The 50 Best FPS Ever Made

50: Eldritch [official site] (2013)

Developer: Minor Key Games
Publisher: Minor Key Games

Taking the cubist free-form destruction and relentless enemies of Minecraft then chucking it all into a tongue-in-cheek Lovecraft blender, the result is a brilliantly challenging yet gonzo game of first-person survival. Admittedly there’s slightly more stabbing and thumping than there is shooting, but in terms of minute-to-minute tension it’s right up there with the big boys despite having a fraction of the budget. It also builds in a strong sense of wonder as you roam around its procedurally-generated mazes of madness, reliably transforming into fear as some low-poly horror lurches around a corner towards you. What looks like a random tombola of various game-parts coalesces into something both chilling and cheerful.

Notes: Was updated with a free Mountains of Madness expansion, nominally Christmas-themed, but if you can’t enjoy giant evil penguins any time of year then frankly you can’t enjoy anything.

Where can I buy it: Steam or Humble.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Minecraft, at least if you want more destroying/digging and slightly less being randomly crushed by falling spikes. If you want more Cthulhu but without the blocktastic look, you should definitely check out the ambitious but muddled Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners Of The Earth.

Read more: Back To Eldritch, Eldritch review

49: F.E.A.R. [official site offline] (2005)

Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: Vivendi Interactive

This horror/action hybrid lost some of its lustre as a result of the series increasingly disappearing up its own plot-rectum, but it’s important to push J-horror tropes and everyone-is-related-to-everyone blather aside and look at what F.E.A.R. brought to the shooter table. So often, this genre is just about what a pair hands do, but in F.E.A.R. so much more of your character’s body was involved. The reason we don’t see much first-person kicking is that it’s very hard to get it right, due to the innate preposterousness of a pair of legs appearing somewhere near your nose. F.E.A.R. got it right: it’s such a physical-feeling game. It also pre-empted Mirror’s Edge by making the visible body related as much to movement as it was to combat. As a gun game, it was also a relatively early proponent of any weapon can be equally deadly in the right circumstance, which is still a refreshing move on from the arms race of most shooters. Also spooky little girl with hair over her face wooooooooooooooooo

Notes: Everyone bangs on about Source’s deathlessness, but the Lithtech Jupiter EX engine created for 2005’s first F.E.A.R. still more or less lives on too, having been used in 2012’s Gotham City Imposters and modified for last year’s Shadow of Mordor. It, er, doesn’t exactly look bang-up-to-date in F.E.A.R. these days, though.

Where can I buy it: It’s sitting pretty on Steam, though sadly the multiplayer aspect has been deactivated because someone was dumb enough to base it around Gamespy.

What else should I be playing if I like this: The Condemned games if you want more spooky horror-times mixed in with your action, or No-One Lives Forever if you want to see developers Monolith at the absolute top of their game.

Read more: The origins of Fear

48: Zeno Clash [official site] (2009)

Developer: ACE Team
Publisher: Atlus

Speaking of first-person games which lean towards fisticuffs, the gloriously weird, wonderfully physical Zeno Clash remains the one to beat. A sort of boxing game structured around a fantastical quest, it’s as weird as it is beautiful, and as tactile as it is fanciful. The fights are hard and crunchy, the opponents by turns ridiculous and terrifying, and all told it’s a true original. Zeno Clash punches far, far above its modest weight, and while the shooting aspects are comparatively thin if that’s what you’re after, the consistent level of invention and combat which makes it almost impossible for me to not bust out stereotypical action praise like “bonecrunching” is more than worth the trade-off. I’m not sure I can name a more chilling boss-foe than Father-Mother, either.

Notes: There is a Zeno Clash 2, which attempted a whole bunch of interesting stuff and was a much-expanded experience, but it fell a long way short of being as fresh and startling as its precursor. Never take your eye off developers ACE Team, however.

Where can I buy it: Steam, essentially. It’s in theory available on Direct2Drive too, but nothing happens on the link for me.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Man, even the idea of suggesting there’s anything quite like Zeno Clash feels offensive. On the most superficial level, Beast Boxing Turbo will let you indulge a sick love of punching weird creatures in the face, though.

Read more: The art and evolution of Zeno Clash, Zeno Clash review

47: Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory [official site] (2003)

Developer: Splash Damage
Publisher: Activision Blizzard

The grandaddy of the objective-led multiplayer matches which are popular in many of today’s online shooters, but Splash Damage’s spin-off from Return To Castle Wolfenstein has a rare focus on escalation and push-and-pull team battles that the unlock-focused mania of many latter-day alternatives has thrown out with the willy-waving bathwater. Sure, you rank up in Enemy Territory, but you rank up within the match, for the sake of the match. Military shooters – at that point tending to favour a World War II setting – were popular but staid scoreboard affairs, which W:ET turned into micro-action movies starring a cast with diverse class abilities and set within interlinking missions. Hugely ambitious as online shooters go, but unlike its follow-ups Quake Wars and Brink, it didn’t have eyes bigger than its stomach – its raw essentials of team-based, classed-based combat are pristine.

Notes: Bot mods abound if, quite understandably, you find the idea of wading into its long-standing community to be rather a fearsome one. Depending on your choice of server, you can also play matches with XP deactivated or made semi-persistent between campaigns.

Where can I buy it: It was and is free, so all you need do is go here and download it.

What else should I be playing if I like this: There’s Team Fortress 2 if you want a manic, comic take on teams and classes, though its unlocks are a whole other world of dedication and expenditure. Or there’s latter-day Battlefields for a more military-focused but modern-day take on things, and at a far more dramatic (but maybe more impersonal) scale.

Read more: The Splash Damage story

46: The Darkness 2 [official site] (2012)

Developer: Digital Extremes
Publisher: 2K Games

The first Darkness is probably the superior game, with its unexpected deviations into watching TV on the couch with your bae and its generally more introspective, even thoughtful tone, but that’s not available on PC so it’ll have to be II. Which, while it’s a psychotic fun fair ride which barely pauses for breath, let alone reflection, is pretty damn good as First Person Shooters But… go. You get tentacle monster powers, you get my pet demon powers, you get oh so many ways to violently destroy oh so many bad men, plus a neat dark/light system to make it vaguely tactical. It’s cacophonous lunkheadedness for sure, but as an exercise in how to make first-person action games involve more than repeatedly placing a reticule over an imaginary man’s face and pressing fire, The Darkness II entirely deserves your murderous attention.

Notes: This one was tackled by Digital Extremes, best known for partnering with Epic on assorted Unreal games, but this was the first time they knocked it out the park by themselves. The Darkness 1, meanwhile, was handled by Starbreeze, who you’ll see me say adoring things about elsewhere in this feature for their Riddick game.

Where can I buy it: Steam, assorted download services with ‘Game’ in the title, or on disc, like in the olden days.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Prototype, if you want monster mash powers but in an open world setting. Or there’s F.E.A.R. if you want a more straight-laced take on diverse combat and creepy voices.

Read more: The Darkness II review

45: Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter [official site] (2009; original game from 2001)

Developer: CroTeam
Publisher: Devolver Digital

If you want TOTAL EXCESS at its most attractive then you’ll want Serious Sam 3, but frankly it takes far too long to get going. Serious Sam HD, meanwhile, embraces cray-cray early on. Some say it’s a welcome return to the just-get-on-with-it carnage of early shooters such as Doom, but really Sam is a law unto himself. Huge open spaces, huge enemies, huge weapons: it passes all the way through parody and comes out the other side as something pure and earnest. Are you shooting? Are you moving? Are you shooting and moving? Are you emitting a low, sustained scream? If not, you are not playing Serious Sam. Early Call of Duties had their infinite waves of enemies, but that micro-second to micro-second ferocity just isn’t there in anything else. This is bullet hell shump as FPS, a wild dance of breathless persistence. And every time you think it’s gotten as big as it can, it gets bigger.

Notes: There are now more Serious Sams than you’ve had hot dinners, most of which are different versions of the first game. You could get Serious Sam HD Gold instead, which includes The Second Encounter HD and assorted DLC. Or if you’re a purist who wants to play it in its original engine, there is the option of Serious Sam Classics instead of HD, or the fairly new Serious Sam Classics: Revolution which packages The First Encounter and The Second Encounter with some brand new stuff.

Where can I buy it: Steam, primarily, but boxed copies are still sold on yer Amazons and whatnot too. Alternatively GoG has the significantly more archaic non-HD version if you want to do the DRM-free thing.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Doom, if you want just-getting-on-with-it shooting that won’t see you grind your teeth to paste with the intensity of it all. Or there’s Painkiller if you want a more latter-day take on traditional shooter values, but without Sam’s shouty craziness.

Read more: 16 reasons to play Serious Sam, Serious, Sam

44: Call of Juarez: Gunslinger [official site] (2013)

Developer: Techland
Publisher: Ubisoft

This is a series which has been all over the place, kicking off with a Wild West setting and an ambitious dual-protagonist setup, then selling its soul for the mean-spirited, present day-set The Cartel. It was the cut-price Gunslinger that hit the sweet spot though, pairing crunchy, delightfully unreconstructed frontier shooting with a rich sense of irony about it all, but which doesn’t devolve into snark or hypocrisy. Gunslinger doesn’t take aim at other shooters – it stars a protagonist prone to boasting, so an absurd fight with a hundred men is justified as him telling a tall tale. He’s also prone to distraction, so the action occasionally spins out into strange loops as his mind (or body) wanders, or he’ll warp your on-screen reality to better fit his crazy claims. Importantly, all this is him showing off, not the game showing off: it very clearly wants to be a good time.

Notes: Gunslinger was made and sold as something of a budget game, so be aware going in that there are compromises. It’s short, the cutscenes look like they were dashed out in an evening and there are unresolved performance issues. The main game itself looks rootin’ tootin’ good, though.

Where can I buy it: Steam or Uplay. Don’t worry, the latter isn’t required if you go for the former. Boxed copies are still available here and there too.

What else should I be playing if I like this: There’s Rockstar’s Red Dead Revolver if you want straight-up Westerning, though sadly the wonderful open world sequel Red Dead Redemption never came to PC. As a lo-fi, more playful alternative, there’s the recent Westerado: Double Barreled, which brings (slightly silly) life as well as death to the frontier.

Read more: Have you played… Gunslinger? , Call of Juarez: Gunslinger review

43: Tron 2.0 [official site] (2003)

Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: Disney Interactive

Back before Daft Punk had even dreamed of sampling Jeff Bridges’ friendly growl, Monolith’s cyberspace shooter was more Tron than Tron. Mixing the iconic style of the 80s movie – Lightcycles, disc battles – with far more substance, thanks to the logical freedom of actually being a game world, plus having far more real-world technological concepts to call upon in its metaphorical depiction of a digital place. Of course, there’s the distinctive black’n’neon look of the thing too – it’s important to remember that Tron 2.0 was a rare lighthouse of colour amidst what was then a sea of brown shooters, and even to this day the 80s-vision-of-tomorrow style keeps it looking fresh. With downtime conversational sections and a skill tree thrown in, plus a superbly substantial multiplayer Lightcycle mode, Tron 2.0 did far, far more than such a fundamentally silly film possibly deserved. Be warned: annoying platform sections, though.

Notes: You should probably grab this unofficial patch and hi-res mod too. The latter also fixes up multiplayer functionality, amongst a whole bunch of other goodies.

Where can I buy it: It’s on Steam, otherwise you’ll want the second-hand market.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Deus Ex: Human Revolution has a certain Tron style, parsed through a gold filter, plus it expands massively on the conversational and skill tree elements. Or there’s indie platform-puzzler Sp.A.I., which packs in plenty of cyberspace-themed hacking and shooting.

Read more: Retro: Tron 2.0, another retrospective

42: Rage [official site] (2011)

Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Much-maligned, perhaps understandably given it should have been a grand comeback for the studio which effectively birthed the first-person shooter, but with all the expectation (both in terms of being an action milestone and a technological milestone) pushed aside, Rage has a whole lot going for it. There’s a ton of world-building in here, pacing designed to suit the player, and some really great shooting which found the middleground between throwback and modern. On the quiet, it was almost a dungeon-crawler too: gather yourself and your supplies, head off a dangerous mission in the ruins, even getting to cross an overland in your buggy to get there. It suffered partly from anticipation that it would far more open world than it was – not helped by the relatively contemporaneous arrival of Borderlands – and partly from a third act which threw out the ideas rather than expanded upon them, but approach it as purely what it is and Carmack’s last game is a great shooting game in a great setting.

Notes: Don’t get too preoccupied with the dangling plot-threads left by the conclusion: lead designer Tim Willits told us in 2013 that “we have no immediate plans” to make more Rage games, although he denied that the franchise is dead. The best you can get for the forseeable future is Wolfenstein: The New Order, which pairs Rage’s ambitious graphics tech with a superior shooter.

Where can I buy it: Steam or on disc.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Gearbox’s Borderlands 2 offers a similar theme but with more an action-RPG structure and comedy which makes me personally want to burn the world, but others seem to love it. Alternatively you’ve got Fallout 3 or New Vegas, for a more sedate take on the post-apocalypse.

Read more: A chat with Rage’s art director, who also worked on Age Of Ultron, Stop teasing me with fake freedom, Rage review

41: Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 [official site] (2008)

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft

Specifically, this real world shooter makes this list because of its super-tight, super-tense co-op Terrorist Hunt mode, which has you and up to three chums try to chase down a finite number of baddies hiding around large maps. Because death’s icy fingers reach out out so readily extreme caution and not a little patience is required, and the anxiety when all but one of your team has been slain and everyone is watching the last player creep around, the whole match now riding on them, is as acute as it gets. There’s no great reason to pick Vegas 2 over 1, given the two games are so very similar, but the maps in this one have a slight edge, plus you can customise your character (including their gender).

Notes: Rainbow Six Siege is due later this year, and in theory offers broadly similar shootybangs but with a heightened emphasis on realism and even more of a multiplayer focus. You can sign up for the beta, which should be kicking off fairly soon.

Where can I buy it: Steam, Uplay or disc.

What else should I be playing if I like this: SWAT 4 offers a more tactical and thoughtful take on special ops, plus has a massively more interesting singleplayer campaign. If you just want out and out multiplayer military action with a team focus, any of the recent Battlefields should do you.

Read more: That time an illegal crack somehow found its way into an official version of Vegas 2

333 Comments

  1. Sixtoe says:

    No love for NOLF? (especially No.2?) That’s one of my all time favourites, great game, good shooting and stealth, bloody funny as well in places :)

  2. Beanbee says:

    Didn’t you see? It hit the list at number 51.

