18 years after the original Doom, and the first person shooter genre still effortlessly dominates the international gaming landscape. Because of their bountiful prevalence, every year sees a small handful (at least) of unjustly belittled genre titles getting lost in the shuffle, many of which were thoroughly undeserving of that fate. Whilst we all wait for battle to commence in October when Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 go head-to-head – a bout which is destined to have some very interesting industry repercussions, regardless of how it pans out – here is a list of some of our favourite (and most under-appreciated) console FPS games from the past couple of years, all of which are well worth picking up if you’re looking to fill that lengthy summer frag void…
It certainly wasn’t perfect, and Gearbox’s E3 reveal of Aliens: Colonial Marines may have made it look more half baked than it actually was (for more info on Colonial Marines, click here) but Rebellion’s AVP redux-cum-reboot featured more than enough moments of acute ingenuity to make it easy to recommend. The unconventional Predator campaign was easily the best thing on the disc, but in terms of multiplayer, Infestation ruled the roost. Essentially Halo’s Zombies mode on a slightly smaller scale, teamwork was absolutely key to survival, and the mode was a great indication of how well balanced the game’s three primary classes were. Aliens Vs Predator was no classic, but it frequently came much closer to greatness than a few snooty reviews may have had you believe.
One of the most shameless rip-offs in recent memory is also one of the smartest, and although its multiplayer landscape is all but deceased nowadays, the campaign in Raven Software’s Singularity is still well worth sampling. It never tries to be anything other than Bioshock-lite, but it’s confident, fast-paced and the ludicrous plot is surprisingly involving throughout. Some of its neatest little innovations (such as the POV sniper fire) have since been poached by the likes of Bulletstorm, and the divergent difficulty tiers did a great job of prompting you to tackle the (commendably lengthy) campaign more than once at least. The news that Raven are currently working on Modern Warfare 3 can’t help but raise expectations for that game even further.
Because it is so huge in both size and scope, MAG couldn’t possibly always function perfectly – whether that was down to a spot of impromptu lag or a sudden influx of inexperienced players into a knife-edge game of Domination – but when it did work, it was unquestionably one of the most delectable FPS experiences to have appeared during the current console generation. Online battles aren’t quite as easy to find as they once were, but the men have now been separated from the boys, and if you’re looking for a big-scale console shooter in which the vast majority of players constantly work together and almost everyone communicates via headset, MAG is your man. If you’re intrigued (or a new PS3 owner) then it’s definitely not too late to investigate.
If Medal of Honor’s campaign modelled itself on Modern Warfare a little too slavishly for some people, the multiplayer played to the beat of its own drum to similarly divisive effect. One change that probably led to more online rage-quits than anything else last year was the power and ease-of-use of even the most primitive sniper rifles. It was initially very easy to assume that DICE had simply miscalculated this; but once you got your head around the fact that every single multiplayer level was designed around this unorthodox law (with cover being constantly available throughout almost every map) it became clear that this was a game that couldn’t possibly be less inviting to players who didn’t care a jot about teamwork and tactics. Which ended up being one of the best things about it.
For far too many people, the crippling server issues that plagued Homefront’s online component during its opening fortnight – the period at which it had to be functioning at full tilt – were more than enough to inspire an enraged early trade-in. The campaign was perfectly serviceable and entertaining, but once those online teething problems subsided, Homefront’s multiplayer revealed itself to be a thing of resplendent beauty. Most people are assuming that Battlefield 3 is going to kill Homefront’s (currently very healthy) online community stone dead, but don’t be so sure. It’s more than distinctive enough to persist on its own unique terms, and there is still something incomparably invigorating about being able to buy your own vehicles on the fly; as opposed to perpetually hoping that you perish at the right moment so that you can secure one by chance. Don’t be surprised if the rumoured Homefront 2 turns out to be something very special indeed.
Watch the Homefront “Large Scale Warfare” trailer here: