FPS of the Year – 1997

This is yet another big year that houses some of my all-time favorite FPSs. And that is exactly why though it was obvious what my #1 is for this year, it was heartbreaking to not be able to do the same for so many other great titles. ANYWAY…let’s get into it.

Alien Cabal

You know, while this game may have been fun to play 5 years prior, especially being released the year it was, it just can’t stand up to…well, anything. It’s generic, has no real music that I can tell, and it takes forever to turn. Pass.

Angst – Rahz’s Revenge

Flamboyant though he may be, this guy nails this game spot on. Pass.

Blood

I love this game so much. There are a couple of things you’ll notice about this game immediately and some you may not have. First off, yes, it feels a lot like Duke Nukem in terms of level design and so on and also it uses the same build engine. Second, though much darker, it has a lot of similar humor in terms of cheesy references and so on.

Now, here’s something you probably didn’t know…this was co-developed by 3D Realms and Monolith Software. Yes, the same Monolith that went on to make awesome FPSs like No One Lives Forever, Condemned, and F.E.A.R. And if you know anything about me, you know I’m a big fan of all of those titles. Blood was a funny, dark, and gory title that I highly recommend…but no, it didn’t take #1 this year.

Chasm – The Rift

This one seems pretty interesting, actually. It’s got a lot of great atmosphere, interesting graphics, and a pretty decent intro. No real music worth speaking of, but it’s pretty obvious it was done to increase the ambience here rather than just be lazy. I would still like in-game music anyway, but it works in this case.

Damage Incorporated

Metal intro, shitty game. Look at Chasm’s vid, then this one. Which would you rather play? And keep in mind, both are trying to do the same thing: have good atmosphere without the need for music. Oh yeah, Chasm wins that hands down. Fuck this game.

Elder Scrolls Legend – Battlespire

So it doesn’t QUITE look like Morrowind, but it’s getting closer. It’s also pretty straightforward since it’s not a “true” Elder Scrolls game, so for someone like me that has a hard time keeping focus when things get tl;dr (I know, hard to believe), it works out perfectly.

Forbes Corporate Warrior

“Business is war! Cash is ammo!” I’m sorry that all I could find was this, but seriously, the game looks like crap, plays like crap, and doesn’t make much sense. Pass.

HacX

…So it’s Doom, but with a more cyberpunk feel, which would normally work, except it’s only a “feeling” and not a fact. What I mean is there doesn’t appear to be any decking, awesome futuristic weapons, decent techno or trance, or…well, anything special at all to be honest. It all comes off feeling very generic, especially with that godawful elevator music for the level. Pass.

Hexen 2

It’s a bit dark, but I can tell it’s entirely in 3D (though only really a step up from Quake in terms of quality). Even still, it looks like all the other elements in place, which makes me auto-recommend it. Yeah, no, never played it…been meaning to.

Last Rites

Well, I can’t really see what’s going on too well number one because it’s too damn dark again and number two because the uploader’s computer SUCKS. So let’s go off what he says here…

“Like some poor man’s offline version of ‘Left 4 Dead’, Ocean’s little-known 1997 FPS ‘Last Rites’ has the player and his or her AI-controlled squad mates mowing down endless hordes of zombies. According to GiantBomb, the game was only released in Europe.”

Fair enough. Doesn’t look that interesting to me, but if it spices your fancy (which I guess means vagina, never understood that statement honestly), check it out.

Lifeforce Tenka

Man, what is up with everything being so goddamn dark?! Come on, people…this isn’t Tomb Raider 3, for fuck’s sake. What little I CAN see looks pretty fun, though. I’d honestly never heard of this title, but I may end up having to check it out.

MadSpace

I couldn’t find much more than this and I can’t even find a solid review of this game. Yes, it’s THAT obscure, though that’s not saying much. Unbeknownst to you readers (until now anyway), I’ve had to prune off a few games here and there because I couldn’t find ANY information on them ANYWHERE besides Wikipedia. That said, I can’t exactly weigh in on how good this is, could be, or whatever…but it does look a little generic.

Outlaws

Yes, Lucasarts made a FPS about the wild west. It’s not bad, but it’s no Red Dead. I guess that’s not really a fair comparison, but you have to understand that as far as wild west games go, we have, what, maybe 10 near decent ones in all of gaming history. That’s pretty terrible. In any case, this one isn’t so bad, but it’s not that great either.

Parkan – The Imperial Chronicles

So basically it’s a Russian Wing Commander. Pretty spiffy, actually. Can’t really say too much other than just speculate as it’s in Russian, but it looks pretty cool.

Quake 2

I loved this game. It was 10 times better than the original, both in terms of single player and multiplayer experience. I DIDN’T like the fact that there was no music, but with all the other vast improvements, it’s hard to find anything to complain about, really. And I’m sure you’re wondering why it didn’t take #1. Well, don’t skip ahead, but trust me, you’ll agree with my #1. There is absolutely no beating it this year…though you may be wondering why it isn’t my favorite of all time over Duke.

Quiver

So it kinda reminds me of Powerslave, but the level design is so lazy and overall it’s pretty generic. Couldn’t find a box shot, but do you really need one? Pass.

Realms of the Haunting

So this kinda reminds me of Amnesia, only oldschool. And of course, if you’ve played Amnesia, you absolutely do not need me to tell you this is a good game. Check it!

Rebel Moon Rising

So to be honest, this looks like a trance version of Dark Forces…and given Dark Forces is better…and was done a year prior…and there’s even a new Dark Forces this year…pass.

