Thursday, 12 August 2010
For the love of Golden Eye! First person shooters are EVERYWHERE! I can’t avoid them. I feel like I’m trapped in that Jim Carrey movie, The Number 23, only instead of a number, all I see around me are the fronts of rifles and shotguns.
Before I continue this rant, I want to say that I love FPS games. When done properly, they are insanely fun to play, addictive, and provide hours of glorious time-wastage. But man oh man, there’s just too freaken many of them.
In the last few years, we’ve had Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: World at War, Modern Warfare 2, Fallout 3, Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Bioshock, Bioshock 2 and Resistance 2. And those games are all preposterously popular.
With Halo: Reach and Call of Duty: Black Ops coming out in the next few months, the question keeps swirling around in my head: Why the sudden explosion of first-person shooters?
I acknowledge the fact that this is not really a new phenomenon. The Doom/Duke Nukem years started this entire trend, and the Half-Life/Counter Strike era took it to the next level. Other video game genres have experienced this, too. Platformers were insanely popular in the early 90s, back in the heyday of the original Mario and Sonic games.
But outside of World of Warcraft and other online games, it seems like there are nothing but shooters in the landscape of gaming. And I think I know why.
Firstly, other genres have started to lose their appeal. Japanese RPGs, one of my personal favorite types of games, have been declining in quality in the past decade. The latest Star Ocean and Final Fantasy games have not lived up to their legendary predecessors. I’m looking at you, Final Fantasy XII. Damn you…damn you to gaming hell…
Sports games tend to appeal to a niche market. Someone who is not a baseball fan would not buy MLB 10 The Show. The large majority of NHL 10 players are hockey fans.
Action games, at least the upper echelon of them, are few and far between. God of War has been the recent standard for action-adventure games, but you can only make that game so many times. So there is relatively little competition for shooters.
Plus, Master Chief is just 100% pure badass.
The incorporation of online play into shooters has really brought the genre to a new level. I don’t know what it is about obliterating some punk in Truth and Consequences, New Mexico that is so addictive, but I can’t get enough of it. And neither can the millions of other players who routinely log on to participate in the fun.
But the online component is a double-edged sword. For every satisfying online experience where you play with your friends and enjoy some quality fragging time, you get a round where some 14-year-old thinks that he is the best human ever. Even better, he constantly lets you know that fact through your headset. It’s the reason that I make such frequent use of the mute button.
Online play is also a bittersweet maiden. I just picked up Modern Warfare 2 last night after a hiatus of several months, and in my second round, I was MVP of the game (I think I had 19 kills and 6 deaths). But it was all downhill from there, as my score, productivity and self-confidence continued to decline with each passing round.
I don’t suck at this game, I swear. I’m usually in the top half of players in any given round or set of rounds. But there is no worse feeling in a first person shooter than when you have two kills and 12 deaths, and you can just feel your entire team blaming you for the loss.
But this roller coaster of enjoyment is what makes shooters so popular. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and the wailing of Midwesterners are an intrinsic part of the experience. It makes me wonder what the next wave of gaming will be…
What’s your take on the popularity of the FPS? What will be the next big thing in gaming?