As some of you will be aware by now, I have A Thing about Martin Septim, the main character in Oblivion other than the player character. I have never actually attempted to finish the game before, because I knew that Martin gets killed, and I thought it would wreck me.
Not even slightly.
The 2006 graphics aren't the problem, although they certainly don't help. The total lack of EMOTION is the problem. Really dramatic things are happening, yet everyone sounds robotic as ever. Even Sean Bean! I don't know what on earth happened to him, but he says alternate lines in a terribly posh "royal" accent, then back to the original voice that Martin has for the rest of the game. Martin isn't a prince, he's the bastard son of the last Emperor, and the only reason he's in line for the throne is that all the legitimate heirs have been assassinated. It doesn't make sense for him to be posh when he was brought up by farmers. Tailon (a friend who is studying game design) suggested "they recorded some of those lines very early and never re-recorded them after he had gotten more into the role" - that's an explanation, but it's unsatisfactory on Bethesda's part. Still, it could be worse - Skyrim (another Bethesda game, sequel to Oblivion) has a horrendous issue with the character Esbern where they got the famous actor Max von Sydow to record the lines, then rewrote the script, and got a bad impersonator to record the rest of the dialogue - so Esbern COMPLETELY CHANGES VOICE sometimes.
Anyway. The story is beyond stupid. After spending the whole game desperately protecting Martin because he's the only heir of Septim blood left, you then take him to the Imperial City - with ONLY YOU to protect him. The big bad demons who are trying to destroy the world are still on the loose, and Martin is in more danger than ever; but no, it's only you that goes. All the rest of the Blades stay in Cloud Ruler Temple. I mean, what? Aren't the Blades supposed to be the Emperor's bodyguards? Why is it just you protecting Martin?
You get to the Imperial City, and not one person asks who the hell Martin is or why he's walking around in the Emperor's robes. You get to the Imperial Palace, Martin tells you that he can't present himself as candidate for the throne - with no explanation, even though High Chancellor Ocato knows full well who he is. They start talking, Ocato declares him officially the Emperor, and then suddenly daedra overrun the city. You have the choice of fighting the daedra, in which case Martin always dies, no matter how much you cast Fortify Health on him (this is probably not supposed to happen) - or you can ignore all the bad guys and run like hell for the Temple of the One. In which case suddenly Mehrunes Dagon, the biggest, baddest, evil god of all, appears from nowhere and none of the daedra can see Martin any more. Not only is he suddenly unkillable again, but they don't even SEE HIM TO ATTACK. What? I'm sure that isn't supposed to happen.
Then you go into the Temple, it's too late to light the Dragonfires since Mehrunes Dagon has already broken through the barrier that was supposed to keep him out of the mortal world. So Martin says "sorry, gotta go, I now know what I was born to do", and runs off to kill himself. You DO NOT SEE HIM smash the Amulet of Kings. You DO NOT SEE HIM die. I have no idea what he actually even died OF. It's supposed to be a Tragic and Noble Sacrifice, but that doesn't work very well if you can't see what's going on. He randomly ascends into the air, spinning and glowing, then turns into the dragon. There was NO BLOOD. The whole point of this part of the plot is that when the magical blood of the Septims combines with the smashed Amulet, it summons Akatosh, the biggest, bestest, good god of all (coincidentally, Martin was a priest of Akatosh before he got forced into being Emperor), but there was no blood.
You get trapped in a cutscene and cannot look around, so you miss virtually all the action. And then suddenly Mehrunes Dagon disappears, and the dragon/Martin turns into a statue. And High Chancellor Ocato runs in and is useless, and you have to press A a lot of times to skip through the dialogue as you tediously explain to him that Martin is... gone. Someone who cares about Martin Septim as much as I do should be in FUCKING TEARS at this point, but no - I was just sitting there going "was that it?". Then there was a voice over WITH NO SUBTITLES and a graphical scene showing the Oblivion Gates closing, which would have been much nicer if I'd understood what was going on because I couldn't hear it properly. I walked out of the Temple, talked to the first person I saw, and he said something like "I'll always remember that day when you and Martin sent Mehrunes Dagon back" yet THAT ONLY JUST HAPPENED.
I have to admit, the closing graphical scene might have been quite emotional if I could have understood it. Why the fuck suddenly no subtitles? I might write a stiff email to Bethesda, actually. Oblivion might be six years old, but they keep posting trailers on YouTube now with no subtitles. It's basic accessibility. Some people are deaf, other people have auditory processing issues.
I just can't believe that there were dozens of random people running around during that battle, but they were generic Palace Guards and Imperial Legion members instead of the Blades. I mean, what are the Blades for if not to protect the Emperor?