What is an FPS?
The term ‘FPS’ stands for ‘First Person Shooter’ and is a genre of video-game, the core of which settles around gun-based combat viewed by the player from the first person perspective - essentially ‘through the eyes’ of the protagonist.
The genres origin traces back to the early 1970’s, but its true conception is widely regarded to have been in 1992 with the release of Wolfenstein 3D, created by id Software who have since gone on to dominate the market with many seminal FPS titles.
Following the release of Wolfenstein 3D, id released ‘Doom’, which went on to popularise the genre and catapult it into the mainstream. Doom is regarded as the most influential FPS game ever created as it quickly became the archetypal format for the genre. Other developers have offered their take on the FPS theme, such as critically acclaimed ‘Valve’, creators of Half Life, who added puzzle aspects to the game as well as enhanced physical interaction with 3D environments.
FPS games are often fast-paced action titles, focusing on heavy fire-fights with emphasis on in-game physics, lighting and collision detection. On a PC, the game is controlled by the use of the keyboard and mouse, whereas on a console it is operated by use of two analogue sticks, one for running and strafing and one for looking and aiming, with other buttons assigned to firing weapons, reloading etc.
There is an on-going debate as to whether console shooters are up the same standards as PC shooters which offer better graphics and enhanced game play due to a computers unmatched processing power. In 1997 Rare released GoldenEye, the game of the James Bond movie, and was the first breakthrough FPS title for a home console breaking down the long-standing barrier between console and PC shooters. Since then, console shooters have gained a lot of ground on PC titles.
The release of Halo: Combat Evolved, developed by Bungie Studios for the Xbox saw the popularity console FPS game hit new, unforeseen heights. Bungie focused a lot of their development time on creating a multiplayer experience that can be accessed over the Xbox Live service, enabling users to play against millions of other gamers across the globe. The combination of detailed story-mode and addictive multiplayer was a winning formula, spawning numerous Halo titles in the series, the latest of which (Halo 3) has sold over 9 million copies to date, with a new game to be released later in 2009, and a proposed movie to be directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson.
The FPS genre is forever evolving, with developers always thinking of new ways to give gamers a different experience when blowing up bad guys. Recent releases like BioShock have offered players a unique story-telling experience, gifting gamers with universes rich in history and lore, complete with characters that have back-stories written as they would be for a novel.
As developers challenge themselves to produce FPS games that dare to venture beyond the standards of the format, we, as gamers, can look forward to seeing a host of new titles that dare to dream of delivering the “next big thing” for the FPS genre. Just as Doom changed the FPS forever at a turning point in gaming history, we too are about to embark on a new era of interactivity and advanced technology and with that we’ll see some innovative titles bringing life to the First Person Shooter for years to come. Fingers crossed!