Game: Oblivion: Knights of the Nine
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: RPG expansion
Knights of the Nine is the first expansion pack released for Oblivion, although it’s not a traditional add-on. Rather, it’s a collection of all the eight individual items of downloadable content previously released. So if you want them all without the dubious concept of having to pay for a download, then this is perfect, especially if you can pick it up for cheap. Since it’s a collection, I’ll briefly review each of the content packs individually.
Horse Armour: As much as it might come as a shock, given the name, this actually provides you with a choice of two types of armour for your horse. It looks good, and gives your horse some protection if it should get attacked, but it’s not the most useful thing around. It wouldn’t be worth much on its own, but as part of the boxed expansion it’s a nice addition.
Spell Tomes: All this does is add spell books to the game, which turn up occasionally in the random treasure you get. When you read one of these, you get the option to add the books spell to your spell list, basically letting you learn it for free rather than having to buy it. It’s hit and miss whether it’ll be any use to you, but that’s the same with any treasure. So it’s a small addition, but an occasionally useful one for all but people who don’t use magic.
Mehrunes Razor: This adds a new quest to hunt down a lost Ayleid city in order to find the titular dagger, Mehrunes Razor. It’s the longest quest of the set outside Knights of the Nine itself. It adds a new, and quite large, underground village to explore in order to find the location of the lost city. Then you get a dungeon to explore in the Ayleid ruins to discover the dagger. Dungeon crawls aren’t really the most interesting aspect of Oblivion, so it would have been nice if the village wasn’t populated by hostile characters. Being able to explore a new village while interacting with new characters would have added some variety to the mod, and played more to the game’s strengths. Still, it’s a well designed dungeon and should add another hour or two to the game, and there are some interesting sections where you can watch different enemies fighting each other while you lurk in the background.
Orrery: A brief quest to attack five bandit camps and to recover some Dwarven artifacts in order to repair the Arcane University’s Orrery. Once it is repaired, you can use it to gain a new power depending on the phase of the moon at the time of use. You can use it any time to gain a new power, but it always replaces the previous power you got from it. Each one boosts one of your attributes by 20 points, but also unfortunately drains a different one by 20 points. Since I like to play a varied game using different skills, I didn’t want to lose 20 points on any attribute so ended up not using the Orrery anyway. The device itself is one of the more impressive sights in the game though.
Thieves Den: Here we have a short quest added, involving going to a cave and killing a bunch of skeletons that turn out to be the remains of a pirate crew. After this, you can hire a new pirate crew who you can send off to pillage and plunder on your behalf, bringing back some extra money for you. Other than that, there’s not much to it, although your crew provide convenient access to training in any of the stealth and thievery related skills if you need it.
Vile Lair: There’s very little to this, other than adding Deepscorn Hollow, the Vile Lair of the title. There’s no quest for it other than to tell you you’ve inherited it and to go there. It’s a lair intended for evil characters, and the only really useful aspect is easy access to a cure for vampirism, which would otherwise entail quite a long quest in the normal game.
Wizard’s Tower: Exactly as the title suggests, this adds a wizard’s tower to the game. There’s no challenge to acquiring it. As soon as you load the game after the mod is installed, a quest will turn up telling you to go there, as the tower is now yours. This means that as soon as you can afford the fittings, you can get access to things like enchanting items and creating spells, as well as a room that gives you a bonus to your alchemy skill when making potions. Given the lack of any sort of challenge before getting this, it almost feels like a cheat to get access to these things without having to get into the Mage’s Guild as you would usually have to.
Knights of the Nine: This is the main content, as suggested by the title of the box set. It’s a fairly lengthy quest that begins when you hear about an attack on a chapel, and are told about a prophet. Seeking out the prophet, he tells you about a prophecy. I guess that’s why he’s a prophet. It seems the only person who can defeat the one responsible for the attack is someone armed with the relics of Hero McKnightface, the one who banished him to Oblivion originally. I wonder who that will be… So off you head, to find the relics, in a quest that will take you round various dungeons finding the different pieces of armour and weapons. It’s a good quest, and should take around 5 – 6 hours to complete. Ultimately though, it’s just another quest added to the main game. It doesn’t really add anything new to the way Oblivion plays, although there are some basic puzzle elements this time that I don’t remember in the main game.
So is Knights of the Nine worth buying? Could somebody tell me? I haven’t got a clue. It really depends on the price, and the individual who is buying it. This content certainly isn’t bad, but the only two pieces of it that are really worthwhile are the new quests from Mehrunes Razor and Knights of the Nine itself. They’re very good, but they add just a few more hours on to a game that is already well over 100 hours. On the other hand, the amount of gameplay is probably equivalent in length to most modern games in their entirety. Paying the full retail price for this box just isn’t worthwhile. You can buy the downloads of all these items for under $25 dollars from the official website, which works out at much less than the retail price for the box. Considering that the only two items that are worth having cost the equivalent of under £10, the box is just unreasonably priced. If you can find the box set for around £5 or less then it’s probably a reasonable deal, but for anything more, it’s just not really worth it just to add a couple of quests to an already huge game.
Save System Review: The same as in Oblivion.
Graphics: Again, the same as in Oblivion. Obviously.
Sound: As you can probably guess… the same as Oblivion.
Bugs: I didn’t spot any bugs specific to these new elements.
Gameplay: The gameplay is very good, since it’s just more quests for the brilliant Oblivion. There just isn’t really enough of it to justify the price.
Storyline: A decent storyline to the quest, although nothing too spectacular.
Arbitrary Final Score:
Will you play it all night or will you just say "nein"? Comment in the forums!