Review of Tribunal, first Morrowind's expansion pack  0

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An expansion?

Morrowind had been one of the greatest RPG successes in this year that has been so full of masterpieces.
It was realized by Bethesda and published in Europe by Ubisoft and it gave its fans one of the biggest and most complex worlds for single player games. It also succeeded in bringing the experience of single player closer to the multiplayer one because it uses a world in which you can travel all over, free to try every quest, to wear every character’s clothes and to join every guild.
The programmers stoke of genius was giving the users the possibility to modify and widen Morrowind’s world with the included game’s editor, the TES.

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An expansion?

The community of Morrowind’s modifies creators (mod) has soon proved to be one of the most lively and prolific in videogames history; it created new adventures, compensating some lacks of the game, it created the possibility of having our own house, new objects, new quests and it made Morrowind a lively and throbbing of news game.
Now Bethesda has decided to create an expansion for Morrowind. This expansion should have had some modification both in interface and way to play the game and it should have had more possibility of scripting with the TES. All of these modifications should have been included in an engrossing new adventure. Ladies and Gentleman, here is Morrowind: Tribunal!

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An anomalous expansion

Tribunal presents itself to the player like a single, huge file *.esm of 63 MB (esm is the extension of the TES modifies). It can be loaded like a normal data file; it patches the main executable file and the first time it adapts the existing save games with this reassuring writing: “I’m analyzing your quests, save again when I’m finished.” So there are no doubts about possible incompatibility between Morrowind savegames and Tribunal ones.
This particular and anomalous structure is part of Morrowind logic, which is the logic of modules, and perhaps it is the first source of the problems this expansion contains.
My first impact with Tribunal has not been the best one; first of all you must forget to reach the new areas with Morrowind common ways of travel, like TaxyBug, magic portals or natural tools like legs.

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An anomalous expansion

It’s really difficult to access Tribunal because it is separated from Morrowind; I can’t tell you anything because I would reveal part of the story, but you should know that I was blocked for four hours by a bug that could be defeated only writing a specific codex on the debug console.
Unfortunately, I cannot even say that this was a problem of my review version, because I found the solution on an American forum where other people have had the same problem.
I can understand the necessity of creating a totally new area that had to be separated from Morrowind’s isle; this is because the work of several modders had to be protected, otherwise their areas would have been overwritten, but there is a right way and a wrong way of making reachable an area.
This difficult access didn’t make me well disposed towards Tribunal because I remembered that it was simple to access the areas of expansions like that of the Baldur’s Gate saga.
When I finally succeeded to access the new areas, I was fortunately impressed by an extraordinary vision.

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The city of light, the city of magic

The new city you will have in Tribunal is a tribute to architectonic beauty and to an incredible style in creating visual effects of the highest order.
Mournhold, the city of light and magic, is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in a first/third person RPG; Morrowind’s graphic engine has remained the same, with all of its faults, like its heaviness, but it still has the power to create landscapes and architectonic wonders that take one’s breath away.
I forgot the previous bug while I was wandering around in Mournhold districts, searching for new adventures with the freedom of movement that is Morrowind’s strong point.

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The city of light, the city of magic

I soon learned the new characteristic of Tribunal, first of all the new functionality of map and diary.
Now you can edit the map with your own notes simply double clicking on it even though this is a characteristic that is known since Planescape: Torment.
In Tribunal we cannot select various colors tonality for our notes and we are limited to the local map because the world’s one remains not editable.
The possibility of separating our quests in the diary between active ones and completed ones is much more important.
Again, this isn’t anything new because we can find much more elaborated systems of diary in Bioware or Black Isle games, as well as in Divine Divinity which has in my opinion the best diary of all. The modifies to Morrowind diary were absolutely necessary and should have been present in the first game release.

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Henchmen in here too?

There are other additions to the game’s structure, additions that are partly a return to the past and partly an adaptation to rival games.
We rediscover the beast of burden that we have already seen in Dungeon Siege and that recalls the fabulous Daggerfall’s pocketsize handcart, both in modality and in functionality.
We meet mercenaries who are fellows that with the payment of some (!!) money come with us shielding us with their body.
Tribunal’s mercenaries are similar to Neverwinter Nights’ ones; even if in Tribunal we can use their inventory, Tribunal’s mercenaries lack NWN mercenaries’ typical depth because they have neither personality nor history

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Henchmen in here too?

The use of a mercenary can cause some problem: first of all when you enter a new area you see the mercenary right in front of you, then when you are wandering in narrow corridors (maybe with other NPCS) you may find that it’s difficult to disentangle yourself and go on.
I once had to reload because I found myself blocked between my mercenary and a NPC; another time while I was wandering through a royal palace’s corridors, I didn’t notice that my mercenary was blocked and so I lost him, I lost the money used to hire him and I lost the possibility to have him again in my service. Even now he is living like a ghost in the palace!
There are other technical additions but they only regard the possibility of setting the difficulty level; there’s nothing more especially regarding graphic and music that is the same of Morrowind.

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And the story?

