- Great Painters
- Accounting
- Fundamentals of Law
- Marketing
- Shorthand
- Concept Cars
- Videogames
- The World of Sports

- Blogs
- Free Software
- Google
- My Computer

- PHP Language and Applications
- Wikipedia
- Windows Vista

- Education
- Masterpieces of English Literature
- American English

- English Dictionaries
- The English Language

- Medical Emergencies
- The Theory of Memory
- The Beatles
- Dances
- Microphones
- Musical Notation
- Music Instruments
- Batteries
- Nanotechnology
- Cosmetics
- Diets
- Vegetarianism and Veganism
- Christmas Traditions
- Animals

- Fruits And Vegetables


  1. Action game
  2. Advergaming
  3. Arcade machine
  4. Artificial intelligence
  5. Atari Games
  6. Atari Lynx
  7. Audio game
  8. Board games
  9. Browser game
  10. Casual game
  11. Christian video games
  12. Comparison of handheld gaming consoles
  13. Computer and video games
  14. Computer animation
  15. Computer-assisted role-playing game
  16. Computer graphics
  17. Computer role-playing game
  18. Console game
  19. Dr. Mario
  20. Famicom
  21. First person shooter
  22. Game
  23. Game balance
  24. Game Boy
  25. Game Boy Advance
  26. Game Boy Color
  27. Game Boy line
  28. Game Boy Micro
  29. Game classification
  30. Game controller
  31. Game design
  32. Game designer
  33. Game developer
  34. Game Developer Magazine
  35. Game development
  36. Game development tool
  37. Game mechanic
  38. Gameplay
  39. Game programmer
  40. Game programming
  41. Gamer
  42. Game server browser
  43. Game studies
  44. Gaming convention
  45. Golden Age of Arcade Games
  46. Handheld game console
  47. History of computer and video games
  48. History of video game consoles
  49. History of video games
  50. Hotseat
  51. Internet gaming
  52. Joystick
  53. LAN gaming center
  54. List of books about computer and video games
  55. List of commercial failures in computer and video gaming
  56. List of gaming topics
  57. Mobile game
  58. Multiplayer game
  59. N-Gage
  60. Nintendo 64
  61. Nintendo DS
  62. Nintendo GameCube
  63. Personal computer game
  64. Pinball
  65. Play-by-mail game
  66. Play-by-post game
  67. PlayStation 3
  68. PlayStation Portable
  69. Pong
  70. Programming game
  71. Puzzle computer game
  72. Real-time strategy
  73. Sega Dreamcast
  74. Sega Saturn
  75. Serious game
  76. Simulation game
  77. Single player
  78. Sony PlayStation
  79. Stealth-based game
  80. Strategy game
  81. Strategy guide
  82. Super Nintendo Entertainment System
  83. Synthespian
  84. Tabletop role-playing game
  85. Teamspeak
  86. Tetris
  87. Tokyo Game Show
  88. Video game center
  89. Video game console
  90. Video game crash of 1983
  91. Video game industry
  92. Video game publisher
  93. Wargame
  94. Wii
  95. Xbox 360


This article is from:

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: 

First-person shooter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from First person shooter)
Doom, one of the games that defined the first-person shooter genre.
Doom, one of the games that defined the first-person shooter genre.

First-person shooter (FPS) is a genre of computer and video games which is characterized by an on-screen view that simulates the in-game character's point of view and a focus on the use of handheld ranged weapons. FPS is also a term used by tactical response teams as the person who shoots first.

The modern FPS genre emerged at the point when home computers became sufficiently powerful to draw basic 3D graphics in real time. id Software's Wolfenstein 3D and Doom are widely considered to be the breakthrough games of the genre. The latter, in particular, defined the genre so emphatically that FPS games were commonly referred to as "Doom clones" or "Doom-likes" for a significant period after its release. Other notable examples of the genre include Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, Blood, Unreal, the Half-Life series, Marathon, Counter-Strike, the Halo series, Perfect Dark, System Shock and GoldenEye 007.

First-person shooters have been subject to substantial controversy due to the levels of violence included in most games, and the visual realism that can be more inherent in the shooting of things in a first-person perspective.


The first-person shooter is a sub-genre of shooter games. Many other shooter genres, such as on-rails shooters, are viewed from a first-person perspective, while flight simulators frequently involve the use of weapons; however, these are not considered FPSs. In the early 1990s, the term came to define a more specific type of game with a first-person view, almost always centered around the act of aiming and shooting handheld weapons, usually with limited ammunition. The focus is generally on the aiming of one's own guns and the avoidance of enemy attacks, but the player is given more control over their movement than in on-rails shooters and most light gun games.

Many third-person shooters (where the player sees the game world from a viewpoint above and behind the main character) are commonly treated as first-person shooters, due to similarities in gameplay. In some cases (for example, Unreal Tournament 2004, Command & Conquer: Renegade, Star Wars Battlefront II, Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath or Duke Nukem 3D) it is possible to toggle the game between viewpoints and play the entire game from either perspective.

More frequently, a first-person view will be adopted in a third-person game only for brief periods for certain situations when it is advantageous. Since a first-person view usually allows more precise refinement of a player's aim than most third-person aiming systems, many third-person shooters allow the player to switch to their avatar's viewpoint in order to fire a weapon; sometimes, as in the first Metal Gear Solid title and Grand Theft Auto III, this may only be done when specific weapons (a sniper rifle, for example) are equipped. In addition, certain third-person shooters such as Burning Rangers let the player switch to a first-person perspective in order to observe their surroundings, but do not allow them to shoot any weapons while using it. Some first-person games switch by default to a third-person view when a melee weapon, such as a sword or a lightsaber, is selected (as in LucasArts' Jedi Knight series), on the theory that a wider perspective makes those weapons easier to manage.


All FPSs feature the core gameplay elements of movement and shooting, but many variations exist, with different titles emphasising certain aspects of the gameplay. The lines between sub-genres are not distinct; games such as GoldenEye 007 and XIII include stealth elements—avoiding detection being advantageous in certain situations—in addition to action-packed sequences more typical of a "run and gun" FPS. Half-Life (1998) was praised for its blend of genres; Steven Poole commented that it "edged [the FPS] into the grey zone between shoot 'em up, exploration and puzzle games."[1] Deus Ex was also praised for giving players the ability to choose the approach they took to situations in the game.[2]

