First experiences are always the ones that linger the longest.
The moment that most quintessentially defined the 7th console generation for me happened in the five minutes of my Xbox gaming experience. I was still getting the hang of The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion,
stumbling through the starting dungeon, when I stumbled across a war hammer. Giving it a few swings I adjusted to the feeling of it in my grip when suddenly I heard a sound behind me.
The phantom text that had been guiding me through the dungeon suddenly alerted me that an enemy was in the area. Turning wildly I tried to find my foe. I heard skittering all around me when suddenly Hell's rat dove out of a dark crevasse and dove straight for my face. I swung blindly, left and right, cleaving the darkness until I heard a hard thunk.
Suddenly I was out of the game. DapperMouse the fearless Wood Elf Archer had transformed back into Cody, the awkward chubby 18 year old sitting on his parents couch eating potato chips at two in the morning.
Sadly not an Artists Rendering
The game had just broken my immersion but I wasn't sure why. Carefully I replayed the experience in my head a few more times. I knew something of notice had happened but I just... didn't... know... what....
Another scratch behind him sent DapperMouse wheeling back in a circle. Something else was coming for him. He slowly moved closer and closer to the staircase from where the sound came from when another rat came leaping from the darkness. Expecting the attack DapperMouse swung and landed a heavy hit on the rodent slinging it back into the darkness. He turned and-
I paused the game. It had happened again but this time I knew what I had seen. It was the rat. When I hit the rat with the hammer I didn't get a pre-rendered death animation or a simple rag-doll body loosed into the world but I saw a rat go flinging, with the appropriate weight, into the darkness. It was the physics that had pulled me out of the game. Not because they were badly done but because I had never seen them done that well.
The 7th generation has brought about a lot of changes to the landscape. Not all are good. I dislike that multiplayer is shoved down our throats. I hate the onslaught of overpriced DLC that shows no sign of letting up. I hate always on DRM and innovations that aren't really that spectacular, such as the Kinect.
We've seen a new wave of processing power and technology that isn't letting up either. Call me an idiot but eventually I can't help but to think the industry will find a new route. The DLC and DRM will fade away, perhaps for something far worse but maybe, just maybe, towards something better.
When that happens we can thank the 7th generation for showing us what was possible.