The FPS genre has been around since 1973’s Maze War but it was popularized by 1992’s Wolfenstein 3D. Since then the genre has come a long way and I’d like to share my personal top five favorite examples of it.
5. Bioshock 2
Yep, I’m kicking off the list with the second Bioshock game and not the first. This might be a controversial move, but I feel confident in making it. Being able to dual wield plasmid powers and guns simultaneously feels smooth, shoulder charging enemies as a big daddy behemoth is satisfying, and the story is every bit as atmospherically dystopian as the first title’s. Essentially it’s the original Bioshock, but more refined.
4. Metroid Prime
Prime is a different kind of FPS because of its distinctly Metroid upgrade system. Unlocking new suit powers to progress through an alien world is exciting, and so is using Samus’ scanning abilities to uncover the mystery of what happened on the surface of the planet Tallon IV. Rolling around as a morph ball was neat too.
3. DOOM (2016)
The reboot to the Doom series was seriously awesome with a combat system that encouraged playing aggressively to mow down demonic forces and survive the invasion on Mars. With a variety of Hellspawn to battle with, a bunch of cool weapons to use, and a surprisingly detailed lore to discover within sprawling maps, the Doom Marine’s return was cause for celebration.
Portal plays like no other FPS series. Made by Valve in 2007, the game involves escaping from a laboratory experiment while under constant surveillance by the AI GLaDOS using a portal gun. This unusual gun allows players to create passageways between far away points in space to pull of all kinds of crazy maneuvers, and the game’s focus on puzzle-solving and narrative over combat makes for an incredibly unique experience that still holds up today.
1. Half-Life 2
Also made by Valve, Half-Life 2 is the single greatest FPS I’ve ever played. It combines the storytelling, combat, and puzzle-solving strengths of all of the previous games on the list and puts its own stylistic spin on things with fantastic techno-inspired art and sound design. Every chapter in the game is different and it’s a joy to use your wits as well as your weapons to traverse each of them. This game changed the way game design was looked at forever with maps that were huge for their time and a gameplay diversity that was unheard of until then.