The extent to which FPSs attempt to model themselves on reality varies dramatically. Settings may vary from accurate recreations of historical periods such as World War II (such as the Call of Duty series) to fantastic sci-fi depictions of the distant future (such as Quake). Damage to the player and enemies may be modelled fairly realistically, with the possibility of dying by a single shot (as in Operation Flashpoint) and wounds to different body parts having a visible effect on the gameplay (as in Deus Ex); or characters may be able to shrug off bullets or survive after falling large distances. A very common simplification of the main character's overall condition is to represent it as two sets of hit points: a base "health" meter representing the "naked" character's vitality, and another gauge measuring external protection provided by body armor or shields. Within this structure there is much variation regarding the balance between the two meters, whether one or both of them can be replenished, and if so, how ("medikits" are a common and unrealistic gameplay device for instantaneously recovering health).
The type of weaponry found in an FPS, and the realism of guns' accuracy and power, is usually appropriate to that game's setting. Frequently, the most recently-found gun will be the most powerful and most used, and players will retain every weapon they have discovered, ending the game carrying an unrealistically massive arsenal of guns and ammunition. However, developers have also attempted to improve the realism - and sometimes the balance and strategy - of their games by placing a limit on the number of weapons players may carry, as in Counter-Strike, Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 and Killzone.
Narrative and structure
The level of emphasis on plot varies. Some developers choose to give players as little information as possible and thrust them straight into combat, while others craft elaborate backstories and settings for their games. Storytelling techniques also differ; the plot may be revealed through interaction with other characters (sometimes incorporating dialogue choices more typical of an adventure game or RPG), mission briefings before levels, or cut-scenes. Half-Life is notable for never removing the player from their character's viewpoint: instead of switching to non-interactive third-person cut-scenes in order to progress the plot, the entire game is observed from the same first-person perspective, with the player retaining control over where they move and look. Half-Life is also an example of a game which consists of a single long progression through one large environment, unbroken except for loading times; by contrast, most FPSs employ the videogame convention of being split into distinct levels separated in time and space, each set in a specific environment such as a warehouse, desert, laboratory, or castle. One recent game which attempted to emulate Half-Life's opus on narrative realism was F.E.A.R., which was entirely from the first-person perspective with the exception of a single opening cutscene.
The linearity of FPSs also varies, with some leading the player as directly as possible through the game through as many gunfights as possible, while others give the player numerous options regarding how they tackle each section. More recent titles such as Just Cause and Postal² have allowed the player to wander around large "sandbox" environments like those of Grand Theft Auto.
Combat and pacing
Many FPSs maintain a focus on "run and gun" gameplay, with quick movement and near constant combat. Many of the older FPSs such as Doom and Quake are in this genre, as well as many more recent titles like Serious Sam and Unreal Tournament 2004. Other titles adopt a slower pace, with the emphasis on puzzle-solving, or interaction with characters in ways other than combat.
Stealth is a common feature of FPSs — firefights in some FPSs are extremely risky and require the player to completely avoid being spotted, activating alarms or even killing enemies (Thief, for example); but even in games such as GoldenEye 007 and Halo which also feature numerous shootouts, sneaking up on an unaware opponent can be an advantageous technique.
Strategy and planning are emphasised in tactical shooters such as Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, America's Army, Operation Flashpoint and Tactical Ops. These often allow the player to fight alongside and issue commands to squads made up of AI-controlled companions (or, in some multiplayer games, human teammates). There have also been games that blend Real-time strategy gameplay to FPSes. Some of the early pioneers were Golgotha and Battlezone. In these games, the player appears on the field as a single unit, but is able to give commands to other units, construct new units, and control the overall strategy. Some RTS/FPS hybrids use teamplay approach where one player is the commanding officer, responsible for the strategy part, and the other team members are ordinary soldiers. Some newer examples include Natural Selection and Savage.
Many first-person shooters are designed primarily as multiplayer games, and the single-player component (if any) consists entirely of play against bots. Notable examples include Quake III Arena, Counter-Strike, Unreal Tournament and America's Army. The TimeSplitters series began as a split screen multiplayer-focused game, although its single-player modes have since become more elaborate.
The MMOFPS combines first-person shooter gameplay with a large number of simultaneous players over the Internet. World War II Online and PlanetSide are pioneers of this new sub-genre.

Some FPS games strive to increase the realism of graphics and game environments, while retaining unrealistic gameplay. As a result, in many games the player has exaggerated physical capabilities and resiliency that allow him to make maneuvers such as "grenade jumping", which is an action that allows the player to gain an extension to normal jumps by blast effects. The extended jump is possible with other game weapons and can thus have different names: for instance, the Quake series allows "rocket jumping". Other maneuvers common in FPS games are straferunning and circlestrafing.

For many, the appeal of the FPS lies in immersive frantic blasting with a touch of verisimilitude, humor, puzzle-solving, and claustrophobia. For others, the single player mode in story-oriented games can have compelling narratives which allow for added element of drama in the games.


  • One of the genre conventions is that crates, barrels, and similar objects are used often to "decorate" levels, in an attempt to give the player a more detailed and interactive environment. Crates are often used to provide a jumping boost, or can be destroyed to obtain items, whilst many barrels tend to be explosive (a legacy from Doom)
  • The player normally begins with a single weak weapon, ranged or not, most likely the weakest. In many games this tends to be some sort of pistol. As s/he progressively obtains stronger weapons, so do the enemies become more difficult, in an attempt to balance the difficulty level of the game.
  • Another traditional convention lies with the necessity of pushing buttons and levers so as to open doors and allow for the progression of the player. In earlier games, the button and the door it opens would frequently be on opposite sides of the level for no logical reason. This convention has diminished somewhat in favor of scripted events, although it is still quite visible in some games.

Online play and mods

Most FPSs feature competitive and/or co-operative online multiplayer modes. Players of these games often form into teams, or "clans" and participate in organized tournaments and championships. Some of these contests have sufficient prize funds to allow players to turn partially or even fully professional.

Among modern video game styles, FPSs were the first genre to gain a widespread online gaming community. This was due to a deliberate policy of innovation by games developers (notably by id Software), aided by the combination of two technical factors: The relatively small number of moving objects in the game world (particularly in early games) reduces the amount of information to be transmitted across the network, and the relatively large distances between player avatars (compared to, say, fighting games) mitigates the effect of the inevitable network lag. Despite these effects, these games remain highly sensitive to network speed, and complaints about lag are still common.

Many FPS games are designed with a core game engine, separate from the graphics, game rules, and levels. This enables developers to reuse or license the core software for other games. This "plug-in" design, combined with the general-purpose nature of the PC (compared to consoles) allows amateur programmers to add new elements to games, such as new rules, characters or weapons without having access to the underlying technology. This process is known as "modding", from modification.

Indeed, it is a common characteristic of FPSs that players and enthusiasts are able to create their own levels (see level design) or even change overall graphical appearance and gameplay for distribution to other fans. Normally, this distribution must be done for free in order to abide by the developer's license. This has contributed to the longevity both of the genre and of individual games. Some games even serve as a basis for total conversions, where all of the game content is replaced, leaving only the basic game engine intact. Many games now include the software the designers used to make levels, such as UnrealEd for the Unreal series. The amount of custom levels made for a game is heavily affected by how popular the game is and the size of the community available to play the map. Many Quake 2 engine, Quake 3 engine based and later games increase the potential audience for a user-created level by allowing a custom level to be downloaded when a player connects to a server, as opposed to requiring the levels to be downloaded and installed in advance.

The communities of amateur programmers around FPS games can often become recruiting grounds for development companies; Valve Software have taken this as far as recruiting the core development teams of mods and releasing their product commercially.

Control systems

Keyboard and mouse

Most modern first-person shooters on the PC utilise a combination of QWERTY keyboard and mouse as a means of controlling the game. Usually FPS control schemes are fully customisable within the game.

One hand uses the mouse, which is used for free look (also known as mouselook), aiming and turning the player's view horizontally and vertically. The primary mouse button is used for the main "fire" function, with any additional buttons on the mouse performing other actions such as secondary fire functions, grenade thowing, mκlιe attacks, or activation of a zoom lens. A scroll wheel is often used to change weapons.

On the keyboard, the arrow keys (or other keys arranged in the same manner, such as WASD, ESDF or IJKL) provide digital movement forwards, backwards, and sidestepping (often known as "strafing" among players) left and right. Usually these buttons make the player run, and a nearby button must be pressed in order to walk. Other nearby keys perform additional functions such as crouching, jumping, opening doors, reloading, and picking up and dropping weapons.

Control pads

Although some games consoles such as the Dreamcast include support for keyboard and mouse peripherals, allowing the above control systems to be used, the majority of console FPSs are controlled by the system's standard control pad. Early console FPSs such as Zero Tolerance and Corporation were restricted by the number of keys available on the standard control pad and their digital nature; in the former, the Mega Drive D-pad controlled turning and forward and backward motion, with the four directions combined with the press of another button performing additional jumping, crouching and sidestepping movements.

On more recent control pads with two analog sticks (such as Sony's DualShock 1 and 2 and PlayStation 3 controllers, and the Xbox, Xbox 360 and GameCube pads), four main control systems have come about. In the case of control pads with only a single analog stick (as with the Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast), the functions of one of the sticks may be transferred to four of the face buttons, although this only provides digital movement in those four directions, without the pressure-sensitive precision of an analogue stick.

Left analog stick: Used for movement
Up and down: Movement forward and backward.
Left and right: Lateral sidestepping ("strafing").
Right analog stick: Used for free look
Up and down: Vertical aiming.
Left and right: Rotation left and right.
Left analog stick:
Up and down: Movement forward and backward.
Left and right: Rotation left and right.
Right analog stick:
Up and down: Vertical aiming.
Left and right: Lateral sidestepping ("strafing").
3 and 4
Two further control schemes in which the functions of the left and right analog sticks are swapped.

Not all FPSs allow the default control scheme to be fully customised, but usually all of the above may be further modified. Often there is an option for players who wish prefer to "invert" their aiming, so that pressing down on the vertical aiming analog stick makes their aim move up (like pulling "back" on the joystick in a flight simulator), and pressing up ("forward") on the same stick moves thair aim down.

Usually, firing a gun is performed by pressing one of the shoulder buttons or triggers on the control pad, an action similar to pulling the trigger on a real gun. Sometimes, however, shooting may be set to one of the face buttons, which are usually used for other functions such as crouching, reloading or opening doors. Switching weapons is generally performed by pressing left and right on the D-pad.

Rarely, and most notably Metroid Prime 1&2 (which were not marketed as fps), Only a left analog stick is present. In this case, the second control scheme is used and the right analog control is switched out while a shoulder button is held. In this case, a face button is used to fire.

Wii remote

Games in development for Nintendo's Wii console include Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Far Cry: Vengeance, Call of Duty 3 and Red Steel (the latter a launch title), four first-person shooters which use the Wii Remote, which is motion sensitive as an aiming device instead of the traditional mouse or analog stick. In some of the games in Rayman Raving Rabbids (another launch title), you are in a first-person shooter style level, using a plunger gun to off as many Rabbids as possible. These levels often parody other first-person shooters, such as Half-Life 2.

Platforms and hardware development

The primary platform for modern FPSs has traditionally been the PC, though there have been notable games on other platforms, and the number of releases on consoles are increasing steadily.

FPS are among the most demanding programs for computing resources, persuading many users to upgrade computers that are still suitable for more mundane tasks, such as online browsing and office work. According to IDC analyst Roger Kay, high-end games serve as a catalyst for the mainstream personal computer market. FPS games can stretch the capabilities of CPUs and the graphics cards ([1]). The rise of the genre has been a significant driver in the market for consumer graphics cards, particularly with regard to support for hardware acceleration of 3D graphics. Recently, consumer HMDs have been introduced which should further drive developments in virtual reality technology and better game play by providing a more immersive experience.


Main article: First-person shooter engine

The first-person shooter, as the phrase is currently understood, emerged in the early 1990s. However, the modern genre is a logical extension of earlier games, particularly those involving 3D graphics. While these early games are not First-Person Shooters in the modern sense, many of them come very close in gameplay terms, and many others contained ideas which later influenced the modern genre.


It is not clear exactly when the first FPS was created. There are two claimants, Spasim and Maze War. The uncertainty about which was first stems from the lack of any accurate dates for the development of Maze War — even its developer cannot remember exactly. In contrast, the development of Spasim is much better documented, and the dates more certain.

The initial development of Maze War probably occurred in the summer of 1973. A single player made their way through a simple maze of corridors rendered using fixed perspective. Multiplayer capabilities, with players attempting to shoot each other, were probably added later in 1973 (two machines linked via a serial connection) and in the summer of 1974 (fully networked).

Spasim was originally developed in the spring of 1974. Players moved through a wire-frame 3D universe, with gameplay resembling the 2D game Empire. Graphically, Spasim lacked even hidden line removal, but did feature online multiplayer over the world-wide university-based PLATO network.


1979-1990: Arcades and home computers

Battlezone (arcade)
Battlezone (arcade)
Rescue on Fractalus! (Atari 5200)
Rescue on Fractalus! (Atari 5200)
3-Demon (IBM PC)
3-Demon (IBM PC)
Dungeons of Daggorath (TRS-80 Color Computer)
Dungeons of Daggorath (TRS-80 Color Computer)
MIDI Maze (Atari ST)
MIDI Maze (Atari ST)

The next significant games arrived in the video arcade boom of the late 1970s. The 1979 game Tail Gunner was the first commercial shooter game to provide a first-person perspective. Players could not move through the simulated world, but fought off opponents from a fixed point in space.

1980's Battlezone, a tank combat simulator, allowed players to move around the game world in their battle with computer-controlled enemies, and thus became the earliest widely-available first-person shooter in arcades. It was a resounding commercial success.

