Videogaming has never seen such a meticulously detailed digital landscape, let alone one so beautifully realized. Mountainous, tree-dotted vistas implore you to spin around and take it all in. Between the nine architecturally and culturally diverse cities and the equally varied outdoor locales and dungeons, the in-game world of Cyrodiil feels real.
Light blooms off guards' armor at high noon while bathing the sky in hue-tiful purples and oranges at dawn and dusk. PC users, beware - you need a monster to run this. On a respectable 3.0 Ghz machine with a gig of RAM and a GeForce 6800 GT, Oblivion had trouble hitting a decent frame rate at 1024x768 - at its own recommended settings. (If that tech talk means nothing to you, you probably shouldn't even try to run this game on PC.) The more hardware you can throw at this game, the better.
But it's the sheer volume of never-tedious things to do that makes Oblivion a bar-raising masterpiece. In the approximately 50 hours we spent living a virtual life in Cyrodiil, we never once felt bored or shortchanged, whether we were purging orcs from overrun towns or saving artists who'd gotten trapped inside their magical paintings (requiring you to go into the artwork, watercolor walls and all). You'll find countless side jobs and quests; each of the fourmajor side-stories - one for each main workers' guild - takes longer to play through than most entire games these days. Throw in all sorts of other non-obvious goodies like rideable horses, hidden shrines, player-creatable spells and even unicorns and vampires (the latter of which you can become yourself), and the sheer quantity of content is alarming.