Choose Your Digital Destiny | Morrowind Game of the Year Edition For PC
Imagine an RPG in which the whole world lies at your feet. Imagine an RPG in which the quest structure is not 'kill X number of Y'. Imagine an RPG in which your character's attributes are infinitely customizable. Imagine an RPG that manages to actually surprise you with strange twists and turns. Imagine an RPG in which NPC's are just as vulnerable as you are, making your choices a matter of morality. You're now close to imagining what Morrowind is like.
Morrowind was first released early this decade, and was re-released as Morrowind 'Game of the Year Edition' in 2003. It now costs under 20 bucks to buy, and pound for pound, I reckon that this is one of the best games I've ever paid for. There is a reason that this little beauty of a game won Game of the Year when it was released in 2002, and has picked up 59 additional awards. It's brilliant.
When Morrowind was released in 2002 people were stunned at the graphics, which are still pretty impressive. The environments feel dense, verdant, alive, and there is a true sense of place to the game. Morrowind is a world in which you can easily lose yourself. Musically, it is a little weaker, there are fairly pleasant tunes, but little variation among them which means you'll hear “dum dum dum de de dum de de dum de dum” a lot, if you keep your sound on.
Fortunately, the game play is so good that you're unlikely to worry about the music too much. You'll be far too engrossed making your way in the world. The brilliance of Morrowind really is in putting control of the gaming experience in the hands of the gamer. If you want to be a crazed axe murderer and kill every NPC you see, you can do that. There will be consequences, of course, but it is technically possible. On the other hand, you can chose to be a creature of stealth and never fight anyone. It is said that Morrowind can be completed by only killing two creatures in total.
Most RPGs and every major MMORPG on the market requires players to play through well grooved channels and game play quickly becomes little but a dull grind towards a goal you probably stopped caring about the 50th time you had to kill ten tawny lions for their pelts. Morrowind does not box you in, it sets you free in a world full of possibilities and lets you make your own decisions. You pick sides, form alliances and sometimes even betray friends.
For example, fairly on in the game you may come across a man standing in his underwear at the side of the road who claims a witch stole his powerful sword and left him to be laughed at in the road. If you decide to help him, you must track down this witch. Sounds pretty standard so far right, and in most RPG's, you'd find the witch, kill her for the guy and get his sword back in return for some gold. Not in Morrowind. In Morrowind you can talk to the witch who explains that the guy was being a pain in the neck so she took his sword and he can have it back in three days.
At that point, you can then side with
the guy or with the witch. Either way, that's going to end with you
killing one of them. Or, you can kill both of them and take the sword
plus a whole bunch of other loot too.
The fact that a game like this was released in 2002 makes me wonder all the more why grind MMORPG's like World of Warcraft have maintained their popularity in 2009. Though I am aware that it is a little like comparing apples and oranges, I don't think it would kill MMORPG makers to open their games up a little more and allow players to truly create characters and stories worth caring about.