In the early 1980s, the home computer market grew rapidly. While these machines were relatively low-powered, limited first-person-perspective games appeared early on. Star Raiders (1979) gave the player the perspective of a spaceship pilot flying through a streaming 3D starfield; motion was unrestricted, but the environment consisted only of stars and individual moving objects, with no 3D scene rendering at each individual frame. 3D Monster Maze (1981) for the Sinclair ZX81 was the first truly 3D first-person adventure game on a home computer, although not a shooter. Dungeons of Daggorath and Phantom Slayer (1982) restricted the player to 90-degree turns, allowing "3D" corridors to be drawn with simple fixed-perspective techniques. In these games, computer-controlled opponents were drawn using bitmaps. 3D Deathchase (1983) on the ZX Spectrum featured a 3D shooter chase through a forest, with the 3D being created using drawings of trees getting larger as they moved closer to the player. Similar to Phantom Slayer, the 1983 game 3-Demon was a 3D version of Pac-Man for the IBM PC situating the player first-person inside the PacMan maze.

Numerous other "tricks" were used by programmers to simulate 3D graphics. Examples include two early games from Lucasarts, Rescue on Fractalus! (1984) which used fractal techniques to generate an alien landscape for the player to fly over, and The Eidolon (1985) which scaled simple bitmaps to create the illusion of 3D. Other good examples of 8-bit first-person 3D games are Pete Cooke's ZX Spectrum titles Tau Ceti (1985) and Micronaut One (1987), the former having a 3D planetary environment and the latter involving the player's ship traveling through wireframe tunnels.

Later in the decade, the arrival of a new generation of home computers such as the Atari ST and the Amiga increased the computing power and graphical capabilities available, leading to a new wave of innovation.

The first true 3D flat-polygon (hidden surface) first-person shooter was the single-player Driller, in 1987, using the acclaimed Freescape engine. It lacked most modern graphical features such as textures and colors. Other FPS games of the flat-polygon era include Faceball 2000, and MIDI Maze, notable for its networked multiplayer feature (communicating via the computer's MIDI interface).


1991-1993: Defining the genre

By 1990 the technology to render very simple flat-colored 3D worlds was widespread, and was being used extensively in simulator games such as Abrams M1, LHX Attack Chopper, and others.

In April 1991, the then-unknown id Software released Hovertank 3D. This game innovated a new rendering technique called raycasting, whereby vertical lines are scaled to create a smooth 3D perspective as long as the player looks straight ahead (raycasting games do not allow players to look up and down, though later games would fake this with iffy results). The game environment was a simple flat grid-based map, with enemies rendered as sprites. Later the same year, a modified version of the same game engine, adding texture-mapped walls, was used in Catacomb 3D, which also introduced the concept of showing the player's hand on-screen, strengthening the illusion that the player is literally viewing the world through the character's eyes.

Wolfenstein 3D title screen
Wolfenstein 3D title screen

In 1992, id improved the technology by adding support for VGA graphics in Wolfenstein 3D which surprisingly was created by only 13 people in 2 months. With these improvements over its predecessors, Wolf 3D was a hit, and marked the emergence of the modern FPS genre.

A lesser-known predecessor to Wolfenstein 3D is Ultima Underworld (1992), a role-playing game developed by Looking Glass Studios and marketed by Origin Systems. Unlike Wolfenstein 3D, Ultima Underworld supported many true 3D features such as non-perpendicular walls, walls of varying heights, and inclined surfaces. A technology demo of this game was, in fact, John Carmack’s inspiration for Wolfenstein 3D’s game engine. [2]

Wolfenstein 3D was soon surpassed by id's next game, the genre-defining Doom (1993). While still using sprites to render in-game opponents, and raycasting to render the levels, Doom added texture-mapping to the floor and ceiling, and removed some of the restrictions of earlier games. Walls could vary in height, with floor and ceiling changing levels to create cavernous spaces and raised platforms. In some areas, Doom removed the ceiling altogether to create the outdoor environments that were generally lacking in previous genre games. However, Doom wasn't truly 3D; id used a line map system which the game would make into a 3D looking environment, and they added the height later; this meant they couldn't put a room on top of a room, but they could create an Automap more easily.

While the graphical enhancements were notable, Doom's greatest innovation was the introduction of network multiplayer capabilities. While similar multiplayer modes had existed in previous mainframe- or arcade-based games, Doom was the first mass-market game to gain a significant following dedicated to multiplayer (usually, but not exclusively, LAN-based) contests, and guaranteed persistence of the FPS in gaming formats; the real thrill of these already-atmospheric games comes from blasting human opponents, be they friends or strangers on the Internet. Doom was also one of the earliest FPS games to gain an active community of fans producing add-on maps.


1994-2000: After Doom

Doom dominated the genre for years after its release. Every new game in the genre, such as Heretic, was held up against id's masterpiece, and usually suffered by comparison. However, some developers wisely chose not to attack Doom head-on, but instead to concentrate on its weaker aspects, or expand the new genre in alternative directions.

Rise of the Triad (1994), developed initially as a sequel to Wolfenstein 3D by Apogee Software, was a cult favorite. It added to the FPS genre with its use of photorealistic models and sprites, dark and quirky humor, advanced multiplayer features, and introduced wanton and gratuitous violence in the form of giblets (which would later be popularized by Duke Nukem 3D and Quake, and are debatably a staple of most first-person shooters today).

Marathon (1994), together with its sequels Marathon 2: Durandal (1995) and Marathon Infinity (1996) by "Bungie Studios", included a strong plot, revealed through a series of computer terminals, and multiple misson types such as reascue, exploration, extermination, and retrieval, a radical change from the simplistic "blast anything that moves" style of most earlier FPSs. It is arguably the first game to use AI controlled teammates, unarmed/ambiant characters, duel weilding, secondary functions on weapons, and free look, most of which are widely used to this day. However, these games did not reach a wide audience, being released on the Apple Macintosh platform, and only Durandal being released on the PC.

System Shock (1994) and System Shock 2 (1999) combined an FPS-style viewpoint and controls with role-playing game and horror gameplay elements. Both games received huge praise from critics and huge cult followings, but limited mainstream success.

In 1995 the LucasArts Star Wars: Dark Forces, introduced a linear storyline with levels presented as 'missions' with certain objectives to be done, and cut scenes that advanced the plot. It was also the first Doom clone to be set in a definite background (Imperial bases, Star Destroyers, ships, planets etc) instead of simplistic surreal mazes and 'find the exit' scenarios.

The 1995 game Descent used a fully 3D polygonal graphics engine to render opponents (previous games had used sprites). It also escaped the "pure vertical walls" graphical restrictions of earlier games in the genre, and allowed the player six degrees of freedom of movement (up/down, left/right, forward/backward, pitch, roll and yaw). Descent became a cult favorite and is still modded & played online today.

In 1996 id Software released their eagerly-anticipated Quake which significantly enhanced the network gaming concept introduced by Doom. Like Descent, it used a 3D polygonal graphics engine to render enemies, but, again, Quake's greatest influence was felt in network-based multiplayer gaming. Because of QuakeSpy, now known as GameSpy, Quake was the first FPS game to really break out of the LAN and gain a widespread fanbase dedicated to multiplayer Internet gaming.

Quake also innovated by actively encouraging user-made modifications. These "mods" contributed to its longevity and popularity with players; in some cases (such as Team Fortress) they even developed a semi-independent existence.

