Specials: A scintillating selection of six sweet shooters.
Ah, the first person shooter ? the bane of ignorant knee-jerk politicians and the love of many a PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 gamer. While the basic premise of the FPS hasn't changed since the original Wolfenstein 3D ? shoot everything that moves ? the genre has made major advancements in gameplay, AI, story telling and of course, graphics. In fact, you can thank id Software's groundbreaking FPS games for driving the development of better, faster and more powerful PC and console hardware. So it's no surprise that id is once again at the forefront of three of the six most highly anticipated shooters not named Halo 3 or Gears of War.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
Three years ago, developer Splash Damage made a big, um, splash with Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory in more ways than one. First, people snickered at how they must have screwed up the planned expansion pack to the phenomenal RTCW since the single player component was toasted and the multiplayer was released as a free standalone download. The snickering stopped the instant gamers discovered just how damn fun
it was; simply put, it set the standard for class-based team multiplayer. So you can understand why gamers are salivating at the upcoming spiritual sequel, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.
Storywise, the game is a prequel to Quake II as the determined Earth Defense Force (EDF) struggle against the evil Strogg invasion of Earth. Each side will have their own distinct and unique weaponry, vehicles (which range from armored jeeps, tanks, aircraft and even a mech-like walker), deployable items (like radar, turrets, missile launchers and airstrikes) and abilities. While both sides will have the same class types, the EDF will have more traditional, realistic roles whereas the Strogg will focus more on offense. For example, the EDF Medic will heal fallen comrades with health injections while the Strogg equivalent can use a human corpse to spawn a dead buddy. Other classes include the Field Ops, Engineer (who will no doubt be key to victory) and Ranger (the sniper). The Strogg Infiltrator can take over human corpses to ?disguise? himself, similar to the Covert Ops class in RTCW: Enemy Territory.
Gameplay has changed from the linear ?complete objective A, then move on to objective B? to a more Battlefield-like style where you will have to capture territories. You will still have to complete certain objectives (which will require certain classes), but to further promote teamwork, you will only be able to capture territories in a specific order. Each map will have different objectives and will take place in a variety of Earth locations, including forest, desert, urban and so on.
Since the game is using the Doom 3 engine, it's not surprising that the game looks stunning. What is surprising, however, is the intricate level of detail, from the way you can see the medicine in the Medic's backpack deplete as he injects teammates, to how you can watch other players reload their weapons, to the incredibly detailed character models and realistic animation. There is no doubt that this is shaping up to be the
killer PC shooter at the top of any gamer's ?must have? list. Sadly, an Xbox 360 version has not been announced but if the game lives up to its promise, it would be a tragedy if it wasn't ported over to the acknowledged ?shooter's console?.
Unreal Tournament 2007
Any discussion about shooters wouldn't be complete without mentioning the FPS competitor's staple, Unreal Tournament. The latest version is perhaps best described as a blend of the original and 2004, generally considered the most loved and most innovative of the franchise, respectively. Epic listened to their fans and are removing what they didn't like and enhancing what they did, which means the insane jumping moves are being toned down, melee attacks have been reduced to a single melee weapon, and the unpopular Domination mode is history.
Enhancements will include a brand new weapon loadout (which will naturally include the Flak Cannon), more vehicles (including a new set from the Necris), improved bot AI and single player campaign, and the new Conquest multiplayer mode which requires you to capture territories. The cool thing about Conquest is that it will take place on huge maps and is being planned as a persistent campaign, meaning that your performance on one map will affect the vehicles and weapons you receive in the next map, or you could be pushed back into a corner.
But of course, the big news is the uber powerful Unreal Engine 3. In a word, the graphics are unbelievable. The level of detail, explosion and particle effects, lighting and shadow effects, animation and physics are a sight to behold. PC gamers will need some pretty hefty hardware to fully enjoy the engine's beauty, and it will likely give the PS3 a good workout, but one thing is for sure: Unreal Tournament 2007 will be one of the prettiest games ever. Oh, and it should also be a fast-paced fun-filled fragfest too.
John Woo Presents Stranglehold
Sure, everyone's looking forward to Enemy Territory and Unreal. But true action fans experienced orgasmic joy on the news that high octane director John Woo was working on a video game sequel to his over-the-top cinematic masterpiece, Hard Boiled.
No one does action movies like John Woo; compared to Hard Boiled
and The Killer
(his best film), Hollywood flicks like The Matrix
, The Terminator
and Die Hard
are boring amateurish drivel in comparison. Oh, yes, folks, he's that good. The double-fisted pistols that never run out of ammo? That's John Woo's trademark. The slow motion dive-shoot-roll? Woo. The morbidly beautiful ballet of guns blazing and bodies flying? Yup, you guessed it.
Best of all, the ultracool Chow Yun-Fat returns to reprise his role as Inspector Tequila, the tough-as-nails hard boiled cop who isn't satisfied until he fills bad guys with about 10 pounds of bullets. Like Woo's films, the game will feature plenty of stylized violence which will naturally include a ?Tequila Time? bullet-time slow motion mode. Tequila won't just be a walking turret either, as he will be able to dive, roll, slide down banisters, jump backwards over tables and swing on chandeliers, all while never missing a shot. He can jump and shoot in any direction, and even blast enemies while in mid-air.
The game is being built on the Unreal Engine 3, so needless to say, it looks awesome. The environments will be fully destructible and considering the amount of bullets that will be flying, the particle physics should be quite impressive with shattered glass, woodwork, plaster and blood spraying all over the place.
If all that doesn't impress you, the only thing you need to know is that you'll be in the middle of a furiously action-packed John Woo film by the end of the year. Oh, yeah, baby.
As you can see, the future promises a great time for shooter fans. But wait, there's more, so stay tuned for Part 2, which will take a look at war 200 years in the future, a game showcasing a sparkling brand new engine, and a revolutionary game named after a famous psychedelic drug-popping humanist.