Most, but not all. Avoiding combat in Morrowind can be difficult and at times impossible. And the combat itself leaves a lot to be desired. It's purely a hack-and-slash affair against enemies that mostly just rush right at you, and while you can execute three different types of attacks with your melee weapons, that's about the only positive way to describe the combat. Considering that the game tells you outright when a chest is trapped or when you've succeeded at persuading someone, it's surprising that Morrowind provides so little information about what's happening in a fight. From the spurt of blood and the loud, almost comical "thwack" sound you'll hear, you'll know that you did in fact hit the opponent. But you won't know to what extent you hurt it. You won't know if your two-handed sword did one point of damage or 60, and you won't know whether you've merely grazed the opponent or whether you've delivered it to death's door. If the intent was to make combat realistic, the designers should have at least shown visible damage on the enemy characters, as in last year's outstanding Wizardry 8.
The other significant problem with Morrowind is the way it keeps track of your quests. Namely, it compiles references to all the quests you've taken on or completed, as well as any other important bits of information you come across, into a journal. This journal will become hundreds of pages long as you play. While you can bring up an alphabetical list of topics to look up specific ones, you'll nevertheless need to know what exactly it is you're trying to find. There's no way to just browse through the quests you have pending, an option that would have been really handy. But you'll still be referring to your journal constantly. It simply could have done a much better job of helping you keep track of the dizzying array of quests, places, and characters you'll encounter. The journal could be prove to be a crippling problem for more casual players, who might take a break from Morrowind for a few days, only to return to find that they've completely forgotten whatever it was they were supposed to be doing.
With all that said, it's necessary to reiterate that the experience of playing Morrowind is certainly rewarding, mostly because of all the questing you'll do. Despite the length and size of Morrowind, it does a fine job of constantly giving you new objectives. Many of its quests are quick and dirty, which makes the gameplay engaging and addictive--steal this, kill him, save her, find that. That's not to say all the quests have only a single step, because some of them are quite complex, especially later on. You might have to spy on certain characters and find out what they're up to and then report back. You might have to infiltrate heavily guarded compounds and discover secret political agendas. You might have to complete a series of legendary trials. You're given clear-cut goals every step of the way. Of further note, there are more than 10 different factions you can join if you want, ranging from a fighter's guild to a sanctioned assassin organization to a religious cult. Most of these will initially extend membership to you, and you aren't really limited in terms of how many you can sign with. You can enlist in the fighter's guild, the mage's guild, and the thieves' guild one and all if you like. But as you take on increasingly important assignments, which tend to grant you suitable rewards and higher ranking within the organization, you may have to choose your allegiances once and for all. Also, there's never a time limit on quests, for better or worse. So if one requires you to go to some far-off place, you can ignore it for a while (just try not to forget it) until you have other reasons to head out that way. For good measure, Morrowind's numerous dungeon crawls, though they tend to be pretty brief, are suitably suspenseful and exciting.
Magic can be used to smite incorporeal foes.
Simply exploring Morrowind is possibly the best thing about it. The game looks stunning, though you'll need a fast system and a good video card to fully appreciate the graphics. Morrowind doesn't look perfect, since the character animations are awkward and some of the character models look coarse. But most of them look fabulous and feature fully articulated faces and highly detailed clothing and armor. However, the environments themselves are what steal the show. Extremely impressive effects, ranging from torrential rains and raging sandstorms to bodies of water that look so real they'll make you thirsty, all help make the world seem alive. Soft ambient lighting and atmospheric hazing is also put to excellent use. You'll always look forward to seeing the next of Morrowind's numerous, imaginative, beautiful areas. You'll feel adventurous just jogging from place to place, though you'll want to take advantage of the game's various modes of fast transportation whenever possible. These are really convenient, though it's too bad that all you see when you do something like ride a ship or hop aboard a giant flealike siltstrider is a completely black loading screen. Moments later you magically appear in the new location. As a consolation, Morrowind's loading times are generally short, such as when the game pauses abruptly but briefly to bring in new scenery as you're traveling by foot.
Morrowind raises the bar on what can and should be expected of a computer role-playing game's graphics, but you couldn't say that about its sound. The very first time you boot up Morrowind, you'll be treated to a memorable, stirring theme filled with soaring strings and booming percussion. You'll proceed to hear it literally every five minutes or so during play. How such a short soundtrack can befit a game as big as Morrowind is anyone's guess, though Morrowind's voice work is much more varied. Characters will initially greet you (or brush you off) in full speech, and some of these sound bites, especially from the gravelly voiced dark elves, are terrific. The game also sports some decent ambient effects, though the rest of the sounds are generic.
Many of the biggest role-playing games from over the years have shipped with a number of bugs, and Morrowind is no exception. Luckily for everyone, its bugs are trifling when compared with those in the retail release of Morrowind's notoriously buggy predecessor, Daggerfall. But some of the bugs are definitely frustrating. When a game such as this encourages you to just go out into the world and do whatever you feel like, imagine your disappointment when, after going out of your way and off the beaten path to defeat a particularly powerful opponent, the game unceremoniously dumps you back to Windows. We had this happen on several different occasions, and we also discovered some other glitches with some of the quests, such as one that allowed us to make an infinite amount of money.
Morrowind delivers untold hours of adventure.
As if the 200-odd hours' worth of gameplay included in Morrowind weren't enough, the game ships with an editor that you can use to create quests, places, people, and stuff that can be plugged into the core game. This construction set isn't a full-blown mod-making utility, but it's still quite powerful. Morrowind already has a huge fan base, and you can be sure that it will generate great additions to the game that you can download and enjoy for yourself. Bethesda also plans to release some of its own plug-ins for Morrowind, all to help give this single-player product the sort of longevity more often associated with popular multiplayer games.
To be sure, Morrowind offers some of best value for the money of any single-player game currently available, and it ranks up there in terms of size, scope, and quality with some of the best games the role-playing genre has ever had to offer. Morrowind does have numerous drawbacks, as well as some bugs. But they're all generally minor enough that most anyone should be able to look past them, especially if they're aware of them going into the game. They'll otherwise find that Morrowind fulfills its many ambitious intentions. It's a beautiful-looking, sprawling, and completely open-ended game that allows you to play pretty much however you like as long as you're willing to fill in a few blanks using your imagination. If that's that case, then you could easily spend a couple of hundred hours over the course of days, weeks, or months losing yourself, deliberately or not, in Morrowind's carefully detailed world. And if you're hard-core into computer role-playing games, then that's about the highest recommendation you could hope for.
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