Top Ten: Brilliant shooters you may have missed this generation
It’s that time of year again, when publishers put a massive strain on our already depleted wallets. The period between September and December has always been a prime time for massive blockbuster releases. The annual Call of Duty is usually pitted against the next instalment in the Battlefield or Medal of Honor series. The latest instalment of FIFA is set free into the wild and companies choose this time of year to release new hardware updates and sequels to some of the biggest games available.
So if you've got a little extra cash left during this holiday period then why not try out one of these entries. Most are pretty cheap online now, ranging from around seven to fifteen pounds and some offer considerable game for your cash and some of the best shooter experiences on the market. You may also be able to find them in the pre-owned bin in your local GAME or HMV but be warned some require an online pass code in order to access the multiplayer features.
So without further digression let’s take a look:
Released back in March 2011, Homefront was developed by Kaos Studios who are sadly no more and published by THQ. The game saw you take the role of resistance members who fight against a futuristic North Korean army who have invaded and conquered the majority of the USA. The storyline itself was different to the usual FPS on the market in that you’re not playing as an American soldier fighting in a fictional war in Russia or the Middle East. You’ll fight in numerous cities and see a couple of recognisable landmarks. Nothing quite like fighting on a half destroyed Golden Gate Bridge. The game itself is also pretty enjoyable, the engrossing storyline will keep you entertained and the variety of missions was a nice change, some saw you control helicopters and others saw you bring down flame storms on your unsuspecting enemies. If multiplayer is more your forte, Homefront is pretty rewarding and absorbing. You’re able to take part in large-scale vehicle based combat modes; the unique feature of Homefront multiplayer is its battle points system. This system allows you to earn points for completing objectives and kills which are redeemed against new weapons gear and vehicles. If you’re looking for a different take on the FPS genre and a unique storyline then Homefront is a pretty good choice - it’s not the best but it’s great entertainment for the small price.
Tasked with rebooting the Syndicate series that was originally developed by Bullfrog Productions, Starbreeze Studios created this latest entry. Sadly even though the game received generally good review scores it failed to shine at retail which was an ignominy when you consider the game is actually a lot of fun. The game saw you take control of Agent Miles Kilo, an agent of EuroCorp. EuroCorp created a DART chip which allows the wielder the ability to access the dataverse and thus allowing powerful corporations to rule the world. Kilo is tasked with protecting his corporate master while taking out another company also known as a ‘syndicate.’ The game takes a new approach on the FPS genre and whilst it has the traditional genre elements, it allows players to shoot through walls as well as hack into enemies’ systems causing them to either kill themselves or aid you. The game also boasts a four player co-op mode so if you've got some friends you can tackle a separate campaign with them, which is a nice addition. One of the great features in the game is actually what it doesn't have, it’s one of the few EA titles not to feature an online pass, so if you find it pre-owned for a fiver and love shooters then look no further than Syndicate to pass the time on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Our review said that “Syndicate is no more or less than a middle of the road FPS and that there are some brilliant ideas underlying the game, but the whole thing is permeated with the reek of wasted potential.”
8: Metro 2033
One of the biggest surprises on this list came from 4A Games and THQ. Metro 2033 was atmospheric, gripping and one of the best FPS released in 2010. The game took place deep underground in the Moscow subway after a massive apocalyptic event in 2013. Now in 2033 you take control of Artyom, one of the last people born above ground (but raised underground) and must venture out of your subversive home and deeper into the subway to warn the rest of the remaining human race about an impending danger. The game sadly wasn't the seller THQ had it billed as, possibly because it was released on the 360 and PC only. It was scheduled for release on the PS3 but for ‘business reasons’ it never appeared. The spooky atmosphere, apocalyptic setting and engrossing story make this unique take on a FPS one of the best shooters available this generation and can be picked up for less than a tenner on Amazon. It lacks the polish and clarity found in the bigger titles, but if horror and shooting is your forte and you don’t like F.E.A.R then hours of scares can be found here. A sequel called Metro Last Light is scheduled for release in early 2013 and will be available on PC, 360 and PS3.