Duke Nukem 3D, also released in 1996, was the first game using what proved to be the most popular engine of the decade (12 released titles), Ken Silverman's Build engine. Build was outwardly similar to Doom's engine, but the internals (and many engine features) were radically new and different. The game itself was a new take on the shooter, with main character Duke characterizing himself by way of witty, egotistical one-liners and interaction with all sorts of goofy objects, from blowing up urinals to tossing cash at strippers. Duke, and Build, are also notable for having one of the simplest map editors of any 3D game ever made. Blood was similar to Duke Nukem, using the Build engine, but had a totally different setting.

In 1997, GoldenEye 007 was released for the Nintendo 64. It was praised for a realistic setting, incorporating impressive artificial intelligence and animation, elaborate bullet-hit detection (permitting a player to inflict maximum damage through accurate "head shots"; a practice encouraged through the incorporation of a "sniper scope" weapon function), and mission objectives and well-designed environments based on the GoldenEye film's sets. Its split screen multiplayer deathmatch mode was also well-regarded for the range of options offered. Console first-person shooters have for many years been criticized for having control schemes less precise than the keyboard and mouse of PC titles, yet GoldenEye overcame such complaints to be considered the first great FPS for a console, as well as one of the best movie-to-game adaptations.

Also released that year was the first Western-based shooter by LucasArts: Outlaws. The game was mostly played through the Microsoft Internet Gaming Zone. Another popular game on the "Zone" was another LucasArts title, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II a game with a Star Wars theme. Jedi Knight is still active and is still being modded by enthusiasts today at locations like The Massassi Temple. The lasting popularity of both Jedi Knight and GoldenEye is interesting considering their nature as film licenses, relatively few of which are highly-regarded by gamers.

In 1998, the game Half-Life was released, featuring a single-player game with a notable narrative focus directing the action and the goals of the player. The tremendous success of the game encouraged the creation of many more games with a similar focus on story-based action. Half-Life also produced many successful mods, such as the hit Counter-Strike. Counter-Strike continues, seven years later, to be the most popular multi-player FPS in the world; a feat of no small achievement in a market of ever-changing consumer tastes.

Also in 1998 Thief, the Dark Project was released. It was considered by many critics to be one of the first FPSs to successfully implement stealth elements. Some deemed it a "first-person sneaker".

Another game of 1998, Starsiege: Tribes, while not a major commercial success, was also very influential. Supporting large numbers of players, vehicles, wide-open landscapes and innovative movement mechanics provided by the jetpack all players spawned with, Tribes can be considered the ancestor of many modern multiplayer-focused shooters including Battlefield 1942 and contributed greatly to the creation of the massively multiplayer FPS genre (including World War II Online and PlanetSide).

1999 was another important year for FPS, as two competing franchises were pitched head-to-head: Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament. At this point both franchises concentrated on multiplayer gameplay over a LAN or the internet, mostly omitting the single player experience. Both games were widely acclaimed by game-industry critics and laid the basis for their respective franchises to continue onward: the Unreal Tournament series with Unreal Tournament 2003 and later Unreal Tournament 2004, and the Quake series with Quake 4, released October 2005.

The 2000s

In 2000, Deus Ex was released, a single-player FPS that blended elements from RPG and adventure games. It featured many side-quests and multiple ways of completing each mission. This game also had a character building system similar to an RPG where the player gained experience points for completing various objectives, which were then spent on upgrades for your character, as in the System Shock games. Additionally, it incorporated stealth elements that first appeared in Thief: The Dark Project.

In 2001, Operation Flashpoint was released, creating a new level of realism in an FPS environment with extensive vehicles and aircraft, seamless indoor / outdoor environments, and view distances an order of magnitude longer than anything else released before it in the genre. Also, Halo: Combat Evolved was released for the Xbox, a first-person shooter with third-person vehicle usage. The game was acclaimed for its artificial intelligence used to control the game's enemies, and key features of its gameplay have since become genre standards. For example, the game's limited weapons inventory (two weapons at any given time), and recharging shield on top of a non-recharging health supply have been widely imitated.

World War 2 Online, brought FPS action to a massively multiplayer arena.
World War 2 Online, brought FPS action to a massively multiplayer arena.

Also released in 2001, World War 2 Online (WWIIOL) was released, expanding the FPS genre to a massively multiplayer audience. Unlike most FPS games of the time, which had limits of 32 players, WWIIOL could support thousands of simultaneous players. As such, WWIIOL is recognized as the pioneer of the MMOFPS (Massively-Multiplayer Online First-Person Shooter) sub-genre. Placed in a WWII setting, players could complete in realistically modeled tanks, airplanes, ships and infantry of the WWII era on a massive 1/4 scale map of Europe.

In 2002 Battlefield 1942 was released, including easily-operated vehicles, aircraft, and ships. The game featured a class-based infantry combat system in a World War 2 setting and proved to be a highly popular multiplayer game, setting the stage for its sequels, Battlefield Vietnam, Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142. In contrast to the somewhat similar and recently released WWIIOL, the game was focused a bit more on fast-paced and visually pleasing action and a smaller number of players, putting less emphasis on a massively multiplayer world and realism in equipment modelling.

Meanwhile, in the world of consoles, Metroid Prime was released. It was a quasi-FPS with platforming and third-person elements for the Nintendo GameCube, set in a comparatively large world that focused more on exploration than combat; it also featured a unique approach to plot narration through a "scan" mechanic, which allowed the player to piece together the story and the game's myriad background details by examining enemies, computer screens and other objects. It utilized a lock-on based targeting system similar to that used in Nintendo's first-party title The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Due to its weighting towards exploration, typical of the Metroid series' style, many critics referred to the title as a first-person adventure game.

During 2004 through 2006, many remakes of older games were released, along with some newcomers:

  • Doom 3: Made use of a new graphics engine featuring hitherto unseen real-time lighting and shadows, used exclusively to create an atmosphere of fear and danger for the player. Essentially a "re-telling" of the original Doom story, and in many ways a throwback to some of the techniques used in earlier FPSes, the main selling point for the game was actually its graphics engine. Using cutting-edge technologies, id Software created one of the most powerful graphics engines to date. As with previous Doom and Quake engines, it is being widely licensed to developers. Wolfenstein 3D was also remade with a newer graphics engine (albeit one not as sophisticated as Doom 3's), resulting in Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
  • Half-Life 2: Making extensive use of shaders, advanced lighting, 3d textures, AI with squad tactics, Havok middleware physics engine and relatively large maps for its level of graphic detail. The level of detail seen in the game is perhaps best exemplified by the complex character facial models developed especially for the game. The behind-the-scenes character engines can use voice recognition software, and the mouths of the models in the game will move according to what the character is saying and will express emotions when combined with script; this innovation vastly reduced the development time required to animate such complicated motions.
  • Painkiller, Far Cry: both titles featured vast and highly detailed environments, indoors and out. Also, they had sophisticated AI and physics systems rounding out the feature set.
  • Halo 2: The sequel to Halo: Combat Evolved with enhanced graphics and sound, and new game features such as hijacking vehicles, vehicle destruction, dual-wielding weapons and online multiplayer support. Halo 2 also has enhanced LAN capabilities over Halo; players could now connect up to 16 Xboxes and TVs instead of four. Halo 2 is also one of the few console games to have an expansion pack released for it.
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes: A continuation of the Metroid series, this sequel to the successful GameCube "first-person adventure" diverged even further from the FPS mold by placing a larger emphasis on third-person exploration.
  • F.E.A.R. - First Encounter Assault Recon: Developed by Monolith Productions using a revamped version of their Lithtech engine, F.E.A.R. combined intense first-person shooter action with a distinctively horror theme.
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter: became Xbox 360's best selling game as of June 2006.
  • Metroid Prime: Hunters: Another continuation of the Metroid Prime series on the DS, Hunters is the first major handheld FPS. Though it has some of the explorative elements of its console based predeccesors, it has been praised for its combat system, and for proving that handhelds can host superb FPS games. The game has online multiplayer, and is one of the most popular games on the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

