Smile and Nod

Smile and Nod: Games to Ease the Summer Drought

Russ Pitts | 9 Jun 2008 17:00
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OK, this one's cheating. Everyone's already played Oblivion (pictured). Unless you haven't. and even if you have, chances are high you haven't played all of it.

I know a number of folks who bought an Xbox 360 just to play this game, and even more who've played it since on the PC and PlayStation 3. But unlike other games (barring MMOGs), this one hasn't stopped being made. Two years after its initial release, it's a bigger, more interesting game than it was before, and chances are you'll now never finish it. So dig in!

I recently undertook to revitalize my interest in the game, and that mission came off without a hitch. I was lucky enough to find one of my old saves and was able to pick up where I'd left off back in 2006. Better still, my distance from the game allowed me to view it with new eyes.

Like that box full of sweaters at the top of the closet, I'd lived without Oblivion and my character for over a year. I knew I could live without it indefinitely. And this knowledge opened up entirely new vistas of awesome.

Cave full of ogres? Well, they wouldn't be there if they weren't guarding something awesome. In I went! Where before I might have shied away, careful to preserve the countless hours I'd put into crating and nurturing my character, now I charged straight ahead, not caring in the least whether I lived or died. Knowing I had dozens more games to play if I screwed this one up, or that I could just as easily start another character and try again, this time following a completely different path. Or, at the very least, reload with one of my 80 or so saved games.

On one such adventure I dove head-first in to a cave full of nasties and found a rare, magical amulet that's served me well since. On another, I discovered an alternate world where, speaking of Okami, everything is made of strokes from a painter's brush. On another, a backwoods village full of isolated loners threatening violence against visiting outsiders - and for good reason.

Each new step put me further into a land of new and exciting things. A new discovery around every corner. A reward for every feat of daring. Risk leading to victory. Adventure being its own reward. That's what gaming is supposed to be about.

Russ Pitts would prefer to be playing Mercenaries 2 now, thank you very much. His blog can be found at

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