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HUGE SCREENS TESTED–FROM £165! From 22” to 28”, these monsters have all your pixels…

ISSUE 218 OCT 2008

PERFORMANCE GEAR & GAMING

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ISSUE 218 YOU CAN READ MINDS?

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Top guide Issue 218 Oct 2008 £4.99 Outside UK & ROI £6.49

OBLIVION: AWESOME STALKER CLEAR SKY HACKS AND MODS EXCLUSIVE REVIEW!

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InDepth

Give

Oblivion a facelift

Make RPG stand for Really Pretty Gorgeous instead of Rather Plain Game

o

blivion is one of those titles that everyone agrees is a great game, but one that could be greater. Despite being hampered by simultaneous Xbox 360 co-development, it still managed to have that ‘wow’ factor when you saw the gargantuan scale of the outdoor environments. And any graphical misgivings could be overlooked because of the sheer amount of ambition the game obviously had. Even so, this is a game that’s just celebrated a second candle on its cake,

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and the cracks are beginning to creep in. No matter how beautiful its Merry England vistas, they’re never going to match Crysis’s desert island gorgeousness. But you can bump them up a little and get it looking like it should have from the start, thanks to a huge network of fans and modders. Before you start tinkering with it back up the game and your save files. Although most mods are sturdier than an adamantium articulated lorry, and Oblivion’s modified Gamebryo engine is a solid foundation for mods, things can

go wrong. The excellent Oblivion Mod Manager makes things a lot easier, too. Most mods are supplied as ZIP files, and it’s simply a question of unzipping them and plopping them in to your data folder within Oblivion. If the files have .ESP files, these will be detected by the manager and you can turn them on or off. Turn them all on, and you’ll experience one of the best games of recent years in a new light. We’ve stuck a clutch of mods on the disc, the rest can be found on fan sites such as www. oblivionmods.org. ¤ Henry Winchester

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Give Oblivion a facelift

Hardy HDR

Oblivion’s original setup didn’t enable both high dynamic range and antialiasing at the same time, meaning the visuals could either be realistically bright but jaggy, or realistically smooth without those nice lighting effects. Fortunately, there are a couple of workarounds. If you’ve got an NVIDIA graphics card, you can force anti-aliasing to be associated with Oblivion in the Manage 3D Settings section of the NVIDIA control panel in Windows, and then turn on HDR from within the game. If you’ve got a newer ATI card, Chuck’s ATI patch enables HDR and anti-aliasing for retina-scorching silky-smooth visuals.

Ini Innit

Bring new light to one of the best games of recent years with a clutch of Oblivion mods

In addition to the humungous range of Oblivion mods, there are a number of INI tweaks that can make things just that little bit easier on the eye. In the game’s folder you’ll find a handy configuration file called Oblivion_default. Open it with Notepad and edit the following values. 1 Like a white van driver, Oblivion’s water only sees big lumps of land, turning a blind eye to trees, buildings and people. You can enable them by editing the following entries: bUseWaterReflectionsMisc=1 bUseWaterReflectionsStatics=1 bUseWaterReflectionsTrees=1 bUseWaterReflectionsActors=1 2 Setting iMinGrassSize=80 to a higher value alters the amount of tufts, but set it too high and you’ll have more grass than a rapper holidaying in Amsterdam. 3 Of course, altering these values is likely to have an impact on system performance. Fortunately, there are a couple of tweaks if you’ve got one or two gigs of RAM and a multicore processor. Setting bUseThreadedBlood and bUseThreadedMorpher to ‘1’ will use all your cores for some effects, and changing uInterior Cell Buffer to ‘6’ and uExterior Cell Buffer to ‘72’ will improve your RAM usage. 4 Find the intro music too rousing? Drop an MP3 into the data\music\special\ folder and rename it ‘tes4title.mp3’, and it’ll play over the title screen. I’m torn between Daphne and Celeste’s Ooh StickYou and the Macarina myself.

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InDepth

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1 Distance yourself Enabling A ‘ lmost Everything Viewable’ will allow you to see structures and villages from miles away. Great for when you trek for miles only to find a pack of mad wolves

6 Texture Editor Qarl’s Texture Pack replaces all those slightly blurry textures with lovely crisp high-definition ones

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2 Holy foliage Natural Environments makes many subtle improvements to the flora of the game. When venturing through the Imperial Reserve you’ll also bump into dragonflies and butterflies

5 Piece o’HUD Gone is Oblivion’s chunky, intrusive user interface; replaced with the Phinix Immersive DarkUI. Now your energy bars don’t fill half the screen 5

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Give Oblivion a facelift 3 Weather beaten Atmospheric Weather Systems alters weather systems (who’d have thunk it?), so clouds roll about in the night sky, and far more weather variations occur

Mods and Frockers 1 Oblivion Mod Manager The first step in modding up Oblivion is to install Timeslip’s excellent Oblivion Mod Manager. This handy little app lets you turn mods on and off, so if two aren’t compatible you won’t bork your game.

2 Qarl’s Texture Pack This painstakingly-constructed fan-made mod includes a whopping 2GB of high-res textures upgrading everything from hills to snowflakes. You’ll need a fairly hefty PC to run it, though.

3 Natural Environments This mod adds subtle effects: more flora and fauna, revised sky textures and more naturalistic water. It also ups the number of weather systems from seven to 40, meaning it snows far more often.

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4 Beautiful People The peeps in Oblivion were never the prettiest – Beautiful People adds a compendium of many alterations to Oblivion’s models. You’ll know it’s working when you find a goblin sexually attractive.

5 Illumination Within So far, we’ve only concentrated on the countryside areas, but this mod makes villages and towns more aesthetically pleasing. It does things like shine rays of light from each building’s windows at night.

In-spire-ing 4 Beautiful people Okay, so she’s not the prettiest of stable girls, but the Imperials get what they pay for. She has, however, had a bit of a facelift thanks to the Beautiful People mod

Bethesda championed Xbox-style pay-as-you-go downloadable content for Oblivion, ranging from £1 for armour to £5 for new levels. But there’s a whole treasure chest of unofficial extra content out there as well – the most impressive of which is The Lost Spires (www.lostspires.com). This fan-made mission consists of 10 dungeons, a new Archeologists’ guild, reskinned creatures and full voiceovers for all NPCs. The story itself sees you discovering artefacts in ancient Tamriel. It’s a hugely impressive work, and every bit as enjoyable as official add-on The Shivering Isles.

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Give Oblivion a facelift  

Oblivion is one of those titles that everyone agrees is a great game, but one that could be greater. Despite being hampered by simultaneous...

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