GameFront 2010: Best First-Person Shooters

Oh man. You didn’t just read that title and go, “What, you mean Halo and Call of Duty,” did you?

Damn. So did I. It’s gonna be a long morning.

Looking back, 2010 was actually a pretty thin year for the FPS. Sure, we got entries into the big franchises — Halo, Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, BioShock and Battlefield all saw updates this year, but none of them is exactly spectacular. If you owned a Mac, you finally got a chance to play Half-Life 2; that was kind of cool. Wii players got to pitch throwing knives like it was 1997, but it was 2010 and they were using Wii Remotes in Goldeneye 007. Whoo-hoo.

There aren’t many standouts, and certainly nothing breathtaking. Goldeneye was not some kind of FPS rapture (although we kinda hoped it would be), BioShock 2 seriously lacked the flair of the original, and the story of Halo: Reach has been known since Halo 1 — everyone dies at the end, because the Covenant nuke that freakin’ planet. Spoiler alert.

Still, there were some great moments in FPS play this year, and the GameFront staff got together to talk about our favorite first-person shooters of 2010. Behold, our picks: If you want to shoot something, these are this year’s games to do it in.

Halo: Reach

Shawn Sines’ pick

This may sound like a cop-out since I’m choosing one of the biggest game launches of the year for the Xbox 360, but honestly, Halo: Reach delivered for me in so many ways. First, it was the swan song for Bungie that lets them go off and do something not-Halo — which I’m interested in — and it also told a story I already knew the ending to in a way that actually made me care.

The events surrounding the fall of Reach were really well-established in the dialog of the previous Halo games and the published novel, but I found Noble Team’s conflict a lot more relatable than the superhero Master Chief was by the end of Halo 3.  From a gameplay standard, Halo: Reach dared to push things a bit with the space missions, which I also enjoyed more than I expected.

Multiplayer is the bread and butter of the Halo community, and the marginal updates to this game mode were nice. The addition and enhancements of Firefight mode are still the best fun I’ve had playing Halo since the 10-year-old crowd took over the game scene, spouting pointless obscenities, years ago. Sure, the average maturity level of the online Halo player is still about 12, but in Firefight I can manage to ignore them.

Phil Hornshaw’s two cents: Simply adding a decent sprinting ability makes this one of the year’s best shooters. I’ve been waiting for a way to escape sniper 12-year-olds for almost a decade.

Metro 2033

Phil Owen’s pick

Quite simply, Metro 2033 is the most immersive gaming experience I had this year. I’ve written this year about the importance of world-building in games in reference to open-world titles like Red Dead Redemption and Fallout, but the same thought applies here; the world of Moscow’s metro system — and the bombed-out city above — as constructed by 4A is as breathtaking as it is unforgettable.

But where Metro 2033 really makes its mark is in its story progression. As I made my way through the tunnels and became more aware of the desperate situation befalling my fellow humans, I couldn’t help but feel as if I were taking part in an epic and impossible journey to save the world — even though the scope of the story never extends beyond Moscow.

The first-person shooter genre is special because it literally puts you in the head of the protagonist. Few games have ever done that — truly done that — as well as Metro 2033 does.

Ben’s Two Cents: Phil really nailed it with the reference to the “head” of the protagonist. The best part of this game is the way the developers use the first-person view to their advantage by deploying the game’s most unique mechanic: the gas mask. Take damage, and its glass cracks. Use the same air filter for too long, and you start to breathe heavily, panting your way to asphyxiation. When these effects combine — during particularly frantic fight sequences in the irradiated wasteland — the psychological effect can be quite harrowing, conveying a sense of claustrophobia, panic, and impending doom. When you reach safety, and pull the mask off, the sense of relief is palpable.

Call of Duty: Black Ops

Phil Hornshaw’s pick

If it weren’t for its impossible-to-overlook multiplayer, Black Ops would actually have been kind of terrible. There’s a lot about this game I don’t like: its awkward, choppy story; its auto-pilot-y, monotonous campaign mode; its lackluster, if not totally rage-inducing, helicopter portions (although I might be in the minority on that one — see Jon Soucy’s comments below).

But then there’s this:

EMBED-Black Ops Random Care Package Kill – Watch more free videos

The quality of the multiplayer experience in Black Ops is augmented only by the ability to capture the ridiculous moments that happen in it with the Theater mode. And Treyarch found a quality way to improve on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2′s already spectacular multiplayer mechanics by making them fully customizable with its points purchasing system.

