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Review: The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is easily one of the best games for the 360, and roughly a year after its release the expansion Shivering Isles is now available. Can the adventures awaiting you in the realm of the daedric prince of madness stand up to those in the rest of Cyrodiil?

The Shivering Isles are a truly unique experience to anything offered in Cyrodiil. The scenery presented to you when you enter immediately makes you feel like you’re in a different world. There are two sides to the Isles, Mania, and Dementia, both with their own feel. In Mania you’ll experience vibrant colors and majestic views, while in Dementia you’ll feel like you’re trekking through a swamp. It adds a good amount of depth to the expansion, and makes it a nice break from the world outside the realm.

The quests in the Shivering Isles offer a pretty wide range of tasks for you to complete. Some are mundane, but the majority of them feel very different from your quests in Cyrodiil. Add into this the size of the realm, it’s about 1/4 to 1/3 the size of Cyrodiil, and you have a good amount of material to cover. You should easily be able to milk the 30 hours of gameplay out the expansion that is touted, and there are branches in the storyline that promote replay value. The Shivering Isles are just as fun to explore and wander as Cyrodiil is, and the quests are unique enough to offer you a break from the rest of the Oblivion quest lines. One of the first quests for Sheogorath is a good example of this as you lure a group of adventurers into a dungeon and room by room get to decide whether or not to kill them outright or simply drive them insane.

The new enemies are also a nice addition and help immerse you into the Isles, and reinforce the difference between Cyrodiil and the Shivering Isles. Likewise, the caves and forts feel much different than their counterparts outside the Isles. There’s a much greater organic feel to the underground areas that you can enter, with many of them mixing masonry and carved tunnels with more natural caves. The caves themselves don’t feel like they’re caverns as much as you’re traversing the underground root structure of an ancient tree. This more natural approach really helps set Shivering Isles apart.

One of the best things about Shivering Isles are the NPCs who inhabit it. It’s hard to explain just how different they are from the NPCs in Cyrodiil, the majority of them are completely insane. There’s even a good amount of variety in the types and severity of insanity. You’ll encounter plenty of paranoid delusional NPCs mostly from Dementia. One of the best parts of Shivering Isles is talking to all the NPCs just to see how crazy they are. The lord of the Shivering Isles, Sheogorath, is no exception. He offers up some of the best dialog the expansion has to offer.

The item creation in Shivering Isles is a nice addition, but slightly disappointing due to a lack of versatility. By collecting various amounts of materials found in the Isles, users can have a smith fashion weapons for them. Matrices used to create magic items out of raw materials are nice but don’t make up for the fact that you can only make items out of 2 materials. There are a significant amount of magic items that users will collect by playing through the main quest, including some truly unique and powerful items.

Not surprisingly, the game performs better in the Isles, with fewer instances of framerate drop as well as fewer lockups. After running around Cyrodiil and experiencing the usual bugs, it’s nice to head into the Isles and be mostly free from this. There is a drawback to having the Isles, it doubles the amount of time it takes to load the additional content every time you start the game.

Shivering Isles offers a wealth of material for the 2400 MS point price tag. The 30 hour mark will be easy to reach, and the Isles are detailed enough to suck you in much like the rest of the game. The amount of depth and variety in the Isles, combined with how different the Isles feel from the rest of Cyrodiil make this expansion a worthy addition to Oblivion, and a worthy addition to your hard drive.

Final Score: 8 out of 10 Good (How do we rate games?)

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33 comments on 'Review: The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles'

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Comment by Jasonic on 2007-04-05 04:59:58 | Reply

Nice review.

I’ll just say this.
IMO, There is absolutely nothing, At all, That keeps S.I. from a 10 rating. It is, For me, The definition of what an expansion should be.
It’s WAY more entertainment than most games that cost twice as much. (just the way I see it)

Comment by trj156 on 2007-04-05 06:14:28 | Reply

when will oblivion be a platinum hit

Comment by Studley on 2007-04-05 09:00:29 | Reply

Loving it so far, the Duke’s dialogue is mad and brilliant. Being able to summon Haskill (I think that’s his name) to give you tips is cool too.

My only complaint - and it’s a small one - is that there’s now a 30 second delay on the title screen while it says “Loading downloaded content…” This gap was there for the other Oblivion expansions too, but because they were smaller it was less noticeable.

Comment by Mike True on 2007-04-05 09:51:58 | Reply

Forgot to say that the PS3 version of The Elder Scrolls comes with this expansion for free and look a much better than any other platform, God luck xbox180 fanboys if you beta machine still working to end this game LOL

Comment by autoexecw0rm on 2007-04-05 10:04:46 | Reply

Aww. Did the PS3 fanboy get bored of playing only 3 worthwhile titles and watching precious BR movies?

