FPS of the Year – 1993

While it is going to be fairly obvious who takes home the gold this year, this was the first year to actually have a lot of FPS titles, many of which are…well, at least passable. Okay, no, there wasn’t anything mind blowing this year, but it was still a decent year, all things considered. With that said, let’s hop right into it!

Blake Stone – Aliens of Gold

Blake Stone’s not a bad game, actually. It’s got some fairly interesting concepts to it and it’s made by Apogee, who did plenty of oldschool PC action games, including the older Duke Nukem titles. Great game? No, but still pretty fun.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Now, I never watched the movie, so maybe this only seems weird to me, but…well, in the movie, did the main character (or any character, really) run through graveyards shooting the shit out of random zombies and werewolves? What does this have to do with Dracula? I mean, you might say the same thing happens in Castlevania (sans pistol, of course), but I argue that it’s called CASTLEVANIA, not BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA.

It looks…alright…but much like Ultima Underworld, the interface seems like a little much and the controls don’t seem quite right. Could be fun, but it looks more cheezy and complicated than anything.

Escape from Monster Manor

And we have our first console FPS for the year. Granted, it does look better than all of the FPSs mentioned up to this point, but that’s literally the only positive thing I could say about it. Overall, it looks pretty generic and the enemies come off more laughable than scary because of how they’re animated. “Ah, another visitor. Don’t be afraid. BE TERRIFIED!!” Yeah, of the 3DO…that’s for goddamn sure.

Isle of the Dead

…Okay, seriously? This is ALMOST the most drab, poorly made FPS I’ve ever seen. The concept is interesting and that’s about it. I’m going to go out on a limb here and call it Crayon Doom.

Ken’s Labyrinth

…I hate this game. This one IS the most drab, poorly made FPS ever. Let’s move on.

Lethal Tender

Yet another interesting concept, but it has one of the worst features you’ll find in any modern FPS: an absolute lack of music to illustrate “realism.” While it has many bells and whistles, the controls are pretty terrible and it wasn’t quite up to snuff in terms of graphics even for the time released. Pass.

Pathways into Darkness

Would you believe this is an early Bungie title for the Mac? Well, I guess you might, considering they also started the somehow popular Marathon series on there as well. It actually looks like it could be something decent, if not completely attempting to rip off Ultima Underworld. Of course, just like UU, the interface is clunky and far more than it needs to be for a FPS.

Nevermind that while the graphics are pretty good all things considered, it looks like it takes forever to turn and there’s absolutely no music. You’re going to find that this is something that’s really come to piss me off over the years. I understand that some games are going for a tension theme or whatever, but goddammit, I like it when a developer actually cares enough to throw some awesome ass music in there.

SEAL Team


Couldn’t find a youtube vid, sorry.

I’m not gonna lie…it’s hard as hell to find information for this game, let alone movies. From what I’ve gathered, it’s available on DOS or possibly Windows 3.x. I say this because I’ve been getting conflicting information. All the same, it looks like there are ELEMENTS of it being a FPS, but primarily it looks like an RTS of sorts with lots and LOTS of planning necessary for each mission.

While that still sounds intriguing, it doesn’t seem to be a full fledged FPS as a result. I’m not going to disqualify it straight out, but if anyone has anymore information about this game, it would be greatly appreciated.

Shadowcaster

Well, you get to punch the shit out of demons and transform into monsters. Yeah, the game is very metal…but also very generic and clunky. You also move around like you’re on an ice skating rink, which was especially annoying for some of the older FPSs. I can’t help but feel like this was inspired by Might and Magic, except that I don’t think this is an RPG either. Doesn’t seem half bad from what I’ve seen and played, but still fairly generic.

Space Hulk

Yet again, this really isn’t a pure FPS. It’s actually an RPG based off the Warhammer 40K series, from what I understand and it’s more of a strategy game based on a board game than anything. That certainly doesn’t make it a bad game, but again, it comes off feeling fairly generic and overly complicated, especially with the interface.

Terminator – Rampage

So this one does actually feel like a FPS, looks a lot better than most of the entries this month, and even has a lot of interesting options in the HUD. The level design looks pretty awful, but besides that minor annoyance, this game looks like it’d be pretty fun. I’m definitely going to have to check this out when I’m done with this article.

Ultima Underworld 2 – Labyrinth of Worlds

Well, the interface and graphics overall are a lot cleaner and better presented this time around, that’s for sure. It actually has an Elder Scrolls feel to it, which is very nice. No, I honestly don’t have a problem with this one. Of course, it still wouldn’t be my number one this month because of…

Winner: Doom

I know, I know…doesn’t seem fair, does it? Well, let’s look at some facts. First off, the music is actually pretty damn good, even by today’s standards. It doesn’t just “get the job done”…it’s pretty damn good. So much so that remixes have come about even. The graphics are also pretty good. Now sure, maybe the graphics weren’t as good as some of the others on the list, but it doesn’t matter; Doom became a classic all the same and id Software right along with it in terms of prestige.

Look, you may have been expecting this and you may think I’m being lazy. Okay, maybe I am. But I’ll tell you what…Doom was the fucking shit. Actually no, Doom IS the fucking shit. Now come on…we all tried Doom 3 and we all thought it was awesome back a few years ago. Is it really so hard to believe that id Software still has the juice? Are you seriously trying to imply you’re in no way interested in Rage or Doom 4?

It may seem like it’s a copout to just default to Doom, but Doom was good, goddammit, and on top of that, it helped propel forward FPSs on the whole. You have to remember where you’ve been to remember where you’re going and all that. So suck it!

Conclusion

A lot of you are feeling cheated. “But what about Game X? Game X was fucking awesome! Screw you and screw Doom!” Can any of you honestly say you recalled any of the other games? I remembered a few of them, but matching them up against Doom? That battle would’ve been over well before it began. And while I was impressed by a few of the titles this year that I hadn’t heard of, they STILL don’t quite stand up to Doom and what it meant for the industry.

Up to this point, there had been games from a first person perspective, but they either weren’t true FPSs or were just…okay. Wolfenstein 3D was pretty good and helped popularize the idea and Doom helped solidify and provide the example for how a FPS should operate, both in terms of simplicity and action. Love it or hate it, Doom did for FPSs what Final Fantasy 7 did for RPGs: help popularize them.

Even if you think both of those titles are lame, you cannot deny the impact they had on gaming culture and their respective genres. I strongly believe that without titles like Wolfestein 3D and Doom, FPSs would not be as good or popular today.

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Filed under 3DO, Amiga, GotY Series, Mac, PC, PC-98, Retro, Videogames

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