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The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal

Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG


Graphics & Sound:

The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal, is the official expansion pack for Bethesda's incredibly rich RPG, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. As such, it does not change the original game's lush graphics or generally wondrous sound, but it does adhere to the incredibly high standards they set.

Mournhold, one of the two new cities added by Tribunal, has architecture and environments that are just as awe inspiring as the originals. Sound effects and music are unchanged in the expansion, and although it's true that an upgrade might be in order, especially to increase variety when traveling, or provide more appropriate responses during combat, what's present is definitely sufficient to suspend disbelief and make for an enjoyable game.


Gameplay:

The basic game play in Tribunal is no different than that of Morrowind: Adventure at will, accept side quests, follow the main plot, follow the new plot added by the expansion, or any combination of the above. Game play is completely non-linear, at least in terms of what the player has to do next. To complete a specific set of quests, they must be performed in order, but there's no reason one main quest can't be completed, then a side quest, then a trip to Mournhold to pursue it's quests, then a return to Vvardenfell to complete more of the main quest, and so on and so forth

There are some interesting and useful additions to the game play, though, since in the city of Mournhold your character can now hire mercenaries and purchase pack animals. Although pathfinding and AI for these hirelings aren't perfect, they seem far better then what was present in the characters who tried to follow you in the original game. Besides offering the new city of Mournhold, the clockwork city of Sotha Sil has also been added, as well as several massive dungeons, new armour, weapons, creatures, and of course all new quests.

What's applicable to the entire game, old and new, is the enhanced journal and map, as well as a new Seller Max button, which can be accessed when bartering with NPCs. These user interface changes make tracking quests and locations, as well as bartering, far easier then they were before.


Difficulty:

When adventuring in Mournhold, the game is far more difficult now. Even the very first quest you encounter is tough. If you don't have a high level character, you needn't apply. The 6th level character I took into the Bazaar Sewers couldn't handle the combat for very long, but it was still great fun to try out the new mercenaries and pack animals, as well as pursue some of the side quests there.

The difficulty slider added in one of Morrowind's many patches does allow you tone down the difficulty somewhat, but not enough to make Mournhold an easy jaunt. It will be necessary to have a seasoned character, wearing quality armour, with the best possible equipment, if you expect for him or her to survive very long in the new and dangerous environments.

The new mercenaries for hire do aid in making things easier, though, as you can share items with them, including armour and weapons, as well as healing potions, which means they will be more able at fighting alongside your character. You unfortunately cannot get status information from mercenaries, to see what level they are, or to find out their health, but you can cast health spells on them, which at least allows you to attempt to heal them. They also rest and heal up when you do.


Game Mechanics:

As mentioned before, the journal and map have both been improved in Tribunal. The new Quests button in the journal allows you to easily see which quests have yet to be completed, and the map allows you to add and remove notes. Other than these changes, and the new Seller Max button in the bartering screen, the game mechanics in Tribunal are identical to those in the original game.

Morrowind was an outstanding game when it debuted earlier this year. Several patches have made it even more solid, although it does occasionally crash to the desktop. Tribunal doesn't make it any more reliable, although it does contain some bug fixes. What Tribunal does do is expand the game world significantly, as well as simplify not only tracking quests, but also completing them. Carrying away loot in Mournhold is far easier than it ever was in Vvardenfell, although the challenge of getting that loot is far greater.

All of this adds even more depth to an already expansive game, and provides 20-40 additional hours of quality gaming. The bottom line is: Tribunal, like Morrowind before it, offers game play in spades, adding tremendously more useful features and refinements, and hours and hours of excellent gaming.


-Gordy, GameVortex Communications
AKA Gary Lucero

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, 256MB RAM, 500MHz Pentium III or equivalent, 32MB Direct3D video card with DirectX 8.1 compatible driver, DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card, 8X CD-ROM
 

Test System:



Windows XP Home, 2 GHz Pentium 4, 256MB RAM, GeForce 4 Ti4200 w/64MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live! Value, 32x DVD-ROM.

Windows Might & Magic IX Windows World War II: Prisoner of War

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated