The first-person shooter shows no sign of losing its appeal. Even if the massive Call of Duty franchise has an occasional misstep, fans are always hungry for more, and Doom’s recent reboot took the series back to its roots to show how much life remains in the series. Meanwhile, we’ve had Overwatch, Titanfall 2, and Battlefield 1 helping to keep the FPS flag flying high in the past year.
Still, not every first-person shooter gets to spawn a franchise or give players an experience so fresh it becomes a classic. In the past, we’ve had FPS games that came, did a decent job, but failed to set the gaming world alight. We’ve picked eight that may have been flawed, but are worth revisiting (even just to see how far the genre has come) …
Exhumed / PowerSlave
Exhumed (named PowerSlave in the US) was a 1996/97 release, that dropped you into the Egyptian city of Karnak. It’s a novel setting for an FPS, and exploring Ancient Egyptian settings makes for a nice change, as does the mingling of extraterrestrial enemies with more ‘local’ fare (mummies etc.).
Exhumed / PowerSlave gave you the chance to improve your skills and abilities by collecting certain relics, such as breathing underwater or walking through lava. It might be pretty tough to look at now, but this is worth checking out for its unusual setting and distinctive cast of characters.
The first game developed by Insomniac Games, Disruptor hit the PS1 in 1996, putting a superhuman twist on the standard shooting shenanigans.
Playing as an augmented soldier with psionic implants, you could employ various psychokinetic powers to attack enemies and protect yourself. Disruptor looked stunning at the time, and while it’s obviously aged considerably since then, it actually doesn’t look as bad as some other games of the era.
Give Disruptor a quick revisit, and be amazed at how far Insomniac Games have come since.
Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter
Remember this? Released way back in 2003 for the PS2, Xbox, and Windows, Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter casts you as the titular character, who was voiced by Henry Rollins, and features many of the usual sci-fi trappings you’d expect.
Still, the game’s big hook was its combination of on-foot blasting and space combat. You get to go from one to the other smoothly (not unlike Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare) which really adds to the game’s atmosphere and brisk pace.
The visuals have aged well, and the blasting action feels nicely bloody and visceral. Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter may not be Infinite Warfare, but if you’re looking for some straightforward space-based action, it’s worth getting cheap.
Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior
Based in the famous Games Workshop universe, Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior puts you in the role of a Tau Fire Warrior, looking to keep his people safe from both the Chaos armies and the Imperium of Man.
Fire Warrior was one of the first games on the PS2 to make use of 8-player gaming, and features numerous figures from the Warhammer 40,000 universe. While it’s not particularly groundbreaking, fans of the tabletop games and Warhammer 40,000 universe might want to dig this out for a little trip down memory lane.
Now, here’s an innovative first-person shooter. Not necessarily in its gameplay, but certainly in its presentation.
Based on a Belgian comic-book from the 1980s, XIII features dynamic cel-shaded visuals and cool touches; onomatopoeic words pop up to complement actions, while separate panels show on-screen events from other angles. Speech-bubbles are used to great effect too.
The gameplay’s fairly average, but the visual style makes this deserving of a replay, and it’d be great to see new FPS games in a comic-book style on the latest consoles.
Lifeforce Tenka / Codename: Tenka
Released as Lifeforce Tenka in Europe and Codename: Tenka in the US, this game was developed by Psygnosis – the team behind such diverse releases as Lemmings, G-Police, Destruction Derby, Wipeout, Colony Wars, and more.
Lifeforce Tenka is a futuristic FPS with a cool, grungy, cyberpunk feel. At the time, its visuals were stunning, and they’ve aged surprisingly well, though they’re rough in places. The HUD, weapons, and enemies stand out from those in some of the game’s competitors, too, with robots aplenty.
Lifeforce Tenka’s nicely made, and still playable enough to enjoy for some PS1-heavy nostalgia.
Urban Chaos: Riot Response
Before the mighty Rocksteady team gave the world the greatest Batman games ever in their Arkham trilogy (and obviously provided WB Montreal with a solid blueprint for Origins), they created Urban Chaos: Riot Response.
Apparently unrelated to the 1999 game, Urban Chaos, Riot Response has you step into the boots of a riot-squad member. Along with your colleagues, you’re tasked with liberating your city from a gang of scumbags (some of whom wear nifty masks), saving civilians and first-responders along the way.
It’s a pretty bloody game, and there’s some nice, visceral action. However, certain elements really help it stand out; having your own riot shield, which comes in handy to deflect hits and bullets, and resolving hostage situations are just two.
On top of this, playing as an everyday a cop taking on gang-members, in a modern city, is an unusual concept for an FPS game. Give it a go if you haven’t before – it won’t be your favourite FPS ever, but it might be a refreshing change.
You’re more likely to remember this PS2 game more than some others on this list, but it’s still regarded as being somewhat underrated. One of the most impressive things about Black is just how polished its visuals are, considering it’s from 2006.
Developers Criterion used destructible environments brilliantly, with almost everything in sight taking visible damage from characters’ weaponry, making the gameplay more immersive and intense.
Black was well-received at the time, and while it’s not particularly deep or unique, it still offers a few hours of fast-paced, explosive fun.