The improvements to last year’s title, for me, make Black Ops the definitive FPS online multiplayer experience of the year. All the rewarding game play features of the last few iterations of CoD are back, but Treyarch has made some very cool improvements to keep the online modes fresh. Contracts, wager matches, new challenges: all take your thinking and planning of how you’re going to be killing virtual soldiers controlled by French kids to another, better level.

Plus, you can play the Zombies mode straight out of the box, and when you finish the game, you can do so as John “Freakin’ Zombie Asskicker” Kennedy. The upsides of playing with your friends vastly outweigh Sam Worthington’s overwrought voice acting. (Is there a reason that he just screams some lines? I still haven’t figured that out why he’s getting so angry about explaining simple concepts like, “We went there to shoot that guy.”)

Jon Soucy’s two-cents: Best single-player FPS experience in 2010, with good variation of game play accompanied with unique level design and diversity. The story was interesting and well put-together with a good twist. Plus the helicopter piloting was just awesome cool!

Cabella’s Dangerous Hunts 2011

Mark Burnham’s pick

Shut up, Call of Duty. This is the most fun I’ve had playing a first-person shooter all year. Everything else felt like a beautifully polished door knob — we’ve seen it before, everywhere. But now it’s shinier.

And honestly, Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011 doesn’t do anything different, either. In fact, it’s kind of a parody of first-person shooters, even if it doesn’t realize it. It’s unintentionally hilarious. You’re in the woods with your buddies, and you’re lookin’ to take down some game. You main goal is to hunt and kill animals in the woods, and enjoy it. You’d envision there’s a trip to a steak house lodge planned after the killing sesh, which you never get to.

My favorite character is the main guy leading your crew. He is a mix between Solid Snake, Anthony Hopkins in the movie The Edge, and your hunting grandpa. He has a glass eye, and he doesn’t care.

You basically walk around in the snow and shoot at wolves, deer, mountain lions and bears that walk in front of your gun. The gameplay is actually faster than you’d expect. Wolves charge mercilessly in packs. It’s crazy.

One good/bad touch is, there are these slow-motion x-ray vision quick time events. Beasts hurl themselves at you in slo-mo, and you can see their insides (for no explained reason. You just have that super power at that time). So you have to shoot their heart for a “heartshot,” or their head for a “headshot.”

My point is, the whole thing is a ridiculous riot. It’s a game you can play drunk with a friend and have the best time ever. It doesn’t demand a lot of you. It is simply a gift, and one you can enjoy with a non-gamer friend. It definitely has that power: non-gamers will go ape-sh*t for this. Guaranteed. Final note: Phil Owen approves of the Cabela series, and his enjoyment of playing games while drinking is well documented.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Ron Whitaker’s pick

I’ve always loved the Battlefield series, but Battlefield 2 and 2142 dwindled my interest a bit with their heavy focus on vehicles.  Bad Company 2 hitting PC this year was a godsend, especially for those of us who aren’t fans of Call of Duty’s multiplayer frenzy.

The Battlefield games have always had great balance, interesting maps, and solid mechanics, a legacy that Bad Company 2 carries on on well.  It offers several game modes, including the popular Rush, as well as classic Conquest, the mode that made Battlefield famous. All of this is powered by the Frostbite engine, which lets you destroy trees, walls, buildings, and more.  There’s nothing quite like the feeling of causing a building to fall down on your enemy.

Everyone wants multiplayer progression these days, and BC2 delivers that as well, offering 50 levels and a pile of unlocks.  These unlocks aren’t overly powerful, which helps preserve the game balance, but they do reward you for time spent and good play.  You can also work toward collecting all the medals and ribbons for online accomplishments.

The singleplayer campaign is short and a bit disappointing, but the multiplayer is just so good that it doesn’t matter.  To make things even better, DICE is set to roll out a brand new Vietnam-based expansion that should bring even more people into their online world.

Without question, Bad Company 2 set the bar for multiplayer shooters in 2010, and nothing else even got close.  It’s easily my favorite shooter of the year.

