There are two ways of buying the Knights of the Nine Expansion pack for Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. You can head to www.obliviondownloads.com and unbelt $9.99 or you can pay £14.99 for a DVD, which isn’t the bad deal that it sounds as the DVD includes the seven previous add-ons for Oblivion.
That’s The Orrery, Horse Armour, Spell Tomes, Mehrunes’ Razor, The Thieves Den, The Vile Lair and The Wizard’s Tower, which comes to a total value of $22.52. Speaking from bitter experience it can be a real pain to activate these add-ons if you’ve bought them online, so the DVD is a better option by far and it also saves you from the need to download a total of 210MB of updates.
Knights of the Nine is the major part of that 210MB as it weighs in at a hefty 155MB, but it’s a significant update that adds eight locations plus three modifications to two existing locations, two new factions, a couple of dozen new characters and a new breed of bad guy, The Aurorans.
The new mission is triggered when you visit the city of Anvil and learn that the chapel has been desecrated. A fallen king, you learn, has been unchained from the darkness of Oblivion to seek vengeance upon the Gods. It’s time for you to kick ass and chew bubblegum and you ain’t got no bubblegum. That’ll be a double order of kick ass then, to go.
Although parts of the quest have been re-used from other parts of Oblivion (for instance the Priory of the Nine looks the same as Weynon Priory) there are a number of neat wrinkles and a handful of frustrations.
You complete ten sub-missions as you gather the set of Crusader’s armour before you set off to slay Umaril the Unfeathered. The Crusader’s armour will either be light or heavy depending on which of your armour skill levels is highest, and the Aurorans look absolutely superb. They’re tough customers to fight but we were playing at level 40 and, as with everything in Oblivion, the difficulty levels-up as the game progresses, so you can’t afford to cruise on auto-pilot as these battles are hard.
The annoyances come in the sub-quests, as there are three or four puzzles that are frustrating since you have no way of knowing that they have to be completed in a specific order or in a certain way.
We took the easy way out and used an online walkthrough guide which helped us through to the final battle with Umaril, and hurrah, the mission was complete in about ten hours.