(Steal this Idea is a running feature which seeks to meld various successful mechanics from certain genres, and pack them into one game)
So Modern Warfare 2 is on the way, and the year has already seen the release of one massive FPS title in Killzone 2 (which as you can see from our review was a blast) but it’s not possible to simply copy what has come before and hope to come up with a winner.
With that in mind I have once again compiled a list that will help you, Mr Games Developer, to build a perfect FPS.
Every game has it’s basic generic weapons, an assault rifle, a pistol, a rocket launcher, a shotgun, but some games give us an arsenal that we actually want to shoot. The far sight in Perfect Dark, the Bullseye in Resistance, and now Killzone 2’s lightning gun. Interesting guns help make the combat stand out, and if you get balance issues correct it makes the game more tactical, but most of all if you create a memorable weapon that stands out from the crowd it can help define the personality of your game as a whole.
- The Lancer- yes Gears is a third person shooter but who cares, steal the Lancer and stick it in an FPS, make sure that the screen gets drenched in blood when you use it and voila, an absolutely EPIC gun (pun intended).
- The Gravity Gun- I thought about having the portal gun here, but it’s mainly a puzzle solving tool, rather than an offensive weapon, unlike the gravity gun. Half Life 2 had a good balance of basic weapons, and then there was the gravity gun. Being able to pick up rusty saw blades and decapitate zombies, or launch exploding barrels
- The BFG 9000- Doom’s seminal arse kicking device, and we all know what BFG stands for. Rocket launchers look puny in comparison.
We’ve all seen World War 2, and we’ve all seen space ship corridors. We want something different, perhaps try a Red Steel approach and set it in modern cities fighting the Yakuza, or maybe follow Turok and set it in a jungle full of dinosaurs, in the end there isn’t a lot of difference, you are still killing people. But it might just help to set you apart and make the wow moments more memorable.
- Far Cry 2- The lush African jungle of Far Cry 2 was hard to beat, the world was vast, beautiful and full of stuff to burn. It had ancient ruins, modern slums and acres of jungle and Savannah. The fictional civil war, with the conflict diamonds being used as currency, was a breath of fresh air.
- Call Of Duty 4:Modern Warfare- Although it might not seem like an original idea, the masses lapped it up, why? Because we all want to be the hero in Black Hawk Down, and at the same time, we feel a closer emotional attachment to the modern war on terror, than we do to distant WW2 or distance outer space, also using a modern setting allowed the designers to make improvements in the first section mentioned: weapons, because night scopes and attack choppers are cool.
The main feature of an FPS is shooting stuff, but endless waves of the same enemy can get boring, that’s why it’s important to make sure that the foes you create are memorable and fearsome, the Helghast are an exceptional example of what makes a good basic unit to come up against, not only do they look menacing, but they have excellent A.I. making battles against them tense and exhilarating.
- Legendary also had some good ideas about what to pitch a player against, mythical beasts are normal confined to hack and slash or RPGs, but the idea of shooting a griffin in the face with a shotgun is something that appeals to the hunter in me, unfortunately the rest of Legendary wasn’t up to scratch, but you, Mr. Developer, can learn from Spark’s mistakes.
- Halo: Combat Evolved- Sure the Flood were a bit rubbish, but the Covenant were inspiring, they looked cool, they fought clever, and they had awesome energy fields. Then they ended up on your side in a twist of fate (at least some of them did). The fighting in ODST should benefit from pitting you back against the foes who defined Combat Evolved.
- Wolfenstein- Yes I know it’s boring to fight against the Wehrmacht, but Wolfenstein over it’s many iterations, has given us so much more than that. We’ve had scantily clad SS vixens, mutant super soldiers, and even the normal Nazi grunts are so much more characterful for their random battle cries. But best of all, Wolfenstein let you fight Hitler. Can you think of something more fun than that?
“Aliens are invading oh no…..” We want less of this and more of “time traveling sniper expert hunts down all of histories greatest villains in a quest to recover his long lost sister following a time-space implosion” OK, so maybe my idea isn’t the best, but at least it isn’t the same boring cliched steaming turd that normally suffices as a FPS storyline. The characters have to have some sort of personality in order for you to be immersed, the villains need to be genuinely evil, but perhaps draw a little bit of sympathy for the player, friends need to be heroic and not irritating so that when they die, you draw out a true emotional response.
- Bioshock- A city at the bottom of the sea, where a man attempted to create a perfect society free from the evils he perceived above the wave, and failed. It was deep stuff, with twists and turns that were difficult to foresee. Bioshock was everything we couldn’t have expected, and everything we wanted. So would you kindly use this as a measuring stick against your future endeavors.
- Half-Life/Half-Life 2- Valve took Doom’s storyline about aliens coming through a teleporter and made a story so strong, that the protagonist doesn’t even need to talk. The cast of the Half Life series has it all, mystery, personality, intelligence, and realism, the attachment grows for these characters because they feel so human. Your foes are witty and sometimes, you can’t be sure if they are really your foes at all. If only Valve would finish episode 3.
So there you have it, a rough and ready guide to a perfect FPS. Hopefully we’ll see a lot of these sucessful mechanics in the years to come.