FPS of the Year – 2003

This is going to be an interesting year. There are 40 games this year. This is going to be an odd year because prior to this writing, I’ve only played two of these. Let’s hop to it!

Call of Duty (PC)

Well, what can you say? It’s the original CoD, in all its…uhhh…glory? Yeah, we’ll go with that. By this point I was wrapped up in RPGs more than anything, and for good reason, but the point is this wouldn’t have appealed to me anyway because it’s another WW2 shooter. Yeah, I said it. The CoD series, minus the Modern Warfare ones, really never appealed to me. And even with MW, it’s a hit/miss scenario.

So no, I didn’t play this when it came out. It’s not bad and it certainly has its moments, but I wouldn’t say it’s anything grand.

Chaser (PC)

Here’s a more obscure title nobody really knows about. That doesn’t mean it’s any good, but this is the reason I love doing these. It’s nothing mind blowing, but it’s got good atmosphere, story, and it’s not a tactical shooter. What more do you want? Naturally, it’s no major contender for the #1 spot, but it’s worth checking out all the same.

Chrome (PC)

Yet another obscure title that deserves mentioning. I’m going to paraphrase the youtube uploader here, but this is confirmed with wikipedia as well. The Duke Nukem voice actor plays the main guy, there are huge outdoor environments, and several types of vehicles ready for you to wreak havoc with. Very nice stuff.

Codename Nina – Global Terrorism Strike Force (PC)

Okay, no. I’m going to paraphrase the youtube uploader here for a sec. The voice acting is horrendous, the action is mediocre, and the environments are bland. Screw that. Especially now that FPSs have really taken off, there just isn’t room for a game like this anymore. Pass!

Contract JACK (PC)

So basically this is a side story set in the NOLF universe, but it lacks the charm and spunk of the other two. Worth checking out if you really liked NOLF 1 or 2, but nothing groundbreaking.

CTU – Marine Sharpshooter (PC)

Yet another military tactical shooter, but at least it attempts to have an interesting story. That’s about all I have to say about it.

Day of Defeat (PC)

I LOVE this game. This was one of the first online multiplayer mods I ever played. Yes, I played this alongside CS. Basically it’s axis vs. allies, but set up sort of like CS, but with varied classes and weapons, excellent environments, and lots of great tactical chokepoints and what have you. This is easily one of the best online multiplayer experiences I’ve ever had.

Delta Force – Black Hawk Down (PC)

Jesus…could that mini-map be any larger? So this is a generic ass FPS that is military based, but not nearly as good as CoD…or as pretty. Yeah. I mean, it seems to be an interesting concept, but still.

Delta Ops – Army Special Forces (PC)

Ugh…it looks and sounds worse than Codename Nina. Pass.

Deus Ex – Invisible War (Multi)

This game is upsetting for three reasons. One, the original Deus Ex was an incredible game and idea all in one. It had so much potential for sequels, branching out to other projects, and so on. This game doesn’t hold a candle to the original, but the second reason this is especially bad is because it’s not a good game at all. See, it’d be one thing if it was just alright or pretty good, but oh no.

This game is AWFUL. It doesn’t even try to share the same room with its predecessor and instead breaks into being a generic FPS. And finally, only in the last year did we FINALLY get another Deus Ex and while that one was GREAT…I just can’t help but think we would’ve gotten it a lot sooner if this one was even a slight amount better. This really is the bed shitter of the series and almost prevented it from being continued in the first place.

Devastation (PC)

…why is everyone made of pink kool-aid? Also, why is it “oonce oonce” time when you start fighting enemies? And why would you bounce around when you receive a headshot while pissing on the sidewalk? Nevermind…this bland shooter isn’t worth it anyway. Still, it is kinda awesome that the dude seems to be holding 500 guns at once.

Elite Forces – Beyond Normandy – Assignment Berlin (PC)

There’s no movie for this one, but again, I’ve not been impressed by the Elite Forces series up to this point, so it’d have to be something incredible to warrant my attention in the first place.

Gods and Generals (PC)

…No. What, you want a longer comment? Okay then. Fuck no.

Great Qin Warriors (PC)

…uhhhhh…that is easily one of the most retarded stories I’ve ever heard for an FPS ever. Anyway, it’s basically a mech shoot-em-up. Pretty standard, just with a really terrible story.