  3. Laurentius says:

    Oh come on, first person view does not automatically constitute FPS, MYST, so really Dishonored or Mirror’s Edge ? That’s funny. Anyway that genere that almost completely eludes for all my years of PC gaming, played a handfull of most big names (DOOM, Quake, Half-Life), never finished any of them. To this day I can honestly say that I’ve beaten so far four FPS games in my life ( I obviosly exclude games like Portal, Dishonored or Mirror’s Edge) : Modern Warfare and 2 and borderlands 1 and 2, oh and 100 hours of Battlefield 3.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Oh come ON.

    • Baines says:

      I remember that when Metroid Prime came out, people on both sides were arguing for a new term like “First Person Adventure” to describe that game, because neither side felt that “FPS” fit even though it was a first person view game where you shot stuff.

      • Baf says:

        Thief was jokingly called a “First-Person Sneaker” when it was released. I’ve long liked the idea of extending the idea of FPS by substituting other S-words. Portal is a First-Person Solver, Dear Esther is a First-Person Saunter, The Stanley Parable is a First-Person Satire, and so on.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          No sane gamer would label an RPG or an adventure game with a third person perspective as a “TPS” so why not.
          We love to label, categorise and organise things together with other things that is like that thing we already know.
          Citrus or apple probably won’t make most people immediately think of trees.

          A lot of times it’s becoming entirely arbitrary because we tie one particular parameter to a specific category early on and damn those who challenge it even when it’s outdated! Then we would have to rethink things we’ve already organised.

  4. SMGreer says:

    Chuffed to see some praise for the original The Darkness. That was a surprising game in many way despite its flaws and a very underrated gem.

  5. Hideous says:

    Notes: Don’t opt for standalone expansion/prequel The Old Blood, released this year, just because it’s a newer game. It’s perfectly adequate as manshoots go, but it doesn’t reach as high as The Old Blood, in either spectacle or humanity.

    I think you meant to write The New Order the second time here.

  6. kcn4000 says:

    All in all a very well put together list, well done RPS

  7. Funkymoses says:

    I have A MAJOR ISSUE with this list, which is the omission of System Shock 2. Survival horror that was the forerunner of many of the good bits of Half Life and Portal. Give me your address, Alec, so I can burn your house down*.

    *[i probably won’t]

    • Splattercakez says:

      Did you miss its mention on page 1 of not meeting the criteria for an fps or is this a joke sailing over my head

      • horrorgasm says:

        True, but then they go on to put several games in there that don’t meet that specific criteria that they spelled out right there anyway, like Zeno Clash or Alien Isolation and etc., which have barely any actual shooting in them.

    • tr76 says:

      Didn’t you see, it was number 51 on the list!

    • OmNomNom says:

      Yes. Upsetting that Mirrors Edge and Thief are here but no SS2 . Yes I know, reasons. But Mirrors Edge ‘solid shooting’. Right. (And typing of the dead, wtf?)

      Otherwise generally good list!

      P.s Also imo Planetside 2 really doesn’t deserve to be so high up this list. It was a flop in almost every way compared to the original, I put a fair amount of hours into it too but it just never filled the shoes.

      And Far Cry 2 was the WORST of the series (first probably still best imo)

      Ok I’ll stop

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Yeah some baffling choices for sure.
        Action Quake? Nobody has played this crap, just because one of your writers like a mod does not make it the 13th best FPS ever, it’s ridiculous that it’s even on the list, let alone so high.

        Games that aren’t really FPS are in there when lots of great actual FPS are omitted. Seems they used the “rules” to omit a bunch of games then conveniently forgot about them when something they wanted to add came up for discussion.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          The article says anything above #10 isn’t ordered.

          These extremely wide lists are always the writers subjective opinions at this moment in time based on memories, personal feelings from the time they were played, thoughts and what they have (or haven’t) been playing recently. It’s never The end-all Truth and Fact list of everything that was ever good where everything else is passed to the shit-bin. Even if it claims to be.

          Even if the same people compiles a top 50 list again in a few years (ignoring anything new since this one), it will look entirely different depending on the things happening in their lives and minds between now and then.

          “Everybody is entitles to my opinion” and all that. :)

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            It’s still dumb putting an obscure mod that few people have played on the list “Because someone would get mad at me if I didn’t”. Then stating “Duke 3D doesn’t make the list because it wasn’t that good” (it was). Shadow Warrior reboot? Medal of Honor? Painkiller? Nope, best put a mod he’s never played on the list despite saying
            “What follows is a list of the 50 first-person shooters I think everyone should play.”

          • jezcentral says:

            See that, Mr Busey? You can prove an angry person wrong, but they’ll just move the goalposts so they can stay angry.

          • ansionnach says:

            @Smoky_the_Bear I have a feeling Duke3d was snubbed because of its stupid, misogynistic scattergun antics. Whatever about that, it’s still a great shooter, and was one of the better single-player ones for quite a while. Perhaps with the content lock on Duke would have made the list!

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            @jezcentral
            Fair enough I missed the sentence at the start saying they weren’t ordered, but then, why were they numbered? My point still stands.

            @ansionnach
            Blantantly right. Given the political standpoint of RPS they would never put Duke on the list and he’s even convinced himself that it’s “not that good”. It’s a classic shooter. Way more deserving of the list than Mirrors Edge which barely even counts but “Strong Female Protagonist” wins above all else ofc.

        • Ace12GA says:

          As one of the developers of Action Quake 2 (and Action Half Life), I’m sort of surprised, and honoured, to even see it here. I would hardly call it obscure however.

          Yes, today, it is. In 1998 and right on into 2000 it was not obscure, and was unique at the time in the blend of game play. Before AQ2 not many games featured such novel ideas as reloading your weapons, limited weapon carry ability (primary and secondary), bleeding, different damage hit zones, head shots, injuries causing movement penalties, team based death match, etc… You could even credit AQ2 as inspiration for a lot of future games, such as Counter Strike; you did know the creator of Counter Strike also worked on Action Quake 2? Honestly, you can see the influence on many modern shooters, which didn’t exist at the time.

          The placement on this list may seem almost arbitrary, but historically, AQ2 was revolutionary, well received, and wildly popular for a couple of years.

          Yeah, I’m biased, but then again, I was around back then to actually play all of these games, and to have been involved with the team that brought AQ2 to life.

          • Aldrimus says:

            Action Quake 2 didn’t invent any of those things – it copied them from other mods, or other games.

    • sansenoy says:

      Agreed, but I’m really bummed they’ve forgotten about Star Trek – Elite Force 2!!! Easily trumps half the stuff on this list, the last great game from the legendary Levelord, Richard Grey.

    • Giuseppe says:

      Top XX lists, especially those compiled by a single person, tend to cause me no small levels of annayance and this one really isn’t any different. They almost always contain some painfully subjective choices that few people are gonna get, while other titles widely accepted as being very good or very influential are left out because reasons. Then of course there’s that tiny issue of actually ranking games against each other, something always fraught with extreme levels of subjectivity.

      I get that these RPS Top 50 whatever are supposed to “help people find new games to play” and that they represent a collection of personal favourites more than anything else. What I don’t get is why they have to pretend to be Top XX lists. For what? A few more, possibly click-baited, views?

      Since RPS made it a point not to attach grades or numbers to their game reviews, isn’t it a bit strange and against that tradition to resort to arbitrary numerical rankings? Wouldn’t it have been a little bit more honest if this series was called something like “50 PC FPS we think you should play”. At least that would dispense with the sort of false pretense of objectivity that Top XX lists inherently carry.

      • Razumen says:

        Well, just because a list is numbered doesn’t necessarily mean that they are ranked, a list of the best 50 games can just be…a list of the best 50 games, no more no less.

