FPS games: Revolutionizing or Destroying?

Name the first FPS (first-person shooter) game that comes to mind. You probably mentioned either Halo and/or Call of Duty, the most popular online FPS games to date. But these two franchises, did they deserve the popularity they got or were they just so completely hyped by the majority that they were accepted as the best shooter games? Even I cannot answer this question without getting thrown a comment or two from people who love these two multi-million dollar franchises. My normal opinion of today would be that I don’t enjoy FPS games as much as the fanboy would, but that’s favoritism and I need to explain a bit how I ended up to that conclusion.

I’m not too familiar of the beginnings of this genre but I can mention the games that began this phenomena. Doom and Wolfenstein 3D began this revolution by presenting a game with graphic content and easy to understand gameplay: kill all enemies! An easy to understand concept also with its difficulty. I wasn’t able to get my hands on these games for long but I didn’t really understand how people could play this, but I was young then. The genre was still in its early stages and still had a lot to offer but already had its fan call.

The genre started evolving with titles such as: Fallout, GoldenEye, Duke Nukem, and Quake. All of these games are considered classics in the video gaming world, as the majority fan base is still waiting for the next sequel to Duke. I sadly know nothing of these titles since I started getting into FPS when the Xbox arrived. Which leads us to the next groundbreaking moment in the history of its genre.

Xbox hit stores and all that could be spoken of was two syllables: Halo. If you had an Xbox, you had Halo. There was no doubt that this title was probably the defining FPS game of the Xbox library, with its easy to use controls and beautiful graphics. But the one thing it had going for itself was multiplayer. I have never seen gaming first explode like it did with Halo, and I slowly as well fell along with the trend.

Halo 1

Other games started appearing as well that changed FPS games, like: Half-Life, Call of Duty, Metroid Prime, Doom 3, Turok, Perfect Dark and others that I sadly cannot remember for how large the library has become. They have all brought their own taste of the genre with many different storylines, content, gameplay, and graphics. But one thing was becoming obvious, most of these games were rated M so they had a limited audience. But like that’s going to stop little kids from playing them.

As the next-Gen consoles arrived, or should I say Xbox 360, the next big thing hit. I never heard when the first one came out but I did hear when Call of Duty 2 did. Giving an inspiring way to see and play World War 2, this title was an instant hit. It gave players the feeling as if they were actually in the war. And unlike Halo, it was more realistic. It also exploded online with its addictiveness. This was the beginning of many things to come…

Developers had realized that online play was a huge success and a massive monster that almost every game needed its own multiplayer concept incorporated. Even a game like Assassin’s Creed found a way to spread out their franchise online. But something I have begun to realize is that developers are focusing way too much on the online then the offline. Modern Warfare 2 has a very open online concept, but its single player mode left much to offer. And for people who didn’t have the ability to play online were left out of the party. I was one of them so I did not see the big deal of MW2. The campaign is only 5 hours long on normal difficulty. Sure, it had some awesome, unforgettable moments, but I wish they could put more influence on the single player like they do with their multiplayer.

To make it even better, almost everything coming out today are first-person shooters. How many of these are we going to get till everyone says “I can’t take them anymore”? Sadly, a few thousands won’t make much of a difference. But we have to admit, how can such an overused genre still be so popular? It is completely swallowing gaming as we know it. And barely any of them have brought anything entirely new to the table as of late so I still don’t see how they are still alive as they are right now. I don’t completely hate FPS games, but I do hate how people hype them up. There are other types of game genres too developers.

I truly don’t understand how people can play a genre for so long, but I guess they wouldn’t understand why I’ve played Guitar Hero so much either. It’s something that is truly unexplainable. It’s just in our blood. But gaming is gaming and we should play what we enjoy, even if it is the constant overflow of first-person shooters coming out. At least you FPS lovers won’t be bored anytime soon.

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  • Baztian

    Nice original article. I disagree with you on the flooding the video game market with FPS. It’s just a genre like romance novels. If it turns out a lot of people like reading and writing romance novels then so be it. What does matters is not the, quantity, hype and popularity but the QUALITY. If all those legendary games came out at once as a result of the popularity of FPS, it would be a dream come true for FPS fans. I agree that single player has suffered as a result of new FPS fans who tend to be fixated on competition. Like you, I think the responsibility of gamers, including developers, who have experienced the original classics is to not forget the foundations of the genre and to build on them rather than to rebuild the genre from the ground. I enjoyed reading your thoughts. @Baztian

  • Dylan C

    I agree with Baztian. There are few other genres that naturally illicit the level of immersion and accesibility you get from an FPS. I believe FPS has evolved from its humble DOOM beginnings to games like Timsplitters 1 and 2 (two of my favourite games) to the hugely popular Call of Duty series. Like Baztian said, what’s important is not the quantity/popularity but the quality of these games. Part of me feels “if it ain’t broke…” and part of me wants some kind’ve dramatic change for the better. But deep down I enjoy the familiarity of the FPS genre. It’s a very interesting article.

  • Maktivus

    Thanks to both Baztian and Dylan for reading my article and commenting on it. I respect your opinions and you both have your points. “If it isn’t broke, why fix it?” and that they are as popular as romance novels. Like I did say before in my article, I don’t completely hate FPS games but I’ve never really felt anything new from them as of late. But one thing that FPS never fails in is how to immerse the player in the action.