First-person shooters are thriving at the moment. From bestselling warfare sims like Call Of Duty: Black Ops and Medal Of Honor, to sci-fi epics Killzone 3 and Bulletstorm, the run-and-gun fest isn't about to run out of ammunition anytime soon. With so many of these titles flooding the market of late, we decided to explore the genre's roots and take a look back at some of the most influential efforts to which the genre has played host.
The premise was simple, the weapons were satisfactory to harness and the demons were ripe for the slaughter. Doom is looking a little rusty these days, but its ballistic gameplay hits the spot if you're after a simple frag fest. The games industry will forever be in this one's debt due to the conventions it handed down, and its legacy will always burn strong as long as studios are churning out FPS offerings.
GoldenEye 007 (Nintendo 64)
Based on the 1996 film of the same name, players guided Ian Fleming's seminal spy across a range of stages inspired by the game's cinematic counterpart. This one pioneered the use of scoped weapons, gadgets, varied mission objectives and stealth elements. The result was easily one of the best titles on the N64, and a mould-breaker in every sense. GoldenEye paved the way for a range of spiritual successors, including Perfect Dark and the TimeSplitters series, though to its legions of dedicated fans it may never be bettered.
Wolfenstein 3D (PC)
Planting players in the jackboots of Allied spy B.J. Blazkowicz, the game pitted the player against an alternate version of the Third Reich backed by supernatural forces. The graphics might look rough and blocky by today's standards, and its three-gun arsenal piffling, but it was a trailblazer in its day. Gunning down mutant dogs, uncovering secret passageways and going toe-to-toe with a robotic suit-wearing Hitler were just a few of the highlights on offer in this vintage gun fest.
As well being influential from a technological standpoint, Wolfenstein 3D helped popularise the shareware distribution model. id offered the first episode for free in the hope that players would go on to purchase the entire game. It proved a successful business strategy, influencing other studios to release similar games in this way.
Duke Nukem 3D (PC)
Embracing every cliché in the action hero's bible, Duke 3D singlehandedly changed all that with its wisecracking, womanising lead man. Attitude was the name of the game, but the core shooter mechanics came together well enough too. This tongue-in-cheek offering came loaded with charisma, and offered a welcome alternative to the bleak dungeon interiors and grim atmospheres that many of its mid-'90s counterparts opted for. We can only hope that Duke Nukem Forever captures the magic of its predecessor. Given that civilizations have risen and fallen since it entered development, we'll be disappointed if it doesn't.
Favouring scripted sequences over cutscenes, this was one of the most immersive gaming experiences on offer at the time. Memorable character and level design by sci-fi author Mark Laidlaw spearheaded an engaging story with enough scope to rival its counterparts in cinema and literature. The creature design was inspired, the backdrops terrifying and the crowbar weapon remains one of the most satisfactory melee attacks ever wielded. We could happily spend half our lives playing this one.
In 1999, the Unreal Tournament spinoff series revolutionised multiplayer gaming in the genre. With both on and offline modes available, this line of arena shooters helped make FPS deathmatches what they are today, and amassed a dedicated community. The latest addition to the franchise Unreal Tournament 3 wasn't quite as groundbreaking as its forebears, but still received generally positive reviews and shifted over one million copies inside its first year.
To date, there have been four core entries in the Quake series, the majority of which garnered critical acclaim and championed online death matches and the mod movement. According to Carmack, a new arena-based entry in the series is in the pipeline, and another core sequel based on the new id Tech 5 is in the planning stages.With id at the helm, we're confident that the series will continue to thrive and recapture its former glory in the future.
Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox)
From the lush forests to the mountainous plains, Halo was as pleasing to behold as it was to play. It was hardly surprising that this one became the fastest-selling game of sixth-generation consoles, moving over one million units in a matter of months. It later spawned multiple sequels, comic books, novels and a range of other merchandise, making it one of the most profitable gaming brands around.
Call Of Duty (series)
In many ways, the Infinity Ward-developed Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the quintessential military sim. Whether engaging in exhilarating campaigns across Russia and the Middle East in single player mode or taking out friends in the ultra-addictive multiplayer, war is anything but hell in CoD. The near-future context really helped the series fulfil its potential, and the grand cinematics and the addition of a levelling up and XP system essentially reshaped online multiplayer in the FPS landscape. Subsequent releases CoD: Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops have helped the series go from strength to strength and cemented its position at market leader in the genre. Call Of Duty, we salute you.
What do you think are the most influential first-person shooters? Write a comment in the space below!