Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion Review - Seeking information
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The information bar in the game is like none I have ever seen before; there are four different main categories that are each split into sub-categories listing everything you could possibly need to know about your character and position in the game. The first panel gives an overview of information about your character such as the name, race, class and level and also a full-size display of your current Health, Magicka and Fatigue levels.
Health is self-explanatory; when this ends so does your character's life. Every time you cast a spell, a little bit of Magicka is used up; once it is gone, you'll need to wait for it to recharge (which it will do slowly without your intervention, unless you have a potion that will refill it for you). Every time you fight or do anything strenuous, you Fatigue bar will reduce. Again, this will recharge by itself depending on what you are doing; if for example you are running, it will recharge slower than if you were walking.
The overview panel is further split into more detailed information about the abilities of your character, and lists ratings such as strength, intelligence, willpower, agility, speed, endurance, personality and luck. These ratings will increase when you move up a level. The next panel lists a huge number of skills that you are able to improve constantly throughout the game; every time you fight with a sword for example, your blade rating will improve. The skills are very closely tied in with the level ratings, and must be increased in order to progress to higher levels. The levels and the skills that you need to improve in order to increase them are also closely tied in with the birthsign and class that you choose towards the end of the introductory tutorial.
The last tab gives basic game information such as the number of days passed, the number of quests that have been completed and the amount of bounty you have on your head. As the bounty increases, you will find yourself becoming more and more the center of attention when it comes to bounty hunters and law officials. If you do get yourself arrested, you can buy your way out, provided you have enough gold, or resist arrest, in which you stand a chance of killing your pursuers or being killed yourself. The last option is to do time inside a dungeon, which doesn't cost you anything financially, but will see a decrease in your skills and abilities.
The next panel is the weapons/items panel, which shows the weapons, potions and miscellaneous items that you are carrying. There is a limit to the amount of items that you can carry, which will vary between races. Each weapon will have properties such as its weight and its condition. The game is so detailed that you even have to ensure that your weaponry is kept in good condition; let it degrade and its effectiveness will also degrade. Each item also has a value, similar to an RRP which tells you its approximate value. The amount you actually get for each item will vary depending on whom you are trying to sell it to; an armorer, for example, will not give you much for a book, but may pay closer to the RRP for something like a potion or magical scroll.
The third panel lists your characters "greater power." This is a magical power that is unique to each race and cannot be modified or changed throughout the course of the game. This power is highly effective in particular situations but can only be used once a day. Using the greater power will not reduce your magicka bar. You also get some basic spells, which will use up magicka. Spells can be reused provided you have enough magicka, and can be bought along the way, although their effectiveness will vary between characters. The final magical items are scrolls, which can be found or bought throughout the game. These are single-use spells that will need to be repurchased or found once you have made use of them.
The final panel lists geographical and quest information. The sub-panels in here list a highly detailed localized map showing your immediate surroundings; another sub-panel lists the world map which shows every major city and area, and will highlight locations important to your active quest. The final sub-panels list your active quests, current quests and completed quests.
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