7: Battlefield: Bad Company
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3 were huge releases during this generation’s lifespan. However they wouldn't have been as successful if this beauty wasn’t released back in 2008. Battlefield Bad Company had some of the most remarkable and loveable characters found in a FPS story. Haggard is the stand out here, a guy who loves explosions and also provides some of the best humour found in the game. Bad Company took a lighter view on the issue of war and made it hugely enjoyable. The graphics weren’t the best but the Frostbite engine allowed for destructible environments and unique kills. The muiltiplayer component however is where the game really shines, destructible environments, huge maps and unique squad gameplay makes this one the best games available. If you’ve played either Bad Company 2 or Battlefield 3 and not this you owe it to yourself to discover it, what with it also being a bargain at around twelve pounds Let’s see if you can get that ten thousand and two kill trophy/achievement online.
6: Resistance 3
It might come as surprise to see one of Sony’s flagship titles on this list, but after the release of Resistance 2 people fell out of love with the series. This is a shame because Resistance 3 is one of the best shooters available this generation. The game continues the story of the Chimera’s invasion of Earth during the late 1950’s. You play as Joseph Capelli a soldier dishonourably discharged from SRPA, he takes control of the resistance group and sets out on a mission to New York to discover a cure for the human race and to destroy the Chimera for good. If you’ve played any of the series you’ll be familiar with the gameplay found here, it’s similar to the previous games but it’s far more polished and solid. Set in a more apocalyptic setting compared to its predecessors the game boasts a great array of weapons and gadgets. It’s graphically impressive and the story is atmospheric and emotional and you’ll find yourself engrossed and attached to the characters and their struggles. The game also boasts a co-op mode. So if you’ve got some friends, bring them around as it’s the best way to experience it. If you’re into multiplayer the game includes a sixteen player online competitive mode with numerous game modes, which include the usual shooter modes Capture the Flag, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. If you have a PS3 and are a FPS fan then you need this game in your collection, it’s slightly more expensive at the moment compared to the rest of the games on the list but it’s the best in the Resistance series and one of the best FPS on the market today.
Ah RAGE, possibly my favourite game released in 2011. It had everything, RPG elements, brutal gun fights, monstrous monstrosities and unique vehicle gameplay. It was awarded numerous awards and positive review scores, but alas it never became the massive title id Software was looking for. Why? Possibly because it was a new IP and therefore it may have struggled to attract shooting fans away from the likes of Call of Duty. Its RPG elements were also not as strong as the ones in Fallout and it played an awful lot like Borderlands. But damn was it fun; blasting the face off a mangled mutant with your trusty double barrelled shotgun has never felt so pleasing. It was visually stunning and bar a few screen tearing and slowdown issues it was a pleasure to play. The environments were varied and massive and the vehicle combat gameplay was a nice addition. It had numerous side missions and the online multiplayer was pretty inimitable. There were two modes available, one allows you to team up with a friend in co-op maps and complete the objective. The other is an online racing mode called Road Rage where the objective is to collect the points that appear around the map. You’re also able to kill enemies to steal their points with weapons from machine guns to heat seeking rockets. If you’re a fan of Borderlands, Fallout 3 and Burnout you’ll have hours of fun with RAGE. We said in our review that “Rage does stand tall as an excellent old school shooter and is well worth your time. The story may be wafer thin and the RPG mechanics are shallow but with fierce gun play, superb graphics and one of the best Mario Kart clones to ever grace the Xbox it’s a sound purchase.”
4: BioShock 2
You may be surprised to see BioShock 2 on this list, considering how successful BioShock was. BioShock won numerous awards and was critically acclaimed when it was released on the 360 back in 2007 but it’s that success which has taken the shine off the sequel. Gamers who felt really passionate about the first felt it didn’t need a sequel, and they’d be right. However the sequel while not as groundbreaking at the first is still one the best titles available today. You take control of Delta an Alpha in the Big Daddy series whose main objective it is to protect Little Sisters. Eight years after the events of the first game Delta awakens with no memory of the past and sets off to find the only Little Sister he was ever paired with. Rapture is still one of the most beautiful environments ever made and while a little more run-down in this game it still provides an exceptional and unrivalled backdrop for the new gameplay features. You’ll be able to wield the unique arsenal of a Big Daddy including the drill while also wielding new and unique Plasmids. You’ll also be able to dual wield unlike the predecessor. The usual cast of mutants return along with some new foes, including the Big Sister, a huge mechanical being similar to the Big Daddies, but unbelievably agile and nimble. If you’ve played BioShock 2 you’ll know when a Big Sister is present due to the uncontrollable shiver down your spine when you hear its high pitched wail. BioShock 2 also includes a multiplayer mode which is actually surprisingly deep and engrossing. Deathmatch modes and Team Deathmatch modes are available as well as the Capture the Sister mode. So if you loved BioShock don’t be put off by its sequel, yes it’s not as groundbreaking but it’s a far more polished game and considering you can pick it up for less than ten pounds you really should have this in your library.
