If there has been a single genre dominating this generation it has been the first person shooter. Nary a month goes by without some big shooter hitting shelves, purporting to be the next Call of Something or Other. That said, this generation has also been one that has dramatically reshaped the first person shooter. Multiplayer is now arguably the most important aspect of a successful shooter. Single player campaigns rarely break six hours and accessibility tends to be more important than challenge. That kind of sucks, but whatever, I feel like writing about shooters today, so here are the top five that have stood out most in my life.
5. Rainbow Six (N64)
A realistic shooter? What you mean I can get killed in one shot? How would that ever be fun? Well, it was, and even if the N64 port wasn’t the best this game was still a revelation to me back in its day. Prior to this every FPS I had ever played had let me soak up bullets like a sponge with little consequence. The first time I played Rainbow Six, I sauntered into an area full of baddies expecting a similar experience and was succinctly put down. It got me started thinking of shooters tactically. Rather barging in, guns blazing I used caution. I peeked around corners rather running around them. I picked my shots rather than handing out bullets like gum drops. Oh, and planning attack strategies was awesome. Granted, the linear battle plans are a bit stiff feeling today, but back then it was about the coolest thing I’d ever done.
4. Duke Nukem 3D (PC)
There was a brief period during the early 2000s when my Dad has a PC. He bought it from my Uncle Keith, who being something a connoisseur of computers and software loaded it up with a few games for me to try. Primary amongst these was Duke Nukem 3D. Duke Nukem embodied everything I love about 80s actions movies. The corny catchphrases, the over the top guns, the sexuality so blatant and over the top that it bordered on parody; it was good stuff. Granted, at the tender age of ten I probably shouldn’t have been playing Duke Nukem, but then again it’s not as if I turned out bad. For all the aliens I blasted and strippers I paid to shake their naughty bits, I’m a pretty responsible and well-adjusted guy. Go figure!
3. Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood (PS3)
This game took me by surprise. Before Red Dead Redemption proved without a doubt that westerns are a great setting for video games, Bound in Blood offered up a legitimately well crafted adventure with more emotional resonance and consistent quality than your average Call of Duty game. Granted the story of thieving, murdering McCulloch brothers was a bit clichéd and predictable, but it was still a lot of fun and left me actually wanting to replay it when the credits were rolling. The multiplayer was a bit lackluster, dolling out the usual standard play modes and options, but who cares? Every now and then it’s just nice to play a great story. If you liked Red Dead Redemption try picking up Bound in Blood. You won’t be disappointed.
2. Perfect Dark (N64)
Goldeneye 007 is remembered as THE console shooter that made console shooters viable. It also revolutionized console multiplayer, popularizing split screen play. That said, for all the things that Goldeneye did well, Perfect Dark did about a thousand times better. It had better graphics, better gameplay, and above all else better multiplayer options. Perfect Dark’s multiplayer allowed you to do so much. You could customize just about everything, and better yet you didn’t need people around to play it. I know that sounds a bit odd, but consider my situation. I lived in the middle of nowhere and had barely anyone to play with. Being able to program a team of bots to play with made the game that much more enjoyable for me.
1. Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis
Toward the end of high school my Dad, having been introduced to the internet, purchased another PC. It wasn’t the most powerful thing in the world, but it got the job done, especially when it came to games a bit on the older side. When I wasn’t blasting spaceships in Homeworld or Conquest: Frontier Wars, I was mowing down Soviets in Operation Flashpoint. Well, mowing down is a bit of an exaggeration. More accurately, I was struggling to survive against one of the most realistic war simulators ever made. This game pulled no punches. None. It was out to kill you at every turn. That it still managed to be addictively fun is a marvel, because it was just so damned hard. Nor was it perfect. The vehicle portions of the game were a bit shaky at best, but when it came down to infantry combat no game has done it better.