When the smoke clears, there can be only one left standing. We count down the best first-person shooters ever made.
50. Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood
Tactics come first in the Brothers In Arms series, where players are encouraged to study the battlefield for the best positions before gearing up for the fight. With challenging enemy AI that changed positions despite your attempts at flanking and swathes of enemies to discourage any run-n-gun gameplay, we can’t say this was accurate to real warfare but it was certainly challenging during a time when WWII shooters were primarily gung-ho.
49. Duke Nukem 3D
Duke Nukem is an asshole, and that’s why this game is remembered more for an idiotic lead character rather than the surprising gameplay subtleties. It’s not as linear as it first appears, and there’s a handful of fun, experimental weapons to toy with. You even get a co-op mode and level creator. It was superseded forever ago, but it still deserves a mention for being more than just a dickhead simulator.
48. Medal of Honor: Frontline
Up until Frontline, Medal of Honor releases on consoles were functional World War II games. But with Frontline MoH finally arrived, and it felt like the PS2 could actually hold its own against the kind of first-person shooters leaving such huge scorch marks on the PC. This was a time when Medal of Honor meant something, and Call of Duty was only a challenger. How things have changed.
47. Perfect Dark
Was Perfect Dark a great first-person shooter on the N64, or was it just a decent one that has been elevated because of the Rare brand? It’s not GoldenEye, that’s for sure, but the female protagonist, the auto turrets and Elvis the alien make it stand out. If it took balls to have a female lead in a shooter in 2000, it was downright reckless to throw in a comedy alien sidekick. The addition of a customizable multiplayer mode shows the sort of ambition on display here. Especially telling considering it released in the early days of first-person shooters on console, when many were trying (and failing) to emulate the heavy hitters on PC.
46. Wolfenstein 3D
We associate the classic id Software designers – Carmack, Romero, Hall – with Wolfenstein 3D, a widely copied, much-respected and endlessly influential run-and-gun through a distorted view of the Second World War. BJ Blazkowicz is one of the true meat-headed heroes of video gaming, and his legacy is a billion smoking bullet holes, Nazi corpses and a robot Hitler.
45. The Operative: No One Lives Forever
Video games rarely get humour right, and games that are mainly about shooting barely even approach it. But No One Lives Forever went kinky boots-first into the world of 1960s spy shows, as Kate Archer protected the world against sinister, corny, maniacal wannabe despots. Developer Monolith was at the top of its game in 2000, blending stealth and action with a fantastic score and great visual gags to create an anti-Bioshock, dripping with pop culture and laughs at the absurdity of an explosive poodle.
44. Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2
With this and R6: Vegas, Ubisoft was on a roll when it came to AI companions. Now we’re in a world of online co-op we’re not sure it’s as relevant, but back in the heady days of 2007 having a computer controlled squad-mate single out an enemy hiding behind a specific car on the map felt like a revelation (as was the neat Cross Com device that had you commanding vehicles and friendly units the explore and hunt enemies).
43. Turok 2: Seeds of Evil
A game so big it needed an N64 Expansion Pack, Seeds of Evil reminds us that Nintendo’s old console actually had more than one really good FPS. So much of Turok 2 seemed fresh at the time: riding dinosaurs into battle; underwater weapons; upgraded abilities and targeting specific body parts for dismemberment. Why on earth hasn’t this been rebooted?
42. TimeSplitters 2
Co-op, primates, arcade cartridges, gangsters, cowboys and space marines – there’s nothing Free Radical Design was afraid to throw at TimeSplitters. They seemed such innocent times, when going off the rails was saluted instead of following such a constrained view of what an FPS should be. We’ll never be able to go back to the madness, but we’ll always have the memory of invisible flaming monkeys.
41. ARMA 2
Not just the game that spawned DayZ, ARMA 2 is the hardcore shooter experience. Muzzle velocities, simulated ballistics, stadiametric rangefinding and other intimidating concepts are simulated by ARMA 2 around an arsenal of realistically modeled weapons. With multiple expansions and modding, it’s almost impenetrable and not for the faint of heart. Try the free version if you’re brave enough, but don’t expect to be shooting green lasers at jumping enemies.