Review by Draconix3D
Interesting Plot, but Missing Some Core Elements
Graphics - 10
Bethesda improved the Oblivion engine slightly with the expansion, making the objects render a little smoother, and it looks simply superb. The Shivering Isles themselves are simply a wonder to behold, and the variation between Mania and Dementia is also an interesting twist, almost like a figurative night and day.
Sound - 6
Nothing was changed with the expansion. No new music, no real new sound effects. The only reason that I even give it a 6 is the speech you encounter, which was once again done with perfect finesse.
Gameplay - 7
I was torn here with my rating. The entire concept of the game is original and a great idea, IMHO, and it adds a lot to the whole Oblivion experience. You are given new alchemical ingredients to gather, you can gather Madness Ore and Amber along with Matrixes and craft armor and weapons, and there are new spells to purchase. There's also new unique items to discover, and new quests to do. Best of all is the story, however. Watching the insanity unfold around you and trying to figure out what's really going on with all these Manic and Demented inhabitants is quite entertaining.
However, there are some key elements from Oblivion that are missing from the Shivering Isles expansion.
First, you cannot take your horse with you. This is a problem initially since you have no waypoints and must walk everywhere.
Second, there are no Trainers ANYWHERE in the Isles. This presents quite a dilemma, especially to higher level characters. At higher levels if you want to progress properly you need to train 5 times each level, and going back to Tamriel to do so for each level is VERY VERY tedious.
Last, there are no Altars of Spellmaking or Enchanting anywhere, or Chapels to be Blessed if you need to heal. This is another limitation that you must return to Tamriel to utilize, and going back and forth is a pain.
All in all, it's a good first expansion, and I commend Bethesda. Luckily I have it for the PC, so I'm sure someone will make a MOD with all the lacking items stated above for the Isles.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
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