For­got­ten FPS

Not ev­ery FPS was Doom or Quake. Ter­rence Jar­rad re­mem­bers the fallen

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TER­MI­NA­TOR: FU­TURE SHOCK Bethesda • 1995

The sound­scape in this game was phe­nom­e­nal for the time. The pneu­matic hiss of doors, the whirr of me­chan­i­cal limbs and heavy thud of en­emy foot­steps, gun blasts and ex­plo­sions, all punch­ing through a back­ground of ap­pro­pri­ately tense at­mo­spheric mu­sic. It cre­ated an eerie set­ting in which to ex­plore the open level de­sign and blast a range of ro­botic ad­ver­saries, mak­ing use of mul­ti­ple weapons and a cou­ple of ve­hi­cles along the way.

IRON MAIDEN ED HUNTER Synthetic Di­men­sions • 1996

Synthetic Di­men­sions worked with Iron Maiden to make this on-rails FPS (think House of the Dead or equiv­a­lent light-gun ar­cade shooter) to tie in with a dou­ble disc “best of” type com­pi­la­tion. The player takes on the role of Ed Hunter, try­ing to find Iron Maiden’s mas­cot Ed­die, and blast­ing ev­ery­thing in along the way. It’s al­most painful to ad­mit I own a copy of this game be­cause it just isn’t good, but look, it came with some great mu­sic which also fea­tures across its nine-odd lev­els. OUT­LAWS Lu­casArts • 1997

It wasn’t com­pletely out of char­ac­ter for Lu­casArts to make some­thing that wasn’t an ad­ven­ture game; it had, af­ter all, de­vel­oped the Dark Forces FPS based in the Star Wars uni­verse. So when Lu­casArts turned that en­gine to­wards its own IP, Out­laws was the re­sult. The Wild West set­ting was some­what rare at the time, there was a unique “cap­ture or kill” me­chanic for out­laws with greater re­ward for cap­ture, and the game is also cred­ited with be­ing the first game to fea­ture a sniper zoom on the scope. The nov­elty in light­ing dy­na­mite with your cigar be­fore hurl­ing it at foes can’t be un­der­stated ei­ther. And to top it all off, the story was lov­ingly told through gor­geously an­i­mated cutscenes.


In 1998 FPS heavy­weights Mono­lith gave us a game in which you could play a heavy weight… with arms and legs and okay fine it’s a mech/gun­dam/anime thing. Play­ers chose from a few Mo­bile Com­bat Ar­mor mod­els with dif­fer­ent de­fence and speed stats, and then set off to take out a rebel leader. Fair enough. Along the way var­i­ous sec­tions of the game would ne­ces­si­tate trans­form­ing the MCA into a hov­er­craft, or leav­ing the MCA and pro­ceed­ing on foot, which served to add some va­ri­ety. Com­bat fea­tured a crit­i­cal hit sys­tem which si­mul­ta­ne­ously re­turned health to the player and dealt ex­tra dam­age to foes, but also al­lowed the player to be crit­i­cally hit, lead­ing to frus­trat­ing one-shot deaths.

SIN Rit­ual En­ter­tain­ment • 1998

I know I played SIN, but when I tried to re­call it off the top of my head, it was mostly boobs. The game’s an­tag­o­nist Alexis SIN­clair (see what they did there?) was scant­ily clad, hy­per sex­u­alised, and prom­i­nent in ad­ver­tis­ing for the game. The for­get­table wannabe Duke Nukem pro­tag­o­nist, John Blade, fights his way through some fairly stan­dard shoot­ing with a fairly stan­dard line up of weaponry, but there’s also a lit­tle of the ob­ject in­ter­ac­tiv­ity Duke Nukem pop­u­larised, and some ba­sic hack­ing abil­i­ties to dis­able se­cu­rity alarms and open doors. Some lev­els could also be com­pleted with stealth and in ad­di­tion to pri­mary ob­jec­tives, fre­quently of­fered op­tional se­condary ob­jec­tives, and some ac­tions and choices could af­fect the game later down the line. There’s more to SIN than ap­pears at first glance, but in this case it may be one bet­ter left for­got­ten.

