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I couldn't agree more. Granted, I love me my destruction, but even as a fan of the Elder Scrolls series (my wife and I have collectively played them all now), I am BLOWN AWAY by how complex Oblivion is.

In finding the Thieves Guild, I had to ask the right questions to the right people all over town, and eventually, found a beggar whose voice subtley changed when I asked him about it, as if he knew something more and was hiding info. There's fargin' audio cues that let you know someone's got more to give! I didn't even have time to do the Speechcraft mini-game, I wanted in! Bribe him about 30 gold overall, and presto, suddenly he's got more info for me.

THAT is what Next-Gen gaming is all about. I want more complex behaviors. More complex AI, more complex environments and realistic interactions. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Massive D. But damn if Oblivion isn't delivering on all fronts.


What I loved about Morrowind was the open-ended skills that you could tailor. I created a job-class for Viking and took my Nord "Oslow" on a journey through the island while practicing my archery and axe-weilding while wearing some fur-lined armor.

My roomate played that game to death and took his near-god-level mage character to the spell-crafting merchant and created a spell that detonated an entire town, killing the outdoor population instantly in a dome of fire.

I even loved playing a cowardly Kajiit theif/ninja who would run away by leaping over rooftops and chucking throwing stars to slow down his enemies.

If only the main quests were interesting enough to hold my attention.

Advanced A.I. is going to set the games of the future apart from today's flashy violence-orgies. I don't mean the badguys use S.W.A.T. tactics, I mean they react to how you play your character accordingly.

Christian McCrea

There are some truly awful things going on when military-porn culture and game culture are indistinguishable; Julian Stallabrass's book 'Gargantua' touched on this element, but beyond military-trainer-aesthetics, game culture is undeniably stiched into military culture. A culture of realistic damage modelling (WTF, asks the 10 year old inside of me who remembers Kid Icarus) isn't just at odds with the Katamaris of the world - you're getting a gun nut and a hippie to say their fantasy lives are the same.

Technology will be driven by

Jane, you should bring this up on the 1up show, I think it would make great viewing, ask everybody to say what they think about not just sequelism but militarism of the human imagination. Good reason No. 1: Game laws are going to crack down on violence in 2006. Good reason No. 2: maybe we deserve better that War-goddamned-Hawk.

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