Jon Soucy’s two-cents: Best multiplayer ground-pounder Battlefield game in years. It gets back to the roots of BF1942′s troop vs. vehicle balancing. Loads of unlockables and a fair amount of reasons to keep blasting the n00bs in multiplayer. If you’re a long-time FPS or Battlefield fan and haven’t tried Bad Company 2 — you FAIL.

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16 Comments on GameFront 2010: Best First-Person Shooters

Albert

On December 4, 2010 at 2:16 am

Agreed, BF is so much more refreshing than any fps ive played recently, and a lot more innovative than the same game activision has been releasing for the past 5 years.

corpse

On December 4, 2010 at 3:32 am

Jon Soucy, I totally agree with that statement. Plus I still think Doom should be on this list no matter what cause it is still a freaking awesome game.(like wolfinstine that started it all)

Hey to me best game I ever played was doom.

fdgdfsg

On December 4, 2010 at 11:42 am

CRYSIS

AnImpatientFan

On December 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Halo Reach
Black Ops
BFB2

Metro 2033 was just… boring, dull, and frustrating.

SirToomis

On December 4, 2010 at 4:21 pm

corpse I dont think your old enough to remember when Doom came out.

The best games should be as follows and I am not talking for 2010

Doom Yes great game if they could do this in 3d that would be perfect.
Quake. this is the best first person shooter only because the quake engine was the best of its time.
Soldier of fortune 1 and 2 Double helix was the best game ever You cant get that type of dedication to a game today. while SOF2 lasted a solid 6 years with a high MP player rate you cant get that even with Battle field 2.
Call of duty 4 3 2 and the original Activisions thoughts on how to screw over the hard core PC gamers with steam and VAC was just senseless and Now with Black Ops being a one server host option just blows…

so there you go the best games to date
Doom
Quake
Soldier of fortune 1-2 DH
Battle field 2
Call of duty Pre MW2

Ekythump3

On December 4, 2010 at 8:16 pm

I feel MOH is far better than COD this year.Especially the multiplayer.I used to prefer COD from day one,but it’s become too arcadish and I feel the gameplay in MOH is much more realistic and the graphics are exceptional.Too many people also exploit the glitches too much in COD and it isn’t as fair and fun as it use to be.

corpse

On December 4, 2010 at 9:58 pm

SirToomis I’m pretty sure I was. Doom still blows away half the games that are put out today. Quake is good but not as good as Doom. Plus Soldier of fortune 1-2 never played them, I would replace that with Red Faction starting off the destroy everything engines for fps, BF2 is very good but I think that the Bad Company series is better than most BF games due to the unique Frost Byte engine that creates all the possible technology that allowed them to pull off such a awesome game that breaks all rules of fps game play for multi-player and single-player. Call of duty was good for its first 2 games, when treyarch took over it went to crap, sure they made some good console games out of the series but the latest has been garbage. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was one of the best that Infinity Ward made, but had some flaws in map design and respawn points. I still enjoy the first call of duty the best of all due to the fact that when you play the multi-player maps you battle in sections instead of large areas, for example, Call of Duty’s maps felt like I played in a 4 corner respawn. Every time my team’s spawn was taken over it wold put your team in another spawn location in a corner of the map way from the dominating team, gives the game a good mix and forces players to not camp and play all sections of the map. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare played in halves when the team was over run on one half the losing team would respawn on the other half of the map, not giving that 4 corners game play and allowing the dominating team to expect the next spawn point.
In any case of call of duty making this list is not possible anymore, now the only game I have always been coming back to is Medal of Honor. Even though the AI is little rough around the edges it beats the hell out of the CoD series. I enjoyed the Medal of Honor campaigns more than CoD.SirToomis typed,”corpse I dont think your old enough to remember when Doom came out.” That makes you sound like a if I’m not reading that wrong. I’m pretty sure whoever puts doom in the best FPS of any year would remember that game’s release.
oh ya plus doom is in 3d you just never seemed to pay attention that there was a doom 3.(most scary game I have every played) even doom in 3d still beats quake in my opinion. Quake feels dark and creepy and Doom feels scary with trap doors and overwhelming battles that you feel that you can’t win. Monster grunts that can be heard in certain parts of the map in Doom preparing the player for battle, I think doom hasn’t changed.(not saying that quake doesn’t have that, it just doesn’t feel as scary as doom in my opinion) Now quake I have the first one and played a demo of Quake 4 game seems like it took a huge turn from dark and creepy to big battle with military forces vs aliens. Even though doom had aliens in it still felt like I was fighting more demons from hell then I could handle than aliens. quake felt like I was fighting monsters from the old times like zombies, Infected Dogs, Floating creatures, Yetis and so on. Not saying quake didn’t have any traps which it had tons but didn’t give me that getting overwhelmed battles feeling that doom has.
I agree with Ekythump3 that MOH is better but COD went too far with arcade. If your going to build off of arcade style make it timesplitters style. Have your players find weapons instead of starting with every thing(like halo too). I knew MOH was going to be great due to the fact that DICE had a hand in the Multi-player of their game and plus I have been a fan of the series since the first game. DICE has done a great job building and trying to fix multiplayer problems from the 2 titles that they made BC and BC2. Changing up the use of the classes from BC has Increased the title’s gameplay and fun. Giving a player a choice of solo play or team play is great for that game, which CoD has none.

