Codex Gamicus
First-person shooter video games
Basic Information

First-person shooter video games (also known as FPS video games) place the player in control of a character from a first-person perspective. The primary type of action in these games is combat with weapons; from fists and swords to firearms and lasers. Usually, the player can see the weapon they are holding, but some games do not include this feature. It is a sub-genre of 3D shooter games.

The first FPS was Sega's Jet Rocket (1970). The first 3D FPS was Sega's Heli-Shooter (1977). The first 3D polygon FPS were ASCII's Amnork (1986) and Arsys Software's Star Cruiser (1988). The game that defined the FPS genre was Wolfenstein 3D (1992). The most influential FPS was DOOM (1994), which led to many early FPS games being referred to as "Doom clones". GoldenEye 007 (1997) was the first landmark first-person shooter for home consoles. Metroid Prime (2002) further expanded the genre's potential by popularizing action-adventure elements in the genre.[1]

Definition[ | ]


Gameplay from the first-person-shooter Halo 3. Notice the weapon in hand, as well as the heads-up display (HUD).

FPS games are often categorized as being distinct from light gun shooters. A reason for this is because first-person light-gun shooters like Virtua Cop often feature "on-rails" movement, whereas first-person shooters like DOOM give the player more freedom to roam,[2] though some games such as GoldenEye 007 have attempted to combine both styles.[2] This distinction is slowly beginning to blur with recent, more linear, first-person shooters such as the Call of Duty series.[3][4] Incidentally, one of the earliest known uses of the term "first-person shooter" was in reference to the light-gun shooter Virtua Cop 2, in the August 1996 issue of GamePro magazine.[5]

History[ | ]

Precursors: 1960s–1970s[ | ]

The origins of first-person shooters can be traced back to first-person shooting arcade games which predate the video game industry. Early first-person arcade shooting electro-mechanical games include Namco's Periscope in 1965 and Nintendo's Wild Gunman in 1974.[6] Meanwhile, Sega's Gun Fight in 1969 featured third-person shooting.[7]

Prior to the rise of video games, SEGA produced several arcade electro-mechanical games that resemble first-person shooter video games, but were in fact electro-mechanical games using rear image projection display moving animations on a screen.[8] Sega's Missile (S.A.M.I.) in 1969 had a moving film strip projecting enemies on screen, and a dual-control scheme where two directional buttons are used to move the player tank and a two-way joystick with a fire button is used to shoot and steer missiles onto oncoming planes.[9][10] Sega's Combat (1969) was a similar first-person tank shooter.[11] Sega's final first-person electro-mechanical shooter was 1972's Killer Shark, featured in 1975 Steven Spielberg film Jaws.[8]

In 1975,[12] Interceptor used an eight-way joystick to aim a crosshair and shoot aircraft that can move out of range and scale in size.[13] In 1980, Sega's Space Tactics had a crosshair that remains centred, mobilizes the screen when moved, and shoots lasers into the screen with a 3D effect.[14]

Origins: 1970–1985[ | ]

Jet Rocket

SEGA's Jet Rocket (1970), the first FPS.

In 1970, Sega's Jet Rocket was the earliest first-person shooter game.[6] It was a video projection combat flight simulator arcade game, with cockpit controls that can move the player around a landscape displayed on screen and shoot missiles at targets.[15] It featured shooting and flight movement in a 3D environment from a first-person perspective, laying the foundations for first-person vehicle combat video games such as Battlezone and Hovertank 3D, and the first-person shooter genre.[6]

The first 3D first-person shooter was Sega's Heli-Shooter (1977), which featured first-person shooting and free-roaming movement across a 3D landscape.[16]

Early arcade video game examples include Taito's Interceptor (1975),[17][18] Battlezone (1980), and Sega's Space Seeker (1981),[19] vector space combat sim Star Trek (1982)[20] and stereoscopic 3D game SubRoc-3D (1982).[21] The same year saw the release of Apple II computer games Horizon V, which featured an early radar mechanic, and Zenith, which allowed the player ship to rotate, both designed by Nasir Gebelli,[22][23] who would later influence id Software's John Romero.[24]

1984 saw the release of MSX mecha games Gundam: Last Shooting[25] and Ginga Hyoryu Vifam, which featured open world space exploration with a radar displaying destinations and player/enemy positions as well as a physics engine where approaching a gravitational field pulls in the player.[26] The same year also saw the release of Kidou Senshi Gundam Part 2: Tobe Gundam, which featured segments where the player mech navigates around a maze-like city and shoots at enemies, with the camera occasionally changing between a first-person view and a behind-the-mech, third-person view.

