Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Stop reading this right now. You need to go and look at the screenshots at the bottom of this page. Without question, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion takes the status quo and kicks it to the curb. Oblivion flat-out defines the next-generation. From what has been shown so far, its fantastic, almost photo-realistic graphics make every other role-playing game to date look dated and boring in comparison.

So, what do you do, exactly? That's the thing; you pretty much make that decision yourself. Oblivion is a self-contained universe with the same sense of scale and wonder that you might expect from an online world, except it's not online. You might call it "massively single-player." The in-game world is enormous (16 square miles, in fact) and filled with realistic scenery that looks so good, you may want to just walk around and enjoy the view. Watch your step though, because your path is destined to include puzzles, traps, and plenty of monsters to slay. Oblivion's true-to-life combat system looks to be a treat: you’ll actually need to manually aim, swing and hit your target. Just like at Medieval Times.

Then there's the human element: thousands of characters who can participate in remarkably intelligent discussions, including assigning you work or adding to your knowledge of the land. Oh yeah: they might also be able to help you figure out how to seal that gateway to Hell that's been opened. More on that later.