The first person shooter is a type of game that is loved by some, hated by others. The genre is typically quite violent, a fact that has given it the negative attention of governments, parents, and supporters of censorship. First person shooters are basically games played in the first person perspective that usually have the goal of killing some sort of enemy. However, through the years, the first person shooter has evolved to be more than rampant violence.
The game credited as the first FPS is Wolfenstein 3D. Released in 1992 by id software, Wolfenstein 3D took the gaming world by storm with its textured 3D graphics, high quality sound (at the time), and unique playing style. In the game, you play a POW in a German castle and must escape. You are able to wield a knife, pistol, machine gun, and gatling gun.
In 1993, another hit was released by the same company: Doom. Doom was much more advanced than Wolfenstein 3D, featuring a much larger variety of weapons that included the famed chainsaw. One of its main selling points was its ability to stage multiplayer games that could take place over a phone line or local area network. Doom was a huge success and further established id software as the king of FPS game developers. In the game, you play a marine that must fight demons and zombies on a base on Mars.
Star Wars was first made into a FPS by LucasArts in 1995. The game was called Dark Forces and was remarkably similar to the Doom engine in appearance and gameplay. The game takes place after the Star Wars movies, featuring a character named Kyle Katarn.
By this time, FPS games were starting to blend with other genres. Bethesda Softworks released their popular RPG/FPS named Daggerfall in 1996, featuring open-ended gaming and a very complex environment. The gamer could ride horses, fight enemies with swords, burglarize shops, join guilds, buy houses, and even become a vampire. The blending of RPGs with FPSs has continued to be popular with gamers.
ID Software struck another hit with its release of Quake in 1996. The game was massively popular and was similar in gameplay to the Doom series. Quake was the first FPS to move from 2-dimensional pop-up enemies to fully 3-dimensional models. These features did not come for free, however, since gamers found themselves having to buy 3D accelerator cards for high performance. Its sequel, Quake 2, was released a year later in 1997, with much acclaim from critics and gamers alike.
3D Realms also produced a major FPS title in 1996 that proved to be very unique. They took their popular Duke Nukem platform series and converted it to a FPS in the form of Duke Nukem 3D. The game featured plenty of violence, cursing, and humor, making for a very pleasurable gaming experience. Perhaps its most unique feature was the ability to enter a strip club and give dancers cash to remove their bras.
One of the most popular console FPSs of all time was released in 1997 for Nintendo 64. The game GoldenEye 007 was based on the movie of the same name and featured addictive single and multiplayer action. The huge variety of weaponry that could be harnessed in the game proved to be very popular with gamers and helped to make it one of the bestselling games for the Nintendo 64.
Epic Games produced a very successful title, Unreal, in 1998. It featured a versatile game engine that was used for FPS games many years after. The story took place in the future, where the player is a prisoner on a spaceship that crashlands on an alien planet.
In 1998, Valve, a previously unknown development firm, released the game Half-Life. This game proved to be revolutionary in a number of ways, with many people considering it the greatest FPS in history. It featured amazing graphics, a highly immersive environment, and a playing style that made it reminiscent of a movie. In the game, the user plays Gordan Freeman, a physicist at Black Mesa Laboratory when an experiment goes horribly wrong.
Another revolutionary game was released that year in the form of Thief: The Dark Project. This game was the first FPS to emphasize the stealth element. In the game, you played a thief named Garrett who infiltrates buildings to collect loot, but must hide in shadows to avoid guards.
In the year 2000, a game named "No One Lives Forever" was released by Monolith Productions. Gamers were at last given the opportunity to play a game that did justice to the spy action genre. To add to the atmosphere, the player was given a large variety of gadgets to assist them in their adventure. The game was highly acclaimed by critics and the recipient of numerous awards.
In 2001, the game Halo was released by Bungie Studios for Xbox. It quickly became the flagship for the console, generating massive sales due to its addictive and challenging gameplay. It also became a favorite at LAN parties, where players connected their Xbox's to include up to 16 players at once. Halo's story takes place in the future, where a marine named Master Chief finds himself fighting an alien cult and zombies.
After nearly a decade of development, Doom 3 was released in 2004. It managed to live up to the hype generated by previews and the leaked alpha version. Doom 3 was a incredibly cinematic and forced the player to choose between a flashlight or firearm. The story once again revolved around a base on mars and even took the character to hell.
In late 2004, the long-awaited Half-Life 2 was released after numerous delays. It once again revolutionized the gaming world, with most people considering it to be the greatest first person shooter, if not the best game, of all time. Among its features were highly advanced graphics, an amazing physics engine, and a skilled aritificial intelligence. The game continues the story of Gordan Freeman after he escaped Black Mesa.
Throughout their history, first person shooters have continued to push the envelope of graphics, sound, and gameplay. It is amazing how far they have come in the past decade, moving from "run and gun" gameplay to making the experience much more cinematic to tell a story and further immerse the player.
The violence of FPS games has made them a favorite target of recent lawsuits. In spite of this, there has yet to be any strong evidence that playing these games makes people want to murder and break the law. On the contrary, many gamers consider the genre a good way to release their anger and rage in a healthy way that doesn't harm other people.