The History of First-Person Shooters: Part 3

1998-2000. Epic and Valve hit the scene, online multiplayer explodes and important sub-genres begin to establish themselves.

By Kristan Reed, October 8, 2009

A near-miss in Quake 3 Arena.

A near-miss in Quake 3 Arena.

Equally significant during 1999 was the release of Counter-Strike. Originally a multiplayer mod for Half-Life, it mushroomed into an online phenomenon. The simple premise of placing teams of terrorists and counter-terrorists into a series of superbly designed maps proved irresistible to millions, and undoubtedly helped shift more than a few copies of Half-Life along the way.

Counter-Strike. Be vewwy qwiet - he's hunting VIPs.

Counter-Strike. Be vewwy qwiet - he's hunting VIPs.

Played over several rounds, the concept of giving each team opposing objectives (such as planting/defusing bombs) was immediately engrossing, and won over those who had begun to tire of the deathmatch/capture the flag re-runs that comprised every other online FPS. It’s remarkable that a mod community project ended up one of the most significant titles in its genre of all time – proving to many a budding level designer that anyone with talent and dedication could get involved. Many big FPS developers would go on to treat mod communities as a source of new blood.

Not evident here is the amount of sex used to sell Perfect Dark.

Not evident here is the amount of sex used to sell Perfect Dark.

By the turn of the century the genre had matured rapidly, but with a few notable exceptions the console scene remained untapped. Rare reprised its success with GoldenEye with Perfect Dark on Nintendo 64 in 2000, and developers finally began to get some belated joy out of the PlayStation in the form of Medal of Honor, Alien Resurrection and a respectable port of Quake II, but there was simply no contest with the PC.

The release of the SEGA Dreamcast, however, provided the industry with a machine powerful enough to handle 3D accelerated titles. By 2000, a run of exceptionally faithful ports began to emerge on the potent new system, including Quake III Arena, Unreal Tournament, Rainbow Six and Half-Life (the latter mysteriously unreleased, despite being finished and issued to the press for review). The Dreamcast’s VGA capabilities, online play, keyboard and mouse support seemed a good fit for the FPS, but in practice slow loading times and the frankly awful pad held Sega’s console back.

0 Responses to “The History of First-Person Shooters: Part 3”

  1. Genki says:

    Quake 3 was better than UT…which is why it still gets played a decade later.

    UT died on it’s ass.

    Q3 continued to be played throughout worldwide competitions “professionally”.


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