There have been many attempts to combine the FPS genre with role-playing (RPG) or real-time strategy (RTS) games. The Half-Life mod Natural Selection blended a multiplayer FPS with some RTS elements. Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory blended some RPG elements with an experience and skill-based point system that can work across matches. Battlefield 2 has a stats tracking similar to Enemy Territory, and a complicated scoring system. Wheel of Time Video Game attempted to blend a fps with an RPG and was one of the few fantasy games to be a first-person shooter as most fantasy games are RPG's.

The future

Several games currently slated for release in 2006 and 2007 plan to add more revolutionary physics and gameplay tactics to the traditional FPS style of play.

Red Steel for the Wii is said to revolutionize the way people play FPS due to the Wii's motion sensitive remote. The gun in the game mimics the player's actions with the remote.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, which has been in development for several years and has been delayed several times, will add a persistent and ever-changing gameworld where NPC characters have as much of an effect on the environment as the player does, and creatures and NPCs continue to go about their business whether the player is present or not, relying on a completely randomized script. Because of these randomized occurrences, no two playthroughs will be exactly the same.

Advances in graphics and physics can be seen in the upcoming Crysis. Crysis will use such features as soft shadows within their graphics engine while implementing realistic physics into the gameplay. Such physics as bushes and grass rustling and being disturbed as the player character moves through them present the next generation in realistic physics and what the future may bring in terms of graphics and physics.


First-person shooters, often with graphical, brutal and interactive video game violence, are common examples in the debate on the connection between violent video games and real-life violence or violent behavior.

Lt. Col. David Grossman, a former West Point psychology professor, has written several books that pertain to the subject of violence in the media, including On Killing and Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill. During heights of video game controversy he has been interviewed on the content of his books, and has repeatedly used the term "murder simulator" to describe first-person shooter games. He argues that video game publishers unethically train children in the use of weapons and, more importantly, harden them emotionally to the act of murder by simulating the killing of hundreds or thousands of opponents in a single typical video game.

Video game violence critics generally agree that violent video games are at least as bad an influence on children as are television shows with the same level of violence and cruelty, and most seem to believe that video games are more threatening to a child's well-being, because the video game player uses the controller to make an on screen character act out the violence personally. It was widely reported that the spree killers in the Columbine High School massacre were fans of first-person shooter games. They had recorded a videotape before the massacre in which they said they looked forward to using their shotguns just as in the game Doom (the Doom levels made by one of the attackers -the most popular being one called "UAC Labs"- can still be found on the Internet as the Harris levels).

It has further been claimed that the system of rewards and punishment in violent video games like Doom systematically teaches participants to be violent. Opponents to this view hold that such games actually prevent violent behavior by providing a safe outlet for aggression. Over two hundred studies have been published which examine the effects of violence in entertainment media and which at least partially focus on violence in video games in particular. Some psychological studies have shown a correlation between children playing violent video games and suffering psychological effects, though the vast majority stop short of claiming behavioral causation. Craig A. Anderson has testified before the U.S. Senate on the issue, and his meta-analysis of these studies has shown 5 consistent effects: "increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreased prosocial (helping) behavior". (Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions) However, some studies explicitly deny that such a connection exists, most notably Anderson and Ford (1986), Winkel et al (1987), Scott (1995), and Ballard and Lineberger (1999). Some studies have shown that children who watch violent television shows and play violent video games have a tendency to act more aggressively on the playground, and some people are concerned that this aggression may presage violent behavior when children grow to adulthood. Common themes in the continuing debate is whether people with violent dispositions prefer violent games or violence in games predispose players to violent behavioral patterns, and the role gender differences plays.

Most FPS games have a voluntary ESRB rating of T (for Teen) or M (for Mature audiences), but sale of these games to children in the USA was not moderated or enforced until late in 2003, when it was announced that a number of major retail outlets such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy, which account for a large share of video game sales, would begin restricting sales of "M"-rated games to people under the age of 17, due to the level of violence and blood which earned the title the "Mature" rating. There is no national law in the United States prohibiting sale of such games to children, but bills have recently been proposed that would prohibit the sale of games to customers under the ESRB rating's age. Video game industry professionals oppose such a law, citing that the ESRB is a voluntary rating and similar rated materials are not regulated, such as the MPAA film rating system's minimum age for movie patrons.

Controversial First Amendment lawyer Jack Thompson is a vocal critic of many FPS games. Thompson has sued several developers over the content of their games, most notably Take Two Interactive. Thompson is considered to be on something of a crusade against Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and its developers, Rockstar Games.

However, according to official and reliable statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics, there is no epidemic of youth violence in America. Violent crime rates in the USA have decreased since 1993 - 1994, despite the release of both GTA and GTA 3 - both games that lawyer Jack Thompson has been arguing against. Furthermore, in 2004, the murder rate in the USA hit an all time low - yet, the best selling game of 2004 was GTA: San Andreas, possibly one of the most ultra-violent computer/video games to date. [source: [3]

List of notable titles and development houses

Selected list of FPS developers

This is a short list of developers of first-person shooters who have achieved both critical and popular success, selling many units, developing lucrative intellectual properties into series of titles and/or creating strong followings that transcend the core FPS gaming audience and touched the mainstream media:

