When I was at the Apple Store yesterday, I picked up Myst IV: Revelations for cheap, since it’s an older game. They’ve done a really amazing job of extending the pre-rendered pannable interaction; between the excellent ambient sound design the Myst series has always had, and the ability to project many movies onto the viewing hemisphere, you get a very dynamic feel even though you can’t walk around.
Plants waft in the breeze, gears and such turn in the background. I’ve always loved the ridiculously impractical Myst door mechanisms. Obviously they can get away with it because the buildings in the Ages were written, not built using raw materials. Myst also makes my linguistics nurd happy because of the D’ni language element that’s been in the puzzles since Riven.
This game also has the advantage of having a distinct plot that can only be played through once, as opposed to World of Warcraft. I would say that the plot in Myst III: Exile had a little better motivation (so far at least) because of the villain played by Brad Dourif, but the ages in that game were more contrived (Look! An island full of gear puzzles! A canyon full of electricity puzzles! A jungle full of plant puzzles!). So far, the puzzle devices have been motivated by plot events, which makes it more immersive.
Despite the fact that you can’t move around in the world, my brain seems to be okay with feeling in the gaps between standing nodes, and he photorealistic rendering makes the whole game a lot more immersive. Although, if the Halo 3 trailer is what actual gameplay looks like (which they claim), even though I’m not going to get an Xbox 360, soooo pretty.