Last Updated on September 14, 2020 by Scott Krager
FPS, or First Person Shooter, is a video game genre that features weapon-based combat and in which a player experiences the actions through the protagonist’s viewpoint.
Being one of the oldest gaming genres means it has remained popular (we recently wrote a post about fps mice too) since the mid-70s. In today’s post, we’ll talk a deep look at the history of those games.
Many historians agree that the Maze war was the first FPS game. Released in 1973, for the computers at the NASA Ames Research Center, this game revolves around multiple players who can “walk” through a 3D-maze and kill other players in this process.
2nd game of this early era was Spasim. A shortened name for Space Simulator, this game was released in 1974 and unlike most FPS games, put a spaceship as a “first person” instead of a human.
One important thing about the FPS games at those times had a ridiculously slow refresh rate, 1 time/sec.
Although many people don’t think of FPS when arcade games come into their mind, there are some examples of Arcade-FPS games. Most famous of them is the Battlezone by Atari. That game had all the keys elements of an FPS, except graphics. It was a vector-based game where the players were in charge of a tank and capable of moving it in any direction.
Another Arcade FPS game to hit floors was Wizard of Wor. Like some early games, this game featured a maze infected by monsters, and in case of multiple players, it allowed them to shoot at each other.
The third important FPS game of arcade era was Gun Buster. It was unique in the sense that it required a joystick for navigation and a light gun to aim and shoot.
Early “Real” FPS Games
Until now we have discussed several FPS games, but none of them can be classified as FPS games like around us today. Most of the games were just plain vectors. The main reason behind that was the limited technology around that time.
In 1987, a new FPS released for Atari ST by the name of MIDI Maze. Although its game-play was similar to other FPS games, it had good-looking graphics and feature full-fledged multi-playing capability.
Catacomb-3D was also one of the earliest real-FPS games and brought many advanced features such as texture mapping etc.
Both of these games urged game developers to bring more creativity in FPS games.
Rise in popularity
In 1992, id Software created Wolfenstein 3D, an instant success that made FPS genre really popular among masses, because of its improved game-play due to ray-casting technology. Although it had some violence, it didn’t get banned anywhere in the world except Germany (which objected on its Nazi-based iconography).
One year after Wolfenstein, a new game was released titled Doom. Like Wolfenstein, Doom was released as Shareware. On top of that, Doom implemented some new techniques like improved textures, height variations, and light-flickering etc.
Due to all these features, Doom became more popular than the Wolfenstein.
Computer Graphics Advancements
After seeing the unprecedented success of Doom, every company tried to imitate them and made their own version of that game. The market soon started to be flooded with these clones so much that FPS genre became synonymous with “Doom clone”.
That being said we were some genuine games too such as Marathon Trilogy, and Duke Nukem.
Released by Bungee, Marathon Trilogy was mac-exclusive but gained enough critical acclaim
During the E3 show in 1999, Bungie studio released a game called Halo. This one was a real-time strategy game and would turn into a Third Person Shooter (TPS) when the main character was on a vehicle. In 2000, Microsoft bought Bungie Studio and released Halo as one of the first titles for the Xbox.
Thanks to its critical and commercial success, Halo emerged as the leading fps games for consoles. In terms of storyline, Halo was similar to the earlier released Marathon trilogy but had better graphics. In 2004, Microsoft released Halo 2. It was an even bigger release and was one of the first online games for the console market.
After this, new games were released in the form of Far Cry, Crysis, and Far Cry 2. What was unique in these games is that they were the first ones to have an “open-world” feel – where players can roam around when not doing any in-game progress.
On the other hand, games like Call of Duty 4, resistant, and resistance 2 presented a better narration of the storyline.
As you may have realized by now, the fps games we see now have come a long way forward. And now due to their popularity, they have repeatedly featured in eSports competitions all around the world.