        • Giuseppe says:

          Perhaps that would be true if it wasn’t stated in the article that the top 10 games are in fact ordered. 50 through 11 may not be ranked, but the the top 10 is.

          There’s a dissonance between the content and the presentation. On the one hand it’s structured like one of those classic Top XX that teh internets seem to love, with the typical title and the countdown from bottom to no. 1; on the other hand you’ve got all these caveats littered around the article, trying to qualify the whole thing as something more than just that.

  8. TheRaptorFence says:

    To see STALKER break the top 5 makes me very happy inside.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      I too felt validated as a human by most of the list. I may use this temporary feeling of self worth to go and ask ladies out on dates, before it disappears again.

      never played DOOM though. Yeah, I know.

      • TheRaptorFence says:

        It’s a serious shame that SWAT 4 isn’t available online (well…legally speaking). I saw a copy in a Micro Center a few months back for a fiver and picked it up on the spot. Still had plenty of tense moments (seriously, that serial killer level? Or that moment of fear as a door cracked open as you were jamming your optical wand underneath it).

        I think the demo is still floating around on the internet somewhere, if people are interested in testing the waters of the best tactical shooter ever.

        • subedii says:

          Yeah the demo sold me on the game way back when.

          First time I remember being in a game where yelling at people was a core mechanic. Aside from being tense and tactical, I was intrigued by the idea of a game where the perfect playthrough was the one where everyone made it out alive. Not always possible, but still something you’re rarely going to see in other FPS’s.

          • TheRaptorFence says:

            link to fileplanet.com

            Found it. It’s the Auto Center mission. It’s about a 30-45 minute mission depending on how you play.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Yelling inside the game and out. The game actually prompted my friend and I to go and buy microphones even though we lived in the same flat because communication was so necessary. Awesome game.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          I owned the gold edition with the expansion from Direct2Drive before they sold the store back and forth. The installer doesn’t work because they shut down the activation server long ago but I kept my original CD-key.
          It’s actually working with the disc version I got from “friends” but since it’s just one key the expansion won’t install with it…

          It still plays without issues on Windows 8.1 (after an ini poking to set a widescreen resolution) but Activision would rather let the license rot than sell a game that’s already done and marketed. I guess it’s the usual big corporate “No money is preferable when it isn’t something that gives you ALL the money”.

    • Ross Angus says:

      Amen. I’d have mentioned the free Lost Alpha at the end of that bit though: it really is splendid.

      • Conundrummer says:

        I completely disagree. Lost Alpha is good for the first one or two open areas, but then devolves into complete rubbish. AI doesn’t react to your presence, they include massive areas to traverse with almost zero content, and they string you along a very poorly written plot. It was clearly released half-finished, and there has been no effort to fix what remains. I occasionally check the official forum, but nothing useful has been added in over a year.

  9. Ansob says:

    Is RPS closing down, is that why you’re doing “top 50 of all time” lists? :(

    Joke aside, I don’t think #1 is ever going to get dethroned. I still replay Doom yearly because no other FPS comes even remotely close to being as viscerally fun. Plus, it has an awesome modding community.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Indeed. Stalker might even by the best *game* I’ve ever played in a lot of ways, and it’s certainly in rotation with the Thiefs, Half-Lifes, and Deus Ex for my mood-determined Number One Greatest Game spot.

      • TheRaptorFence says:

        Recently I went back to try Half-Life, Deus Ex, System Shock 2, Half-Life 2, Thief/Thief 2, and STALKER to see if they still help up as “bestest best game.”

        Of course, my opinion, but STALKER came out the other side unscathed where many of the others faltered (sorry, Deus Ex and System Shock 2).

        • Cryoburner says:

          To be fair, Shadow of Chernobyl is by far the newest game out of those you mentioned, so it logically should hold up better than games twice its age. Aside from Half-Life 2, the rest were from the late 90’s up through 2000. To put that in perspective, console gamers were on the original Playstation and N64 at the time those games came out on PC, while S.T.A.L.K.E.R was released early in the PS3/360 era. At the time those earlier games were released, 3D engines were still in their early years, and there were significant technical improvements from one year to the next. They didn’t really have access to hardware that could do things like big open-world areas well either, so they had to work within those limitations.

          On a related note, I haven’t actually played S.T.A.L.K.E.R yet, despite have had a disc version of the game for some years, from back when I actually still purchased games on discs. I’ll likely get to it eventually though. : P

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        I replied to the wrong comment, apparently. But my point stands!

    • Baines says:

      At least it looks better done that that Top 25 Puzzle Game list, which was cobbled almost entirely from games that RPS had previously written about and ignored nearly everything else.

      Though I wouldn’t be surprised if 90% of the games listed link to RPS articles, at least RPS has a chance of having written articles about most of the FPS one would expect to see on a Top Ten list (unlike apparently puzzle games.)

    • Sucram says:

      Doom is probably the most influential game ever. It popularised the genre, entered popular culture, introduced deathmatch, went viral in it’s shareware distribution, inspire a huge number of modders, musicians and designers, was a technical showcase and has become one of the most ported pieces of software running on everything from ATMs to calculators.

      And it’s still a damn good game.

  10. Protester19 says:

    god bless doom. I urge all of you to check out the newest wads. Valiant. Going Down. Valhalla. These wads hold more gameplay, style, challenge, and entertainment than anything I can imagine.

    Seriously.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Aye, Going Down in particular is just amazing. Play this one vanilla though, seriously, it’s so tightly balanced that even a good gameplay mod can make it just frustratingly hard.

  11. damoqles says:

    For Doom, I’ll always have the most special kind of love.

  12. Freud says:

    Unreal Tournament is easily one of the top five shooters ever created.

    • Excelle says:

      The fact that any Unreal Tournament is so far down the list is an utter travesty. And it’s shallow competitor Q3A is in the top 10?! Crazy.

      UT99 is the game we come back to almost every LAN party. We’ve played bits of Quake 3, but it’s frankly nowhere near as much fun as Epic’s classic. I played it online and all the way through the single player several times back in the day – the only reason I don’t play it now is because I’m too busy playing the UT4 Alpha.

      • Cryoburner says:

        When Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena both launched around the same time, UT was the game that received excellent reviews across the board, while the opinions on Quake 3 were more mixed. Comparing the two side-by-side, UT offered far more variety and content, more interesting maps, weapons, and game modes, and ran much better on hardware of the day. It also had great mod support and came with the same mapping tools the developers used to make the game, creating a huge modding community. The only thing Quake 3 really offered over the competition was its slightly more advanced graphics engine. Aside from that, their gameplay each felt a bit different, but that was more a matter of taste, and hardly anyone aside from existing Quake fans would have claimed it was the better game. Now it’s suddenly the fifth best FPS ever, while the original UT doesn’t even make the list?

        UT2K4 was a good game, and the vehicular game modes were a nice addition at a time when multiplayer shooters were just beginning to feature vehicles, but aside from that, it’s main draw was that it was bringing the core experience back a bit closer to UT99 after UT2K3 didn’t sit so well with many fans of the original. I believe UT99 now has more people playing it than UT2K4, although most servers are heavily modded now.

  13. ResonanceCascade says:

    I’m glad that Doom was correctly placed at number 1. Having a “Greatest FPS” list without Doom at number 1 is liking having a “Greatest Heavy Metal Band” list and not placing Black Sabbath at number one. It just seems so wrong.

  14. Drayk says:

    Where is Dark Messiah ? !