Star Luster, released for the NES console and arcades in 1985, featured free-roaming open space exploration with six degrees of freedom, a radar displaying enemy and base locations, the ability to warp anywhere, and a date system keeping track of the current date.[27][28][29] Another game released in 1985 was the NEC PC-8801 game Dimensional Fighter Epsilon3, which more closely resembled later FPS games than the aforementioned games above. It combined first-person RPG dungeon crawling with first-person arcade-style light-gun shooter combat, and is possibly the first shooter to use 3D polygon environments. It also allowed the player to aim the weapon, but due to the lack of a mouse, this meant the player would have to be stationary during combat. Also, like other first-person dungeon-crawlers at the time, the player could only move in four directions, in 90-degree increments. [1]

Early first-person shooters: 1986–1992[ | ]

In 1986, the NES shooter Z-Gundam: Hot Scramble[30] displayed the player's gun on screen, allowed aiming and locking-on to enemies, and gave the illusion of six degrees of freedom in its open space levels.[25] The same year, flight sim Lock-On also featured locking-on.[31][32] Another 1986 release, SeeNa, introduced an advanced polygonal 3D graphics engine, which rendered 3D environments at a fast pace, and (compared to earlier first-person games limiting movement to 4 directions in 90-degree increments) allowed the player to move with full 360-degree movement.

Seibu Kaihatsu's 1986 game Empire City: 1931[33] and 1988 sequel Dead Angle[34] for the arcades and Master System utilized a crosshair to target enemies and to move the player character by aiming to the sides of the screen.[35][36] Empire City: 1931 also had a defense button to deflect bullets, while Dead Angle allowed crouching to dodge enemy attacks while displaying the character's silhouette on screen.[35][36]

The first FPS with 3D polygon graphics was Amnork (1986), developed by Japanese company ASCII. It was notable for its advanced 3D graphics engine, which processed 3D polygons at high frame rates for its time.[37]

Arsys Software's Star Cruiser was an early first-person shooter[38] released for the NEC PC-88 computer in 1988[39] and ported to the Mega Drive/Genesis in 1990.[38] Star Cruiser was an innovative game that introduced the use of fully 3D polygonal graphics, action RPG elements, free-roaming open space exploration allowing six degrees of freedom,[39] and gameplay mechanics such as strafing. [2]  It a unique dual control scheme that anticipated the standard keyboard & mouse controls, with the direction keys used to move and strafe, while the numpad keys are used to turn around and aim.

Another 1988 console game, Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode for the NES, featured various first-person shooter levels. It was one of the first video games to place importance on accurate shooting and introduced the sniper rifle, used to assassinate enemies from a long distance by aiming an unsteady sniper scope, a weapon later to become a mainstay of the FPS genre.[40] Sega's Last Survivor (1988)[41] and Line of Fire (1989)[42] were the first games to use texture-mapped ray casting.[43]

In 1990, SNK's The Super Spy for the arcades and Neo Geo console was a first-person shooter with beat 'em up elements where the player character's arms and weapons are visible on screen.[44][45] In early 1991, Data East's first-person shooter Silent Debuggers for the TurboGrafx-16 console allowed players to aim the gun sight when shooting at enemies.[46]

In 1992, Taito attempted to introduce free-roaming first-person shooter gameplay to arcades with Gun Buster.[47][48] It was an innovative first-person shooter released in 1992 for the arcades. It featured on-foot gameplay and a unique control scheme where the player moves using an eight-direction joystick and takes aim using a mounted positional gun. It was also unique in allowing two-player cooperative gameplay for the mission mode, and also featured deathmatch and team deathmatch modes.[49][50] Its controls were similar to later first-person shooters for the Wii.[47][48] The player could also carry multiple weapons, each with different recharge rates and movement speeds, and the game's maps included walls, glasses and columns that could be used for dodging and shootouts.[50] The graphics were also dynamic, with players able to shoot out windows, for example.[48] It featured multiplayer deathmatch modes for up to four players, between two teams, on a dual-monitor arcade cabinet.[47] It also introduced the circle-strafing gameplay technique. It also had features such as breakable glass, and more advanced graphics than PC shooters at the time.[51]

