First-person shooters or FPS games remain an integral part of the mainstream gaming market, all thanks to titles such as Destiny 2, Overwatch, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, The Division 2, and even Counter-Strike: Global Defensive. The sheer scope and versatility of these FPS games explain a lot of loyal players – especially with very dynamic settings, awesome weapons, amazing looks, and even strategic gameplay. Did you know all of these wouldn’t come to life without classic FPS games, though?
That’s right, we actually have some OG first-person shooters that really made a huge mark in the video game industry. And it would be disrespectful not to pay tribute to these “greats.” Here are some of them:
- Unreal Tournament heralded the arrival of the arena shooter. If there’s anything FPS fans could say about Unreal, it’s that it’s quite an insanely fun game to play. It’s an FPS set in an alien world, where players have to outlast onslaught after onslaught of alien hordes with their own set of unique, alien weaponry. However, it’s actually Unreal Tournament, the Unreal sequel, that took the cake for a lot of fans. Some say Unreal is the grandfather of arena shooters, and for good reason. Whereas other FPS titles today have matches take place in elaborate maps, Unreal Tournament had a simple array of arena settings. Players had the option of purchasing or accessing weapons throughout the match – from guns, lasers, to alien weaponry – in order to dominate others. If players wanted mayhem, they had it.
- Unreal is an arena FPS, with the campaign being a series of arena matches versus bots where you, the player, have to become the Grand Champion. The game itself follows a basic plot, but the fun really comes in the various game modes.
- Unreal has various game types. There’s the usual Capture the Flag, Deathmatch and a corresponding Team Deathmatch mode, a point-based Domination mode, Last Man Standing (person with least deaths win), and Assault.
- Players of the PC love this game, in particular, for its level editor that allowed them to customize various maps.
- Counter-Strike popularized the modern shooter. Ask any FPS fan if they know “de-dust” and they’ll likely crackle with a grin. That’s actually one of the most popular maps in Counter-Strike, and one map players can play for hours on end – be it singleplayer with bots or matches in multiplayer games. Counter-Strike is a modern shooter, where players get grouped into “Terrorist” and “Counter-Terrorist” teams. While there are battle royale (deathmatch) modes, it’s team play that makes Counter-Strike In classic Capture the Flag fashion, Terrorists have to install a bomb and wait for the timer to count down, or Counter-Terrorists have to find the said bomb and defuse it. As you may have imagined, this means countless possibilities and a ton of fun.
- Counter-Strike was initially released as a mod for Half-Life. It became its own game after Valve acquired the rights to the IP, and folks from Turtle Rock Studios released Counter-Strike: Condition Zero with better graphics, and Counter-Strike: Source with much better graphics fidelity.
- Counter-Strike has its own strong fanbase, with many spin-off titles such as Nexon: Zombies, Neo, and Online. It got so popular it spawned its own online FPS game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
- The game plays like your typical team-based shooter, with players being able to compete in various modes with different objectives. These game modes are comprised of many “matches,” with players getting in-game currency after each match based on their performance which they can use to buy upgraded weapons.
- Half-Life proved you can have story-intensive FPS games. No, there’s no Half-Life 3. But there’s a reason why people keep on bugging Valve’s Gabe Newell for a sequel for the hit franchise. Before multiplayer-intensive Call of Duties and Battlefields, we have games like Half-Life that explore the boundaries between telling a great narrative with alien-bashing action. The game takes place in a research facility that’s been overrun by aliens after an experiment gone wrong. The player, taking on the role of scientist Gordon Freeman, have to get to the bottom of the incident. And players rejoiced – as beyond all the alien onslaught and difficult levels is quite an interesting story. And with the arrival of Half-Life: Alyx, fans have rejuvenated their love for the franchise.
- At its core, Half-Life is an FPS where you have to fight both human and alien weaponry. It also has a lot of puzzle elements which, coupled with its eerie sci-fi atmosphere, made for quite the unsettling but entertaining experience.
- Given Gabe Newell’s attention to detail. Half-Life received critical praise for its extremely immersive world. It’s become so popular that, even after its 1998 release, the franchise still has followers today.
- While its gameplay has common FPS elements we find today, perhaps its trademark was the fact that players have complete control of Freeman during cutscenes, allowing you to immerse in the game world even during scripted situations.
- Halo: Combat Evolved amps up the experience with a realistic HUD approach. We’ve all wanted to be a part of an elite space military task force, and Halo fulfills that fantasy. The story takes place in an eponymous Halo, a ring-shaped space colony with unknown origins. The player, one genetically-enhanced Commander Shepard, has crash-landed into the Halo after their ship was attacked and has to find his way out of the colony. This resulted in a franchise of super-soldiers, alien invasions, and immersive lore. What makes the first game, Combat Evolved, shine though is that it tries to have a more realistic take on HUDs – with the players just seeing shield and health on their monitors, and weapons themselves displaying ammunition count. This doesn’t seem like much for ordinary gamers, but this adds a ton of immersion for hardcore FPS fans.
- The game was supposed to be a real-time strategy game, and over time became a third-person shooter, before finally becoming an FPS. Halo’s first release has become so critically-acclaimed it’s considered as one of the greatest video games of all time.
- Halo is best known for its immersive sci-fi setting, with various sci-fi vehicles, an assortment of weapons (with different designs depending on faction), and gameplay that challenges players to find out which weapon or strategy work best in a particular level.
The Grandfathers of FPS: Continuing A Legacy
It’s interesting to look back at times when FPS titles weren’t too heavily invested in amazing graphics and instead focused on ensuring gamers had as much fun and as much mayhem in the game world. This is also perhaps why it’s such a fulfilling and content sight to see FPS titles slowly grow into the powerhouse genre it is today. And seeing as we have games like Halo, Team Fortress, and even Left 4 Dead as some hallmarks of the modern age of FPS gaming, it’d be right to say FPS grew up splendidly.
How do you feel about these games? Feel free to share your thoughts and your most memorable moments with these titles!
John Salazar is a certified techie-at-heart, but he shares a love for all things science and technology, health and wellness, and even a bit of music on the side. As a creative writer, John makes sure to write both informative and entertaining pieces. He loves writing, and he plays the guitar when he has free time.