When I first played Morrowind, I was drawn into it. A technical triumph, it was hard to find a flaw with the game. Stunning graphics. Incredible and rich sound. A deep and rewarding story, Morrowind will be hard to beat for a long time. Bethesda Softworks now provides us with the first official expansion for Morrowind.
In the original release, we were introduced to the Tribunal - three near immortals that have been deified by the local Dunmer elves. If you follow the main plot of Morrowind, you will, no doubt, meet one of these gods, Vivec. The others, Almalexia and Sotha Sil, although still alive, are absent from the game. Tribunal delves deeply into what these two great beings have become.
Everything takes place in a new area called Mournhold, capital of Morrowind. Starting with an assassination attempt, you trace your would be killer to Ebonheart, and a new mage that can transport you to Mournhold. At this point, the expansion pack gets a little strange. Your world map no longer works. According to it, you spend your entire time in Ebonheart. Just switch to your Local map and forget about it.
Keeping to the standard set by its parent game, Tribunal has an excellent sound set. One thing that was corrected was the NPC greetings. Now, NPCs will greet you more accurately depending on their disposition toward you. Also, more standard greetings have been added, as well as some new quest specific greetings. With this change, the one annoyance from the main game has been fixed.
Beautiful. The models can still be a bit blocky, but the environments are once again powerfully realistic. Textures and objects show the same level of professionalism as the main game. Unfortunately, I still have to recommend downloading the NO-CD fix. The choppy graphics and longer load times associated with the CD-Check is still a problem, and again the fix is a must for lower end machines.
Bethesda has taken the opportunity to offer some real tweaks for gameplay. The journal system is now indexed – in fact this process can take almost half an hour to complete on your initial game load. You can place markers on your map. Unfortunately, there are some negative things I'd like to point out. Much of Tribunal is not particularly original. Parts of the add-on incorporate modifications that are very similar to existing community mods and plug-ins. Even the main story is quite similar to a user mod that is available for download. Having said that, all of this less than original content has been added to or personalized by the Bethesda team. But any similarities are probably coincidental, as it is difficult not to come up with parallel ideas given the setting. Also an issue is the linearity of the main story line. Stepping out of the story is very difficult. Due to this lack of freedom, I found myself having to commit acts that did not fit with my personality. This seemed at odds with the point of such an expansive game as Morrowind. Without giving away any aspects of the plot, I also came away from the end feeling saddened by the outcome. Also, given the smaller size of the add-on, it is a comparatively short experience. A dedicated Morrowind fan will probably get a day or two of play from the main quest, and maybe another day or two of side quests. The dungeons and levels, although well detailed, are surprisingly bare of loot. Considering how much treasure is available in the main game, this is a bit disappointing, especially the lack of many really interesting unique items. At times Tribunal feels like a hack-and-slash, too. With a decent leveled character, you can find the monsters on the weak side. The few creatures or enemies that are not easily taken out still tend not to do much damage, leaving you to stand in front of them pounding for several minutes, just trying to beat away their armor.
Still no multiplayer.
Mildly disappointing, Tribunal is still a step above most RPGs to date. If you loved Morrowind, you'll enjoy Tribunal, as it is basically just more of the same.