This weekend I sprung for an Xbox 360. Finally. Then I rented The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I'll have to take it back to Blockbuster Thursday, so I'm gonna have to buy it. $60, damn. Graphically it is, without a doubt, the most beautiful game I have ever seen. Its gameplay is utterly consuming. I may not be sleeping much these next few weeks.
On coming to the surface (the game starts underground), an incredible panorama opens. The trees, the normal/gloss mapping of the rocks, the water. Everything looks amazing. The world is massive beyond belief. A profound sense of freedom - you can do anything. Playing Oblivion for the first time was very much like opening up the exquisite world of Ultima V as a kid. Few games appeal to me that much.
For me, it is essential that a game inspire a sense of freedom with Ultima V, Times of Lore, GTA III, Spider-Man 2 being representative examples.