The lights are on
Lucky QuakeCon attendees got a sneak peek of the latest Doom
in action. The newest entry in the influential first-person shooter series refocuses on old
school genre pillars like fast movement, gory gunplay, and taking down large
packs of enemies. The news has our blood pumping, so we've pulled together a
list of awesome old school first-person shooters that you can play while
enduring the long wait for id's new Doom.
For this list we excluded obvious bets like Doom,
Wolfenstein, and Duke Nukem 3D to highlight some lesser-known gems. We also
limited it to games that feature 2D sprites in 3D environments, so no Quake,
Half-Life, or Serious Sam. Those are awesome shooters, but not exactly the old-school
vibe we're talking about here.
Catacomb 3-DYear: 1991Developer: id Software
Wolfenstein 3D is heralded as the granddaddy of first-person
shooters, but Catacomb 3-D at least deserves an asterisk. Similar to
Wolfenstein, John Carmack and John Romero's Catacomb series began as a 2D
adventure with a top-down perspective before making the leap to 3D,
first-person dungeon crawling. Players shoot fireballs at orcs, spiders,
spear-toting tribesmen, and all sorts of fantasy tropes. The groundwork for
Wolf 3D is present in spades, including secret passages, bloody deaths, and a
character portrait that morphs into a skull as players take damage. It's an
important piece of gaming history for anyone with an interest in the popular
Blake Stone: Aliens of GoldYear: 1993Developer: JAM Productions
This sci-fi shooter looks like Wolfenstein in space, which makes
sense since it's operating on a modified version of id's foundational engine.
The titular hero blasts aliens and enemy soldiers with a recharging pistol,
resulting bloody deaths as they cry out "medic!" in their tinny voices. All the
weapons look like slightly more futuristic versions of Wolfenstein's standard
pistols and machine guns, making this title's differences from its predecessor
mostly aesthetic. But it's hard to argue with a game that includes a robotic boss with chainguns for arms and a head that's just a brain in a tank.
Rise of the TriadYear: 1994Developer: Apogee Software
Originally destined as an expansion for Wolfenstein, this
early '90s FPS literally took the genre to new heights by introduced increased
verticality to both the campaign and multiplayer maps. Floating platforms and
elevators offer players a new vantage point for destruction. A host of deadly
weapons further the carnage against the cultists and military forces. Dual-wielded
pistols and a trusty MP40 offer basic firepower, but a healthy selection of
bazookas send limbs and eyeballs flying. One launcher lets loose a salvo of
drunken missiles, filling the periphery with explosions and giblets. Rise of the
Triad was recently remade by Interceptor Entertainment, but the original's 2D
sprites and ambitious MIDI soundtrack secure its place in our hearts.
MarathonYear: 1994Developer: Bungie Software
Long before Master Chief suited up for Halo: Combat Evolved,
Bungie began telling first-person stories with Marathon. The series – one of
the genre's rare Mac exclusives – combines 2D characters with detailed 3D
environments. The hallmarks of the developer are in place here with colorful,
unique enemy design, consistent interfacing with in-game tech, and audio that's
well ahead of its time. The protagonist's hand is even a dead ringer for an
armored Spartan glove. Checking out this classic is a must for fans of
Microsoft's lauded FPS series.
HereticYear: 1994Developer: Raven Software
Raven Software's Return to Castle Wolfenstein is one of the
genre's best, complete with a globetrotting campaign and intense multiplayer
mode. The studio made a splash working with id Software even before Return
with Heretic, a game that runs on a modified version of the Doom engine.
Heretic swaps out Doom's sci-fi corridors for a dark fantasy world filled with
flying monsters and giants. The pistol is replaced with a magic staff, and the
shotgun is now a powerful crossbow. If you love the idea of experiencing the
core gameplay of Doom with a completely new aesthetic, Heretic delivers.
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