Well, after three years of development and a court battle or two, Eidos' highly anticipated game Thief III is due to ship on the 14th of May. http://www.thief3.com/main.html
If you're not familiar with the Thief series, it's dubbed the pioneer of the first person 'sneaker'--a gaming and play style copied many times since. Generally you must sneak past your advisaries, and not kill them.
The revolution in game design came as a surprise to much of the gaming community. The original Thief offered a mix of stealth, puzzle, and killing playstyles. Little did the developers realize how wildly popular the stealth aspect would become. I would even suggest that Thief ushered in an era in which developers began examining how to define 'fun' in a typical action game. It was so successful that Thief II released with nearly exclusive 'sneak' content. The wild success of Thief II solidified the first person sneaker as valid playstyle.
But the game did not survive on its revolutionary design alone--plenty of game designs offer revolutions, and many fail. Thief offered atmosphere so thick you could club it with your blackjack. When you sit behind your computer and begin leaning to the left in order to look around an in-game corner, you know you're immersed. When a unseen guard clears his throat, and you throw your mouse across the room in fright, you know you're immersed.
Game design. Atmosphere. What else? Story. Thief II had one of the most engaging stories I've ever participated in. It's a minor bit of storytelling genious to make a self-interested thief interested in more than himself. A character transformation in a game akin to a character transformation in a movie? Yep.
If you haven't played the Thief series, I'd say play Thief II.
Game previews have been generally positive for Thief III. Fan reaction, though, is mixed:
I'll likely pick it up--and review it here for those of you loosing faith in the gaming industry to produce quality instead of candy.