User Opinion: The chaos of the FPS genre

After reading the recent opinion piece (that was excellent, mind you) by QuesterX, I was finally pushed far enough out of my laziness into writing my own opinion piece, and about FPS games too. But there is a big difference between QuesterX’s opinion and my own. Mine’s a little darker, more cynical and ultimately far more jaded. It’s a feeling that’s been gestating inside me ever so slowly, like a retarded chestburster that refuses to get out within 24 hours of gestation, then finally after about a year and a half kicks itself out of my chest, angry looking and somewhat phallic in shape.

I hate most of the modern FPS games.

And now that we’ve reached the next paragraph and I’ve given you five odd minutes to throw enough stones at me for such a blasphemous remark, allow me to explain. I’ve been playing FPS games since I was 8-years old; my first major addiction being Unreal Tournament (and to a lesser extent before that, GoldenEye). Though Blizzard’s games were the ones to have my heart, Unreal Tournament stole my soul. For years I played away at this game, frantically moving about at a rapid pace, annihilating opponents with my Shock Combos and dodging rockets in split seconds. It was intense, addictive and a great deal of fun. Struggling to play online with my 56k internet connection was absolutely terrific in some strange way, because I knew I was playing with real people online, and having a blast doing so.

Years later, I’m at a stage where I’m in one of the top clans in Australia for Unreal Tournament 2004, and was playing 1 on 1s with players who were avid contenders for the World Cyber Games. I became a competitive gamer. I was taught complex and mind-bending tactics, and I hit a point where I was able to pinpoint exactly where opposing players were by just hearing the sound of a health vial being picked up on the other side of the map. It was exhilarating and, dare I say it, all this hardcore play taught me a style of FPS play that is both consistent and vicious in application in all FPS games.

All this eventually died out over the years as most communities do: transitioning over to new games and continuing our sprees and insanity there. But that never really happened. Unreal Tournament 3 was a failure, Epic finally showing their true colours and leaving the UT series for dead; and Quake 3 was great, albeit slowly fading away too, Rocket Arena 3 being played by only a small group. And then came the tide that was Modern Warfare, which changed a lot of things, for better or worse.

Now don’t get me wrong, I liked the first Modern Warfare. It played well and the responsiveness of the gunplay was solid. But the problem was the perks and a big chunk of the community.

Perks, to me, are a double-edged sword. While it does indeed mix things up a little and make for a more dynamic style of play, what it also does is damage the balance of the game and reduce the level of skill required to pop off that glorious kill from afar. And with these perks, it brought in an influx of some of the most cock-sure and smarmy players I’ve ever encountered in a game. It turned a lot of players into extremely arrogant and irritating jerks, and it really reduced the appeal of the game by an enormous margin. Suddenly skillful or well-placed and timed attacks were not something that was applauded, but ridiculed (or accusations of “OMFG HAX I AM 12 WHAT IS THIS”).

But not only this, Modern Warfare also went the regenerative health and ‘only start with two weapons’ route, which I also feel is a double-edged sword. I don’t necessarily have a problem with it in Modern Warfare because it makes sense and does indeed give focus to the gameplay mechanics, but at the same time it caused a chain-reaction in the genre, and now every game is doing it (I’m aware that Halo did it first, but it’s arguable that Modern Warfare’s immense levels of success spread the trend even farther across the industry). It’s fine in moderation, but every game? That sucks.

I could go on and on and point out the problems I have with the influx of modern FPS games, but to sum it up, I miss the old-school gameplay, and I miss the balance of it all. That’s ultimately it. No FPS has shown any level of balance that the older games such as Painkiller, Quake 3, Unreal Tournament and Counter-Strike had. While those games had strong level design with focussed mechanics and a huge reliance on tactical and mental power, games such as Modern Warfare 2 show responsive mechanics, but completely haywire levels of balancing. Perks have made things more accessible but, in turn, made every immature newbie think he’s a God-king when in reality he’s just a smack-talking little dick. The community aspect and respect, for me at least, is all but dead; and that was a big reason why I always went back to the games of old.

I have always held the philosophy that a simplistic design is key to making a fantastic game. Quake 3: simplistic design that’s easy to pick up and hard to master, and is now reborn as Quake Live, bringing back many of the older players. StarCraft: very simple concept in RTS, but holds near-perfect balance and has incredible amounts of depth in its mechanics; 12 years of competitive play proving this. Shadow of the Colossus: simple task and simple concept – absolutely extraordinary execution and memorable gameplay. All these games are remembered, cherished and considered masterpieces of gaming, and they all hold that same philosophy: simplistic design that becomes incredibly in-depth as the players master it.

Features and accessibility in FPS games (or games in general) should never be a bad thing. The more options you have, the better. But I feel there comes a point where sometimes things become a little ‘too’ accessible, and a little too cluttered in features. And this in turn breaks the balance and beauty of what FPS can be, and throws it into chaos.

frozencry’s opinions are not necessarily shared by DLC, but he wrote a killer piece that we felt should be shared with you all!

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Latest posts by frozencry (see all)

  • Bagmup

    First up… MW2 broke what was great about CoD4 and W@W.