  15. tur1n says:

    Why does the worst of all the Rainbow Six Games feature here?

    Also, skimming through the list, almost all games I ever uninstalled in disgust/boredom are listed here. Guess I’m not that big into FPS as I once thought.

    • Unclepauly says:

      I was reading through waiting for a real Rainbow Six to show up and it never did.

      • TheRaptorFence says:

        Poor Rainbow Six 3, relegated to “Best of Tom Clancy” packs.

        Though I still have a soft spot for the original Ghost Recon, and even respect for the original GRAW.

        • Alec Meer says:

          51, 51 and 51

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          Random GRAW rambling: 1 and 2 deserves some credit for the separate PC versions by Grin (may they rest in peace) compared to the Xbox 360 third person versions. We rarely see that kind separation of ports, especially nowadays when even mobile games are just recompiled for Windows with a mouse pointer plus a 5x price tag.

    • Mctittles says:

      Wait; Rainbow Six…Vegas 2? Out of all the non-rainbow sixish games…

      • FoSmash says:

        Yeah surely Rogue Spear is the best of R6 games. Vegas was nice but Rogue Spear was unbelievable. Foot prints in the snow, limping if you got shot in the leg, customizable load outs including ammo types (that did actually make a difference), nothing in the same time frame came close.

        Binos and a D’Eagle for the ultimate snipe ;)

  16. tangoliber says:

    Here are mine, with the best at the top. Nothing “Early Access” has been included, but there is some cool stuff on the horizon:

    1. Doom 2 / Doom
    2. Ziggurat
    3. Mega Man 8-bit Deathmatch
    4. Serious Sam 3
    5. Quake 1
    6. Quake 3
    7. Wolf: ET
    8. Heretic
    9. Starsiege Tribes
    10. Natural Selection 2
    11. Killzone 2
    12. Tribes 2

    Before reading the list, my guess is that Half Life 2 will be #1.

    • Horg says:

      Ah, Heretic. I would have demanded that get a spot in the top 50, but then i remembered you couldn’t jump or look more than 45 degrees up or down. If any game deserves an HD remake in a sensible engine, it’s Heretic.

  17. Moraven says:

    Might and Magic 7-9 were pretty much FPS games to me, playing the majority in real time. Sling arrow spam and fireballs while dodging insect swarms and opposing arrows. Why be dependent on your defensive stats when you can evade in real time (but equally making it hard to be on the offensive)?

    • Moraven says:

      Damn you delayed submit. Correction in 2nd post (9, /shudder)

  18. Darth Gangrel says:

    “Your favourite game is at number 51” I was wondering if I would be upset at you omitting my favorite games after reading this list, but now I don’t need to do so and can instead spend that time on getting righteously furious about your audacity to omit MY favorite FPS games. How dare you disregard my personal tastes!!!

    Rant, rant, rant, rant, rant. Rant, rant, rant? RANT!

  19. Moraven says:

    Might and Magic 6-8 were pretty much FPS games to me, playing the majority in real time. Sling arrow spam and fireballs while dodging insect swarms and opposing arrows. Why be dependent on your defensive stats when you can evade in real time (but equally making it hard to be on the offensive)?

  20. tangoliber says:

    Regarding the “What else I should be playing” for Wolf: ET.

    Dirty Bomb…the answer is definitely dirty bomb. If that doesn’t scratch that itch well enough, then just keep playing Wolf: ET.

  21. Monchberter says:

    Ouch. Must admit that seeing hat based much loved capitalist hat simulator and online stalwart TF2 so far down stings a bit. Interested to know how it would have scored, say, at it’s 2008/09 zenith.

    • Monchberter says:

      PostScript: weeping into my ‘Horace’ hat.

    • SirBryghtside says:

      It’s not as low as it seems – in this list, 11-50 aren’t ranked in order of quality. So you can pretend it’s number 11 if you want ;)

  22. Horg says:

    I feel like Serious Sam HD should have been higher up. That’s my go to example of ”why FPS are fun” for the uninitiated, proof that the core game play of clicking on digital monsters and dodging projectiles doesn’t need an story, cutting edge graphics or elaborate environmental set pieces to get the player engaged with the action. It is peerless in its scope and absurdity. SS3 was a pretty worthy follow up once you got through the first few hours, and I hope there will be many more Sam games to come.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      My favorite Serious Sam game is the original Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, but the HD version is very good as well. Serious Sam 3 became much more fun with some old-school mods, bigger jumping and no reloading. They’re the only HD versions of games I’ve bought and I feel that FPS games obtain the greatest benefit with HD versions, because visuals make up lots of the enjoyment when I play FPS games. Prettier explosions is awesome.

  23. Atomic Playboy says:

    Isn’t it a little late for April Fool’s jokes?

  24. elsparko says:

    What?!?! No Blood? No Duke3D? You broke my BUILD engine heart…

    • kalirion says:

      ^This.

      Also Hexen.

      • lokimotive says:

        Hexen doesn’t get enough love. That was an astonishingly weird, confusing and ambitious game.

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          It certainly was special, and the GOOD kind of special.
          Not a very good shooter though.

          • Razumen says:

            I liked it, the weapons were more unique and less spammy than Heretic’s, which made combat a bit more thoughtful-though of course it made it a less straight ‘action’ game than Heretic-in my mind it was for the better.

    • Alec Meer says:

      51 and 51

    • Jalan says:

      Blood not “officially” making the list is made up for by the fact that F.E.A.R. did – boiling it down, it had the better FPS experience (and the better AI).

  25. green frog says:

    Oh, good, more of these. I can’t wait until you guys get to RPGs.

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      The RPG one is surely the hardest of all, since there is such a wide variety of games that get labelled RPG. Which is better: 1st person vs 3rd person, party based vs single character, turn based vs real time, linear story vs open world… and then you have to decide if you include MMOs (as this list included multiplayer only games).

      So long as there are at least two entries from the Ultima series, I think I’ll be happy though (at least one from the main Ultima series, and Ultima Underworld).

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      I’ll commission the builders right now to start extending the moats and sharpen all chevaux de frise before the kobolds and troll host debouch from the hills and dark forests of the Codex.

  26. James says:

    No love for Star Wars: Republic Commando? I’d pick its shooting over Dark Forces any day. The one Star Wars game without those plot limiting space wizards. And having to nervously stealth your way through a CIS ship, only to realise that it isn’t going to work and whipping out the rifle for some top notch shooting?

    Or did the pure incarnation of the Stormtrooper Effect mean it didn’t make the cut?

    • TheRaptorFence says:

      He mentioned in the postscript that he had forgotten about it until the list was already made, and made it clear it would have been on the list.

      But seriously, how do you forget such a gritty Star Wars game and such a simple yet fantastic squad mechanic?

      • subedii says:

        Been playing through it recently after picking it up in the GOG Star Wars sale and well…

        Everyone hypes it up so much. Personally I’d take Jedi Knight over it any day. It’s a squad based FPS but it’s super linear to the point where I don’t really see what’s so “tactical” about it. If they had made it more tactical along the lines of Rainbow Six or similar games, I could definitely see the appeal, but right now I can’t really see what was so awesome about it.

        I realise that’s with the benefit of hindsight looking at a decade old game, but even then, I just don’t see there’s all that much to the gameplay above and beyond most other FPS’s out there.

        • James says:

          It also had a great multiplayer. Not tactical in the ‘take it slow, stick to cover, be sneaky’ kind of tactical but the ‘right, you throw grenades, I run and gun, that corner is a death trap – GO GO GO!’ kind of tactical.

