Did you know that not every first person game needs to be a Call of Duty title? You probably did – but what about not every first person game has to be a shooter? Tons of these games come out every year, and yet not many of them go beyond the usual annoying character archetypes, gunplay and “high” stakes that you couldn’t care less about. But there are first person games out there that go above and beyond to create a world, employ a brilliant game mechanic or lure the player in in other ways. Here are some great under-the-radar first person games you probably haven’t played that do just that.
7. ‘Condemned: Criminal Origins’ – 2005
Condemned takes place in a gritty noir world where you bash, smash and break mentally insane, aggressively hostile enemies one by one. In between, you survive through terrifying hallucinations and gripping stealth sequences, and investigate the occasional crime scene to track down a horrific serial killer. Though firearms show up from time to time, here, melee combat, stealth, survival and detective instincts are king.
6. ‘Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay’ – 2004
Riddick is a badass, and this game gave you the chance to be him in all his glory. It’s played primarily from a first-person perspective and incorporates shooter, adventure and stealth elements. This was one of the first games to eschew a heads-up display for on-screen cues. It also features excellent graphics (a remake was released in 2009 along with a new game in the series), great melee combat, killer stealth sections, sprawling environments, memorable characters and good re-playability. There is possibly no video game that better captures its source material.
5. ‘System Shock 2’ – 1999
Let’s put it this way, you won’t know this game’s predecessor, but you’ll definitely know its spiritual successors: the Bioshock games. Indeed, System Shock 2 is 1999’s Bioshock, made by 2K Games, and brilliantly (if not beautifully) showcasing the rudimentary action role-playing, first-person shooter and survival horror elements of the series. It has received a bevy of awards, and rightly so. If you can get past the old graphics (it was just released in hi-res, which helps some), you will be pleasantly surprised.
4. ‘Clive Barker’s Undying’ – 2001
Undying is a first person shooter with role-playing adventure, survival horror and puzzle-solving elements. Its blend of gameplay styles keeps things fresh with gunplay, horror, magic spells, tons of monsters, and not-too-bad visuals despite its near-archaic age. The game begins in 1923, and takes place in an estate on the coast of Ireland, so you can bet you’ll have a lot of old-fashioned weaponry and ancient scares awaiting you in the various wings of the mansion and outer grounds the action unfolds in.
3. ‘Marathon’ – 1994
This game takes the old-school first-person shooter genre and adds a great deal of depth. It’s also a Bungie game, and the spiritual predecessor to Halo. That means awesome dual-wielding (in the 2nd and 3rd Marathon games), plenty of challenge, and a great back story. Environments are colorful, enemies are menacing and plentiful, and the level design is spectacular. The ability to aim up and down, weapons with dual functions and a fully realized world made Marathon light years ahead of other games of the time. A must-play for Halo fans. And check it out, you can even play it for free.
2. ‘King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie’ – 2005
This game uses Peter Jackson’s remake as its source material to great effect, blending first-person shooter action with a handful of third-person levels where you control King Kong. You read that correctly, and it is awesome. Action takes place on Skull Island, which is dangerous as hell, but also beautiful, thanks in part to surprisingly good graphics for the time. The game also made good use of motion-capture with great voice-acting as performed by the actual cast of the movie.
1. ‘Dead Space: Extraction’ – 2009
Dead Space Extraction takes the world created by the first Dead Space game, and turns it into a compelling, satisfying and incredibly fun on-the-rails first-person experience. The graphics are surprisingly good for a Wii game of its time, (though it was also released for the PS3), the voice acting is generally good, and it contains one of the most shocking and visceral sequences you may have ever encountered in a game. If you have ever enjoyed a Dead Space game or an on-the-rails shooter, then this prequel is a must.