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Editorial: The Year of the Shooter

Posted on Sat, Jun 19, 2004

Strafe all you want, because there’s no getting around it – the year of the shooter is upon us. From blockbuster titles like Halo 2 and Killzone to little-known developer n-Space’s Geist, it’s apparent now that 2004 is going to be loaded to capacity with shooters. Or, to be more precise, first-person shooters. Don’t get me wrong, shooters from the third person are becoming quite prominent too; Mercenaries, Starcraft: Ghost, Resident Evil 4, and cel-shaded (but still immensely gory) Killer 7 are to be released this year. Needless to say, these titles have gained plenty of hype, but the fact remains the same: the FPS is set to dominate the market in 2004.

In some cases, they’ve already started to. Movie tie-in The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (released for the PS2 and Xbox) has surprisingly proved to be an excellent game, receiving rave reviews from Gamerankings and Metacritic. Serious Sam: Next Encounter, while featuring the same ultra-violent gameplay as ever—but slightly less stellar reviews—has also been released this year. But consoles aside, the PC has been having an FPS field day this half of 2004; Far Cry and Painkiller have both made themselves known (through slightly different gameplay styles, to say the least), along with the wildly popular Battlefield Vietnam and multi-player extraordinaire Unreal Tournament 2004.

No need to take a bead on these titles just yet, though; the best is inarguably yet to come. Half-Life 2—which means Counter-Strike 2—has millions of gamers waiting on edge, and has probably sold more ATI graphics cards than anything in history. Gruesome Doom 3, featuring hell cherubs, trites, revenants, and just about every other macabre beast ever created, is bringing back to life a thought-dead series, as is EA’s controversial Goldeneye: Rouge Agent.

But without a doubt, Bungie and Microsoft’s Halo 2 has made a bigger splash than anything else on the market (in terms of pre-order sales, at least). Gamers are clinging to every new screenshot and video with dear life, and for good reason, too; people haven’t been this excited about killing aliens since Sigourney Weaver donned a mechanical suit of armor and duked it out with a giant one. Halo 2, which is set for release November 9 of this year, is a mystery thus far. Aside from a real-time lighting engine and a few gameplay upgrades, little more is known aside from the release date. But hey, that alone is enough for most gamers.

Adding a little shock to your shot is Headfirst Production's Call of Cthulhu, which forces players to take the role Jack Walters in his revelation-inspiring search for the answer to a mystery involving angered occultists and deep-sea monsters. The GameCube's body-swapping Geist is also going to raise some serious FPS gooseflesh, not unlike Darkwatch: Curse of the West, which aspires to combine the Western rough-n’-tumble attitude with blood sucking fiends of yore… somehow. GameCube-excusive Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is also worth a mention (especially in light of its newfound multi-player mode), as is the also exclusive—though to Sony’s Playstation 2—Killzone. Creepy red goggles, anyone?

Realistic war games have, more than anything, been shooting for the heart in 2004. Vivendi Universal's Cold Winter will be blurring the lines between run-n'-gun gameplay and espionage, while console ports Delta Force: Black Hawk Down and Call of Duty: Finest Hour will also let players show off their big guns. Ubisoft will be releasing both Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow and the little more than rumored Ghost Recon 2; likewise EA is ready to fire three hot new titles: Medal of Honor: Rising Sun 2, Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault (for the PC only), and Battlefield: Modern Warfare. A military combat game is even being fashioned in a galaxy far, far away – LucasArts is creating a shooter to make Luke Skywalker proud. Star Wars Republic Commando is going to be the first game in the series to take a first-person perspective on the entangled web of the Star Wars conflict, and is putting a new spin on a series that may have been running far, far too long.

Though I’m sure I’m leaving many titles out, you can plainly see that 2004 will indubitably be ‘the year of the shooter.’ So like I said, all the strafing, ducking, jumping, or grappling you do won’t save ya' from the giant missile of first-person shooters headed straight for us. I can, however, offer you a piece of advice: find your wallet, make sure it's loaded, take aim, and fire at will on any target in sight.

Posted By: Stealth52 - 1132 Reads

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