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

Exhumed. Don't knock it till you've tried it. Then knock it all you want.

Exhumed. Don't knock it till you've tried it. Then knock it all you want.

Strangely, the Sony PlayStation remained a relatively poor platform to experience an FPS, despite being the dominant console of the era. Although home to ports of first wave hits like Doom, Dark Forces, Exhumed and Duke Nukem 3D, few original FPS titles of note ever made it to the PSX during the first five years of the machine’s life.

Developers struggled, not only with the technical limitations of the machine, but also with the crippling lack of analogue sticks on the machine’s original joypad. It’s fair to say that, GoldenEye aside, the console FPS was a bit of a joke among FPS advocates at this point.


Quake 2. New visuals, same bloodlust.

The contrast to the PC’s side of the fence, meanwhile, couldn’t have been greater. During 1997/98 the graphics card scene – and 3D graphics techniques alongside them – exploded as affordable models flooded the market. id itself wasted no time in helping to fuel demand for this cutting-edge tech with the release of the superb Quake II in December 1997 – the first title to support OpenGL out of the box.

Its science fiction setting contrasted sharply with the grimy dark fantasy world of the original, and once again captured a huge online and mod community. But while id was enjoying a long period of uninterrupted dominance, the release of Quake II was, in many ways, the end of an era. Shortly afterwards, a whole new wave of competition would arrive from all sides…

Gagging for more? Half-Life, Unreal and Counterstrike await in Part 3.

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