The History of First-Person Shooters: Part 4

2001-2005. The war between console and PC reaches its height, Valve excels itself, World War 2 becomes the setting of choice and Bungie gives birth to a big, helmeted baby.

By Kristan Reed, October 13, 2009

Keeping it Unreal.

Keeping it Unreal.

PC owners could also brag of major releases like Serious Sam, Return To Castle Wolfenstein, Jedi Outcast, Soldier of Fortune 2, Vietcong, Unreal 2 and Operation Flashpoint. All enjoyed lengthy periods of exclusivity on the PC, and rewarded continued investment in new graphics cards such as Nvidia’s GeForce and ATi’s Radeon range.

Battlefield 1942′s release in September of 2002 illustrated the growing popularity of online gaming, and the PC’s centrality in this area. Credited with being among the first commercial FPS titles to encourage genuine teamwork, it quickly became the pre-eminent online shooter.

But while the PC was undoubtedly the best fit for the FPS in terms of graphical fidelity, controls and online play, it was evident that all was not well with the platform from both a gamer and industry perspective.

Battlefield 1942. Drab as a tea towel, but gargantuan for its time.

Battlefield 1942. Drab as a tea towel, but gargantuan for its time.

Fuelled by the growth of broadband and torrent sites, piracy was rampant, and sales of PC games were accordingly poor in comparison to those of console titles, despite being generally cheaper. Simple economics dictated that publishers set their sights on the console market.

On the other hand, the situation on consoles wasn’t exactly ideal either. Whatever the much-touted performance of PS2 or Xbox, the reality was that gamers were being fed less than stellar conversions of hit PC titles (such as Half-Life, Counter Strike, Deus Ex and Unreal 2), often a year or more late.

Metroid's Samus Aran, the First Lady of gaming.

Metroid's Samus Aran, the First Lady of gaming.

For those publishers who got their console strategy right, the rewards were obvious. Console-specific titles such as TimeSplitters 2 and Metroid Prime added to the growing evidence that console FPSs could be just as impressive as their PC counterparts and sales followed.

From 2003 onwards, publishers such as Ubisoft went even further. By utilising Epic’s cross-platform Unreal Engine 2, the French company began designing FPS games such as XIII, Rainbow Six 3 and Brothers In Arms as multi-platform titles from the word go, releasing on PC and console near-simultaneously.

One Response to “The History of First-Person Shooters: Part 4”

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