WHEEL OF TIME Leg­end • 1999

Based on Robert Jor­dan’s book se­ries of the same name, the game is set in a high­fan­tasy world, cen­tred around Elayna Sedai, a prac­ti­tioner of mys­ti­cal arts. Com­bat worked through the ac­quir­ing of over 40+ mag­i­cal foci called ter’an­greal, each al­low­ing a type of spell to be cast, and also al­low­ing play­ers to com­bine ter’an­greal to cre­ate dev­as­tat­ing cus­tom spells. The ef­fects of ter’an­greal could be weapon-like, such as chain light­ning, de­fen­sive, like re­flect dam­age, or sup­port, like freeze. Fans of the se­ries will know this isn’t ex­actly how the magic of the uni­verse op­er­ates, but for the pur­poses of de­liv­er­ing an in­ter­pre­ta­tion into game form, it worked. Wheel of Time also im­ple­mented en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age: elec­tric­ity + wa­ter, whirl­wind + cliff, etc, and the ef­fect was a more strate­gic shooter.

NO ONE LIVES FOR­EVER Mono­lith • 2000

Of all the com­edy stealth first per­son shoot­ers set in the 1960s with a fe­male se­cret agent pro­tag­o­nist re­leased in 2000, No One Lives For­ever was def­i­nitely the best. Cat­bur­gling con turned spy, Cate Archer snuck and shot her way through the forces of H.A.R.M to stop its evil plans. It had de­cent en­emy AI, was uniquely funny, and drew on myr­iad spy tropes with­out the ab­surd par­ody of some­thing like Austin Pow­ers, though given its '60s set­ting and se­cret agent sub­ject mat­ter, this was per­haps one of the things it was most likened to on its re­lease. Even to­day NOLF sits slightly apart in the genre of shoot­ers, with only NOLF2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.’s Way for com­pany.


If you asked me what the most in­ap­pro­pri­ate sub­ject, IP, or me­dia fran­chise to be adapted into a first-per­son shooter was, right af­ter I said “Garfield”, I’d fol­low up with “Star Trek”. Shoot­ing is the op­po­site point of ev­ery­thing the uni­verse is about, and while yes there’s com­bat, and fight­ing, and wars, and the Fed­er­a­tion is es­sen­tially op­er­at­ing like a mil­i­tary or­gan­i­sa­tion, it re­ally de­fies be­lief any­one made this game. And de­spite this rant it was fairly well re­ceived, find­ing a the­mat­i­cally ap­pro­pri­ate niche. Mis­sions of­fered a va­ri­ety of ob­jec­tives, with de­cent level de­sign and weaponry, and if the friendly AI was a bit rub­bish at times and al­lies got in the way… well they were ob­vi­ously red shirts.


Set in 1923 and bear­ing all the hall­marks of sur­vival hor­ror, Undy­ing saw the player take on the role of a WWI vet­eran Pa­trick Galloway, who’d ac­cepted the task of help­ing a fam­ily be­set by su­per­nat­u­ral hor­rors. In ad­di­tion to a range of typ­i­cal shooter weaponry, Pa­trick could cast a range of spells from mys­ti­cal mis­siles to shields, al­low­ing for some unique dual-wield­ing game­play. Spells con­sumed Pa­trick’s mana and could be up­graded in power as the game pro­gressed, though one of the more in­ter­est­ing abil­i­ties was the Scrye spell, which gave Pa­trick su­per­nat­u­ral sight. This fea­ture was used to re­veal clues about how to progress the game, but also al­lowed EA to up the hor­ror fac­tor by giv­ing play­ers a view of past events or re­veal­ing or­di­nary ob­jects to have ter­ri­fy­ing su­per­nat­u­ral as­pects. TRON 2.0 Mono­lith • 2003

It’s not a huge leap to re­alise the source ma­te­rial of the movie Tron is per­fect for a video game, and Mono­lith did an ex­cel­lent job in con­struct­ing that re­al­i­sa­tion. Com­put­ing ter­mi­nol­ogy abounds in this beau­ti­fully stylised FPS, with so many sly nods to geek­dom that Mono­lith may in fact be a bob­ble­head. The shoot­ing is very solid and the player gains an ap­prox­i­ma­tion of ex­pe­ri­ence points to up­grade abil­i­ties and weapons, and skill load­out can be swapped at any time. But let’s face it, we’re all here for two things: light­cy­cles and the disc weapon. Both are some of the most mem­o­rable as­pects of the game, and for some this means mem­o­rable for the wrong rea­son, but this writer loved ev­ery as­pect of Tron 2.0. XIII Ubisoft Paris • 2003