  • 3D Realms: 3D Realms is also notable as an old developer, having its beginnings in Apogee Software, a veteran of shareware PC gaming. It has released only two FPS titles: Duke Nukem 3D (1996) and Shadow Warrior (1997). However, both were very popular — especially Duke Nukem 3D, which was a smash hit (albeit a controversial one). A sequel to Duke Nukem 3D, Duke Nukem Forever, has been in development for many years.
  • Bungie Studios: Bungie is a developer who has trodden outside of the FPS genre on a number of occasions. Their first success in the genre comes from the critically acclaimed Marathon (1994), a game for the Apple Macintosh, notable at the time for having a story and letting the player look up and down, among other things. Their breakthrough to the mainstream FPS world came with the Xbox flagship title Halo and, eventually its sequel Halo 2. Currently, Bungie is working on the development of Halo 3, which was announced at E3 2006.
  • Digital Illusions CE: Makers of the successful multplayer series Battlefield. None of their games have been citical flops and their games Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield 2 have won many Game of the Year awards. Their record was badly hurt on May 23, 2006 when they released the 1.3 patch for Battlefield 2. This patch itroducted many CTD and server crash bugs and which went unfixed until 1.4 was released in September. As a result the Canadian team was removed, and the Stockholm team became DICE's soul development team. DICE Stockholm shortly after released Battlefield 2142, which while it had many minor bugs was much better supported, their patch 1.05 introducted a CTD bug and the patch was hotfixed three days later. As a result DICE has regained their credibility.
  • Epic Games (formerly Epic MegaGames): Another developer from the pre-FPS days of computer gaming has not been active in the FPS market as long as some others, but with the release of the widely acclaimed Unreal (1998) (which spawned a large series of games, many of them with well supported, thriving mod communities) and with the popularity of the Unreal engine amongst developers, the company has become a major player in the scene.
  • id Software: Developers of the extremely successful Wolfenstein 3D (1992), Doom (1993) and Quake (1996) series, they are one of the old school of game developers that has its beginnings in pre-FPS gaming, and is considered by most gamers as the original definer and popularizer of the genre. Their technology has also been used in creating many other highly successful games. The developer's involvement with mod communities is limited in comparison to others, but its games have none the less spawned some of the most well known mod types: capture the flag and Team Fortress among them.
  • LucasArts: LucasArts was a phenomenally successful PC game developer in the 1990s and continues that success today, though perhaps not with the same vigour. It has developed unique franchises and exploited both the Indiana Jones and the Star Wars IPs. Two of the most successful entries to their Star Wars collection of titles are Star Wars: Dark Forces and Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, which are recognized by critics as amongst the best Star Wars and FPS games produced to date. The well praised Star Wars: Republic Commando was released in 2005 and was advertised as showing the Star Wars universe from the battle hardened eyes of a soldier.
  • Rare: Rareware is a recognizable name to console fans for many different titles, but their foray into first-person shooter territory is especially notable because it produced the first successful console FPS: GoldenEye 007 (1997), one of the most popular titles on the Nintendo 64. Their next FPS, Perfect Dark (2000), was described as a "spiritual sequel" to GoldenEye, based around Rare's own characters and storyline rather than the James Bond licence. A prequel, Perfect Dark Zero, was released in 2005. Free Radical Design, developers of the TimeSplitters series of FPSs, was founded by members of the GoldenEye development team who left Rare in 1999.[4]
  • Raven Software: Raven Software is generally most credited for being a pseudo sister company for id Software, since they have been collaborating together from as early as Doom. Since then, Raven has gone to use all of id's game engines for their own creations, which has resulted in Heretic, Star Trek: Voyager Elite Force, and the controversial Soldier of Fortune games. In 2002 LucasArts employed them to produce the critically acclaimed sequel to Jedi Knight, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (and later on, the spin-off Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy). Raven's latest shooter is currently Quake 4.
  • Red Storm Entertainment: The developer of the long running Rainbow Six (1998) series of Tom Clancy affiliated tactical realism first-person shooters have found great success with this franchise.
  • Valve Software: Valve's inclusion in this list rests on the immense success of their first game, Half-Life (1998). Its mod, Counter-Strike had an effect on popular culture comparative to that of Doom, in that it created yet again mass awareness for the genre in the mainstream. Additionally, it was highly supportive of the modding community: so far it had brought numerous mods into its official line, which included but was not limited to Team Fortress Classic, Counter-Strike, and Day of Defeat. Valve has released the sequel of their game, Half-Life 2, which has a publicly available SDK including mapping, animation, and sound tools; as well as source for the game logic in Half-Life 2.

Selected important games in FPS development

A chronological listing attempting at listing the more "ground-breaking" or "influential" games from this genre, mainly the more popular or well known examples:

