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BioShock & The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Bundle

Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360
Genre: RPG/Action
Release Date: July 7, 2009

About Brad Hilderbrand

I've been covering the various facets of gaming for the past five years and have been permanently indentured to WorthPlaying since I borrowed $20K from Rainier to pay off the Russian mob. When I'm not furiously writing reviews, I enjoy RPGs, rhythm games and casual titles that no one else on staff is willing to play. I'm also a staunch supporter of the PS3.

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X360/PC Review - BioShock & The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Bundle

by Brad Hilderbrand on July 25, 2009 @ 7:32 a.m. PDT

BioShock is the genetically enhanced shooter that weaves intricate storytelling with an intense and exciting journey though a decaying underwater Art Deco utopia gone mad. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is an RPG with lush visuals, expansive worlds and limitless character customization combine with unprecedented levels of player freedom and NPC interaction.

Throughout the console generations, there are certain titles that every gamer simply must play. From Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog to Halo and Metal Gear Solid, these are the games that define our very pastime and stand as the beacons of excellence atop the gaming mountain. During this most recent round of consoles, there has been a handful of must-play titles, and among them are BioShock and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. If, for whatever reason, you haven't already played one or both of these games, Bethesda and 2K have teamed up to make an offer simply too good to refuse. Both titles are now available in a $40 bundle, and for anyone who missed out the first time around, you no longer have an excuse to sit on the sidelines. Those who already own these games or who have played them extensively shouldn't bother, though, as this is truly the bare-bones version of both games, with no extra bells or whistles to lure you back in for one more adventure.

Just in case you are unfamiliar with the games, BioShock is set in a dystopian underwater city, a kingdom unto itself that was meant to provide true freedom and prove that no intelligent man need governing. Unfortunately, everything's gone totally wrong, and rampant abuse of "Adam" and the paranoia of the city's founder have come together to create a world where death and terror lurk around every corner. You stumble into the city after the plane you were aboard crashes in the ocean, and the remainder of the experience is centered on finding your way back to the surface while unraveling the mystery of the city's downfall and confronting your own personal demons. The experience is one of claustrophobia, unease and fear, with the tension constantly ratcheted up to the perfect level to keep you on your toes with a steady sense of dread.

Oblivion takes a different track, with players exploring the empire of Tamriel. You start off as a lowly prisoner who's destined to die in a dank cell. Things quickly change, however, when the emperor himself, fleeing assassins, comes into your cell in order to escape through a secret passage. Though he dies in his flight, he reveals that you are a hero, a figure present in his dreams as the one who will save the kingdom from the encroaching forces of darkness and the Oblivion gates that have sprung up across the land. Unlike BioShock, the game is a much more open-ended experience, with everything — including race, skills, alignment and the order in which you tackle quests — being completely up to the individual player.

Ultimately, these two games couldn't be any more different from one another, but they're both such fantastic titles that they work very well as a package. Bethesda and 2K have cast a wide net by creating such a unique pair, with the pedigree of each game making this a package worth owning not just for one game or the other, but for both. Even those gamers who have already played both titles will likely find this to be an attractive set that's extremely hard to pass up indeed.

While both games are exceptional in their original forms, in subsequent months and years each has seen significant expansions that make them all the more worthwhile. Oblivion lays claim to a whole host of additional quests, such as The Knights of the Nine and the Shivering Isles expansion, while the PS3 version of BioShock saw exclusive challenge rooms made available as downloadable content. Both games are truly meaty on their own, but when you add in all the extras that have been made available, they become downright epic.

Sadly, those expansions are absent here, and the package's biggest drawback is that it doesn't include any of these extras. Oblivion owners can still utilize the extra quests if they already own them and have them saved on their hard drives, but they're not an included part of the game. This is made even more frustrating by the fact that the Game of the Year edition of Oblivion already featured these extra goodies, so taking them away is a big step back.

On the BioShock front, everything that was exclusive to the PS3 remains so, and there isn't even an option to download the challenge rooms for an additional cost. If you were hoping to play the game again complete with all the content made available to PS3 owners, then you are sorely out of luck. It's just not going to happen.

Even in their original forms, though, these are still two games that everyone who owns a current-gen system should really play. Their immense popularity made them nearly impossible to miss out on the first time around, but just in case you skipped them for some reason, here's one more chance to play them both. Even better, the $40 price tag means that you can get both brand-new games cheaper than you can likely find their used counterparts. If you already own both games or have played them before, though, there's not a lot of incentive to pick up this compilation. Sure, they're amazing games, but they aren't going to offer you anything that you haven't already seen before.

Even so, what we have here is one of the rarest of all games, the compilation title that's actually worth the price and only features games you would genuinely want to play. Here's hoping this is a sign of things to come with future combo packs, as pairing up two blockbusters like these at a very reasonable price is a downright genius move. If you haven't played BioShock and Oblivion yet, then you're now officially out of excuses. Go grab this bundle right now.

Score: 8.8/10


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