Hidden & Dangerous 2 (PC)

Didn’t I already review CoD? Oh, this isn’t CoD? Are you sure? Really? Huh…okay. Pass.

IGI 2 – Covert Strike (Multi)

Running through the mountains with heavy metal playing with your knife out is no way to go through life, son. In all honesty, I’ve watched a few vids of this and it certainly seems fun, but I never got into the original, so I never checked this one out either. I know that seems sloppy, but listen, the #1 this year is virtually untouchable. Trust me.

Line of Sight – Vietnam (PC)

This game looks incredibly boring. The youtube user and commenters aren’t much help either as all they say is the “the game is hard.” Really? How hard? Farcry hard or military tactical shooter hard? You know what, nevermind. Pass.

March! Offworld Recon (PC)

So it’s Quake 2, only not as fun, interesting, or graphically advanced. In 2003. No thanks.

Navy SEALs – Weapons of Mass Destruction (PC)

BAAAHHAHAHAHAAHAHAHHAA. Oh my God this game is hilarious. No, not in the good way. I could watch that video all day, but I will NEVER play this game. Pass.

Nosferatu – The Wrath of Malachi (PC)

Alright, so it’s ugly. I mean, REALLY ugly. But let us remember what the brilliant and all-seeing Jim Sterling has said, that horror IS ugly. Were this me playing the game, going into it my first time, a lot of what’s going on would cause me to jump. This guy already knows the score and is playing the game masterfully, taking part of the fun out of it. It actually looks pretty fun, creepy, and possibly even scary.

Maybe not on the level of Condemned, F.E.A.R., or Amnesia, but come on. This is quality stuff for 2003. Yeah, I’d give this a shot.

PlanetSide (PC)

So it’s basically Battlefield 1943, but with sci-fi. Look, I’m probably not the best person to report on this at it seems there are entire communities for it still today, but it definitely looks like it’s worth checking out, especially if the BF43 crack sounds intriguing all the same to you.

Postal 2 (PC)

This game is ridiculous, violent, and hilarious. Honestly, I’d stayed away from these games because I heard they were crap and don’t get me wrong, it looks kinda crap. Even still, I’d probably give this one a shot because of all the crazy and funny shit you can do.

Quest for Saddam (PC)

Now some people may say this game is more for shock value than a qualifier for an actual game, but here’s the thing. It is an FPS, so I am going to rate it accordingly. It sucks. I mean, come on…it’s 2003 and THIS is the best they could come up with for something controversial? Goddamn, Postal 2 got it right and these fuckers didn’t even try. Pass!

Resident Evil – Dead Aim (PS2)

Resident Evil Survivor didn’t work, so why the hell would Capcom ever try that awful formula again? Oh yeah, money. They won’t be getting mine for this garbage. Pass!

Robocop (Multi)

…what in the blue fuck is this? Man, I LOVED the original Robocop movie, but this is terrible. Why is Robocop going “Ohhh yeah” when he takes people down? Why did the develop think cluttering up the screen with crap was a good idea? Hell, why did they think using something that looks like a basic rework of the original Half-Life engine for a 2003 game was a good idea? Man, fuck this game.

Savage – The Battle for Newerth (PC)

So it kinda looks like World of Warcraft…only not. It’s actually really hard to tell what’s going on. I watched about 5 different videos and each one has frenzied action that’s almost set up like a hyperactive MMO. There’s nothing wrong with that, but for someone who doesn’t know anything about the game, it’s fairly problematic. It doesn’t look terrible, but it doesn’t quite have the graphics of the time, nor does it seem to be much more than Counterstrike, but with a fantasy theme. Pass.

Secret Service 2 – Security Breach (PC)

It’s slow. It’s dumb. It barely looks better than the original. Pass.

Star Trek – Elite Force 2 (PC)

This might sound odd, but anything from Star Trek – Next Generation onward bores me. Sure, the movies are okay, but the show never really grabbed me. I think the original Star Trek series is boss, but pretty much everything from then on is just kinda…meh. I won’t say this game is crap as it’s actually got pretty good production values, but I wouldn’t have any idea what’s going on as I don’t follow this series. Give it a go if you like the later Star Treks.