  • Maze War (1973)
  • Battlezone (1980)
  • 3D Monster Maze (1981) — The first 3D game for a home computer, requiring the player to navigate a 3D maze in the first-person avoiding a lurking dinosaur.
  • Ultima Underworld (1992) — An “unsung hero” of the FPS genre, probably because it was also a RPG, and perhaps the first game to belong to it properly. The player character could defeat enemies with projectile weapons (bows, crossbows) or with melee weapons (swords, cudgels, etc.). Technologies such as walls of varying heights, non-perpendicular walls, inclined surfaces, and swimming were ahead of their time. A moderate commercial success, it was soon overshadowed by subsequent titles that nonetheless used inferior technology.
  • Wolfenstein 3D (1992) — The first resounding commercial success of the FPS genre. Also a turning point in the history of shareware. Although limited to perpendicular walls and floors and monochrome ceilings and floors, the game became very popular as many players’ first encounters with the first-person perspective in a computer game.
  • Pathways Into Darkness (1993) — Arguably the earliest first-person shooter for the Apple Macintosh, mixes RPG and adventure elements with action. Also noteworthy for being the "spiritual prequel" to Marathon and Halo.
  • Doom (1993) — This game was as influential in the future of the FPS genre as any game has ever been. Much closer to a true 3D experience than Wolf 3D (but still perhaps less so than Ultima Underworld), it added walls of varying heights and new lighting effects. Much of the controversy over video-game violence was attributed to this title.
  • Marathon (1994) — The first in a trilogy - possibly the most popular series among veteran Mac users; notable for its extremely complex storyline.
  • Rise of the Triad (1994) — Introduced excessive and photorealistic violence, as well as a revolutionary multiplayer system, in spite of the limits of a highly modified version of the Wolfenstein 3d engine. RoTT was very influential in the development of Duke Nukem 3D, both being developed by Apogee Software.
  • Star Wars: Dark Forces (1995) — This game, based on the Star Wars franchise, was LucasArts's attempt to corner the FPS market. Through its particular variety of gameplay additions, rather than its use of a popular franchise, Dark Forces sticks out as a remarkably playable example of an early FPS. While less noted than other titles, it is arguably as influential in the genre. It is also the first "true" FPS with an in-depth storyline.
  • Descent (1995) — Some consider this game to be the first true 3D FPS. This game was unique among FPSs at the time when most FPSs were considered Doom-clones. The player flew into robot infested mines in a hovercraft with a full six degrees of freedom of movement. Enemies were represented by true 3D polygon meshes, which Quake would later use, and the representation of the world geometry removed most of the 2.5D limitations that Doom had.
  • Duke Nukem 3D (1996) — This early FPS is better remembered by more fans of the genre than even Doom. Serious fans generally accept Doom as more important, but Duke was more widely publicised in its time and so has a greater mass appeal.
  • Quake (1996) — The first true 3D "standard" FPS (Descent being the notable exception), it started the move to true 3D in the FPS genre. It also started the big wave of popularity of online multiplayer games by allowing multiplayer games to take place over the internet.
  • GoldenEye 007 (1997) — The first successfully implemented FPS on a console, GoldenEye is widely acclaimed for being the best console shooting game of all time, due to a strong, realistic single-player mode and a highly popular multiplayer section.
  • Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (1997) — The first FPS to implement lightsaber duels and force powers.
  • Unreal (1998) — One of the first FPS games to take place in large, open terrain, and a technological and visual breakthrough at the time.
  • Starsiege: Tribes (1998) — The first FPS to seamlessly integrate first-person shooting with vehicles driven from a third-person perspective.
  • Half-Life (1998) — Used a lot of scripted events to tell its story and set the mood; the level of artistry inherent to both the story and gameplay raised the standards of the FPS industry to new heights.
  • Unreal Tournament (1999) — This was one of the first popular online shooters and it was especially well-known for its excellent Capture-the-Flag game play, easy moddability, and thousands of custom user-made maps. Many people regard the original Unreal Tournament as being the greatest online FPS and continue to play it to this day.
  • Soldier of Fortune (1999) — Using a highly modified Quake 2 engine, Soldier of Fortune is best known for its detailed graphic depictions of gunshot wounds.
  • Thief (1998) — The first first-person "sneaker".
  • Rainbow Six (1998) — The first realistic, squad-based FPS to gain a wide following and acclaim. Numerous sequels have been made. The first FPS game to fall into the "simulation" category.
  • System Shock 2 (1999) — This was one of the first games to successfully implement an interesting story and RPG elements into the gameplay.
  • Counter-Strike (1999) — Counter-Strike is a Half-Life mod that quickly won popular acclaim and helped redefine the multiplayer genre.
  • Perfect Dark (2000)
  • Deus Ex (2000) — An RPG-FPS hybrid and a massive success that many critics cited as an example of "video games as art".
Halo is an example of the modern console first-person shooter genre.
Halo is an example of the modern console first-person shooter genre.
Metroid Prime: Hunters Multiplayer as Kanden against Sylux and Noxus.
Metroid Prime: Hunters Multiplayer as Kanden against Sylux and Noxus.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved (2001) — The first successful FPS on a console since GoldenEye, Halo also featured an expanded role for vehicles in game and cinematic elements which appealed to a wide audience.
  • Serious Sam (2001) — The first FPS that showed literally hundreds of enemy's at the same time without slowing the game down.
  • World War II Online (2001) — Generally accepted as the first massively multiplayer FPS, World War II Online brought large-scale clashes of 1940s era weaponry on a 1/2 scale map of europe. With a focus on realism and accurate simulation modeling, this game still has a dedicated and slowly growing base of players.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001) — Return to Castle Wolfenstein was one of the first games to have large scale objective based multiplayer. One of the first online multiplayer games that had a focus on teamwork and a system of soldier classes. While similar thing where done in Team Fortress they where not close to the scale that RtCW was.
  • Battlefield 1942 (2002) — The most successful mainstream, vehicle-based FPS in the vein of Tribes, BF1942 has popularized an expanding genre of online FPS games.
  • Metroid Prime (2002) — Classic Metroid gameplay merged with an FPS. It abandoned ammo restrictions for the main weapons, presented platforming in first-person with unprecedented success, featured a unique "scan" based narrative, and made a clever marriage of first-person and third-person gameplay through the use of the classic Metroid "morph-ball", thus pioneering numerous avenues of FPS gameplay innovation.
  • Savage: The Battle for Newerth (2003) — The first game to combine real-time strategy with first-person game play.
  • Doom 3 (2004) — The first game to calculate all lighting in real-time and to use an unified lighting system (with no lightmaps).
  • Halo 2 (2004) — Direct sequel to Halo: Combat Evolved. Most notable for its online multiplayer in which it attracted over a million subscribers to the Xbox Live service. It has brought attention to online console gaming in which it can be taken as seriously as online PC gaming.
  • Half-Life 2 (2004) — Direct sequel to Half-Life. The game continued the narrative techniques of the first title, but the implementation of the physics engine was particularly noteworthy. This can be considered the first FPS game to make extended use of physics puzzles.
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (2004) — Sequel to Metroid Prime, this game added the concept of two parallel universes: One dark, one light.
  • Battlefield 2 (2005) Notable for focusing on having players work together and use teamwork in multiplayer matches. This was done by implementing a squad system where players could join a squad which could set goals and members could talk to eachother via a built in VOIP system. The game further promted teamwork by letting a player be their team's commander, the commander could give orders to squads and use many abilities such as artillery and supply drops which further aid the team. The game also had a veery detailed character tracking system, which recorded each point a player scored in an online game. With enough of these points the player could gain ranks, use new weapons and get awards that display ability in perticular fields. Its sequel Battlefield 2142 greatly expanded on these aspects.
  • Metroid Prime: Hunters (2006) — Notable for being the first critically acclaimed and overall successful FPS on a handheld console. Widely praised for its multiplayer online and precise aiming.
  • SiN Episodes (2006) — The first 'episodic' release FPS, this noteworthy feature allows a developer to make a game that can be changed on the player's criticism and decisions. The first episode was released May 2006.
See also: List of first-person shooters

For a comprehensive list of wikipedia articles on titles in the genre, see the list of computer and video games by genre. Or for a comprehensive list of all FPS titles, see

See also

  • WASD
  • Free look
  • List of computer and video games
  • First-person shooter engine
  • List of free first-person shooters
  • First-person narrative
  • Total conversion


  1. ^ Poole, Steven [2000] (1999). Trigger Happy, 2nd edition, London: Fourth Estate Limited, 38. ISBN 1-84115-121-1. “As processing power increased in the 1990s the genre definitively broke the bounds of flat-plane representations with the emergence of the 'first-person shooter', exemplified by Doom and its multifarious clones. … This, a sub-genre that traces its roots back to Atari's 3D tank game Battlezone (1980) ousted its two-dimensional counterparts as king of the hill, at the same time adding rudimentary quest and object-manipulation requirements which—especially as environments and programmed enemy cunning became more complex, as in the extraordinary Half-Life (1998)—edged it into the grey zone between shoot 'em up, exploration and puzzle games.”
  2. ^ Gillen, Kieron (2005-05-20). Deus Ex. Retrieved on 2006-09-13.(Originally published in PC Gamer (UK) issue 87.)

External links

  • MobyGames' collection of FPS documentation and reviews
  • Old Man Murray's Crate Review System spoof
  • The Modding Theater FPS Modification Forum
  • PlanetPhillip - Commentary and Analysis of Sci-Fi Single Player First-Person Shooters
  • FPSBANANA - One of the largest FPS customization websites
  • - Most popular multiplayer PC FPS
  • The Gamasutra Quantum Leap Awards
  • - A "complete" list of the genre
Retrieved from ""