          And snipers on the bridges *flashbacks*. The opening barrage of thermal detenators was always some fun. Death everywhere.

        • TheRaptorFence says:

          I think it’s more the simplicity behind the mechanics of the game (whether the weapon selection, shooting, squad tactics, etc.) combined with a grittier narrative of a normally upbeat universe from the perspective of the extra in a Star Wars movie that surprises a lot of people. Even when it came out I recognized its linearity, and limited choice of enemies and weapons, yet there was something surprising about how it all came together. I certainly wouldn’t call it average, and while not a top tier “that was great” game, it’s a memorable one. That alone would make it worthy enough to be in a Top 50.

          • subedii says:

            I suppose I understand the sentiment of it doing something different with the Star Wars setting.

            In related news: Conspicuous timing on a dev playthrough of the game:

        • Razumen says:

          I too liked it alot, but it seemed to me to have alot more potential that it didn’t really live up to. All in all I would still pick Dark Forces or Jedi Outcast over it anyday.

  27. Geebs says:

    Marathon 2 was a better game than Doom, of course.

  28. shagen454 says:

    Quake should definitely be much higher in there – think about all of the mods that came out for Quake, it was literally the game that brought first person multiplayer into the new era and the first real 3D game and support for OpenGL. Think of all of the mods, JailBreak, Team Fortress, Capture the Flag, etc. It also seemed like the advent of gaming journalism websites as well – Telefragged, Blues News, Shack News and so many others riding on the mod scene community success of Quake. Then there were all the apps that allowed players to link into games like GameSpy, Mplayer, Kali – the list goes on and on. Quake was serious!

    • sicbanana says:

      I gotta say I’m with you on this one. Though I’m totally fine with this list, I think Quake deserves to be amongst the top 10. Why? Well, first off it was, like you said, the first “real 3D” FPS. Secondly, it introduced the fast paced twitch arena deathmatch (Rocket-jumps, man!! But yeah, Q3A perfected that). And third, which is the most important one for me: It had atmosphere in spades: Nine Inch Nails contributing a fantastic soundtrack, which is still highly regarded by fans, and that lovecraftian universe! And that is still a very rare sight in FPS these days. So there you go. :)

  29. RuySan says:

    Stalker first, Gunslinger second, Painkiller and Far Cry 1 tied in third.

    Half Life 2 at 501. It bored me to tears.

  30. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    Good to see Medal of Honor: Allied Assault come in at number 51. (Okay, so it was probably outclassed by the early Call of Dutys in a lot of ways, but it was my first FPS and I still adore it).

    More seriously, it’s good to see Bioshock 2 getting some love. The first one probably does deserve preference for the sake of the list, if only because it was more iconic, but 2 is an extraordinary and often overlooked game with a story that’s really stuck with me. If not for the early levels, which spend too much time retracing the original’s footsteps, it would be damn near perfect.

  31. Smith Replica says:

    So many missing games…

    Question: Are the Borderlands games slated for this category, and therefore didn’t make it? Or are they going to compete in the “RPG” category?

  32. subedii says:

    Glad to see that Bioshock 2 got the pick.

    Bioshock 1 established the formula (I’ll leave it slightly to one side of System Shock 2), Bioshock Infinite didn’t really understand or properly utilise its mechanics.

    Bioshock 2 took the formula and refined it quite nicely. The mechanics were better implemented, the pacing was better, and frankly, the plot was better. Ken Levine may hate it, but frankly, after Infinite I don’t consider that as bad a thing as I used to.

  33. dfuse says:

    I actually didn’t see that coming, number 1.
    I played it for the first time last year, somehow never gotten my hands on it as a kid (instead I got Heretic which was also pretty damn good). I was suprised how good it still plays, in fact, I remember telling my friends that it had been a long time since I so got into a game and calling it the best shooter I have ever played.

  34. Splattercakez says:

    I for one cannot wait a top 50 RPGs list in which you have to try and define that genre, oh boy will that be a sight to see

    Anyway, as someone firmly in the Bioshock 2 > Bioshock camp I appreciate that it’s gradually getting more appreciation over time, I don’t know if it’ll ever see a shift on say Majora’s Mask’s level, but I certainly think a lot of it’s initial lukewarm reception will be overturned in time as people look back on it.

    Also neat to see Eldritch getting recognition, really enjoyable little game that deserved more attention than it got

    • Jenks says:

      Rest assured it will be full of crappy half finished obsidian games, because rps.

      • subedii says:

        You’re edgy.

        • Geebs says:

          I clicked the reply button on your post to do a gag about how broken Obsidian games are, and the page broke with a 503 error. I’m not even making that up.

  35. Gordon Shock says:

    I am shocked that NOBODY mentioned Clive Barker’s The Undying, a unique game that nobody has tried to replicate/clone so far.

    Equally shock about no love for System Shock 2, another unique game that even it’s own developers couldn’t replicate.

    As both are FPS/RPG hybrid I can see why they wouldn’t make the list but still…

    At least Stalker is up where it deserves to.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I’d definitely call Undying an FPS (or maybe FPS+, which is what I’ve always called games like that) but I think there’s a little too much going on in SS2 (and Deus Ex) to just call them first person shooters. They are definitely waaaay at the RPG end of the spectrum if that’s the case. Much more so than Dishonored.

      And yeah, Undying is a fantastic game. Same writer as System Shock 1, too.

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        Undying is one my favorite games of all time. Such amazing atmosphere, helped greatly by the music, ambient and enemy sounds (the howling of the howlers). The enemy design is quite unique and the enemies themselves are markedly different from one another. The gun/spell combo is a great feature and I love little things like the way the Tibetan War Cannon sounds when it’s firing an ice orb. Sounds like it’s sneezing and since it fires iceballs, I think we can safely say that it has a cold. I like the first third of the game much more than the other parts, there are such imaginative level designs there, but the whole game is great.

      • Muzman says:

        “Undying is a fantastic game. Same writer as System Shock 1, too”

        Are you sure about this? Nobody from LG worked on Undying that I recognise the name of.

        • ResonanceCascade says:

          I believe Austin Grossman wrote it (or was at least one of the writers on it). He’s often credited for the game, I guess I just assumed it was for writing.

          • Muzman says:

            Yeah? Well well. I never heard that before. He doesn’t seem to show up in the online credits either, that I can see. But people didn’t pay that much attention to that aspect as a role back then, which doesn’t help. Might be one of those situations where he left the company before they even made the game or something.
            (all this probably blew right by me in some podcast or other.)

    • piedpiper says:

      Truly Undying is the jawdropping game with great story, art and gameplay. Severely underappreciated masterpiece.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      It’s important to remember that Undying was crap.

      • Fenix says:

        Your dislike of Undying (and to a greater extent Condemned: Criminal Origins) is madness

    • cunningmunki says:

      It’s been years since I played The Undying, but back when I first played Bioshock I clearly remember thinking “huh, these Plasmids are a bit like Undying”. It’s atmosphere has never really been beaten.

    • Razumen says:

      I’d definitely call SS2 an FPS, sure it’s technically a hybrid, but so are some of the others on this list.

  36. Lamb Chop says:

    Surely Marathon/Marathon 2: Durandal should make this list. I can’t believe they should be disqualified from a PC list for being Mac games. If Doom introduced the idea of FPS action as something to be loved unashamedly, Marathon set the stage for games to tell stories within that framework.