Star Wars – Jedi Knight – Jedi Academy (Multi)

This actually doesn’t look half bad. A little dated, sure, but not bad at all. Plus, there’s so much going on with it. You’ve got vehicles, lots of lightsaber play, and all kinds of environments. Honestly, this is how a modern Star Wars game should operate. Not disappointed in the least. I’ll have to give this a look later.

SWAT – Global Strike Team (Multi)

Finally, a SWAT game that isn’t tactical. It doesn’t look that great, but at least it’s not all about the tactics. Of course, that’s kind of the point of SWAT, sooooo…yeah, I know I’m presenting a “have your cake and eat it too” scenario, but let’s be honest…SWAT belongs in the realm of tactical shooter, unless it’s one of those flashback/side missions in a normal balls to the wall action game.

Terminator 3 – Rise of the Machines (Multi)

Sloppy and just okay. I guess that’s the best we can hope for with a modern movie game.

Terminator 3 – War of the Machines (PC)

So it’s basically Counter-Strike, but with Terminators vs. humans. Not a bad idea, but nothing too brilliant either.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3 – Raven Shield (Multi)

Ayup, more of this. I’m not big on tactical shooters, but by now you should know that. If you like them, give this a shot. That’s about it.

Tron 2.0 (PC)

Look, I don’t know a whole lot about Tron. That could partially be because I’ve never watched any of the movies. *ducks ensuing objects flying at head from nerd rage* In any case…this looks okay. Not terrible, certainly. And it has decent enough graphics.

Unreal 2 – The Awakening (PC)

Never got a chance to try this, but it looks pretty fun, actually. Very Quake 2-like and I mean that in the best sense possible. Yeah, I’d give it a shot.

Vietcong (PC)

Not half bad. Honestly, I don’t think there are enough games about wars like Vietnam or Korea, so it’s good to see a fairly faithful shooter for it every so often.

Warhammer 40000 – Fire Warrior (Multi)

It’s a bit dated and doesn’t have great production values…or much else…but if you’re into the Warhammer 40K series, I suppose it’d still be worth a look. Personally, I’m not, but hey.

Western Outlaw – Wanted Dead or Alive (PC)

Honestly, I’m not that big of a fan of wild west games. Sure, there are rare exceptions like Red Dead Redemption, but this game is very meh. The graphics are blah, the music is ehh, and the production values overall are ecch. That’s about it.

Will Rock (PC)

So it’s basically Serious Sam, only not as good…not even by a long shot. A lot of people like this one, but I’m not convinced. Pass.

Winner: XIII (Multi)

This game is fan-fucking-tastic. Why? Well, let’s talk about the one and only one negative thing I can say about this title: yes, it does look a bit cartoony. This was the early days of cel-shading and while it’s the first I know of that did it for an FPS, it looks dated and a little silly at times. That said, it actually comes as an advantage to the game in the form of production values, because it’s set up almost like a living comic book.

For example, in the image above, you can see that there are comic panels. This occurs every so often when you take someone out with a good shot, often with a throwing knife or crossbow. It’s actually a pretty cool effect. Plus, it’s an amnesia story done right. One of the best angles this game has to work with is they throw all kinds of crazy stuff at you because you can’t remember shit and you’re smack in the middle of a major conspiracy that goes all the way to the top.

The cutscenes are great, the voice acting is…well, it’s decent at least, but it also has major players like Adam West doing a few voiceovers…and the production values and level design for the game overall are very good. This is a very fun, long single player campaign that will keep you hooked until the very end. I highly recommend this title, even though there are games that, visually, looked a hell of a lot better this year.

Conclusion

Graphics aren’t everything, but they are important in FPSs. We saw a bunch of games with terrible, dated graphics, even for 2003. There were many titles that didn’t feature music, ambience, or anything remotely interesting in the form of background noise. FPSs need to have atmosphere, lots of action, and above all else be INTERESTING. This was a year with a lot of boring games, but at least the winner was a gripping title that could keep even the most diehard action afficianado interested for a long time.

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Filed under Gamecube, Mac, Nintendo, PC, PS2, Sony, Videogames, X Box

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