Morrowind does let you do whatever you want. If you do decide to vent your frustrations over these types of things on the game's townspeople, you may find it odd that they will stare at you unflinchingly as you hoist your weapon high overhead, ready to strike. You'll also find it odd that the entire world seems to learn of your crimes at the very instant they're committed. You'll sometimes be branded as an outlaw even if you commit a crime in seeming secrecy. At any rate, the sheer size and scope of Morrowind is an open invitation for these and other, similar complaints. Yet to nitpick too much over Morrowind's smaller shortcomings would be to fail to see the forest for the trees. The aggregate experience that the game provides is in fact more than the sum of its parts. Actually, it's such a big game that you can pretty much ignore most any of its elements that you don't happen to like.
Combat unfortunately isn't one of the game's strong suits.
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.
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 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.
What other game has bookshops where you can read anything in the store?
Simply exploring Morrowind is possibly the best thing about it. The game often looks beautiful, and the PC version's high system requirements are of course a nonissue on the Xbox. Morrowind doesn't look perfect, since the frame rate bogs down when there's a lot going on, you'll see some draw-in on the horizon, and the character animations are awkward and some of the character models look coarse. But most of them look very good and feature highly detailed clothing and armor. Yet the environments are what steal the show. 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 are also put to excellent use. You'll always look forward to seeing the next of Morrowind's numerous, imaginative 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. There's also often a slight but noticeable pause as you initiate combat, which is slightly irritating at first but soon becomes easily ignored like the frame rate issues.
Morrowind looks quite impressive, but you couldn't describe its sound that way. The first time you start the game, 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.
You can really lose yourself in Morrowind.
The Xbox version of Morrowind is only marginally different from the PC version. For example, the text in the Xbox version has been beefed up from the PC version, making it easy to read on a typical television screen even over long periods of time. There's unfortunately no quick-load or quick-save option here like on the PC, but saving and loading are still conveniently available at any time, and both are relatively fast procedures. The PC version of the game ships with a number of minor bugs in it, which have been fixed here. But the PC version also includes the Morrowind Construction Set, a utility that lets you create your very own quests, characters, and scenery, as if the 200-odd hours' worth of gameplay included in Morrowind weren't enough. This utility is missing from the Xbox version, which means you can't play any of the free plug-ins released either by Bethesda or by the fan community for the PC version of the game. Still, in light of all that you do get, it's really no big loss.
To be sure, Morrowind offers some of the best value for the money of any single-player game currently available, on the Xbox or on any platform. The game does have some drawbacks, but they're all generally minor enough that you should be able to look past them. You'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 the 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 one to get hard-core into your favorite games, then that's about the highest recommendation you could hope for.