    They have interesting level construction, the first basically invented mouselook (as Alec mentions), the rampant Durandal AI is a fascinating questgiver/enemy/enigma that makes you feel used rather than a hero, and let’s not forget the BOBs. They’re everywhere!

    • Spacewalk says:

      Marathon 2 got a PC release so it should be a prime candidate for this list. I am forever kicking myself for not buying it when I saw the triangular box in a used games store fourteen years ago for ten bucks.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I’d say they’re easily better than Doom.. but then again the Marathon trilogy is definitely a series that belong to the Games That Made Me list.

      And I believe that the third in the series (Infinity) even came with a windows version. Which is a shame and a heresy, of course, signifying the later downfall of Bungie and their purchase by Microsoft (Halo? That was being developed for mac, then development was canceled and restarted for the X-box. We got it about 8 years late give or take a few years).

      And that’s not even mentioning Pathways into Darkways which preceded Marathon, that in itself might also be worthy of a spot on this list although I’d say Marathon is the better game.

      • Premium User Badge

        Mungrul says:

        As Alex has already “51”ed it to Geebs, we’re just going to have to accept that this is an entirely subjective piece. And that he’s also utterly wrong-headed.

        Marathon didn’t just give us mouse-look (although I played the first game entirely on keyboard at minimal settings, interlaced and a peak of 15fps on an old IIci, and STILL massively enjoyed it).
        It gave us grenade and rocket jumps.
        It gave us clips for guns, and I still like that you couldn’t reload until you’d used the last bullet.
        It gave us alt-fire and dual-wielding.
        It gave us a map editor that warped the understanding of time and space by allowing two or more spaces to exist in the same space.
        It also did proper 3D movement before the Build engine games, allowing for bridges that could be passed across and below.

        And for the longest time, I regarded the story to be one of the best in gaming. I still am massively fond of it and the way it was delivered, and Durandal is still my favourite homicidal, rampant AI. Shodan’s got nothin’ on him.

    • gorice says:

      Here here. I didn’t know I was still capable of fullly-fledged Nerdrage, but the omission of Marathon (after that tease!) is literally worse than Hitler. A better game than Doom in every respect (and I loved Doom).

  37. Turkey says:

    Where’s Chex Quest and Redneck Rampage, you hacks?

  38. coolwithpie says:

    Just want to Let FEAR fans know, apparently there is a multiplayer patch for FEAR located here(link to fear-community.org)
    I haven’t actually tried it myself, but figured it was worth mentioning. It does look like you need an account at their site for it though.

  39. subedii says:

    Crysis is a funny game. It took until Crysis 3 for people to admit that Crysis 2 wasn’t that great and had taken a wrong turn. :P

    At least it’s earned it’s place now, as opposed to being considered just one more “tech demo”. Other than that, everything I could have said about it has already been said plenty of times before in various articles over the years.

  40. hawseow says:

    Oh wow, many of the titles in the list put a smile on my face. Was hoping to see Dark Messiah of Might & Magic but I’ll pretend it’s represented by Dishonored. Was also hoping to see Syndicate but I’ll pretend it’s represented by Assault On Dark Athena, The New Order and has some distant relation with The Darkness II.

    I guess that’s enough self-rationalization for today…

  41. John O says:

    I skipped to #1 and made the \m/ thing with both hands while forming a silent “YEAH” with my lips. On my bed. With only my reading light on. And now I’m telling the internet. I really like that game a lot.

  42. Muzman says:

    Rather than waffle on my usual suspects (which already got a mention, mostly), I was thinking Return to Castle Wolfenstein itself doesn’t get enough love.

    I think we were all playing a lot of quite good games at the time and it just seemed briefly ok, before being squashed in the temporal memory space between one giant of gaming or other. But I played it again not so long ago and damn its good. I didn’t remember it being quite as good as it was, proving I was spoiled rotten at the time. It’s really solid though, with a nice mix of stealth, open spaces, solid shooting and goofy occult and supernatural stuff.
    Make a category for ‘Probably better than you remember it’

      • Muzman says:

        Actually the shadow of 47 by my reckoning.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Not sure why you are trying to derail people discussing games that didn’t make your list but not only is your joke completely childish, using it over and over again doesn’t make it any funnier.

  43. GardenOfSun says:

    No mention whatsoever of Bioshock Infinite (aside from the snark on Bioshock 2 entry) is kind of odd and disappointing in my opinion. We can certainly argue about not wanting to put it on a top 10 (although I could probably end up doing that if I made my own), but no mention in a top 50? Come on.

      • GardenOfSun says:

        So the game not in the list is at #51 even if it’s not your favourite? But this way ALL GAMES ever will be #51! The universe will COLLAPSE under the weight of logical paradoxes!… Ehm, fair enough.

        In truth re-reading my comment I’ll admit that it came off as a bit passive-aggressive; that wasn’t my intention, as obviously every one is entitled to their own One Objective Truth. Basically the only thing I wanted to point out is that I detected a distinctive prevalence of consideration of gameplay over story, atmosphere, “art” in the making of the list – which, while arguably sensible, seemed to be exagerated when brought to the point of excluding from the list one of the most important artistic achievements in this decade’s gaming.

        But aye, I’ll now crawl back to my Art-Cave in shame for provoking the Anger of the Meer. Won’t do that again! I promise!

        • Alec Meer says:

          Infinite’s fine, but it’s also an overblown compromise which expends most of its resources on incredible set-dressing instead of doing anything especially meaningful with everything it built into its setting. The action can be kind of a drag too (not helped by the whole bin-raiding thing). I felt like I’d have to make too many excuses for it to include it. One can admire it without it having to be ‘best’, y’know?

          • GardenOfSun says:

            I mostly agree, and won’t further argue the point. I’ll just say that, since you yourself invited us to contribute to further recommendations of good fpses, I feel that my own – *to people interested in art and story* – would certainly be BI.

            And Deus Ex, but that’s the Maybe / Maybe Not Best Game of All Time, so aye.

    • colw00t says:

      As far as shooting-ness goes, Infinite doesn’t really do anything that 2 didn’t do, except for the rails which are more fun in theory than practice.

      • GardenOfSun says:

        I totally agree, but see my above answer to The Meer for why I believe this is an oversimplifying view of the matter.

  44. Threstle says:

    Have I been transported to an alternate reality where System Shock 2 never saw the light of day ?

    • subedii says:

      No you’re in the current one where you didn’t bother to read the first page it seems. :/

    • Threstle says:

      My bad! I should have read the whole thing!

  45. technoir says:

    The fact that this list has games like Thief and Dishonored but no 3rd person shooters really shows how arbitrary and often unnecessary genre definitions really are. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re looking through your character’s eyes or over their shoulder when you’re shooting at stuff, but it does matter whether you’re shooting at stuff or sneaking by it.

    Also, I still haven’t quite forgiven RPS for making Far Cry 3 the game of 2012… the outpost missions are too short and most of the weapons too gimmicky to really let you come up with alternate strategies or cause proper open world mayhem. Not to mention the, uh, problematic writing.

    • colw00t says:

      The genre isn’t third person action, third person action has its own genre. That genre is called third person action.

      • technoir says:

        Why are first-person and third-person shooters separate genres? Does the camera position really change the experience *that* much? I feel that people put way too much focus on obvious but superficial features like inventory systems or character stats over what you are actually doing in a game.

        Personally, if the core gameplay of a game consists of shooting I just call it a shooter. Sneaking = stealth game, planning strategies = strategy game, character building = rpg, etc.

