It occurred to me last night, I can't remember the last game I played that had no artificial boundaries. Whilst i'm getting excited by the prospect of upcoming titles like Crysis and it's undeniably free form gameplay; it's not Midwinter. Midwinter was one of my earliest computer gaming experiences, drawn in crude 3D, you could go anywhere at anytime. It didn't really matter that the computer couldn't support the vision, the designer just did the best he could.
It just feels that in our modern titles we shy away from the games where the concept is everything, if the engine doesn't lend itself to character interaction, we drop it totally. Even greats like Half Life2 disappoint when you have to stand, mute, whilst a one sided conversation rages on. Sure, constantly dropping into a different control scheme or game style can confuse the game and dilute immersion. But, I for one miss the classics that pushed the boundaries that we pretend don't exist anymore.