Sunday, August 31, 2008
The Elder Scrolls IV: Knights of the Nine (Xbox 360) Review
When I purchased my retail copy of The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles (Xbox 360) last fall, it came packaged with a copy of The Elder Scrolls IV: Knights of the Nine, the largest of Bethesda's official downloadable content for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
Due to other gaming priorities, it actually took me a while to get a chance to play The Elder Scrolls IV: Knights of the Nine, but now that I've gone through it, I can't help but be impressed as I have been with all things related to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
The Imperials themselves may have been heavily based on Roman history, but The Elder Scrolls IV: Knights of the Nine is firmly based upon the Crusades, and specifically the Knights Templar. I've actually been engrossing myself over The Templar Trilogy as of late, and it's fascinating to see just how much detail Bethesda has packed in to their downloadable content.
Upon installation of The Elder Scrolls IV: Knights of the Nine, you'll begin to have conversation options regarding a "Prophet," who's apparently a crazy preacher residing in Anvil. Upon traveling there you learn that the Chapel has been attacked and all the priests killed, and the Prophet sends you on a pilgrimage with the primary goal of recovering the ancient relics of the Crusader, and the re-formation of the ancient order, the Knights of the Nine.
Just who is this Crusader and what are the Knights of the Nine? Well, that would be spoiling, and I certainly don't want to do that!
Unlike the other basic forms of downloadable content available, The Elder Scrolls IV: The Knights of the Nine contains a full, multi-faceted Quest with a wonderfully detailed story, a whole new faction, new armour, new weapons, new spells, new allies, and new enemies. While not quite a true expansion set like The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles, it cetainly does pack in a lot of content and is a complete joy to play through.
I started a new character, a male Orc Crusader, and my overall playtime lasted about 14 hours. That's quite an excellent length for a simple piece of downloadable content. In fact, that's the length of many full retail games today, but again, we are talking about a Bethesda title, and one thing Bethesda loves to do is make them big!
Graphically, the downloadable content brings some new designs to the new armour and weapons, again influenced by the style worn by the Templar Knights, as well as some lovely new Ayleid enemies. Audio wise, the voice acting and sounds are just what you'd expect of an The Elder Scrolls IV title, and the gameplay itself is also very standard fair. Remember this is a simple piece of downloadable content, not a complete re-invention of the game.
One of my gripes with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was the lack of an Imperial Legion guild. You're in the heart of the Empire, yet you can't join the Imperial Legion itself, and that left me feeling a little unfulfilled. I'm happy to say that, though they aren't the Legion, the Knights of the Nine make up for this, represented as an elite brotherhood of warrior monks within the Empire. In fact, that is the best way to look at The Elder Scrolls IV: Knights of the Nine, like a completley new Guild for you to join.
When all is said and done, my only major gripe with The Elder Scrolls IV: Knights of the Nine is the lack of any new Achievements, however in the end, Achievements themselves don't matter for anything other than bragging rights, and the most important thing is the joy of the game itself.
As an addition to the retail copy of The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles, The Elder Scrolls IV: Knights of the Nine is an exceptional bonus. So long as you properly explore and experience the Quest line, you get a full game's worth of time out of it, and an excellent expansion to the lore of the universe. If you decide to pick it up via the Xbox LIVE Marketplace, is it worth your 800 Microsoft Points? Without question, yes.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Knights of the Nine is another exceptional experience from Bethesda Softworks and it should not be missed. If only most actual retail games could be of this simple downloadable content's quality.