you see a map on the mausoleum wall that shows you the location of the Mythic Dawn’s lair. After arriving there, posing as another applicant, you come to see Mankor Cameron himself, who is wearing the Amulet of Kings. After giving his people a speech, he opens a portal to “Paradise” and leaves, taking the Amulet with him. Grabbing the Mysterium Xarxes, which he left behind, you fight your way out of the cave and head back to Cloud Ruler Temple.

Once there, Martin tells you that he may be able to open the portal to Camoran’s Paradise so you can retrieve the Amulet finally. He begins reading the Xarxes to discern what he would need to do this. In the meantime, you are told to report to Bruma where another gate has opened. Alongside the city guards, you go in and shut it again, but know that this is a temporary victory.

Given that the Dawn’s long-term plan is to open a major gate outside of the city and lay waste to Bruma and Cloud Ruler Temple, you know that time is limited. You are thus given two main missions. The first is to collect the items needed to open the gate to Camoran’s Paradise, the second is to go to every other city in Cyrodil and convince the local lord to free up soldiers to send to the defense of Bruma.

oblivion_cyrodil_mapThe first mission requires you to go to several locations, securing a Daedric artifact, the blood of Tiber Septim (the first Septim Emperor), and an Ayleid crystal. The second requires you to travel to all the major cities – Anvil, Chorrol, Skingrad, Cheydinhal, Bravil and Leyawiin – and close the gates outside of these cities. This gives you a chance to see each town and learn of their particular makeup and issues, as well as pick up additional side-missions.

With all of this complete, Martin tells you that there is only one other thing that he needs – a major Sigil Stone. This requires that you allow the Mythic Dawn to open a major portal outside of Bruma, and for the soldiers to hold the line while you go in and grab hold of the stone. A major battle ensues, and you are forced to grab the stone before the Daedra are able to bring out a massive siege engine and lay waste to Bruma, as they did Kvatch.

oblivion_paradiseWith the final item secured, Martin opens the portal to Camoran’s paradise inside the Temple, and you go through. Once there, you see a Edenic like environment, where Camoran’s followers live, but are forced to endure constant death as Daedric creatures hunt them and they are resurrected. They tell you how to make your way to Camoran’s seat of power – Palace Carac Agaialor.

Once there, you confront Camoran’s and his two children – Ruma and Raven – and do battle. Once they are killed, you retrieve the Amulet, and Paradise collapses. You are returned to Cloud Ruler Temple where Martin takes the Amulet, as Emperor, and you plan to return to the Imperial City to light the Dragon Fires and seal the gates between Tamriel and Oblivion once and for all.

oblivion_mehrunes_dagonAt the palace, you are greeted by High Chancellor Ocato – leader of the Elder Council – but the meeting is cut short when the guards announce the city is under attack. It seems that Oblivion gates are opening all over the city and Daedra are pouring through. With no time to lose, you head for the Temple District so Martin can light the fires, but once there, you see Mehrunes Dagon, who has passed into your world, laying waste to the district.

Martin believes all hope is lost, but a last minute suggestion from you that the Amulet might be able to help gives him an idea. Asking you to escort him inside the temple, which is dangerous considering it involves getting around Dagon’s massive figure, he goes to the center and breaks the Amulet, combining the kings and dragon’s blood with his own. He then transforms into a massive avatar Akatosh, the principle diety of the Nine, and does battle with Dagon.

oblivion_Martin_Mehrunes_DagonDagon was defeated after the avatar of Akatosh – a massive fiery dragon – chomped his neck and sent him back to Oblivion. The avatar then turned into stone, signalling that it too had departed Tamriel and Martin was now dead. However, his sacrifice had won the day, and permanently sealed the doors between Oblivion and Tamriel shut forever. The Oblivion Crisis, as it would come to be known, was over, and a new age begun

Having taken part in the final battle and see the victory of Imperial forces over the Daedra, you are named Champion of Cyrodil and given a special suit of Dragon Armor. In addition to being named Hero of Kvatch and Hero of Bruma, you now hold a rank reserved for a very select few. With the game now over, you are free to roam and pick up any additional quests.

