With Bungie’s next big first-person shooter on the way on September 9th, it’s the perfect time for first-person shooter fans to reflect on the genre’s history.
FPS’ can be a little divisive. As popular as they are in general, and they still can draw in huge numbers in sales, their corner of the gaming universe has become cluttered over the years. To me, the reason for that is really two fold; the sheer popularity of the genre is first and foremost, but as a result of that, I believe that a good number of developers and publishers have looked to the first-person shooter over the years to either revitalize a dead or dormant series (even Nintendo did this with Metroid Prime), or kick off a new one with some assured sales.
The bottom line here through, no matter how you slice it up, is that they’re extremely popular still and have been so basically since the genre debuted with Wolfenstein 3D back in 1992. There are more than a few detractors though, and that number has grown significantly as ‘hating’ on big time properties like Activision’s Call of Duty has become the hip thing to do in some circles and almost necessary if you don’t want to look like a ‘dudebro’.
If you don’t know what that is, then bless you, as it’s the latest semi-industry buzz word used to describe fratboy-types who only dig titles like the aforementioned CoD and Madden football. Personally, I can’t stand the term and really don’t see anything wrong with just liking what you like, be it triple-A releases, ‘casual’ games, niche and indie stuff, or a mixture of all of the above. But that’s a topic for another conversation, because this one’s all about the FPS… and Destiny really.
Halo creator Bungie’s latest is set to arrive on consoles and the PC the week after next, and it just might be a game that redefines what an FPS can be and do. A mix of quite a few different properties, with a thick coat of ‘Bungie’ style and design poured over the top, Destiny is impressive. Add to all that the social component, which has never really been as big of an aspect in a story-driven FPS as it’s set to be in Destiny, and you have a game to watch. Not to mention one that might be on quite a few end-of-year lists.
So with evolution of the genre in mind, and as the two biggest FPS fans on the roster here at BG, US team writer Rick B and I thought we’d share our favorite titles from throughout the history of the genre. There are some big time releases here on these two lists, as well as some that might be a little controversial. There’s also a good solid mix of PC (where the genre originated) and console FPS’, which is something that I never thought I’d see in the late ’90s when the PC was the king of the castle when it came to these types of games. Consoles have really caught up though, and that’s entirely due to basically a pair of games that you’ll read about below. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which two (hint- it’s not difficult).
So take a read through what we’ve come up with, see what you agree with and what you don’t, and leave your own list in the comments below. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter!
Rick B; US Staff Writer
Goldeneye – This Nintendo 64 game was my first foray into FPS realm. I did not do a lot of PC gaming so for me Goldeneye was it when it came to FPS. Plus, I got to play as Oddjob!
Halo – When it comes to pistol battles, I am the quickest draw in the west. Bungie’s first game in the Halo series really opened a lot of doors for competitive multiplayer for consoles.
Left 4 Dead – Working together was the only way to get through this game. While L4D was not in any way revolutionary, it was a blast to play.
Bioshock – This choice is more for the story but it is not like the gameplay wasn’t lacking.
Borderlands 1 & 2 – These two games combined had something like a billion different guns. Almost as many reasons why I love these two games.
Dark Forces – Star Wars as an FPS was like a revelation, especially in the early days of the genre. The fact that it was an original story, loaded with new characters and great Star Wars weaponry was pure awesome. Sure the sequel might have been a better game overall, but this was a landmark and cemented the genre in the gaming landscape with both a great game and a real, triple-A property behind it.
BioShock – The best FPS in recent years in my humble opinion; BioShock has tremendous gameplay, inventive weaponry and powers, an incredible setting, and some of the best writing you’re likely to find in a game. If you haven’t played it, you need to, and that just got even easier thanks to it being released on iOS this past week.
Duke Nukem 3D – Duke injected a little fun into the formerly serious and ‘hardcore’ genre, and gave the familiar Doom formula a boost with a definite dose of personality and a kick in the pants. There’s a reason that Duke Nukem 3D has lasted and is still appealing even today when it’s outdated and had to survive the debacle that was the pretty awful Duke Nukem Forever- this one’s pure fun.
Halo: Combat Evolved – A franchise that changed the face of FPS’ and made them a staple of console gaming, Halo: Combat Evolved launched the original Xbox and was a big reason it succeeded right off the bat. It also propelled the franchise into being a legit media juggernaut with a legion of fans eating up every game, toy, comic, and more with the Halo name emblazoned across it. Can a game launch a multimedia franchise that at times rivals Hollywood’s best? You better believe it, and Halo is your proof. And aside from all that, it also happens to be a great game (and series), with insane replayability, top shelf multiplayer, and some of the very best design choices in all of videogamedom.
Doom – One of the first FPS’ and still incredibly playable decades after release, Doom is a glorious celebration of simple, lightning fast action, and some genuine jump-scare moments. Absolutely everything about iD Software’s followup to Wolfenstein 3D has been tweaked to perfection. From the weapon selection, to the enemies and level design, I wouldn’t change a thing. Ported to a dozen consoles over the years, it’s pretty great in every version too, though I’m partial to the PC original (building your own levels was easy and tons of fun), the PSOne version, and the N64 redesigned redux.
As usual too, I just couldn’t limit my choices to my top five as there are a ton more FPS’ that I’ve been hooked on over the years. Here’s a few runners up that almost made a spot on my list for one reason or another: Powerslave, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Blood, Republic Commando, Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight, Quake, Quake II, Wolfenstein 3D, Wolfenstein: The New Order, BioShock Infinite, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, Far Cry, Metro: Last Light, System Shock 2, and Red Faction.