2007, Year of the Shooter

Sam Hart

2007-10-10 16:19:05

I realize it's not yet the end of the year, but I don't think it's too early to state that 2007 will likely be remembered as the Year of the Shooter. This year there will have been released some of the greatest (if not, the greatest) first person shooters of all time.

This past year we've simply had some incredible FPSes. Let's take a look at them (in no particular order)....

Halo 3 : Best game ever, or Greatest game ever?

The Halo series has the distinction of being both the most over-hyped/over-rated game series ever, and also being one of the most under appreciated.

On the one hand, the Halo games share the same common flaws:

On the other hand, the Halo series has a tremendous amount of stuff going for it. Incredible story-line and vivid universe, highly addictive and action-packed gameplay (there is very little downtime, especially in Halo 3), rich and deep multiplayer experience.

The story-line, in particular, is the real reason the Halo series is under appreciated. Do you know why John-117 is called "Master Chief"? Do you know his relationship to Cortana, and, specifically, where Cortana came from? Ever wonder why Avery Johnson is so damned tough? The Halo Universe is a complex and fascinating piece of fiction, and easily overshadows any flaws that the series has.

Halo 3 may not be the best or greatest game of all time, but it is a certainly damned fine conclusion to an excellent series.

Bioshock- You got RPG in my FPS! You got FPS in my RPG!

Bioshock was the straw that broke the camel's back and forced me to send my 360 in for repairs. The demo looked so remarkable and everyone was saying how great this game was going to be, and yet I couldn't play the demo let alone play the real game due to hardware issues. Once my 360 finally did come back though, I realized what everyone else had already realized; Bioshock is easily one of the greatest gaming experiences of all time.

The thing is, Bioshock isn't really a FPS in the strictest sense. Sure, it's in the first-person and you have a lot of shooting elements, but if you just call it a FPS you're greatly shortchanging the game. It has puzzle-elements in the myriad of mini-games, is highly strategic (every situation can be solved in a variety of different ways), has elements of resource management, and has a strong RPG element.

The RPG element is so strong, in many respects it's more RPG than FPS. You level up your items and abilities, the world of Bioshock is moderately open and explorable, there's definite quests and sub-quests, there's item synthesis, and many other RPG standards.

The RPG leaning also splashes over into Bioshock's wonderfully dystopic world and storyline. The underwater world of Rapture looks realistically crafted (as real as an underwater city from the 1950s can look) and lived in. Simply wandering around in Rapture is a breathtaking experience.

And then there's the graphics: The Unreal Engine, an already impressive engine, has never looked better. Everything from the smallest water effect and dynamic lighting detail to the largest flora and fauna covered underwater biodome is meticulously designed and lovingly rendered. There simply isn't anything else out there that looks as good as this game, period.

At the end of the day, Bioshock is a timeless game, and something that everyone (even the most casual gamer) should experience.

The Orange Box - What?

I think the saddest thing about The Orange Box is that most 360 owners (and really, most gamers) know nothing about it.

For those who don't know, The Orange Box is a collection of games. It includes:

The three Half-Life games are the latest in the Half-Life series (a series that, sadly, most console gamers know next-to-nothing about). HL2 was (and is) one of the greatest FPSes ever. The graphics were (and are) spectacular, the gameplay is top-notch, and the overall experience playing the game is unmatched. The storyline is remarkable and full of plot twists, and the weaponry is very innovative (drool, gravity gun, drool).

Team Fortress 2 is the result of 9 years of game gestation (heh, sort of :-). It's a class-based multiplayer FPS with a Pixar graphics style. Early reports state that the depth of this game rivals that of Halo 3.

Finally, there's Portal, which is essentially a FPS puzzle game. See, the Half-Life games have a long-standing tradition of mingling puzzle elements into their games. Half-Life 2 perfected these elements with the introduction of the gravity gun. Portal is essentially an evolution and refinement of these FPS puzzle elements.

So 5 great games, all in one package. And you know what else? It's for $40!

Egads, people! $40! Half-Life 2 alone beats Halo 3 campaign mode, and yet for a lot less money you get a hell of a lot more! I'm not badmouthing or discouraging purchasing Halo 3 at all, I'm just saying if you are a FPS fan and don't get The Orange Box then something is wrong with you.

The Darkness

The Darkness may be a distant memory now that Bioshock and Halo 3 are out, but it still technically was released in 2007.

Brought to us by the same guys who made the incredible Riddick game for the Xbox, The Darkness was a great game. It might have been a touch on the short side, and had a very anti-climactic ending, but it still was a great game for FPS fans.

F.E.A.R. Files

F.E.A.R. can best be described as a "competent shooter". It wasn't exceptional in any way, but what it did do it did well. F.E.A.R. Files is essentially a collection of two very well done expansion-packs for the original F.E.A.R. Neither one is remarkable at all, but they certainly are fun, and add to an already great FPS year.

Metroid Prime 3

Wow... finally a Metroid game that is actually a FPS (Metroid Prime 1 and 2 really weren't FPSes)... and an exceptionally good one to boot!

Metroid Prime 1 reintroduced us to the armor-clad heroine in a game that was incredibly fun. Metroid Prime 2, however, was a serious disappointment and didn't give me much hope for part 3. I just expected more of the same without any real innovation. Boy am I glad I was wrong.

As far as a Wii game is concerned, the graphics are top-notch. Playing it on a HDTV (480p is still technically HD :-) can really make the game look incredible. The controls may take some getting used to, but once you do, it becomes almost second nature.

Other FPSes

I could go on, but I wont. I've covered the games I've felt are worth mentioning. All told, this has been a great year for FPS fans :-)