For me, the last console generation began in a dank prison cell not far outside the walls of Cyrodiil's Imperial City.
Never having been a PC gamer, the sheer size and depth of Oblivion's world astounded me. Never before had I been able to run freely around such a vast map, going where I pleased, talking to any character that interested me and becoming the hero I wanted to be.
The plot - portals to the Hell-like land of Oblivion have been opening across Cyrodiil - is standard fantasy fare, but what makes the game fun is the fact that not only can you ignore it, but that you can take on hundreds of other quests of your choosing, each one shot through with equal parts high fantasy pomp and dark humour.
Wander off the beaten track, find an abandoned homestead, discover a secret note and follow its lead to discover what happened to the family that once lived there. Kill a person in cold blood and awake to find an invitation to join the Assassin's Guild. Enroll in the Arcane University and become a powerful Mage. Learn to pick locks and move without sound so you can loot every dungeon in the land.
Though the graphics show their age today, at the time the open map and the enormous draw distances were mind-boggling. The technical feats were made all the more exciting by the fact that everything the player can do is intriguing and fun. The game makes an unspoken promise early on that every single tiny element in the game is worth your time, and never breaks it.
My affection for this game is very much rooted in nostalgia, and nothing since has quite matched the child-like excitement I felt when I first stepped out of the Imperial sewers and into the countryside. The moment my journey through Oblivion began was the moment I went from being a teenager with a console in my bedroom to an adult who made time for quality, epic, experimental gaming as my primary hobby, and I have never looked back.