During the formative years of gaming, our great action heroes were nothing more than a tiny animated sprite made of a few pixels. Contra , Metroid, and Metal Gear were all great shooters back in the day, but the shooter genre had a lot more to give.
Then the Japanese got innovative and made light guns and it was an amazing invention as they actually worked well (only with CRT Screens though). And we got games like Duck Hunt (1985) on the NES. But it wasn’t used well until the 3D gaming arcades adopted the tech in the mid 90’s that gave us Rail Shooters which I loved playing as a kid. House of the Dead, Jurassic Park, Virtua Cop, Gunblade NY and Time Crisis were my all time favorites then.
Back then arcades were the superior machines as home consoles were fairly simple tech that could run 2D games well. PCs were theoretically faster but the PC gaming scene was dormant back in the 80’s as Sega and Nintendo ruled the gaming industry. But one shooter with much simpler graphics made sure PC gaming wasn’t dead. It was 1992 and a team at id Software thought of changing camera perspective in their latest offering to create the widely popular 3D game Wolfenstein 3D, and shortly after that, Doom. While the textures were bad and controls clunky, the fact that we saw through the eyes of the main character was an achievement that later could be called a genre in itself.
And so the FPS was invented. id software went on to make another amazing game, Quake,in 1996. This game used the ‘Quake Engine’ and was popular for its cool, fast paced LAN multiplayer experience. The game also had a cool looking ‘level select’ feature (That was actually a thing back in the day). And it had a soundtrack collaborated with Nine Inch Nails.
Goldeneye 007 was the first console FPS to create waves in the industry back in 1997 and it had split screen multiplayer in it. Rendering the level for 4 players split-screen on a machine with total 12KB of graphics memory, was only possible in the late 1990’s. The game ran pretty well on the weak hardware of the Nintendo N64. The single player made players perform ‘missions’ related to the movie. So many memories.
Last but not least Half Life Arrived to end the millennium with a bang. Great 3D models, powerful game engine (GoldSource Engine), amazing story, weird headcrabs, and an atmosphere created by Valve- which no other FPS game could match with. And it spawned a mod that would end up being the most played game in the world, Counter Strike. While Gabe Newell was the genius behind Half Life, Minh Le and Jess Cliffe were the modders who thought we could make it a multiplayer game with a team trying to eliminate the other while one of them tries to bomb the target. By 1999 the mod was brought into its perfected state, CS 1.6. Both of them were hired by Valve with the CS IP transferred to them. And the rest is history.
Stay tuned to Asidcast for the next article on the evolution of FPS Gaming where I’ll go more towards the golden decade of 2000-2010, where graphics improved, new companies emerged and the gaming industry changed forever,thanks to great consoles and even better games.