Top 5 Most Anticipated… First-Person Shooters
It has been hard to shake the feeling this generation that the first-person shooter has developed from a genre full of confidence and innovation into one which even the Non Specific Action Figure has come to malign and detest. Yes, there have most certainly been highlights since the Xbox 360 launched the current-gen in 2006, yet now it seems that all gamers do is joke about the identikit locales, archetypal characters and overblown storylines of COD and its competitors. Is there still hope for the FPS, or must we let it die a death before the 720 and PS4 arrive late in 2013?
For now, I’m going to go with the former option, for five simple reasons. Or rather, five simple FPS titles which are coming to video game retailers everywhere in the not-too-distant future! These new entries in the genre represent potential landmark breakthroughs in much the same way as the likes of Spec Ops: The Line and The Darkness II have been to an extent in the past few months. Let’s look ahead towards the end of 2012 and the first half of 2013, as we discover the most promising first-person shooters still to come this generation…
5. CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS II
Hold on a minute – before you switch off and assume I’m just another member of the all-too-passionate Call Of Duty mainstream fanbase here to promote the series as the best of our time, I am NOT. Like so many others out there, I’ve had the displeasure of being let down by the various indistinguishable sequels, spin-offs, prequels, reboots and other mishaps that Activision’s wayward franchise has presented for £40 on an annual basis for nearly a decade now. Nothing would make me (and I’m sure countless other gamers) happier to see the death of this loathsome FPS outstay, but there’s good reason for its latest instalment landing on this list.
Despite the fact that we know the main campaign’s storyline will make little-to-no sense and take up about as much time as a single one of the blockbuster films it tries to ape, it is a challenging proposition to attempt to claim that the actual gameplay of any one of the Call Of Duty titles is anything less than solid and far more functional than many other FPS modern warfare lookalikes out there. The multiplayer does carry weight in the online charts, with Infinity Ward and in this case Treyarch always putting their best effort in to fix bugs and difficulty glitches discovered in the process of the first few weeks after release. More than that, though, Black Ops II looks to provide far more bang for your buck, with a branching storyline, seamless tactical and vehicular modes offered on the fly and multiple time settings for the variety of missions players will partake in.
No one is trying to deny that the original Black Ops narrative was still a bit convoluted, but it made far more sense than the Modern Warfare entries, plus featured a great, engaging protagonist with a tale of his own to tell. If the follow-up can provide as many surprises and stunning set pieces as its predecessor, then there’s a chance that Activision and Treyarch can redeem the Call Of Duty franchise with Black Ops II before heading into the next-generation. It’s their last chance, mind, so at least franchise haters can sleep safe in the knowledge that they may at least see the series transform into a reduced format next time around if things don’t go as planned!
4. BATTLEFIELD 4
I’ve always held a soft spot for the Battlefield series; as much as their attempts at besting you-know-which-shooter in sales have often been in vane, DICE have always given it their all and 99% of the time provided true shooter fans with a far more refined overall experience. The Bad Company games in particular stood testament to this fact, showcasing in full the creative talent that the writing team could muster when not restricted to penning a COD-esque blockbuster flop.
Battlefield 4 presents a unique opportunity for its developer, seeing as if DICE can improve and innovate upon the disappointingly linear single-player campaign from last year’s effort, they already have a brilliant multiplayer engine in place to do the rest of the work. It’s safe to say that Battlefield 3 fared better against Modern Warfare 3 than any of its predecessors had done in the Autumn period or elsewhere, and debatably one of the only reasons the former might not have come out victorious could have been the mixed reviews regarding the solo experience. If DICE can take note of what Treyarch get right with Black Ops II, then, and indeed what they get wrong, they’ll have an entire extra year of development with which they can get the upper hand in time for the next-generation of consoles.
One thing we should undoubtedly have learnt by now from past experience is that you should never count DICE or Battlefield out before you’ve seen the finished product!
3. ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES
Gearbox already have a lot on their plate getting the exciting role-playing sequel Borderlands 2 done and dusted for its September release, but after they’re done there the work doesn’t stop by any means. As fans of everyone’s favourite Xenomorphic creatures should know well by now, Aliens: Colonial Marines has finally got a release window set to aim towards. It’s suffered countless delays, yet it is looking as if now there’s no stopping this ambitious project.
Focusing on the time period in between the classic films Aliens and Alien 3, this sci-fi shooter stars a handful of Colonial Marines dispatched to the spaceship USS Sulaco to investigate the disappearance of one Ellen Ripley and the reappearance of the titular extraterrestrial menace. There’s a chance that the experience may prove too linear in the end, but the homage Gearbox are planning to pay to a classic film franchise here is hard to ignore, and on top of the exhilarating horror campaign there’s going to be an an ace multiplayer component to boot.
Just keep an eye on that motion tracker of yours…
(February 12th, 2013)
2. BIOSHOCK: INFINITE
Unless you’ve been living under a Big Daddy-shaped rock for the past few years, you can’t possibly have missed the megaton that is BioShock: Infinite. Originally set for release this October, it was pushed back by 2K Games and Irrational in order to ensure the top premium quality is reached for the product. Judging by the evidence we’ve seen so far, that can only be a very good thing.
Taking place decades before the events of the original BioShock, this prequel investigates a whole new world where corruption and deceit are the first orders of the day. You play as Brooker, a gunman tasked with rescuing the mysterious Elizabeth, and in your quest to find the damsel in distress, you’ll discover she’s less of a damsel and more of a time-bending hero whose powers will come handy later on. Funny, that!
In all seriousness, though, Infinite is looking to push the boundaries of the first-person shooter further than just about any other entry in the genre coming to our screens in 2013. I’ve reserved first place for one other title on the basis that it might turn out to be a little less linear, but trust me when I say that the choice was painstakingly close, and both of the Top Two are looking incredible right now!
(February 26th, 2013)
1. HALO 4
Ah, Halo. For all your strengths (and boy, are there a lot!) as a franchise, you haven’t half given us fans a bit of overdose in recent years with three spin offs – Wars, ODST and Reach - and a HD remake of your first stellar outing. That said, your next proper numbered instalment is perhaps the most exciting first-person shooter of the year, so we might just let you off for that…
Okay, so moving away from the first-person (see what I did there?), 343 Industries’ Halo 4 is definitely the most exciting version of this fantastic science-fiction shooter franchise I’ve seen since Halo 3 back in 2007. As someone who adopted Microsoft’s console that year and tried the series for the first time with its third entry, it holds a special place in my games-fuelled heart which none of the follow-ups have been able to replace in the years that have followed. That I’m even entertaining the possibility that the new instalment could actually fill the ‘hole’ is saying something, then.
Put simply, to see the Master Chief facing new enemies on a completely new and alien world harkens back to the unique surprises of Combat Evolved, the deadly Covenant warzones of Halo 2 and the all-out spectacular war that was Halo 3, promising all new frontiers for the franchises the likes of which have rarely been topped in gaming. That we’ve got Cortana’s rampancy to deal with, along with a huge online section and weekly Spartan Ops missions providing a second story campaign is just the icing on the proverbial eleventh birthday cake.
And the best part? It’s not that this looks to be the best first-person shooter in a long while, oh no. No, the best part is that Halo 4 is just the beginning of the Reclaimer Trilogy, Microsoft’s sure-fire way of having the last laugh for this generation and indeed setting up a stellar precedent for whatever’s to come next!
So which first-person shooters are you most excited for in the remainder of this generation? Do you think the genre has had its day?