Additional Quests:
Outside of the Oblivion Crisis, gamers have the option of participating in numerous quests, most of which revolve around joining a Guild. These include the Fighters Guild, the Mages Guild, the Thieves Guild, and the Dark Brotherhood (an assassin’s guild). Membership in each allows you to go on additional quests, earn ranks, rewards, learn new abilities, and take part in other adventures.

Oblivion_Fighters_GuildThe Fighter Guild quest culminates in you taking on a rival mercenary organization – the Blackwood Company – when it becomes revealed that they are abusing a narcotic known as Hist Sap that makes them bloodthirsty and unpredictable. The Mages Guild quest culminates in your facing a group of Necromancers led by the “Worm KIng”, an evil mage determined to destroy the Imperial Mages.

Joining the Thieves Guild makes you an agent of the Gray Fox, a recurring figure in the game, who provides protection for all of Cyrodil’s beggars and uses them as his eyes and ears. After participating in a number of lucrative thefts, you meet the Gray Fox and assist him in his scheme to recover his lost identity – Count of Anvil. As payment, you get to keep his magic cowl, the very thing that deprived him of it in the first place.

oblivion_dark_brotherhoodFinally, the Dark Brotherhood is an order that you can join the moment you murder someone in cold blood. A visitor then comes to you while you sleep and extends an invitation. Once you join, you are given the task of assassinating anyone who been named in a Black Sacrament – a dark ritual that marks people for death. In time, you have the option of becoming a vampire, and gain the favor of the Night Mother – their patron goddess.

And of course, there are many, many side missions where you have the option of performing tasks for various Daedra. Depending on the lord in question, these can be beneficial, harmful, or just plain mischievous, and all lead to certain benefits and rewards. And of course, there are plenty of missions to be had simply by adventuring around and helping people out.

Add-Ons:
There are also additional quests which I have played – Knights of the Nine, The Shivering Isles – but I really didn’t like them too much. In the case of Knights, you are tasked with resurrecting the order of the Knights of the Nine, collect sacred weapons, armor, and artifacts, and fight against an Aylied deity that is returning to Tamriel.

Oblivion_knights7However, the production value on this game was really not as goo as the main one, and the storyline seemed awful… Christiany. I mean really, the armor and finery you wear make you look exactly like a Crusader, and by the time you are finished with the main campaign, yet another quest involving a resurrected evil seems tired and played out.

In the case of the Shivering Isles, the storyline is a bit more weird, and much more psychedelic. Here, you enter into the realm of the Daedric lord Sheogorath – Prince of Madness and ruler of the Shivering Islesto battle with him and become the new master of the Isles. Here too, found the production values weak, the quest kind of pointless, and the story and setting really odd.

oblivion_shiveringMy advice, stick to the main quests and save your money when it comes to these expansion packs. Sure, curiosity might get the better of you, but why pay extra when what’s added is not up to snuff?

Summary:
I guess it goes without saying that this game is incredibly dense and detailed. And of course, the back story is lengthy and intricate, but as long as you do your due diligence, it’s not that hard to follow. And though it does have its fair share of fantasy cliches, it’s a very inspired piece of work with plenty of historical and cultural allusions.

Many times over, I was reminded of LOTR and other prominent genres, and combined with the depth and density of it, it was little wonder why I got so many hours of enjoyment out of it. Between all the spells, weapons, abilities, upgrades, and opportunities to learn about the Elder Scrolls universe, its a truly immersive and entertaining game.

Between the main quest, secondary quests, and the hundreds – if not thousands – of additional quests, it really seems like the game has enough material to keep going indefinitely. But eventually, you are likely to map out every corner of Cyrodil, obtain the very best items, and get to the point where no enemy can possibly best you. And chances are, you’ll lose interest before then anyway, so it all works out.

And it was my experience with this game that led me to finally get around to buying The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim not that long ago. Here too, I’ve received endless hours and enjoyment, and will be reviewing it soon enough!