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

Timesplitters. Fourth iteration any time you're ready, Crytek.

Timesplitters. Fourth iteration any time you're ready, Crytek.

The next big console breakthrough came in October of 2000, with the release of Free Radical Design’s excellent TimeSplitters. Created by the core team behind the seminal GoldenEye, it became a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic during the launch of the PlayStation 2.

Not only did TimeSplitters look stylish and distinct from all other, comparatively serious FPS titles – it broke new ground in console FPS control, thanks to its innovative twin stick control system. This finally resolved the conundrum of how to adequately translate the keyboard-and-mouse-based free-look system to a joypad, and while some were slow to accept Free Radical’s approach, it wasn’t long before all console shooters were employing it.

Daikatana. Oh the humanity.

Daikatana. Oh the humanity.

Back on the PC, undoubtedly the most significant titles of the year came from Ion Storm, but for wildly contrasting reasons. John Romero’s first post-id project, Daikatana, was first off the blocks, but suffered appalling reviews after failing to meet the hype Romero had whipped up around it. Arriving almost three years after its planned release date, it was clearly an unfinished product, with broken AI and a dated look. The press were only too delighted to kick it into touch.

Deus Ex. No feast for the eyes, but its open-endedness was exhilarating.

Deus Ex. No feast for the eyes, but its open-endedness was exhilarating.

But it was a completely different story when Deus Ex appeared a few months later. Designed by Warren Spector, this RPG-influenced shooter lacked technical presence but gained warm applause for accommodating a multitude of gameplay styles, players customising their abilities to personal taste as the campaign unfolded.

Another developer enjoying success around this time was Raven Software. Having scored numerous hits with its fantasy-themed Heretic and Hexen titles, the extravagant violence of Soldier of Fortune attracted plenty of attention. Later that year, it won further admiration for the excellent Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force, still arguably the best use of the much-abused Star Trek license.

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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