Crycry

On December 5, 2010 at 1:16 am

CRYSIS! GOD YOU LEFT OUT CRYSIS!

Ron Whitaker

On December 5, 2010 at 7:24 pm

To those of you wondering why we left out Doom, Crysis, or (INSERT YOUR FAVORITE OLD ASS GAME HERE) on this list, please note this:

This are our favorite FPS titles of this year. Not of all time, not of the last ten years, just 2010.

But if we are talking about best ever, nothing beats Battlefield 1942. Period, hands down. Trust me, I’m old enough to have played Doom on launch. It wasn’t as good as you think it was.

Heru

On December 5, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Besides BF:BC2 this was a year for FPS’s. The real awesomeness was with third-person shooters/RPG’s this year. Between Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2 and a few others it looks like FPS’s might be loosing a bit of the luster they’ve had the past few years. Or maybe thats just me =P

Phil Hornshaw

On December 6, 2010 at 5:34 pm

@Heru Aaaaagreeeeeed. The FPS genre needs to figure out some new tricks, and fast. It’s getting tired. I played Killzone 3 at Comic Con and was kind of…well, just bored, really. Helghast in the snow look a whole helluva lot like Nazis in the snow. Which I’ve been killing digitally for, like, most of my life.

Shovan Luessi

On December 6, 2010 at 6:18 pm

I also said ‘What, you mean Halo and COD?’.

Bioshock is a great game, I haven’t played 2 yet though… (same thing with Battlefield: Bad Company, didn’t get 2).
From my experience, anything with “2″ on it wasn’t as good as first one. Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty 2, Halo 2, etc. Not that they were bad games, but I always found myself playing the first one while owning the second.

I agree with Heru, Red Dead Redemption kicked ass (or rather I did, guilty of a 43 killspree ;) . Classic FPS = Wolfenstein (in fact I still play Enemy Territory and RTCW).

I didn’t like the first Medal of Honor that much, and the next games (to me) were merely expansions.
But this Medal of Honor = COD4 + Much Better Graphics. Therefore it is awesome.

I don’t own Black Ops yet, but I can already guess it is MW2 + WaW. And Halo: Reach = Halo 3 + ODST + Much Better Graphics. Fortunately I no longer own MW2, WaW, or Halo 3.

Halo: Reach “told a story I already knew the ending to in a way that actually made me care”.

It is hypocritical when people say that games have too small of a campaign when in fact they don’t. Either the reviewer played it on normal/easy diffuculty, or is a troll. Halo: Reach had a 24hr (for me, although I don’t rush the objective and played solo) campaign if you played it on Legendary (not to mention skulls). Even if you are an expert (rusher), I doubt you can beat the game in less then 8 hours when it is set on legendary. Or 12. And that is fairly reasonable compared to some other games.

corpse

On December 6, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Ron we like the old games just let us post hahaha…oh come on you love doom and you know it. battlefield 1942 is great though.
I think I was the one who screwed up the comment posts…maybe…my bad.

The Doctor

On December 7, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Bioshock 2 isn’t included? Abysmal.

Phil Owen

On December 9, 2010 at 1:04 am

Bioshock 2 is a bad game.

corpse

On December 9, 2010 at 2:56 am

Heru I hope Brink blows your mind. I’m very excited about Splash Damage’s newest title keep an eye out for that one it looks wicked.