Friday, January 11, 2013

First Impressions: The Elder Scrolls Chapter One: The Arena

Yes, you read that correctly.  The Arena, being the first installment in The Elder Scrolls series.  Briefly, the game was created by Bethesda back in 1994 and it very much looks like it came out of 1994.  From what I've played (made it through the first dungeon/sewer), the game's graphics haven't aged too well, but that's something that I don't care too much about.  It's the story, mythology and world that I've been playing in Skyrim, that brought me to The Arena and are what are going to keep me here for sometime.

The Arena is available free of charge from Bethesda, which is extremely awesome on their part.  The initial intimidating thing though is that the game is still run on DOS and requires a DOS operated window to play the game through.  So, I had to download DOSBox, a freeware program that took a minute to wrap my head around.  I grew up using an Apple IIe followed by a Macintosh 5125CD and I only started using Windows with Windows98, so I never really had to deal with DOS as a way of navigating a computer.  For this, I had to learn some simple jargon that will make a number of my friends laugh.  For myself, it was a quick test of, "How much do I want to play this game."  So now, every time I want to play The Arena, this is what I do:

This was after I found out that, for simplicity sake, I had to put the folder for Arena directly on the C Drive as opposed to a complicated (normal) series of folders, but it's actually pretty simple, now that I've loaded the game a few times, and I'm sure I could go into the CONFIG file (with step-by-step instructions) and alter the the start ups so that it automatically loads with the C: drive "mounted" so that I don't have to do it every time, as well as running it at ~13,000 cycles instead of the default 3,000 (control+F12).  The point is, doing all this through a DOS window quickly puts me in the right frame of mind for a game that looks like this:
And honestly, I like the way the game looks.  I like that the first game in this series is a POV action/adventure/fantasy game.  I like that to swing your sword you have to hold the right mouse button and move the mouse in the direction you want your sword to swing.  I love that there are different animations based on how you swing your sword: horizontal slash (R/L), diagonal slash (R/L), vertical slash and stabbing.  I don't know if there's a damage difference based on how you swing your sword against a particular type of monster, but I don't care (at least not right now I don't care).  Just the fact that there are six different animations (for the sword alone) to kill something instead of a simple left click, that's the kind of attention I love to see in video games.

At the moment, I'm currently wandering around whatever city it is that you come upon after exiting the jail.  Since I chose to be a Nord, I think it's North Keep.  The game is a bit difficult in that people in towns are constantly moving (as they right should be), but I find myself chasing down someone just to ask them where the nearest place to purchase goods is, since your map of the city only shows buildings, but not what those buildings are.  There's a lot of running.  Thankfully you can make notes on your map and if you're close by a desired building, one of the citizens will make locations on your ,map.  That's honestly all I've done so far: errands for various people in town and was attacked by some crazy guy and his wolf/rats after it became dark.  Then I quickly found an inn and slept until the morning.

Do I like the game?  Sure.  Am I going to plug 75 hours into it as I've done with other video games?  I might, I don't know how long it takes to finish Arena, and by "finish," I mean "finish" the storyline, not every single side quest in the game.  I'm sure to do that you'd have to go through with each one of the eight races.  I am, at the moment, 89% sure that I will finish (at least) the Nord storyline for this game.

Bring It On

P.S.  Apparently, 1994 was a massive year for video games:

Super Metroid
Final Fantasy VI (III)
Earthworm Jim
Mother 2 (EarthBound)
Mortal Kombat 2
Donkey Kong Country

Warcraft: Humans vs. Orcs
Doom II: Hell on Earth
TIE Fighter


Killer Instinct

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! I'm so glad Bethesda is giving this game away for free! I think I'll have to give it a go, myself.

    I never played Arena when it came out, but I heard about it. Mondo played it at a friends house, and told me it was neat. He said he created a character called "Boop the Vincible" and that you kind of ran around doing random stuff or whatever you want.

    My first response was "holy shit, that's a lot of letters for a character name!" Back then, I was just thrilled at the upgrade from 4 letters in old NES games. The free-form aspects sounded interesting, but I didn't have a chance to play at the time. Looking forward to it.

    Other side note: Boy, there sure was a lot happening in 1994. I think that was probably deep into the original console wars. I heard a lot about TIE fighter, but never played. Don't know about Marathon.