December 17, 2009 - We're in the home stretch - up to the years 2006 and 2007! The games should be looking a bit more modern now, and the cases to these games should have substantially less dust build-up than the previously discussed titles.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (PC, Xbox 360)
Open-world RPGs don't get much more open than Oblivion. There was a grand story to be sure, but how many players opted to ignore that and go on their own quests they stumbled across? Oblivion is an experience that gives near absolute player freedom in a huge world with things to do and explore at every turn. Besides taking the Elder Scrolls series to new heights, Oblivion also served to humble PCs across the world that were unequipped to play the graphical juggernaut of its time. Fortunately, the Xbox 360 arrived just in time, allowing gamers to play without needing to sell a kidney to upgrade their desktop.
Personal Highlight: Stealing one of the elder scrolls for the thieves' guild quest is an epic moment in gaming. The guild put the task in perspective and the execution was grand and challenging.
Gears of War (Xbox 360)
Gears of War revolutionized multiplayer shooters. While not an FPS in the strictest sense (the camera was, after all, behind the character), it essentially served as one. But, distinctly unlike Microsoft's other flagship shooter, Halo, Gears multiplayer encouraged team-based squads and utilizing cover. In retrospect, the multiplayer is perhaps the most memorable, but Gears had the most detailed graphics of its day, showing us all what the Xbox 360 was capable of.
Personal Highlight: For all the good memories of campaign co-op and online battles one thing stands out: I distinctly remember logging on for some good ole fashioned team deathmatch and found my enemies, shotguns in hand, somersaulting and back flipping their way around me before turning me into a pile of goo - and I was powerless to stop it.