        I can’t help but think that maybe our current genre classifications are holding designers back and preventing us from seeing clearly what makes certain games engaging. Exploration, for instance, is a huge part of so many games but you almost never hear anyone talk of “exploration games”. Instead we file them away under rpgs, adventure games, walking simulators and whatnot without realizing they have much more in common with each other than their supposed genre compatriots.

        • Muzman says:

          “Why are first-person and third-person shooters separate genres? Does the camera position really change the experience *that* much?”

          Yes. Yes it does.

          Although the whole Venn diagram of gameplay styles isn’t wholly off the mark, for the time being I think it’s still less specific and more abstract than the typical categorisation methods. The level design, gameplay and interaction developed alongside the viewpoint over the years. A third person shooter has different considerations for all of those things than an FPS does (or at least they both should), just as if its a PC/mouse and keyboard or Console/controller and couch affair. Plus, if you really want to ‘put the player in the game’ the FP perspective is the only way to go. So I think that’s always going to be a distinctive aspect wherever it is used.

          • OmNomNom says:

            No

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            The camera choice and control methods are just the input and output and a part of the user interface between human and software.
            It’s a substantial part of how we experience the gameplay and mechanics but I don’t think that in itself is the only parameter necessary to categorise games relative to one another. The game inside that perspective and control method can be filled with whatever the designers want to put there and that is the relevant information we want to share via categorisation.

            It’s also about level of abstraction. e.g. A 3D web browser with a free-camera and voice input from a cat sitting on a couch is still a web browser even if the user experience is different.
            A 3D film with scary stuff is usually called “horror” and not primarily “3D” even if it also belongs to that category at a higher level of abstraction.

          • Muzman says:

            As I said, the viewpoint and the control scheme isn’t just a view point and a control scheme. It effectively dictates (or at least guides) all kinds of things about spatial design, pace, level design and so forth. This holds for First Person as well as Third Person shooters. Or Top Down for that matter. Just as shooting 24fps film limits how you can move the and handle camera, the viewpoint and control of a game dictates much about what you put on the screen and how. Then there’s the implications of history and tradition, for want of a better word, in comprehending what loose category of game an FPS is.

            You’re really barking up the wrong tree trying to pick apart genre along some cleaner or better line. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. It’s all convention. As said, lots of filmmaking techniques and styles can be employed in something called horror (although there’s some methods that rarely budge). Its only key definition is that it’s a movie attempting to scare you in one way or another. This abstraction is less successful in something like the Western or Sword and Sandal film, which has certain content, setting and story implications wrapped up in it.

          • technoir says:

            Obviously the choice of perspective affects designer considerations but the main gameplay of your game is still a much more defining feature when it comes to game design. “We’re going to make a first person game, should it be an fps, an rpg, an immersive sim or a walking simulator?” vs “We’re going to make a shooter, should it be first-person or third-person?”

            And while camera positions make a difference for designers they’re not as important to the overall player experience, I think. I admit that the wording in my previous messages was poor, it’s not like the choice of perspective is completely arbitrary, but it’s still not the number one thing to base your game categorizations on.

            It’s not like I have a whole alternate genre system hidden under my bed, I just wanted to highlight that we should look at things like these more critically since they do affect the way we think about games whether we want them or not.

          • Muzman says:

            @technoir

            Sure, there’s definitely room for reexamining this stuff. As you say the emergence of things like Walking Simulators has really underlined the point that the FPS as even a vague catch-all for interactive first person game has been stretched beyond useful many times. I think articles like this are really about the, let’s say, cultural cachet the category has (or had) as much as anything else. There’s certainly a lot to be said for finding some new taxonomy of games as well.

        • wengart says:

          The video is made by Dslyecxi and is about Arma. However, I feel like it covers a lot of the important differences in general about the two view points.

    • Stevostin says:

      There is no such a thing as a good third person shooter. By definition, it’s a game about shooting where aiming is off, shooting sensations are non existent, target are smaller on screen providing less satisfaction at killing them (when they’re not hidden by your own ass) and if your game has any reason to support immersion, it also kills that. There are less and less of those, but that’s still too much.

      That being said I agree games with a stealth focus should not really be there.

      • Premium User Badge

        Rilmo says:

        Someone hasn’t played the Max Payne games.

        • Stevostin says:

          I did. They’re the best TPV can do for shooter. If you could give them note, they’ll be noted from 0 to 80%. Because would they be better if in FPV ? Of course they would. Tremendously.

  46. Jenks says:

    The game that brought fps to 3D, that spawned wasd/mouse controls as the default, that took us out of the online multiplayer dark ages to tcp/ip, that brought us 3wave CTF and Team Fortress… is 37? Someone is very bad at lists.

    • Jad says:

      Oh, and please be aware that the list is not ordered until the top 10. Number 50 is as highly recommended as number 11.

      I kind of wish that RPS didn’t even put numbers next to the first 39 if they were going to do it this way, but yeah, feel free to consider Quake as 11, not 37.

      Of course, if you’re arguing that it should be in the top 10, I might actually agree with you, but I’m not sure which of the other top games it should replace. (Well, that’s not true — I do not agree with Planetside 2’s placement, but I understand other people’s love for it)

    • Barberetti says:

      Hilarious isn’t it.

      Don’t worry about it. The only list that really matters is the one in your head.

    • Stevostin says:

      That game is Terminator Futur Shock and it’s not even in the list.

  47. Stevostin says:

    List is pretty ok. Stealth game shouldn’t be there IMO and you can’t seriously omit Borderlands I or II (my vote is II). Also if you can have two Far Cry, you really should have Call of Prypiat.

    Good job overall.

  48. Hellraiserzlo says:

    system shock 2, deus ex, undying, far cry 1(best of them all), half life 2, doom 2, duke nukem 3d, painkiller, republic commando, 51 is the best.

  49. neoncat says:

    I roflolzed when the Mirror’s Edge banner scrolled into view. XD

    oblig HL >>> HL2 (glad we agree! <3)

  50. Kefren says:

    I prefer arrow keys to WASD…

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I prefer ESDF to WASD, especially in RPG’s like KotOR it allows you to bind lots more keys without needing to move your fingers that far away from your movement keys. RDFG makes your hands go too much to the right and feels awkward. In FPS games it’s no that essential, but I’ve grown accustomed to using it, so I’ll rebind the keys of any game I play.

      • Kefren says:

        That’s the thing – as long as you can rebind then I don’t care what the default is. It is games which don’t let you rebind which should be pelted with tomatoes.

    • horrorgasm says:

      Do you still use ALT to strafe too?

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        It’s funny, I actually know several Doomers who still swear by that very setup.
        Tried it myself a couple years ago to see if I could still do it and no dice.
        I DO play Blake Stone entirely with the keyboard to this day, but that’s because it has no source port with GOOD mouselook yet.

      • Kefren says:

        Nah, too close to the Windows key…

    • OmNomNom says:

      How do you find enough keys for anything more complex than Halo?

      • Kefren says:

        Well, left of the arrows are CTRL (duck/sneak), Shift and / for run and jump, Backspace reload, Enter for whatever you want; then a nice block of 6 keys above the arrows; then Num Keys if more are needed. (Numpad 0 was always my quick kick in Duke Nukem). More than enough for System Shock 2 and Deus Ex.

    • grrrz says:

      I use a very weird layout:
      x for up, s for down, c and v for strafe left and right.
      picked up this habit with quake I think, when I was 13 or something and couldn’t understand the relation between qwerty and azerty layout, the game wouldn’t deal with my azerty keyboard. I’m really used to it now, couldn’t play a fps any other way