First category of the next two weeks is the First Person Shooters. The FPS genre is probably the most popular genre, if not the most prolific. Every year we get dozens of new titles, each competing for popularity. The FPS genre is also one of the oldest in gaming history, with Doom, and Quake, and Wolfenstein 3D. At points it’s been funny, with the Duke Nukem’s, or gorgeous, with the Crysis’i. The genre has been used to tell many stories, from war in the World War 1 and 2 days, battles with demons on Mars, cities under water or in the sky, or used to tell no story at all, but simply made to press the technology borders farther, and just have people compete in an arena till their death, like Unreal Tournament.
For the First Person Shooter category, I’ve chosen 3 games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1, Halo: Reach, and RAGE.
Honorable mentions to: Far Cry 3, and Homefront.
Day 1 – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Developer: Infinity Ward
Looking back now, one of the most well-known franchises, and most popular today, are the Call of Duty games, but it started over a decade ago with their World War 1 and 2 games. Call of Duty popularized the FPS genre on the PC and console by dropping us in a war environment, in the shoes of a soldier and asked us to fight in a war. The game glorified war, but showed the true nature and harsh realities behind it. We lost comrades left right and center as we fought our way through each battle, and it didn’t give us a lot of time to grieve.
Call of Duty became most well-known for its single player campaign, story-telling and scripted events. Head long into each firefight, every instance of the game was a little over the top, and urged the player to press forward, be it your comrades who sit beside you until you advance, or the enemies up ahead flushing you out with well-placed grenades. You never stop moving.
Year after year of the World War 1 and 2 games, the Call of Duty franchise made a sudden, if not relieving, jump to the modern era, with the introduction of COD 4: Modern Warfare. This is also the game that jumped into the new generation of consoles, with a spiffy new engine.
This game changed the landscape of FPS, and is still revered as one of the most popular Call of Duty games to date, and sparking the ignition to what is now the most popular annual franchise.
The game told a great story, following multiple leads, each connected, as they trotted the globe fighting terrorism. The story was kept compact though, a small group making big changes, and dragging the player through it at a ferocious pace.
The game starts as we try to escape a huge freighter ship that is sinking in the ocean, slows everything down and puts us in the shoes and gullies suit of a sniper in Chernobyl, and then ramps it back up without apologizing.
The mechanics of the game were its best attributes. The shooting mechanic was so precise and so fulfilling. The shots felt like they had real impact, the guns so realistically designed. And getting shot also felt punishing, the screen getting covered with blood. The enemies’ deaths felt natural as well. A mainstay of the franchise, the deaths were animated, and not delegated to a physics engine, making the bodies perform unrealistic ragdoll tumbling maneuvers.
The game also reinvigorated the online FPS world, and this is now the most popular feature of the annual versions. People don’t even play the single player campaign. These are terrible people though. The way the online mode was designed encouraged continuous play. You earned unlocks and new guns the more you played, through XP, and you didn’t even need to do well. The game rewarded time and dedication. And then if/when you reached the cap level, you could prestige to Rank 2, and do it all over again, sacrificing all your unlocks and starting from scratch. Why, to show dedication and time, of course.
Modern Warfare, and the Infinity Ward team behind it designed every facet of the game to perfection, and it can be argued that the eight Call of Duty games that have since followed, and the sheer popularity of the annualized franchise, is thanks to the success of this title.