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Great Single Player First-Person Shooter Action on PC

by: Simon Hill ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Sometimes you want a break from the frantic chaos of multiplayer action. You might prefer to play at your own pace and immerse yourself in a good storyline. Here are the best single player FPS PC games to fulfil that urge.

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    The first-person shooter genre has a long history of engaging and addictive single player games. Multiplayer may be best for team games and a real battle challenge but there’s a place for a decent plot and some cinematic set pieces. Half-Life was probably the first FPS to feature a really engaging story, before that Doom offered deeply addictive gameplay. With Wolfenstein we took the fight to the Nazis, Deus Ex introduced a shadowy world and a complex plot and in AVP 2 we got to play from the perspective of an alien kicking off a single player campaign from the chest of an unfortunate human and being challenged to eat our way to maturity. Quake was atmospheric, No One Lives Forever put a great comedy twist on the world of spies and Medal of Honor slaughtered us on the beaches of Normandy. They were all memorable gaming moments but they’re dated now, so for this line up we’ll try and focus on some slightly more recent games. Here are the best single player FPS PC games.

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    Crysis

    Crysis Cover   While Far Cry was overrated with too much focus on the graphical achievements of the engine, Crysis managed to make the gameplay more interesting and create a mystery in the jungles of the Philippines. Wearing a super powered Nanosuit you had to battle the North Koreans and a bunch of invading aliens. It’s still more notable for the pretty graphics than the actual plot but the open world nature and some interesting mechanics make it worthy of a place on this list. Crysis 2 doesn’t hit the same high notes but if you liked the first game it’s worth a look as well.

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    F.E.A.R.

    FEAR Cover   The title stands for First Encounter Assault Recon and this release introduced a little horror to FPS gamers by way of Japan. The atmosphere here is great and designed to unnerve you as you stalk around hunting for enemy soldiers. The creepy little girl, Alma, really adds to the spooky factor and the enemy AI is smart enough to provide an above average challenge. There have been follow ups, including F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin but they lack the impact of the original.

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    Portal

    Portal Cover   Ok, ok, I know it’s not strictly an FPS game but anyone seeking a decent first-person single player title on PC has got to play Portal. This clever platform puzzler presents a series of mind bending challenges all wrapped in a great storyline with plenty of dark humour. Portal shows some real imagination and features great characterization. If you liked the original then Portal 2 is also a must play game.

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    Borderlands

    Borderlands Cover   This cell shaded FPS and RPG cross offers a great single player experience on the PC. Set on the barren planet of Pandora you can play as one of four characters in an open world environment filled with mutants. There are loads of missions and a heavy focus on loot. Borderlands also features an interesting weapon system that allows for countless combinations. The visual style is great and the gameplay is fun, but the story isn’t very strong and the AI is predictable. Despite the weaknesses this is a great single player game and especially worth trying for RPG fans.

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    Metro 2033

    Metro2033 Cover   This epic single player FPS on PC is set in post-apocalyptic Moscow. It’s a creepy tale that sees you fighting your way through the Metro system and encountering the mysterious Dark Ones. The atmosphere and detailed environments make this an absorbing experience and the story is strong. It doesn’t offer much innovation in terms of gameplay and it is a little rough around the edges but Metro 2033 is still well worth picking up.

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    Call of Duty/Modern Warfare

    Call of Duty 2 Cover   The CoD series is really all about multiplayer but each of the releases in the series has featured a tight, cinematic single player campaign. While they are generally too short to make it worth buying the titles purely for single player and there isn’t much in the way of plot, they are a lot of fun. My favourite single player moment was in CoD 2 during the Russian campaign. You cross a river to take back Stalingrad from the Nazis, there are fighters crashing down and gunfire chattering in the city ahead. When you disembark there aren’t enough guns to go around so you have to run up the bank unarmed and grab a weapon from a fallen comrade. These kinds of moments merit a place on the list.

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    S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

    Stalker Cover   The first release was Shadow of Chernobyl and despite the delays it was an impressive single player FPS adventure. A huge open world setting full of scary mutants and anomalies, navigating The Zone is a perilous prospect. The bleak atmosphere, and freedom of player choice, in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. made it engrossing and compelling. The plot and the AI are interesting and the weather system really adds to the mood. There were definitely some technical issues and with such a sprawling plot, influenced by player actions, it could be tricky to follow but it still deserves its place.

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    Bioshock

    Bioshock Cover   When it comes to creating an atmospheric environment few FPS offerings can compare with the underwater city of Rapture. Bioshock is dripping with style and the aesthetic hangs together beautifully. It also features an interesting plot with some great characters and there’s a moral dimension that means player choices will change the possible ending. It’s creepy and thought-provoking stuff. There are even some interesting elements to the gameplay with the plasmids system bolstering your more familiar weaponry. Anyone seeking a really good single player FPS on PC has to play Bioshock. As is so often the case the sequel, Bioshock 2, lacks the same impact but it is still an excellent single player game and well worth picking up.

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    Half-Life 2

    Half-Life 2 Cover   It may be a predictable pick for the top spot but there’s a reason for that – Half Life 2 is simply an awesome single player first-person shooter. Playing as unlikely hero, the bespectacled physicist, Gordon Freeman, you face off against the Combine who are busily harvesting earth and seem to have effortlessly crushed mankind. The characterization is fantastic, you’re left to piece the story together yourself and the lack of cut scenes makes it that much more immersive. The gameplay features interesting weaponry and puzzles with multiple solutions and, despite the fact the game is quite linear, it creates the impression you are making your own decisions about where to go next. There have been several add-ons for Half-Life 2 that are also essential for single player FPS fans.

    Got a game in mind that deserves consideration for the best single player FPS on PC title? Let us know your pick in the comments.

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