It could be argued that the first-person shooter has very much had its day.
Take Call of Duty, for example – once a beacon of tight gameplay and addictive multiplayer, the relentless corporate drive for shareholder profit has seen the title stripped of its once-high status, and I would now consider it little more than derivative nonsense.
A view I know to be shared by many other gamers – excluding the 8-year-old Americans infesting Xbox Live.
That said, Call of Duty games still sell billions of copies, and net Infinity Ward/Treyarch a huge wad of cash.
Normally I would hold up Battlefield as the superior title – especially with its ever-popular large-scale multiplayer – but even with the advent of the (admittedly excellent-looking) Battlefield 4, I can’t be the only gamer getting rather bored of slotting foreigners of many stripes with an M-16 while yelling “USA! USA!”?
Once upon a time, shooters worked hard to differentiate themselves from each other, rather than following the set pattern laid down by the hyper-successful Call of Duty 4.
Older gamers can likely cast their minds back to the days of Return to Castle Wolfenstein, or the original Medal of Honor games – before they tried to do a COD and were left in a smoking grenade hole of their own making.
Back then, FPSs weren’t about the big, bombastic set pieces, or motion-captured dogs (I’m looking at you, COD: Ghosts). In the distant past, shooters had coherent, strong storylines, and you had to use your imagination to fill in the gaps left by the shoddy graphics of the time (relatively speaking).
The likes of Counter Strike, with its fast-paced, unforgiving multiplayer, or Half Life, Quake and Unreal were a joy to play – and had campaigns easily twice the length of your Battlefield 30 and Call of Duty 2,037.
They rewarded skill with mission progression and a feeling of joy and achievement – not the Pavlov’s Dogs-style reward system inherent in modern shooters.
Granted, my rose-tinted spectacles are firmly on, even as I write this, but I’d wager many gamers agree that we’ve had quite enough of the near-future modern warfare shooter, just as World War Two shooters were done to death before them.
So, what’s to be done?
One would imagine that with a new generation of consoles on the horizon, we could look forward to some innovation in our FPS titles… fat chance – the big names at E3 in shooters this year? Battlefield 4, Killzone and COD: Ghosts.
But, there is hope for those of us who’ve had enough tactical nukes in COD online. Look in the bargain bins of your local game shop and you can find some gems of FPS titles which can hold back your jaded outlook.
Games like Shattered Horizon, on Steam – a shooter set in the wreckage of a destroyed Moon, with some brilliant zero-gravity combat – or the tragically ignored Section 8 – offer something different, despite the familiar mechanics.
There is hope for those of us fed up of M4 rifles and M1 tanks – you just need to look past the corporate adverts.