Firstly, don't let the Steam statistics fool you: I have played hundreds of hours before having the game on Steam. The time for me to write a review of my favourite game ever has come, and I couldn't be happier. It was the year 1996, and the fairly young videogames studio of Bethesda was releasing The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, the successor of the modest, quite unnoticed first chapter, TES Arena. Presenting you to a world with deep RPG mechanics, a map of the size of Great Britain and the freedom to do whatever you wanted in a sandbox, 3D world, it has become a true legend among the other RPGs of the time. Changing the paradigm, it introduced dozens of brand new mechanics and improved anothers from Arena, making it the turning point for RPGs. Straight after the release of Daggerfall, Bethesda worked on an expansion called Battlespire, that was later turned into a standalone game, and Redguard, a more action-like, dumbed down game that explored the universe and developed the lore. Meanwhile, deep into the studios of Bethesda, more shocking, jawbreaking ideas for a new game started to appear. Making a full, huge 3D detailed world filled with creatures, NPCs, enemies and with a full day/night circle seemed like an utopia, and it actually was. Being developed allways at the edge of the time's hardware, a new TES started to get shape, something bold, something unique, something terrifying and creative. Thus, TES III: Morrowind was born.
Well, enough with the story. This review will be divided into 4 aspects, graphics, story/plot, gameplay and sound, and a consideration of som other aspects. Released in 2002, as mentioned, Morrowind had two additional expansions, Bloodmoon and Tribunal. Since this in the review of the GOTY Edition, it will also take into consideration all the expansions and official add-ons.
Graphics: this game runs in the Gamebryo Engine, the same engine that was used to make the next TES, Oblivion, and Fallout 3 and New Vegas, so it's an engine that spaned a very long lifetime. In 2002, the minimum requirements for this game were huge, and a state-of-the-art computer was necessary in order to run it in it's ful splendor. While some would think this was a bad optimization, in this case it's just the ludicrous ammount of details and material that was put into this game. The view distance was very short, even with the settings on the maximum, just to make the game able to run in that time's hardware. Nowadays, we can unlock those restrictions and see Morrowind in it's full splendor: for that time, it was just fantastic. From the water to the sky, going through the unique flora and the weird and suffering environment of volcanic formations, strange swamps and some environments that can't even be described due to their singularity make this one of the most inimaginable experiences in gaming. 96 out of 100.
Gameplay: most people had their first contact with the TES series with the latest entry, TES V: Skyrim. Skyrim was good, but it was a game made to appeal to the casual masses, which it did. Some may also had their first contact with TES IV: Oblivion, which is, by far, the most equilibrated: the almost perfect balance between deep RPG, TES-like funcionalities, and accessibility for a smoother, more friendly experience. Yet, there is a more restrict group of gamers that had their first contact with Morrowind, or even with the oldest entries. These fans usually see the quality of the latest entries, but miss the deepness Morrowind had. the funcionalities Morowind had made it possible to do whatever you want: you want to be a vampire? You can! You want to be a werewolf? You can! you want to be a mercenary-like warrior working for a guild who gives you nasty jobs? You can! Of course all of that can be done in the other TES as well. the difference resides that in here you must have the appropriate skils to be able to do that and to even be able to accept various quests. This is just an example of the hardness Morrowind presents; From having to constantly sleep to recover health, to be unable to cast a spell properly, to the multiple hits you have to give and take in order to take down an adversary are, the confusion and sense of dispair is always present, making certain actions very rewardful. The only major problem are the menus, the combat system and the dialogue system: while they do their job, they are clumsy and could had been improved a lot. From the useless third person view to the very confusive journal and quest tracking, the interface and the combat is probably Morrowind's biggest flaw. And bugs, lots of bugs. Not as much as Oblivion and Skyrim, but yet, they started all here. 82 out of 100
Story-plot: you, as usual, start as a prisioner. This time, you were released under the order of the Emperor himself, and were dropped in the forsaken island of Vvardenfell, which is a island that comprehends about half of Morrowind's total area, and the home of the Red Mountain, a volano that hosts a mad god-like man inside called Dagoth-Ur. After your release, you do some research jobs for Caius Cosades, a Blade that answers directly to the Emperor. After that apparently uninteresting research you were doing, Caius tells you a very disturbing truth that leads you to a seires of dangerous situations, in order to prove yourself as the Nerevarine, a hero who would save Morrowind from the wrath of the Red Mountain and Dagoth Ur himself. While this is just the main quest, there are still other multiple quest-lines and lots of sidequests that are very interesting and immersive. You can pretty much obtain a huge ammount of lore from the conversations, where you can select multiple topics. The quest-lines on the expansions are also unique and interesting: in bloodmoon, you go to the damned island of Solshteim (the same as in Skyrim's DLC Dragonborn) and involve yourself in a werewolf-related situation. Tribunal starts as a attemp from the Dark Brotherhood to murder you, and leads you to the mainland capital of Morrowind, Mournhold. Here, you will mess with the gods. Without any negative aspect, the plot, and all the TES lore is one of the best ever made for an RPG of this kind. It only sins for the bad organization of the journal, as mentioned above, and could use some more cutscenes or bold scenes. Yet, it's wonderful in it's own way. 95 out of 100.
Sound: this is probably one of the most epic sountracks ever written for a game. May the Dunmer Gods bless the soul of Jeremy Soule for his geniousness. Also, it's filled with details: if you are not a Dunmer, Morrowind's native race of elves, you will be called some nasty and pejorative names by the people, allways depending on your race: a Orc will be called an Outlander with a very strong negative conotation, while a imperial will be seen as a "civilized" person. There are just some bugs, like the footsteps that are annoying and faulty, and the repetitive sound of "interacting with objects". 97 out of 100.
Other aspects: with a humongous longetivity, to the ammount of mods the community has made, this game can give you months of fun. The Construction Kit allows you to create your own mods in a fairly easy way (though you may need some geometry knowledge), and it has a very active community even in today's time. As usual, the final score is given by the average between the 4 forementioned aspects, plus a factor of correction based on thre other aspects. So, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, my favourite game ever, and the game that brought to me the world of RPGs end up with the great score of 96 out of 100. Greatest RPG of all time, in my opinion.