Blood was originally spawned from a joint venture between 3D Realms and Monolith Productions until the latter took over in January 1997. Based on 3D Realms' Build engine, the game thrusted players into the role of Caleb, a former supreme commander of a cult called "The Cabal," brought back from the dead. Bitter and out for blood, the tools of his vengeance against the ancient, forgotten god Tchernobog and its minions were deliciously sinister, consisting of voodoo dolls, firearms, and magical weapons. Blood spawned only one sequel, Blood II: The Chosen. On a side note, South Korean manhwa artist Hyung Min-woo claims that Blood was the inspiration behind his popular manga/comic, Priest. Both feature an undead protagonist in a horror-Western setting.
Star Wars: Dark Forces
While the classic X-Wing and TIE-Fighter games threw players into the cockpits of Rebellion and Imperial ships, 1995’s Star Wars-themed first-person shooter Star Wars: Dark Forces pulled them out of the seat and placed blasters in their hands. Developed and published by LucasArts, Dark Forces told the story of Kyle Katarn, a mercenary employed by the Rebel Alliance. But unlike DOOM, which reigned as the FPS king at the time Dark Forces hit store shelves, the Star Wars shooter didn't offer a multiplayer component. However, the Dark Forces engine was seemingly a bit more advanced, allowing gamers to run, swim, duck, jump, and even look in all directions. Dark Forces spawned three sequels.
Raven Software’s Heretic and Hexen may have brought the fantasy genre to the first-person shooter, but Ion Storm's award-winning Deus Ex integrated unique role-playing and adventure elements. The game arrived on the PC back in June 2000, telling the story of rookie United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition agent JC Denton as he fought terrorist forces in a dystopian 2050s. The storyline was extremely immersive, packed with enough intrigue to qualify it as a legitimate Hollywood sci-fi thriller. Ion Storm managed to spawn one additional sequel before shutting down for good by the end of 2004. A third installment, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, is expected to arrive at the end of this month.
Although still considered a first-person shooter, Interplay’s Descent took the pistol out of your hands and put you in the cockpit of a highly-maneuverable spaceship. Released back in March 1995, the game was different than the then-benchmark DOOM in that it offered six degrees of freedom. Gamers could navigate corridors using both the horizontal and vertical axis. At the time, Descent was also one of the first titles to render objects in 3D by using polygon meshes; however, it also used sprites for objects like power-ups and hostages. The game spawned two sequels and a PlayStation port.
Does id Software's classic really need an introduction? Although many first-person shooters came before it, DOOM placed the genre on the map back in 1993. Its appearance created a wave of clones that tried to capture its energy, its addictive gameplay, and its immersive environment. DOOM also brought local network multiplayer gaming and supported user-made custom maps. Since its release, id churned out three sequels and a large number of ports, but none of them seemed to make the same bold statement as the original DOOM. A fourth installment is currently in the works, but it would be great to see the original game recreated from the ground-up using id's latest engine, id Tech 5.
Duke Nukem 3D
3D Realms' classic FPS Duke Nukem 3D is probably one of the most deserving of a makeover, simply because fans waited so long for the release of its successor, Duke Nukem Forever. Originally appearing in 1996, Duke Nukem 3D brought a new brand of gaming to the genre, marking its place alongside id Software's DOOM, Quake, and Epic's Unreal. Duke’s unique blend of alien ass-kicking action, witty one-liners, and humorous sexual suggestions made Duke Nukem 3D one of the most unforgettable games ever created. Duke actually ignited the idea behind this article, as one fan is taking it upon himself to rebuild the game from scratch using Epic’s Unreal Engine 3. So far, the facelift is looking mighty sexy...
Heretic takes a different approach to DOOM's space marine-on-Mars theme by putting you in a fantasy setting. Using a modified id Tech 1 engine, Raven Software incorporated the ability to look up and down, added an inventory system, and integrated interactive environments. Spinoff game Hexen, which took place in an adjacent realm, offered gamers three character class choices (cleric, fighter, or mage), jumping, and a hub system that allowed players to travel back and forth between levels. Both games were awesome in their overall presentation, and both spawned a sequel (although Heretic II is the only title of the four that used a third-person perspective).
Kingpin: Life Of Crime
Xatrix Entertainment's Kingpin: Life of Crime hit the PC back in June 1999, offering a different style of gameplay in the first-person genre. Rather than fighting demons, ghouls, or aliens, players lived on the streets in a quasi-retro time period filled with modern technology and 1930s art deco. The game focused on the character’s lust for revenge after the Kingpin's henchmen previously roughed him up and left him for dead. Unfortunately, the game hit store shelves just after the Columbine massacre. Thus, it became an immediate target because of its excessive violence. Nevertheless, the game brought in positive reviews during its day, showing that the aged Quake 2 engine still had some spunk left in the visual department.
Long before Halo hit the Xbox, Bungie Software developed and published the sci-fi themed Marathon for the Apple Macintosh in late 1994. The game took place in 2794 aboard a multi-generational colony vessel called the UESC Marathon, and consisted of six chapters and over twenty-seven levels. Players took on the role of a security officer fighting against alien forces invading the ship. Marathon was considered the first title to introduce "mouselook," the ability to look not only left and right (as with previous shooters), but up and down on the Y-axis.
LucasArts released Outlaws back in 1997 using an enhanced version of its Jedi Engine (previously used in the Dark Forces sequel). As its name implies, the story took place in the Wild West and followed retired U.S. Marshal James Anderson as he searched for his kidnapped daughter. In its prime, the game was deliciously original in that it conveyed major portions of the story via CG sequences emulating hand-drawn animation. The actual in-game visuals were a mixture of hand-drawn emulated graphics with pixelated textures, but the game was engrossing nonetheless. Outside the single-player story, Outlaws also offered five additional missions chronicling Anderson's promotion to U.S. Marshal and a multiplayer component that's still played by dedicated fans today.
id Software seemingly changed the face of PC gaming with the release of its first polygon-based shooter Quake in 1996. Aside from the true 3D visuals, the game's Gothic atmosphere and design was simply brilliant, taking players into a world full of violent, blood-thirsty beasts seemingly inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. When Quake hit the PC gaming scene, it served as the platform for launching GPU-accelerated graphics and multiplayer gameplay across the Internet. Additionally, creative gamers were given full control over the game's source, generating custom maps, gameplay modes, character skins, and even total conversions. Unfortunately id only briefly returned to the Gothic world through various maps in Quake 3 Arena. With that said, it would be great to see the game recreated using the studio's current id Tech 5 engine. Happy 15th birthday, Quake.