Halo 4 and Call of Duty Black Ops 2 are the pinnacle of modern first-person shooters (FPS), featuring heavily detailed 3D environments and precisely honed game engines. These games, however, are merely the latest in a long line of FPS games and enjoy the benefits of 20 years of evolution in the genre.
Wolfenstein 3D – 1992
Prior to Wolfenstein 3D, gamers were limited to horizontal or vertical scrolling shooting games. The release of this landmark title popularized the notion of FPS games and allowed for a new level of player submersion. The game may look outdated today, but it is because of this classic id Software release that we have the Halo and Call of Duty series.
Doom – 1993
Wolfenstein 3D pioneered the FPS genre, but the later release of id Software’s Doom marked the breakthrough of FPS as a massively successful genre. Doom added networked multiplayer gaming and impressive horror elements that gave the game a truly surreal tone and aura that permeated the gameplay. Doom’s massive success was so far-reaching that later FPS games were referred to as “Doom-clones” for years after its 1993 release, not to mention the plethora of official Doom sequels developed by id Software.
Duke Nukem 3D – 1996
Duke Nukem 3D built upon the groundwork laid by Doom and added new levels of interaction and personality that accentuated the FPS viewpoint. The highly interactive environments further immersed the player in the virtual world, while Duke Nukem’s highly risqué humor the comedic embellishments strewn throughout the levels made the player really connect with the “world” on a personal level. Duke Nukem 3D’s destructible props and intricately designed levels foreshadowed the level of detail that we have in current franchises like Halo and Call of Duty.
Quake – 1996
Quake’s game engine was used for a slew of subsequent FPS games throughout the latter half of the 1990s, which was a testimony to the perfection of Quake’s game mechanics. The release of Quake was also crucial for advancing the FPS genre due to the game’s ominous atmosphere, brilliant lighting effects, and spooky soundtrack, which was composed by Trent Reznor. The combination of well-balanced game mechanics and the heavy focus on atmosphere furthered the illusion of player immersion in the Quake world.
GoldenEye – 1997
GoldenEye revolutionized the FPS genre more than any game since Doom and its gameplay style can still be felt in the likes of modern hits like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Halo 4. GoldenEye marked a paradigm shift toward more strategic gameplay with an emphasis on stealthy action and strategic movement. The emphasis on plotting out your actions by shooting out security cameras and going for stealthy snipes instead of carpet-bombing and running-and-gunning added a new layer of depth to FPS games and advanced the technique required to excel at subsequent games in the burgeoning genre. GoldenEye was one of the best first-person shooters of its day and endures as a classic thanks to the way it shaped the genre for years to come.
The contributor loves tracking the evolution of specific game genres as a means of appreciating how evolutionary steps shaped the way we play modern video games.
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