The History of First-Person Shooters: Part 2

1996-1997. The 3D acceleration era gets underway, online gaming is born, the mod scene grows and console shooting hits gold.

By Kristan Reed, October 3, 2009

A cleaned-up screenshot from Jedi Knight.

A cleaned-up screenshot from Jedi Knight.

Besides being the undisputed king of the burgeoning online scene, Quake was also instrumental in helping to kick-start demand for 3D accelerator cards. Released a few months after Quake, 3dfx’s Voodoo card utterly transformed the already excellent 3D visuals and became a must-have hardware add-on for any serious PC gamer.

The MiniGL driver it devised for Quake produced a lightning quick performance hike and improved the graphical fidelity to such a degree that few gamers were put off by the clunky business of running it alongside their existing 2D card. Soon, every PC FPS was supporting the new tech, and some of the first wave of titles to benefit were LucasArts’ under-rated Wild West shooter, Outlaws, and its second Star Wars FPS, Jedi Knight.

Where's your precious mouse control now, bitch?

GoldenEye. Where's your precious mouse control now, bitch?

While the PC was undoubtedly the place to be for FPS fans during this time, the arrival of GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64 in August 1997 put paid to the received wisdom that consoles were incapable of competing in the genre.

Developed by Rare at the peak of its powers, GoldenEye was a masterpiece of game design, and captured the spirit of the Bond movie in a way that no other title based on the franchise has even come close to since. Praised for everything from the AI to the missions, the weapon selection and the four-player multiplayer modes, it was the must-have console shooter of the ’90s. It went on to sell an astonishing 8 million copies, and single-handedly opened the industry’s eyes to the fact that the genre could work equally well on a console as the PC.

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