Daily Dosage 17/08
From Dust has finally come to the PC, a few weeks after its XBLA debut.
Toy Soldiers: Cold War is out on the XBLA.
Also worth a note, though it’s rather obscure is Fighting Fantasy: Talisman of Death for the PSN
Online Digital DL
D2D: Are currently sporting a sale on all Southpeak Games until friday. This includes Section 8 as well! They also have deals on
Hacker Evolution Duality, X-Blades and D2D Indie Sack Pack Vol. 1 which is their own collection of some cool indie games.
News from around the Web:
MCV have a new article that Sucker Punch will be releasing the next installment of Infamous as a download only title on the PSN. It’s only a spin-off title though, a la Undead Nightmare, so don’t get too excited.
CVG have their own “5 things we learned at the Sony conference” article, as well as an article on the new Wii model coming out this year… without backwards compatibility. Hopefully that’s not a nod towards changes expected with their other consoles…
As a continuation of our glossary, I felt I should delve into everyone’s favourite….
First Person Shooter
Or “FPS” to pretty much anyone that’s ever touch a controller. First truly popularised with Doom (though the medium arguably existed long before) and subsequently for about 2 years afterwards all FPS’s were called “Doom-like games” until someone finally realised it was a genre in its own right. They exploded onto the market as one of the strongest genres in games.
Originally they were almost a PC exclusive, as mouse and keyboard was a favoured input method, aided greatly with the rise of the optical mouse. However, more recently there’s been a steady rise of them on consoles as well. Examples like GoldenEye 007, Halo and TimeSplitters are particularly strong, where they were built with consoles in mind, and as such have allowances for the vastly different input (dual analogue sticks).
“First Person Shooters” as the name suggests are shooting games in the first person. Essentially, if you’re looking at things from the view-point of your character (you see what they see, the camera is their eyes) and you’ve got some variety of firearm, whether modern, classic, absurd or sci-fi floating around in front, the chances are you’re playing a first person shooter.
You probably would have heard of FPS through the ever-popular Call of Duty (“COD”) and Battlefield series, most notable in that they all tend to look and play more or less the same. That’s the problem with FPS, it’s a popular yet somewhat uninspired genre that tends to go stagnant fairly quickly, and some companies have no problem with re-releasing the same title with some tweaks and polishing every 2 to 3 years. Not to say the gameplay’s bad, they’re actually well balanced and highly polished, but I guess I’m just not that into paying full-retail price each year for hyper-masculine, machismo-fuelled army-porn.
There’s some exceptions however, I’ve already spoken of Teamfortress 2 and its unique art-style. Brink tried something else with its parkour system, including the “Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain” SMART system, and Rage promises to offer some uniqueness as a story-driven solo FPS.
Thanks in part to the age of broadband FPS’s are a particular favourite as multiplayer games. Everyone’s in pretty much the same boat, armed with a gun trying to shoot someone else, and the first person aspect adds to the adrenaline-fueled “if I go out there will that sniper get me?!” action!
I also have no doubt that the it’s competitive nature of online FPSs and their players that leads to laziness in games companies, releasing a slightly updated game every few years. The fans will buy it because they don’t want different, they want the same, just slightly better. If it was too different (and ergo, difficult to learn) the fans would be in uproar…
However, games in the first person have no small popularity. From a designers point of view there’s no easier way to build immersion than by physically sitting you in the skull of the character you control, in a bizarre Cartesian Theatre manner, so not all first person games, not even those with guns are automatically an FPS. Plus it means you don’t actually technically need to design a main character, as they’re pretty much a faceless protagonist in most games.
Take Mirror’s Edge, the focus on guns in that is minuscule, but it’s still first person. So could you truly call it a First Person shooter? Heck, Minecraft is first person and that sure as hell isn’t an FPS!
Also, do not confuse FPS’s with their younger brother, the Third person shooter. Games like Gears of War, Uncharted, Resident Evil 4 and Red Dead Redemption are all better classified as 3rd person shooters. While they involve guns and shooting people, the floating camera and use of cover systems lends to a different game-play style, though no less engaging. Of course, not every game in which you can see your character is automatically a TPS! Over-shoulder shooting tends to be the give-away!
A common trend you’ll see now a days is the breeding of FPS with RPG. Games like Deus Ex and more recently Fallout 3 contain elements of both. In this way the First Person Shooter mechanic is used more as a narrative and gameplay medium, rather than the focus of the game itself, which is more on story and character development (both statistically and emotionally) than simply “shootin’ d00dz”. This helps to keep the genre fresh by incorporating new ideas, as well as deliver a more well-rounded experience. Such is gamings pedigree.
However, defining whether a game is more an FPS or an RPG is another matter… for another time.
That’s all for now, see you tomorrow!