Rise in popularity: 1992–1994[ | ]

The first major influential FPS was Wolfenstein 3D (1992), which has been credited with creating the basic archetype upon which subsequent titles were based. This game popularized the genre and lead to the next major FPS hit, DOOM (1994), which broke many of the boundaries in Wolfenstein and set the bar for several years worth of games. DOOM was perhaps the most influential first-person shooter. DOOM was so popular that many subsequent games in the next few years were referred to as "Doom clones".

Rise of 3D graphics: 1994–1999[ | ]

In 1994, SEGA's 32X release Metal Head was a first-person shooter mecha simulation game that used fully texture-mapped, 3D polygonal graphics.[52] The same year, Sony released Crime Crackers , developed by Media.Vision and SCE Japan Studio for the PlayStation. It was a first-person shooter and action RPG hybrid with fully textured 3D polygon graphics.[53] That same year, Exact released the Sharp X68000 computer game Geograph Seal, a fully 3D polygonal first-person shooter that employed platform game mechanics and had most of the action take place in free-roaming outdoor open world environments rather than the corridor labyrinths of earlier first-person shooters such as Wolfenstein 3D. In 1995, Exact released its successor for the PlayStation console, Jumping Flash!, which was similar but placed more emphasis on the platforming rather than the shooting.[54]

The first landmark, best-selling console first-person shooter was Rare's GoldenEye 007, based on the James Bond film and released on the Nintendo 64 in 1997. Highly acclaimed for its atmospheric single-player levels and well designed multiplayer maps, it featured the ability to aim at a precise spot on the screen, a sniper rifle, and headshots.[55][56] Alongside Doom, the game's director and producer Martin Hollis credited Sega's 1994 on-rails first-person light gun shooter Virtua Cop as a strong influence on the GoldenEye developers' adoption of features such as gun reloading, position-dependent hit reaction animations, penalties for killing innocent characters, and an alternate aiming system that is activated upon pressing the R button of the Nintendo 64 controller.[2] Namco's first-person light-gun shooter Time Crisis was also an influence on the game.[57]

Shortly after the release of Duke Nukem 3D in 1996, id Software released the much anticipated Quake, originally envisioned as a sort of fantasy online world (the name Quake originally referred to a Thor-like character devised in the developers' earlier D&D sessions), where armies of players would fight each other in large persistent battles—much as would be seen in later MMORPGs like Lineage and Dark Age of Camelot.[58] The game was also originally intended to have melee actionlike Virtua Fighter, which inspired the adoption of 3D polygon graphics in Quake.[59] Like Doom, Quake was influential and genre-defining, featuring fast-paced, hellishly gory gameplay, but used 3D polygons instead of sprites.[58] The game's 3D polygons expanded the market for GPU graphics cards.

Valve's Half-Life was released in 1998, based on the Quake engine. Half-Life is, along with its sequel Half-Life 2 (released in 2004), consistently reviewed as one of finest examples of the genre.[60]

In 1999, the shooter-based stealth game Metal Gear Solid: Integral included a first-person mode that allowed the whole game to be played from a first-person perspective.[61] Also that year, SEGA attempted to introduce the genre to the arcades with Outrigger, which allowed the player to switch between first-person and third-person perspectives. It was ported to the Dreamcast almost two years late and was still considered one of the best-looking FPS games at the time. [3] The arcade version also featured a unique control scheme, where an eyeball controller gives the player free and real eye moves. [4] Atlus also attempted a unique take on the genre that year: Maken X, a "first-person slasher" game.

21st century developments: 2000–present[ | ]

Resident Evil: Survivor (2000) and Dead Aim (2003) combine the light gun shooter, first-person shooter and survival horror genres. Metroid Prime, released in 2002 for the GameCube. The game is credited for popularizing "exploration, puzzle-solving, platforming and story" in the genre, for "breaking the genre free from the clutches of Doom," and for taking a major "stride forward for first-person games."[1]

In 2005, F.E.A.R.[62] combined first-person shooter gameplay with Japanese horror atmosphere. The Crytek games Far Cry (2004), Crysis (2007) and Far Cry 2 (2008) featured large open-ended environments.

In recent years, first-person shooters have adopted elements from other shooter sub-genres. An example of this is the linearity of rail shooters that has been adopted to a certain extent by first-person shooters such as the Call of Duty series (starting with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare in 2007) to provide a more fast-paced and cinematic experience.[3][4] Another example is the cover system, which was previously used in light gun shooters such as Time Crisis (1995),[63] stealth games such as Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001),[64] and third-person shooters such as WinBack (1999)[63] and Kill Switch (2003).[65] In 2006, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas introduced the cover mechanic to first-person shooters, where initiating cover leads to the viewpoint switching from a first-person perspective to a third-person over-the-shoulder perspective,[66] a viewpoint similar to the third-person shooters Resident Evil 4 (2005)[67] and Gears of War (2006).[66] In 2007, Time Crisis 4 introduced a first-person shooter mode that incorporates the first-person cover system of its predecessors.[68] In 2008, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway used a similar approach to Rainbow Six: Vegas, switching from first-person to third-person view when taking cover.[69] On the other hand, Killzone 2 in 2009 implemented a cover system that always remains in first-person view.[70] That same year, Call of Juarez also featured a cover system.[71] A more recent third-person shooter element adopted by first-person shooters is the slide-boost mechanic, introduced by the third-person shooter Vanquish in 2010; since then, several first-person shooters released in 2011 have incorporated similar slide-boost mechanics, including Bulletstorm, Crysis 2,[72] and Killzone 3.[73]

Recent developments include the addition of 3D television and stereoscopic games designed specifically for 3D systems, such as games like Killzone 3. With stereoscopic 3D, first-person shooters take on a new feel during gameplay due to the increased visual effects created from the 3D screen.[74] The Nintendo 3DS handheld takes this concept further with autostereoscopic 3D, which doesn't require the use of 3D glasses and can be used in conjunction with the device's touchscreen and motion sensing capabilities.[75]

The use of motion detecting game controllers, popularized by the release of the Wii in 2006, is considered an evolution for the genre due to allowing greater precision than conventional input devices. However, despite the Wii Remote's greater precision (for which it is widely used with light gun shooters), its limitations when it comes to camera control remains a challenge for developers that has prevented its widespread use among first-person shooters.[76] The GunCon 3 peripheral used with Time Crisis 4 s first-person shooter mode attempts to resolve this by featuring two analog sticks for moving and camera control in addition to aiming with the gun.[77] This is also no longer an issue for the Nintendo 3DS, which uses a gyroscope and motion sensor to change the viewpoint on screen as the handheld is moved around,[75] as has been demonstrated for the upcoming 3DS first-person shooter remake Galaga 3D Impact.[78][79] Other upcoming first-person shooters for the 3DS include Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D[80] and The Conduit 3DS,[81] both of which allow switching between first-person and third-person perspectives.[80][82]

A recent unique take on the genre is Second Person Shooter Zato, an experimental "second-person shooter" released by Japanese indie developer Himo in 2011. It uses a "second-person perspective" to display the game from the viewpoint of the enemies looking at the player, rather than the other way around, and makes use of a split screen to show the perspectives of multiple enemies. The game's perspective was inspired by surveillance cameras, while the title takes its name from Zatoichi due to the player character's inability to see.[83]

List of FPS games[ | ]

Popular FPS video games[ | ]

Early first-person shooters[ | ]

Roots of FPS[ | ]

The following diagram traces the roots and influences of the FPS sub-genre along with several related shooter sub-genres:


References[ | ]

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  3. 3.0 3.1 Call of Duty: Black Ops Review. Game Rant (2010-11-11). Retrieved on 2010-11-27 “it becomes a little disappointing when you’re forced to sit there and watch scripted walkthroughs of story moments. Going to the Pentagon is something that should be pretty exciting, but it’s essentially a rail-shooter without the shooting.
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External Links[ | ]

  • History of games blog about history of video games (from 80's to 2010's)
  • provides an alphabetical list of First-person shooters, as well as screenshots, videos, demos, soundtracks, and full games.