Redneck Rampage

You know, this is a game I always wanted to play, but never had the hard drive space for back in the day. Seeing it now, well…it doesn’t seem that impressive. Sure, it’s got a sense of humor, but that’s about it. The level design is pretty terrible and the humor isn’t as funny as the developer so obviously thought it was. I don’t know…I might still give it a shot at some point, but right now I’mma pass.

Revenge of Dr. Chang 3D

No.

Shadow Warrior

Made by the exact same dev team and everything that made Duke Nukem 3D, this is a lesser known, but totally awesome FPS with a lot of interesting characteristics. It’s also HARD AS BALLS…but well worth playing all the way through, especially for the hilarious ending song. The bottom line is if you liked Duke Nukem 3D, you will want to try this one. Very fun stuff.

Smuta

…Well, it’s not as bad as Dr. Chang, but that’s like saying would you rather eat shit or eat shit that’s been vomited on?

Star Wars Jedi Knight – Dark Forces 2

Oh, cool! See, I never really got into the Jedi Knight stuffs because I wasn’t sure what the fuck it was. From what I can tell, it looks like Dark Forces, but a Quake 2 version of it. I’ll definitely be wanting to check this out.

Testament

How quaint, it’s like an 8 bit version of Blake Stone. BIG FUCKING PASS.

Turok – Dinosaur Hunter

This game had a lot going for it. The gore was awesome, the graphics were awesome, the level design was awesome, the music was awesome, the enemies were awesome, the weapons were awesome, and it even had an early style WSAD setup for the controls! Of course, it was also one of the TOUGHEST FPSs I’ve ever played. There were far too many times I would try and retry an area so I wouldn’t lose any lives so at least I’d have that SLIGHT edge when I came to the boss.

I did eventually beat it, but holy shit did it take a while. This game is incredible and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It will frustrate and annoy you with the later on stages, but goddamn if it isn’t fun.

Zdzislav – Hero of the Galaxy 3D

By this point, nothing the amiga does is going to impress me, but at the very least it can make me laugh. Behold, the army of vest-men! And of course, this is made all the better by having it in Polish, that way you can animutate. Yeah, from what I can tell, it’s basically Virtua Cop, but crazier. Funny as hell, but not really what I’d want in a FPS, which brings us to…

Winner: GoldenEye 007

Now you get it. Now you understand why nothing else compares this year. GoldenEye 007 (or what I used to call Goldeneye 64) was an incredible game for many, many reasons. The graphics weren’t quite as good as Turok’s, but literally it was just a step below them. There was a heavy variety of guns, lots of gadgets, zooming capabilities, dual wielding, silencing capabilities, and much more.

Nevermind that since this was a James Bond title, there was a heavy element of stealth. No, it doesn’t quite live up to today’s stealth engines and AI, but it doesn’t matter. For many of us, this was the first time we’d seen something like this. This was also one of the first FPSs I’d played that did a lot of eventing, cutscenes, and so on. Sure, in some of the older ones you’d get little spritey stuff in between stages every so often, usually accompanied with huge walls of text or maybe one or two voice clips, but in this one you get a LOT of cinematics and they’re often on-the-fly rather than sit-and-wait.

Now, no, they weren’t voiced, but later Perfect Dark would take that and run with it using the same engine. This was an incredible title and some believe it was the best N64 game ever. They’re wrong (it was actually Zelda 64), but it was pretty damn awesome and the new Goldeneye Source is pretty damn hot…though I wish they also remade the single player…but oh well, you can’t have it all, can you?

“For America, Sage?”

You know it.

Conclusion

Not necessarily related, but I just realized Wiki didn’t include Hellbender, Terminal Velocity, any of the Wing Commander titles, any of the Colony Wars titles, or any of the Descent titles up to this point. Shogo and Thief weren’t included either, but I think they came later. Yeah, I’m pretty pissed about it. Definitely check those out. They wouldn’t have gotten my #1 on their respective years, but they’re pretty goddamn fun all the same (well, Thief might’ve, but again I don’t know if we’ve passed it or not).

In any case, this was an incredible year, all things said. Further, FPSs only get better over time, not just in memoriam and nostalgia, but also in terms of quality, variety, and what have you…at least to a point. I’m going to rant about this for a second, then you can go (if you haven’t tuned out already). I remember a time when a drab, short single player experience wouldn’t have been acceptable, especially with a $60 price tag.

I remember a time when I didn’t even play multiplayer on FPSs because I only had my 56k piece of shit modem anyway…and that was an upgrade from my 14.4k, folks! I remember a time when multiplayer meant “HEY STOP LOOKING AT MY SCREEN YOU CHEATER” and not “ZOMG YOU FUCKING LOSER AND/OR *INSERT RACIAL SLUR HERE*.” I remember a time when multiplayer was nice, but it really was all about the single player experience and the longer, the better.

Things probably won’t go back to the way they used to be and I still enjoy games like F.E.A.R., Condemned, Prey, Borderlands, Half-Life 2, and what have you, but I will always yearn for “the old days.” It’s even hard to say that, knowing that the 90s were almost 20 years ago. Doing these GOTYs starting from 1990 and working my way up has only further solidified my stance here.

But the good part is we’ll always have the classics. No matter how many shitty ass FPSs that come through favoring graphics and multiplayer over actual game content, there will always be a select few that shine through each year or every couple of years…and even if THAT went away, we’d always have the old games. Anyway, that’s about it. See you next time!

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Filed under Amiga, GotY Series, Mac, N64, Nintendo, PC, PS1, Retro, Sony, Videogames

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