I've been playing FPS games for as long as I can remember. From the pixelated, but pretty (for its time) Wolfenstein 3D to the beautifully realistic Battlefield 3, first person shooters have provided gaming with its greatest hits for over two decades, and they're not about to stop anytime soon.
Thanks to the first person perspective, players can jump into the boots of a space marine, post-apocalyptic raider, or counter-terrorist operative, and gun down innumerable enemies—human, mutant or alien—with reckless abandon.
It is possible to criticize some FPS titles for being unoriginal in their presentation and their mechanics, but I'm not going to do that here. I'm here to celebrate what the year has to offer, so read on.
10. Borderlands 2
Five years have passed since the events of the original Borderlands, and the Hyperion Corporation has since gained dominance over Pandora. Attempts are being made to evict, and exterminate the planet's indigent population.
Borderlands 2 returns players to the outback world of Pandora, where four (and inevitably) new characters must attempt to free the planet from the clutches of Hyperion and restore the planet with the aid of the Guardian Angel.
Like the previous game, Borderlands 2 marries the FPS genre with role-playing elements, giving players plenty of reason to hunt down unique and powerful weapons as they complete missions.
9. Far Cry 3
Like Far Cry 2 before it, Far Cry 3 is in the hands of Ubisoft and not that of Far Cry's progenitors, Crytek. Given how great Far Cry 2 was, it's certainly not a fact to bemoan.
Far Cry 3 runs on the powerful Dunia Engine which powered the second game, with more than a few bells and whistles added to it to bring it up to par with other modern releases. According to its developers at Ubisoft Montreal, Far Cry 3 will be at least ten times larger than Far Cry 2, confirming that much of the action will take place in a giant sandbox.
Players will once again be free to roam an open environment—as opposed to tight corridors—to deal with challenges as they please. The new game sees the addition of a new stealth mechanic, a leveling and skill system, and the ability to perform takedowns.
8. Dust 514
We've not seen too many massively multiplayer first-person shooters throughout the years. There's been Planetside, and that's about as far as the list goes. CCP, the creators of EVE Online, are planning to add a new game to that list with the development of the console-based Dust 514.
In development exclusively for the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, Dust 514 is set in the same universe as EVE Online, and players in the FPS interact in real time with their PC, space-bound counterparts. Battles determine which player actions control planets in the EVE universe, giving rise to players with both skill and social finesse.
Players take part in large scale battles with up to 32 players on each side, with the victories having impact on the EVE universe.
Originally designed as a series of strategy games by Microprose, XCOM (or X-COM, as it was originally called) is getting a revival in the form of two new games, one from Firaxis and the other from 2K Marin.
While Firaxis develops a turn-based strategy title (titled X-COM: Enemy Unknown) that's true to the original series, the developers at 2KMarin have taken it upon themselves to reimagine the game as a strategy-based FPS set in the 1950s after the Second World War.
Rather than having to face Grays (or Sectoids, as they're known in the series) and a variety of strange, but frightening aliens, players will have to deal with an odd substance not unlike the black oil in the X-Files TV series.
Vortices open throughout suburban American neighborhoods which rip humans and their surroundings apart, molecule by molecule, and it is up to an organization commissioned by the US government to investigate the attacks and put a stop to it.
Syndicate is a reboot of another classic franchise. Originally developed by Bullfrog as a tactical squad-based game, the Syndicate reboot is in development at Starbreeze Studios (creators of the excellent Riddick games) as a first-person shooter heavily immersed in cyberpunk aesthetics.
Like Deus Ex, the game takes place in the relatively near future, with the technological singularity looming ever closer.
Players take on the role of an Agent in the service of one of the setting's ruthless corporations, performing espionage, sabotage, and assassinations.
In addition to the single player mode, players can team up in groups of four to perform cooperative missions, which are not unlike that of the original Syndicate.
Little—but arguably enough—is known about Bethesda and Arkane Studios' upcoming game, Dishonored.
Set for release in the second quarter this year, Dishonored is set in an open world which blends past, present, and future styles and "all the things in-between" (like so many China Miéville novels) of our world.
Players take on the role of Corvo, a disgraced master-at-arms, spy, and possessor of supernatural abilities. Played in the first person, the game places emphasis on stealth as well as combat, and Corvo is free to roam the city of Dunwall and its surrounding locations.
Nobles ride in carriages while automated manufactories produce the war machines that patrol the city streets. The world itself is designed by the creator of City 17, giving it that perfect blend of Steampunk and dystopian, near-futuristic citystate. If you've read Perdido Street Station, you'll know exactly what to expect—which is to say, prepare to have your mind blown.
4. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is the sequel to Treyarch's first Black Ops game. It's set in its own universe and not in whatever fiction Infinity Ward cooked up in the Modern Warfare trilogy.
Black Ops 2 is the first game in the Call of Duty franchise to feature a completely futuristic setting, with weapons and technology that remain theoretical at this point in time. Also diverging from the previous Call of Duty games is the addition of a branching storyline and a narrative that takes into account the decisions you make throughout the game.
More than just a numbered sequel or a rehash of the Call of Duty franchise, Black Ops 2 presents itself as an evolution of the series—not unlike how Battlefield 3 is to Battlefield 2.
3. Bioshock Infinite
Bioshock Infinite takes place in the skies in the flying city of Columbia, far from the depths of Rapture. In the game, players take on the role of a former Pinkerton agent and gun-for-hire who lends his services to the rescue of a certain Elizabeth, a mysterious young woman with the ability to alter reality.
Like the original Bioshock, Infinite intends to offer a cerebral experience rather than one grounded in simply shooting people up. Jingoism, racism, and American Exceptionalism are strong, overlying themes this time around. Given the recent upsurge in popularity of movements like the Tea Party Movement, the game may well serve as a critique of modern American society, with these agendas taken to their most extreme.
2. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or CS:GO for short, serves as the true successor to Counter-Strike 1.6 and improves upon the pioneering gameplay of the original team-based shooter.
CS:GO offers updated versions of classic maps in addition to new gameplay modes, weapons, characters, and maps. Players can now team up or do battle against each other with a newly developed matchmaking mode that pits players of similar skill level against each other, so newcomers won't be eaten alive by pros.
CS:GO will be released on the PC, Mac, and both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles.
1. Halo 4
Halo 4 is the start of a new Halo trilogy, and is set after the events of the third game in the previous trilogy. Taking the reins from Bungie, 343 Studios is developing Halo 4 from the ground up.
The war with the Covenant is over and the Master Chief must find his way back to known space after being launched into deep space to counter an all new threat—one that happens to be an 'ancient evil' in the game's terms. Presumably, Master Chief is going to have to deal with the Precursors, a powerful alien race that ruled the galaxy before the Forerunners developed the Halo Array.
Sci-fi readers and fans of the Halo games will have plenty to look forward to in this next iteration of the series.