En­chant­ing, is the word that comes to mind when re­call­ing XIII. Not in a fan­tas­ti­cal fairy­tale sense, but rather, be­ing spell­bound by the pre­sen­ta­tion of the game’s art. The gor­geous cel-shaded graph­ics, the cap­tioned ef­fect when nail­ing a head­shot, and the ono­matopoeic sounds ef­fects drawn in words on screen, showed the game’s comic book in­spi­ra­tion. It also had some high pro­file per­son­al­i­ties like David Du­chovny and Adam West pro­vid­ing voice work. Its pre­sen­ta­tion was unique, and even if its re­cep­tion was mixed, it de­serves to be re­mem­bered.


Set be­fore the film, the game aims to give back­ground and de­velop Rid­dick as a char­ac­ter through a pro­tracted prison break sto­ry­line. Laden with stealth game­play, EFBB is a de­par­ture from the typ­i­cal FPS, util­is­ing si­lent take­downs and hand to hand com­bat in ad­di­tion to shoot­ing stuff. In­ter­est­ingly there’s no HUD. In­stead, other vis­ual cues work to in­form the player, such as a blue screen tinge to show stealth, and ammo count dis­played on the weapon. An avid video and table­top gamer, Vin Diesel lent his voice and di­rec­tion dur­ing the devel­op­ment of the game, and it works. As part and par­cel of the ac­tion movie genre this was in­spired by, there are also a bunch of clichéd tough-guy one-lin­ers which Diesel manages to help come off on the funny side of cheesy.

BREAK­DOWN Namco • 2004

The hook with Break­down is that is does ev­ery­thing from first-per­son, down to quite a low level. Need some ammo? Bet­ter bend down and pick it up. Got a se­cu­rity card to swipe? You bet­ter be­lieve you have to ac­tu­ally swipe the card on the reader. It also fo­cusses melee com­bat and mar­tial arts com­bos over shoot­ing, though there are still a num­ber of weapons you can wreak havoc with. While I don’t know if there’s such a thing as us­ing the first-per­son per­spec­tive TOO much, I do know that if there was an award for “Best First-Per­son Vomit Se­quence” this game has a good chance of win­ning it.


Of all the steam­punk western hor­ror games re­leased… wait I’ve done this joke al­ready. But if you wanted to play as a gun-sling­ing vam­pire fight­ing the un­dead in the Wild West, this is the game for you. It’s also one of those games that never seems to stop shoot­ing. Ever. There is so much shoot­ing. On foot, on horse­back… in a buggy-thing? So it’s a good thing that this game doesn’t take it­self at all se­ri­ously and shoot­ing is fun, if a bit samey in a Se­ri­ous Sam kinda way. It was pop­u­lar enough that it spawned some spin-off me­dia: a sound­track, art book, and comic. Un­for­tu­nately its planned se­quel was canned, and a film adap­ta­tion that has been in the works for over ten years will prob­a­bly never see the light of day. Which is good. Be­cause, vam­pire, re­mem­ber? RE­PUB­LIC COM­MANDO Lu­casArts • 2005

A Star Wars FPS with a more tac­ti­cal slant, Re­pub­lic Com­mando saw the player lead­ing a four-per­son squad of clone troop­ers dur­ing the Clone Wars, as­sign­ing po­si­tions and tar­gets for squad mem­bers to best their spe­cial­ties (tech, sniper, and de­mo­li­tions) to over­come en­emy forces. It fea­tured a downed state where squad mem­bers could be or­dered to re­vive the player, al­low­ing for ex­tra chances to get through dif­fi­cult sec­tions. It did its thing very well and was a heck of a lot of fun to play - a feat all the more im­pres­sive given it fol­lowed a se­ries of Jedi Knight games and man­aged to make be­ing a sol­dier in a the Star Wars uni­verse en­ter­tain­ing.

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