Nothing better embodies the advancement in computer processing technology like video games. Unlike spreadsheets, web surfing and page layout – all of which are, of course, more efficient on a new computer – video games really get the processor cycles moving.
For decades now, the peak of the PC gaming mountain when it comes to showing off new technology has been the First Person Shooter. From the early days of Castle Wolfenstein 3D to the latest CryEngine masterpieces, the FPS has long been that game that immediately heats up your laptop or spins up the fans on that fancy desktop rig.
So here’s a brief celebration of a few original greats in the FPS genre – those games which pushed the envelope in terms of both graphics technology and gameplay.
If you were a game player in the late 1990s and had a PC, chances are you were in possession of a 3Dfx Voodoo processor. While there were plenty of other consumer 3D choices available at the time, the 3Dfx GPU was the first truly impressive option available and the Voodoo2 just made things better. It was the one add-on that you could instantly see impressive results with and nothing better underscored this than enabling the technology in Quake.
Before Unreal was a tournament it was a single-player experience and one that was an amazing showpiece of your PC’s processing prowess. It introduced the world to the Unreal Engine and raised the bar for nearly every subsequent FPS. The gameplay itself was certainly passable, but the real story with this title was the graphical fidelity.
For me Tribes really got the perfect multiplayer formula correct. It introduced real teamwork, vehicles, a class-based loadout system and a wide range of dynamic weaponry. At its best, Tribes was a thrilling multiplayer experience and one that forced players to voice chat, collaborate on strategy and taste both victory and defeat collectively. Best of all, Tribes is totally free now for anyone to play.
Half-Life, like Unreal before it, raised the bar significantly by developing both a cinematic and atmospheric experience that was truly engaging. From the opening sequence, the player is hooked into the dark and amazing world of the Black Mesa laboratory. This was my first real memory of being impressed with in-game cut scenes that really served to make the world feel alive.
It’s hard to believe that this title is well over 10 years old now, but the gameplay is timeless and still very similar to more modern entries in the franchise. Battlefield 1942 set an amazing new standard in team-based gameplay when it hit the scene and it made very little compromise between graphics and smooth multiplayer gameplay.