ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Games, Toys, and Hobbies»
  • Computer & Video Games»
  • Online Video Games

Top 10 Legendary First Person Shooters

Updated on February 17, 2012
Hitler in, "Wolfenstein 3D."
Hitler in, "Wolfenstein 3D." | Source

The beginnings of first person shooters like many froms of invention or innovation is quite cloudy and it really depends on what you would consider a true first person shooter to be. Many early such attempts although the gave a first person perspective were not based on 3d engines. But many games such as Maze War(1974), Spasim(1974) began the inspiration that would one day become the what we know of as modern day first person shooters.


Although not the first creators of the first person shooter ID Software and Apogee Software are are undoubtedly responsible for the modern version of the first person shooter when they co-created Wolfenstein 3D. Based on the story of B.J. Blazkowicz a prisoner escaping from a NAZI compound. This game gave 3D gaming a foothold in the mainstream and put both ID Software & Apogee Software(later known as 3D Realms) on the map.


Immediately following the making of Wolfenstein 3D both ID Software and Apogee Software knew they had something special and began work on separate projects. Apogee making minor improvements upon the Wolfenstein engine created Blake Stone: Aliens Of Gold. In the game you play Blake Stone in a futuristic setting sent to hunt down an evil bio-geneticist bent on taking over the world with an army of mutants and creatures you must defeat. Apogee worked in a few improvements to the new game, teleporters, food replicators that restore health, one way doors, etc.

Cover from, "Doom II."
Cover from, "Doom II." | Source


One week after Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold was released ID software realeased Doom and the spotlight quickly moved from Apogee to ID. Instead of going back to the same engine for Wolfenstein, Doom was designed on a whole new engine. Incredibly advanced it allowed levels to have staircases, elevators, raised/lowered platforms and thus allowed for incredible architecture to be created.They also added objects that could explode and walls that showed bullet holes when shot and came up with a lighting system that allowed shadows and darkened areas. Doom also introduced multiplayer gaming to the masses. This along with disturbing graphics of otherworldly creatures Doom became a phenomenon.

Not long after Doom became game of the year Doom II was released. Although there wasn't a major difference in the engine great lengths were taken to create more complex levels and creatures showing the full potential of what could be made in their engine. Unlike Doom which was only available through online order or mail in moneyorder Doom II was highly publicized and sold through many commercial outlets and chains.


During the 1990s George Lucas entered the world of game creation in a big way. Lucasarts was developing several games including Dark Forces. This marks one of the first first person shooters based on an already commercial successful series of films which had the effect of drawing even more people into the first person shooter genre. Dark Forces improved upon the Doom engine to a degree but was more popular due to it's characters and connection with Star Wars.

Duke Nukem 3D Cover
Duke Nukem 3D Cover | Source


After Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold had only a minor success Apogee Software released Blake Stone: Planet Strike and Rise Of the Triad. The latter also had a moderate success but still didn't match the commercial size of Doom.

Around the mid 1990s Apogee hired a prodigy named Ken Silverman a 20 year old who would create the engine for Duke Nukem 3D. Building on one of Apoge's already established characters they made the game as advanced as possible.

In terms of new innovations there was glass that casts a reflection, items that players could interact with such as night vision goggles, jetpack and hologram maker. a few weapons worth mentioning were the freeze and shrink rays as well as pipe bombs you could leave behind and detonate. The story line was well thought out and the characters rendered with great detail and imagination. Upon release in 1996 Duke Nukem would go on to enjoy massive success selling 3.5 million copies.


Later in 1997 ID software released Quake like Doom it was a very dark and erie game featuring a wide array of evil monsters. The new quake engine allowed true room over room dynamics and objects were created from 3D models as opposed to sprites. Graphics and lighting were smoother and much more defined. Between Quake and its sequel Quake II ID software further solidified it's title as the #1 first person shooter developer of the 1990s.

Half-Life Cover
Half-Life Cover | Source


Made to two former Microsoft employees Half-Life was made on a dramatically rewritten Quake engine. Aspects of physics were added as well as skeletal model animation. Half-Life was made such that the game play was continuous, it was made to be more than just a shooter.

The game didn't have cutscenes but allowed scenes to occur and interaction with characters as you played the game in real time. There were no levels but chapters with seamless transitions from one part to the next to give the idea that you are travelling through one gigantic complex world. There are weapons as with other shooters but you must also collect inventory items and solve puzzles to kill enemies or move on the the next chapter. This marked the very beginning of the shift from simple mindless carnage of 3D shooters to a wide array of shooter/adventure type 3d games.

Half-Life was a great success selling 8 million copies. It spawned a few expansion packs and a very successful sequel.


Thief: The Dark Project another is at it's core based around the same idea as many of the 3D shooters however it is very different. Uses high level AI for characters that you can interact with, you collect items and perform missions. You can still attack but you must be selective and use stealth hiding in darkness will keep you from being seen, you must not make noises in certain locations or you will be noticed. You interact with some characters and attack others.

gameplay in System Shock II
gameplay in System Shock II | Source


System Shock II is another advanced combination of 3d Shooter and adventure. Based on the original 1990s game System Shock which was a straight forward shooter the new game underwent a major upgrade. You are on a station apparently taken over by an artificial intelligence and have to discover how to stop it. Throughout game play you are frequently required to solve complex puzzles to progress through the game, you pick up weapos but also inventory and can interact with computer panels and dispensers to gain both info and items.


One of the last games of Sierra well known for their adventure games of the 1980s and 1990s based upon the point n' click adventure King'd Quest. The game combines 3D shooter elements with adventure to the point where it is difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. Weapons must be picked up to battle enemies but inventory and great puzzles are a necessary element of gameplay. You interact with characters throughout gaining information and items. The graphics in this game were incredible and moving from one area to another is seamless.

For the moment this will stand as our list however in the near future I may expand it to 15 - 20 as we've just concluded the 1990s there are some major releases from the 2000s worthy to be added. Enjoy this list for now.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      kunynghame - he he yeah I guess the graphics were not that great but they were even worse the decade before :)

    • kunynghame profile image

      kunynghame 5 years ago from San Antonio, TX

      Wolfenstein 3D...such a classic. I miss those old computers with terrible graphics.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 6 years ago from North America

      yeah they are my favorites too back in the old days :)

    • cmlindblom profile image

      Chris 6 years ago from middletown, ct

      Sweet hub man. A lot of FPS history. I personally loved doom and duke nukem.