The History of First-Person Shooters: Part 1

The origins of the genre. Maze War, Castle Wolfenstein and (of course) Doom.

By Kristan Reed, September 29, 2009

This is Doom 2, actually. Same difference.

This is Doom II, actually. Same difference.

If Wolfenstein 3D was a landmark release for id Software, Doom blew the doors off. Utterly seminal in every conceivable sense, it was a masterpiece of technological achievement and game design. Both pioneering and controversial, it delivered a hellish world full of the denizens of your worst nightmares, played out in exquisite detail. No-one had seen anything even remotely like it.

Over the course of the next two years, some ten million gamers got their first introduction to the FPS – some of whom undoubtedly bought PCs specifically to play Doom and its quickfire sequel, 1994′s Doom II. With the average mid-range 486-based system costing more than £1000, following the cutting edge was a phenomenally expensive business. But when you got games this good, it was worth every penny.

Atari's Alien vs Predator. It's eating my mini-map!

Atari's Alien Vs Predator. It's eating my mini-map!

At this point, other developers began getting in on the act, but among the copycat clones were some genuine advancements. In late 1994, Rebellion released one of the very first console FPS games of any note with the Atari Jaguar exclusive, Aliens Vs Predator. Sadly, with such a tiny installed base, few people ever got to experience it.

Apogee Software’s Rise Of The Triads from early 1995 stood out for its hilarious ‘gibs’ as well as offering multiple playable characters, while Bungie’s Mac-based Marathon series broke new ground in the plot-driven possibilities of the genre.

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