Comment by paulwillocks on 2007-04-05 10:25:54 | Reply

You also forgot to say the PS3 is an overweight George Foreman Grill wannabe. PS3 is a fucking pile of shile.

Comment by Taomyn on 2007-04-05 10:44:02 | Reply

Yeah get you facts right matey - oh, sorry that’s just a consequence of being a Sony fangirl, you can’t help but talk bull.

The expansion is not coming free with the PS3 version - dumbass, just the other minor extras that were already out. And that’s only when it finally finishes loading, I believe the first PS3 version was installed in January and it still says “Please wait………”

Comment by Mike True on 2007-04-05 11:27:06 | Reply

LOL how funny are the x180 fanboys when someone says the true about the crap of the MS hardware… the fact is Oblivion Look much better in PS3 and the xbox 180 is cheap beta machine with a lot of Failure almost when you buy a PS3 you know you paying less than what the hardware cost no like the rip off of the X180

Comment by Studley on 2007-04-05 12:18:10 | Reply

Maybe you can put some of the PS3’s awesome processing power towards improving your spelling and grammar, dumbass

Comment by mass9 on 2007-04-05 15:31:41 | Reply

lol, you’d think so but no.
True Mike is just a troll with terrible grammer. Besides, he’s just upset that he’s only NOW getting to play Obliv, whereas I’ve (and many of you) have already put in hours upon hours of glorious fun.
Think about it….if you were a year and a half late to the party wouldn’t you be upset?

Look much better in PS3

But at least I was playing it over a year ago on the 360! ;)

Anyway, quit the trolling, or I make you.

Comment by kreischweide on 2007-04-05 09:58:31 | Reply

ps3 version comes with knights only, no other of the many smaller expansions. have fun trolling.

Comment by freduk on 2007-04-05 11:00:42 | Reply

Guys forget about the ps3 fanboy he got nothing to play and neither to read on playstatic. The game is great and looks good and the expansion is great.

Comment by Kate Loire on 2007-04-05 17:58:19 | Reply

I agreeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Comment by Thryon on 2007-04-05 16:57:55 | Reply

I got a recent copy of Official Xbox Magazine that bonus disc contained Wizard’s Tower” and Thieves Den for FREE.

Comment by Worms on 2007-04-05 20:24:17 | Reply

That’s not bad! I don’t have the Den but the Tower is great and was worth the couple of bucks.

Sad, sad troll. Ik spreek twee talen ;)

I think it’s a good review, but the score could have been higher: it offers more hours (theoretically speaking, if you rush it doesn’t) than some games (Crackdown, Tomb Raider: Legend etc) and it does everything you’d want of an expansion. It gives a full new world for you to explore, and is bigger than some of the openworld games out there.

Comment by Logue on 2007-04-05 21:29:38 | Reply

OMG Dawnfang/Duskfang roxx0rz my soxx0rz :P :P

Comment by Studley on 2007-04-05 22:43:09 | Reply

Anyone know where to find some decent Felldew stocks outside the cavern where you first need it? I’m getting pummelled in there :(

Comment by Taomyn on 2007-04-06 09:54:12 | Reply

I finally got to download it but haven’t played very much of it yet. What I have seen so far is very impressive, especially liked the way the scene changes when you accept the invitation. Very cool. The few monsters I’ve bumped into were surprisingly tough which bodes well for the rest of the game I hope - I need the challenge. 10/10

Comment by Papa ERF on 2007-04-06 14:54:49 | Reply

I’ve put about 5 or 6 hours into the Isles so far and I have to agree…it’s a 10!!! After spending over 175 (real world) hours in Cyrodil (and completing nearly every quest), the Isles are a great continuation of a game I love!

Comment by Sage on 2007-04-10 01:55:13 | Reply

You guys are sad. the PS3 guy dogs on this board because he has nothing to play on his machine… yet. then you guys dog on him(probably because the PS3 version is much better) but you dont even do it in an intelligent manner(george foreman grill?). you guys r pretty sad. PS i have both consoles

Comment by Sage on 2007-04-10 01:58:11 | Reply

Ah yes, nearly forgot… OBLIVION SUCKS

Comment by Oli3032 on 2007-04-12 17:28:42 | Reply

I’d definately give this expansion a 9 or 10 :-) , simply because of the lengh of play you get out of it. Not only are there many new quests (one main storyline and side quests as before) but you also have new armour, ingredients, spells etc, all of which can be used anywhere in the game!

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