Besides structural or technical additions, Tribunal offers a quest extremely pressing and difficult that last 30-40 hours.
Bethesda decided to realize in Tribunal a principal quest direct, linear, concise and without hesitations, because Bethesda remembered some critics to Morrowind’s structure that was said to be too distracting.
The story is really interesting and it will amuse you for a long time but you must remember to be careful because it requests a high character’s level.
To make you an example of how much difficult this quest is, you must know that the first enemy is a Bone Lord with a lot of goblin that fight like demons!
Tribunal also presents interesting digressions like the search of a rare material to produce special armors; in this search you will also have a document-recipe that you will be able to consult freely (and this thing remind me of a certain Cromwell!)
Otherwise in Tribunal you can search some definitely unique and rare weapons to complete Mournhold weapons museum even if this possibility is freely usable by downloading a famous amateur plug-in.

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Conclusion

To buy or not to buy, this is the dilemma!
Tribunal should cost approximately 30 € but if you don’t have Morrowind yet, you can buy a Gold version that contains both Morrowind and Tribunal for 55 €.
I must frankly say that if not for the splendid city of Mournhold and the main quest, the other additions to Morrowind’s gameplay aren’t worth the expense; you can find almost all in Internet as free data files.
If Tribunal isn’t too expensive for you, then buy it!
I recommend this expansion to the modder’s community because the additions to the already infinite TES potentialities are worthy the ticket price.


Presentation: 6
The expansion is naturally in English, except for the manual that has been translated in Italian; the box is naturally a dvd box. Tribunal gains the sufficiency because of the initiative to realize a Gold version that contains both Morrowind and Tribunal at the cost of the only Morrowind.

Graphic: 8
The graphic is the same of Morrowind and the mark loses one point because the graphic engine (one of big problem of Morrowind) should have been lightened.

Sound: 7
The sound is the same of Morrowind but it is rated with one point less because there wasn’t very much music in Morrowind and in Tribunal this problem hasn’t been solved.

Gameplay: 7,5
The additions to Morrowind’s structure are a moderate cure-all and a partial blast of novelty for the series. Morrowind’s gameplay is surely further improved but Bethesda could and should have done more.

Final judgment: 74
This isn’t an essential expansion but it presents a new story and new respectable areas. If you love Morrowind, you can’t lose Tribunal, if you don’t love Morrowind this expansion won’t change you mind.


Gabriele "AarnaK" Dal Fiume
translated by : Anahid "Misty" Mazkedian




In my opinion....by Wolverine

I take the liberty of adding a brief note to Gabriele’s exhaustive commentary about Tribunal.
For one thing, considering that in the end Tribunal is no more than a mod, I speak to give honor to a group of guys that are realizing a mod that is perhaps not the most difficult but surely the most expected here in Italy; I’m speaking of the Italian Translation Project that is about of giving us a splendid Christmas present: the free UNOFFICIAL patch for the complete Morrowind translation in Italian.
People who read Tribunal’s review must not be deceived by the images with Italian notes; Tribunal won’t be translated in our language and that notes come from the extraordinary ITP work that has been done for Morrowind but obviously not for Tribunal.
This speech is also useful to justify my personal lack of enthusiasm toward this first expansion of Morrowind; the reason is that in the end Tribunal isn’t nothing more than a mod and not even one of the best I’ve seen between the mods one can freely download from the web.
The fact of giving fans a powerful editor for realizing heavy modifies to a game’s structure is a double-edged weapon for developers because it allows them to give fans something more and to extend a game’s life but it exposes them to the direct fans competition; and fans, as we have frequently seen, often prove to be better than developers. Since people who work as developers have a considerable earning, one should at least expect faultless products but that’s not the way it is.
We know we have given this game low marks and we remember we had given 9 for example to Morrowind’s gameplay. We don’t feel like confirming that mark despite the fact that Tribunal isn’t worse than its predecessor.
In conclusion I would get out Bethesda of the famous tower and I would keep Ubisoft because Bethesda haven’t done what should have been done to better the things that had to be bettered; on the other hand, Ubisoft have done all that could be done to make this buy attractive by allowing the amateur translation of Morrowind and by realizing a gold version pack (Morrowind + Tribunal at the cost of a unique game).
Good luck to all the people who haven’t yet decided to buy this expansion or not. I have already decided.


Lello "wolverine" Sarti


Technical Informations
Tested version : 1
Configuration of test set : AMD Athlon 900Mhz, 512Mb Ram, GeForce 4 TI 4200
Stability: excellent


Link
Official Site: Morrowind
Developer: Bethesda
Publisher: Ubisoft
Italian distributor: Ubisoft Italia
Official Italian fan site: Morrowind Outlander
Italian patch web site: Morrowind ITP
Morrowind’s review - Screenshots Tribunal 1 - Screenshots Tribunal 2 - Screenshots Tribunal 3

A Sudden awakening

There was silence…
Nocturnal birds of prey were rustling in the distance…

There was silence…
A blade was being slowly unsheathed with a metallic hiss…

The attack was abrupt and violent. A black clothed man tried to kill us in our own house in Balmora while we were sleeping, tired for the day.
It was a sudden attack, a battle for surviving. Now we must know more, we must investigate, otherwise our rest will be forever taint with the poisonous smell of fear!