    Secondly… You cant blame Call of Duty for the state of FPS, that honour goes to Halo and MLG

    I.W. and Treyarch had it just right with the perk system, everyone had the same three perks available if you got to use them, great, if not, no biggy. It's the old problem of giving everyone to much choice, in mw2 everyone wants a Nuke, yet when i check my friends cod4 stats, only a couple have managed a 25 kill streak.
    This brings up a FPS No.1 enemy…the camper. These guys dont camp normally, they are a product of I.W. bad game design of giving the player too much choice, everyone wants to nuke the map at least once, i've called 2 nukes and i admit i camped 'em both and had help from friends getting them (protecting me, not standing in front of my gun and dying) I guarantee if MW2 gave the same three perks to each player, the shitfest that is Modern Warfare 2 wouldn't exist.

  • PSIress

    Love cod4, still play it to this day, but I despise the game that is mw2. Perks killed that game.

  • PSIress

    Especially agree on second comment. Only since then did playing fps's become a serious business instead of just fun.

  • QuesterX

    Dude, i totally loved the carp out of Q2 and Q3. I was in a clan for one of them and rocket arena 2 blew my mind. But i go back and play them now and they just don't hold my interest. Its the same thing, level after level. Just shooting rockets or rails at moving targets with no real goal but to do it again and again and again.

    If you want an old game that died well before its time look to Tribes 1. If there was ever a game in desperate need of an HD remake its that one. God that game was good. It had all the elements of modern games – being points for objectives etc, without the current polish of unlockable weapons.

    Also, why do you not like rechargable health? I get the nostalgia thing but i think that rechargable health is one of the BEST changes in FPS gaming, not the worst. Who wants to have to hunt for a med pack in the middle of a battle field. Once the current fire fight is over you should be able to take cover, wait for a bit, and then head out again to fight. BC2 has done it well with health that recharges incredibly slowly so you get both sides of the fence – you have to decide whether or not its more tactical to push up quickly in a weakened state or to wait until you recharge and move up.

    In another note i am taking 2 days off to play SC2, starting with midnight tonight. wish me luck!

  • Frozencry

    Rechargable health made things too easy.

    Sounds weird I know, but I came from FPS games where constantly watching your health and controlling the map with pick-ups was paramount to surviving. It added a level of strategy in the game that is FAR more intense than “sit behind something for a few seconds and you're good to go”. I agree that BC2 did it pretty well, but BC2 has its own unique set of problems, like hit rego (though that's been a problem with most BF games anyway). But overall, BC2 is the best team-based shooter currently available (I gave it a 9 on PALGN).

    My overall problem with the health system is that it's overused. Almost EVERY FPS game uses it now and considering my background with FPS..yeah it grows tiresome.

    Also, I'm a nostalgic fart so of course I'll shake my fist at everything modern!

    (I too will not sleep when SC2 arrives. One more day!)

  • Frozencry

    Halo was certainly the catalyst to the current state of FPS, but Modern Warfare pushed it even further with its immense success, and the inclusion of perk setups.

    Like I said, it's not that I have a problem with Modern Warfare; it played well, was polished and though I took issue with the perk setups, it was bearable (that and being a PC gamer, the competitive mods such as ProMod effectively removed them and turned the game into something a lot more punishing on a competitive note). But the chain reaction it caused in the genre was far worse, with MW2 being the main culprit.

    Obviously if they didn't clutter the game with an obscene amount of killstreaks and perks, MW2 might've been perfectly fine, but the fact is it did oversaturate with features and made the game incredibly easy to dominate, and its success levels are once again influencing a lot of upcoming FPS titles to do things similarily. And yes, MW2 promotes camping; it's the easiest way to win in MW2, and 95% of the userbase are egotistical 13 year olds that can't bear a loss. Pretty sad community base when I think about it..

    It's likely that I'm a little jaded primarily because of my competitive background, as back in the UT/Quake/CS scene, there was no such thing as regenerative health, perks or killstreaks. It was pretty much a mental game of outsmarting and outgunning your opponents and controlling the map. Pretty much none of that is needed in most modern FPS games, and I kind of miss that level of intensity that such design brought along.

    Bulletstorm looks like fucking madness though. People Can Fly totally know how to pull off stylish.

  • popshott

    mw2 destroyed a great Cod series. Also I just can no longer look at another FPS game again, and feel the same. Damn u MW2

  • Bagmup

    I somewhat agree about the perks being overpowered in some instances. Talking CoD4 here, not mw2…
    Helicopters in hardcore HQ, oh i hate these things, if you manage to get one it's like having a “win” button because the other team will be decimated by it trying to get to the next HQ, RPG's? no use because that bitch will own you as soon as you step outside.
    So yeah, i wouldn't mind a stripped down version of COD, no perks, no health regen, no killstreaks, just you and your gun…just like god intended.
    Tis the main reason PSI, Garnet and I play Hardcore S&D in CoD4, it does take strategy, map domination and cunning to win.

  • PSIress

    HC all the way! At most you get a UAV

  • Jayveesy

    umm…why are skillful and well placed attacks ridiculed..i mean it’s pretty much the bread and butter of what should be admired about FPS games, without it what else can you admire about someone’s performance?

  • Jayveesy

    All the games you mentioned like Quake 3 and Counter Strike were full of hackers i think that’s why they died out.