Looks like we’re all out of bubble gum
What’s the best shooter on the PC or consoles ever? That’s a good – but loaded – question, as there are a ton that we could address individually. Besides, we would inevitably get it wrong by someone’s measure.
So, let’s highlight what’s out there now that best exemplifies what shooters are all about – with that, re-releases of seminal works are on the table as well.
Honestly, there are so many shooters out there now that you simply shouldn’t miss. Here are several first-person shooter (FPS) games that you need to check out immediately on the desktop or a console.
Again, we’ll continue to add to this list over time, so don’t fret if your fave isn’t on the list just yet.
This isn’t first on the list for a reason, but the DOOM franchise does immediately come to mind when you talk about shooters in general. The original DOOM, developed by id Software, hit the PC gaming scene way back in 1993, and has since spawned three sequels: DOOM 2, DOOM 3, and the latest installment, DOOM (2016) that’s slated for a release in May.
Overall, the series has supposedly sold over 10 million copies since its debut, which includes five spin-offs such as DOOM 64 for the Nintendo 64 and DOOM II RPG for smartphones.
In general, what makes the original DOOM tick is the ultra-fast gameplay. It’s a run-and-gun bonanza with a few puzzle-oriented tasks thrown into the mix. Hellish demons and zombified humans attack from left and right as you desperately hunt down a key to progress into the next area. There are secret rooms to find and high scores to beat, if you’re in a competitive mood.
The drawback, however, is that DOOM is definitely showing its age, but that also means it can run on a huge number of platforms ranging from the PC to a smartphone. That said, you can purchase DOOM (aka Ultimate DOOM) on Steam, Xbox 360, Android, iOS, and a number of other platforms.
Here’s another shooter from id Software that helped change the way we play FPS games. The original Quake was introduced back in 1996 and not only used polygons instead of pixels, but eventually supported the first GPUs on the PC market. The game also propelled multiplayer gaming on the internet and made Capture the Flag a standard multiplayer mode.
Quake was unique at the time in that it provided a gothic feel inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, and allowed the player to actually freely look around the 3D environment using a mouse. It also allowed the gamer to create mods, which led to some great gameplay like having Cujo by your side or becoming a superhero. It was this mod support that gave birth to Capture the Flag.
Like DOOM, Quake is showing its age and looks rather ancient compared to today’s shooters. However, you can probably still find and install a few mods offered by fans online as well as jump on a multiplayer server and duke it out with a handful of humans. Quake and its expansion packs are available for the PC on Steam.
Halo: Combat Evolved
Console gamers probably recognize the Halo franchise best in regards to shooters. Microsoft and Bungie launched the military science-fiction series on the original Xbox console in 2001. The first installment, Halo: Combat Evolved, introduced us to Master Chief and was phenomenal, showing that shooters can indeed be played using a controller.
The game focuses on the battle between man and the Covenant in the twenty-sixth century. The player takes on the role of Master Chief, one of the supersoldiers codenamed Spartans. He’s accompanied by Cortana, an artificial intelligence that helps him explore Halo, a ring-shaped artificial world that seemingly borrows from Larry Niven’s Ringworld novels.
While Halo: Combat Evolved provided a great story, it also included a cooperative mode that allowed friends to experience the campaign together. The game could also be played online in five different competitive modes and up to 16 players, making it a must buy if Xbox owners wanted to experience Internet-based multiplayer action.
Halo: Combat Evolved is available for the original Xbox if you can still find either. however, it’s also part of the Halo: The Master Chief Collection for the Xbox One. There’s a version for Windows too that’s listed on Microsoft’s store for $20.
The original Half-Life game, developed by Valve Software, was based on a modified Quake engine and made its debut on the PC in 1998. Unlike many shooters released at the time, it was very story driven, taking place at the Black Mesa Research Facility in New Mexico.
Gamers took on the role of Gordon Freeman as he witnesses an experiment gone wrong and must vacate the facility. The game was a massive hit, and is now considered to be one of the all-time greatest shooters to date.
Half-Life sold 9.3 million copies by the end of 2008, Valve announced that year. Like Quake, Half-Life supported mods and even shipped with a level editor. That led to incredible mods like Action Half-Life, Natural Selection, Day of Defeat, and Counter-Strike.
And, like Quake, Half-Life offered an incredible multiplayer component that lives on today as Deathmatch Classic. Let’s not forget Team Fortress, another popular mod that Valve created using the Half-Life engine.
What made Half-Life really shine was the way it threw out cutscenes for scripted in-game sequences. Again, Half-Life was very cinematic, grabbing the gamer’s attention until the very end. Valve updated the game’s visuals with the release of Half-Life: Source, which is based on Valve’s most recent Source engine.
Half-Life can be purchased for the PC on Steam and may still be available for the old PlayStation 2 console.
Unlike the Half-Life games, Valve’s other hyper-popular shooter series doesn’t require you to shoot aliens but instead undergo a series of puzzles, thanks to GLaDOS, a not-so-nice artificial intelligence computer that has taken over the Aperture Science Enrichment Center.
Gamers are armed with only a portal gun that essentially creates a wormhole-like passage between two surfaces, allowing them to move through rooms instantly and in specific places.
The goal simple: reach the exit. But, GLaDOS does not make that easy.
As indicated, there’s really no violence involved. Gamers must use their brains to solve the current puzzle and advance on to the next area. Both Portal (2007) and Portal 2 (2011) are based on Valve’s Source engine, which to this day still looks rather good given its age.
Both games can be purchased on Steam for the PC, and the original Portal game is part of The Orange Box collection for older consoles. Portal 2 can be purchased on the consoles as well, such as the Xbox 360.
Left 4 Dead
Valve Software has made quite a few hits in the shooter genre, this time with the zombie FPS series Left 4 Dead. This series combines cooperative online gameplay with survival horror, pitting up to four players against hordes of zombies filling the streets.
The story is set days after a virus breaks out and begins turning humans into zombies, which takes a backseat to awesome gameplay that makes the Left 4 Dead series so popular.
Left 4 Dead (2008) and Left 4 Dead 2 (2009) are – like the rest – based on Valve’s Source engine. Essentially, the object is to pick one of four available characters that have their individual strengths and weaknesses, and to merely stay alive while battling to reach a safe house or military rescue. Players can use an assortment of weapons ranging from guns to swords and even thrown objects. Both games can be purchased for the PC via Steam, and on the Xbox 360 console.
More to come…
That’s it – for now. If you have a favorite shooter that’s currently not listed here, comment below and we’ll be sure to consider it in upcoming revisions.
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