3: Resistance: Burning Skies
The PS Vita has had a pretty rough start to life, let’s not ignore this. However the signs are that the console may be picking up speed. Quality titles such as Uncharted and LBP are available and big hitters such COD and Assassin’s Creed Liberation are not far from release but for me one of the better titles available on the console is Resistance: Burning Skies, the first in the series not developed by Insomniac. This time the mantel was passed to Nihilistic Software and I feel they did a pretty good job. It was seen by critics negatively and failed to really perform at retail, although that could be because of the lack of Vita sales. Burning Skies takes place in 1951 at the start of the Chimera invasion of Earth and sees players take control of Tom Riley a fire-fighter armed with his trusty axe whose only goal is to save his family caught up in the invasion. Firstly it is true that the game doesn’t look as good as expected but we were more interested in the gameplay and this is why the Vita has dual analogue sticks. It’s surprisingly easy to control and the Vita’s front and rear touch screen really make the experience that much more rewarding. You can throw grenades and interact with the environment with a touch of the screen and disfigure the face of your enemies with a swing of your axe. The PS Vita has only been available for seven months and therefore the games released now will never be as good as the ones made available later on, but if you own a Vita and love the FPS genre then Resistance: Burning Skies is an essential purchase. It’s what those analogue sticks were made for.
Fed up with just using guns to kill your foes in shooters? If so Bulletstorm is for you. Developed by Epic Games and People Can Fly and published by EA, Bulletstorm takes the rulebook for shooters and tears it up. You take control of Grayson Hunt in the 26th century, the ex-leader of Dead Echo, a secret black ops group tasked with assassinating targets. After a failed mission Hunt sets out for revenge on his previous Star General Saranno. Bulletstorm is a serious blast from start to finish, its distinctive selling point being its skillshot gameplay. You’ll earn points for killing your enemies in unique and grotesque ways. Want to shoot a guy in the head and watch him become impaled on a cactus? Then you’re in luck. Want to shred a guy’s testicles and watch as he begs for mercy? That’s catered for too. Pretty much every combination of kill is available. The more difficult the kill the more points you’ll earn. Bulletstorm is also a laugh beginning to end, some of the dialogue is downright crude, derogatory and downright strange. One memorable line sees an angry female protagonist threaten to ‘kill your dick,’ whatever that means. Sadly Epic have already said they’re not interested in making a sequel due to poor sales and other commitments. I'm guessing something in the Gears series. Hopefully a sequel will see a release but in the meantime if you're into something different from your shooters and don’t mind some entertaining and occasionally crude dialogue do yourselves a favour, get down to your local store and pick this up cheaply as you won’t regret it.
The best shooter Activision published this generation isn’t any in the Call of Duty series. It’s this little beauty. Sadly though because it doesn’t have COD in any part of the title, Activision never really marketed it and just released it and hung it out there to dry. Such a shame as this is the shooter of the generation in this writer’s opinion. You take control of Captain Nathaniel Renko who goes to investigate an electromagnetic surge from an island previously occupied by Soviet Russia that knocks out a US satellite. While investigating the island your helicopter is put out of action and you’re transported through different time periods ranging from 1950-2010. Your goal is to figure out what happened and get back alive. The best feature available in Singularity is the TMD (time manipulation device) which gives you distinctive weapons and the ability to manipulate enemies and objectives. If you’ve played BioShock you’ll notice some similarities throughout. The TMD and the E99 substance that you must collect to upgrade the TMD features play and feel similar to the Plasmids. You’ll fight Russian soldiers along with gross alien like beings and solve puzzles with a flick of your wrist. The TMD allows for a more in-depth shooter and the survival horror element will keep you on your toes throughout. There is also a multiplayer mode which is varied and engrossing while also being very unique. The two game modes see you play as either soldiers or creatures in Deathmatch mode or an exceptional "Extermination” mode where the soldiers have to capture beacons around the map and the creatures need to stop them. It’s a shame this game never got the recognition it deserved, but if you’re a hardcore gamer you need this game in your life. Just imagine what it could have achieved if Activision only truly believed and supported it.