Recently, I was EB with my friend Ev-Man, idly browsing the shelves for FPS games. I gave him a brief run down of Far Cry, which I bought for my mother as a birthday gift (that a whole other story, though). After that, we inevitably looked at those accursed ?coming soon? boxes that infest the shelves.
I picked up the Doom 3 box, and had a look at the back. ?I don?t know,? I said. ?It just doesn?t look quite??
?Yeah,? said Ev-Man. ?I prefer shooting humans, thanks.?
Which is true for me as well. I much prefer it. Err, in a fictionalised virtual games experience way, I mean. To judge from the FPS games that have been coming out over the years, so do most other people. The WWII shooters on the market naturally have this as their focus. Wolfenstein didn?t quite stick with it, I don?t think they knew whether they were making a WWII shooter, or a Doom-style game, and it showed. RTCW was not a game I spent much time with. I like focus in a game.
For some reason Half-Life managed to include both human and alien opponents. And it worked fine for me. For whatever reason the mix of human and non-human was plausible (within the bounds of the game) and worked well in the game itself. Certainly, I felt the aliens were mere animals, while those marines were another prospect entirely. For whatever reason, Wolfenstein couldn?t (for me) balance its natural and supernatural elements, and so didn?t maintain my interest.
For the more modern-minded among us, there are game such as Counterstrike, various Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six titles. Far Cry looks like being among these, though from the intro there?s some kind of weird creature element to the game, but I only played it briefly, and didn?t get that far into it.
Right now the FPS genre is rooted in the human versus human element. Not just in the sense of Internet multiplayer, but also in the set up of the games themselves. All players appear as human. Games featuring aliens, monsters, and other such things are few and afar between in the modern FPS.
Into this mix steps Doom 3. I have to say, the game just looks? odd. I mean the graphics look great and all, but I have no idea what the game will be like. I?ll know when I?ve played it I guess. Until then, I?m just not sure how it will fit in with what the FPS genre has become. It may be that Half-Life 2 will be so successful that the genre will swing back to where it was in the mid to late 90s. Doom 3 will be followed by a plethora of supernatural type FPS games. Maybe.
For now, it looks like an anachronism to me. Though considering Id?s aim was to remake Doom, that would indicate they have been successful. Doom was a great game for its time, but that was over 10 years ago. I know I played it for four or five years. I don?t know that I?ll be saying the same about the latest incarnation. I think the original Doom and Wolfenstein benefited greatly from the influence of the now-maligned John Romero. Both games had a cartoonish quality about them that appealed to me. They didn’t take themselves too seriously. The hiss of an Imp still raised a shiver up my spine, especially during those late night gaming sessions, but the games were fun, first and foremost. The same game could raise a smile, as those Imps and zombies fought each other yet again while I ran past. When you?re playing a chapter called ?Knee Deep in the Dead? on skill level ?Hurt Me Plenty? you know the designers had a sense of fun. In as much as you can judge a game from early publicity screenshots (which is to say, barely at all), Doom 3 just looks too serious. I can see the incredible lighting effects, graphics, and so on. But I can?t see the fun.
With some quality FPS titles based around human conflict, I feel no need to go back. Other genres are the same. Fantasy strategy titles are barely on my mental radar since I started playing Medieval: Total War. The only other strategy game I?ve played much recently is Alpha Centauri, which also concentrates on human versus human conflict, albeit on an alien world. Of course, that game won?t run on Windows XP, so it?s joined the list of legacy games that I?d really like to see running again, sometime.
Diablo 2 is one of the few games where the opposite is true. Of course, it?s hardly a new game, just an old one with plenty of replayability. I?m not interested in seeing human opponents in a Diablo-style game. Human allies are fine, and would be welcome (more Bloody Foothills, yes!), but human adversaries wouldn?t feel right for the game. So it?s not quite a case of ?all humans, all the time? for me, but it?s getting close.
The Ninth Circle was written from 2002-2006, by David Kay, and with 58 installments it was the longest running column in Diabloii.net’s history. The Ninth Circle covered computer gaming, RPGs, fantasy novels, the gamer’s life, and other related issues. Opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Diii.net.