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A Beginners Guide to PC Gaming: First-Person Shooters

by: Brian Healy ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

First-person shooters are among the most popular of all PC games, and the genre holds many examples. For novice gamers, the choice can be overwhelming and while everyone has varying opinions to the best and worst, there are some which are a cut-above the norm.

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    First-person shooter games (FPS) are all-action games which place the player behind a variety of weapons. The on-screen perspective is in the first-person, so the player plays the game from the visual perspective of the player character. First-person shooters have been around almost since the early PCs, with Doom and Wolfenstein 3D being the classic examples; however, first-person shooters in the modern era have been at the forefront of key technologies such as 3D graphics acceleration and online multiplayer functionality.

    Most FPS games follow a distinct storyline, with the game split into several levels, each of which advances the timeframe and the storyline as they are completed. They most commonly are set within specific environments such as factories, warehouses and laboratories and many invite limited interaction - such as opening doors, using computers and climbing ladders - throughout the game. Early FPS games were very much focused on the 'action' where combat was commonplace and the games involved featured wave after wave of enemies to be shot down, stabbed or blown to smithereens. Later exponents of the FPS genre now concentrate as much on stealth and puzzle solving as they do on the gunplay aspect, and some also even incorporate elements of role-playing with in-game characters.

    With so many first-person shooter games available, it can be hard for novice gamers and those new to the genre to choose which games to try, as the sheer choice available can be overwhelming. FPS games cover most aspects, from alien marauders to WW2 battles to zombie infestations and nowadays players require a powerful PC to fully enjoy the latest titles as realism within the genre becomes a focal point of the game.

    If you're a novice gamer or looking to try out the first-person genre for yourself, then why not try the following?

    Half-Life / Half-Life 2

    Set in the science-fiction subgenre, Half-Life and Half-Life 2 place you as Dr Gordon Freeman, a scientist for the Black Mesa Research Facility who, after an laboratory accident, inadvertently opens a portal to another world which allows alien marauders to invade earth. As the player, you mush solve a series of puzzles as you battle your way to the surface and then to the aliens' homeworld.

    The sequel to Half-Life, Half-Life 2, takes place in the fictional City 17 and sees Gordon Freeman fight through a dystopian environment in the wake of events which happened in the original Half-Life. Assisted by various allies - from fellow former Black Mesa associates to Alyx Vance and alien slaves known as the Vortigaunts, Gordon has to tackle the Combine, an extradimensional military force who have taken over the world.

    Both Half-Life and Half-Life 2 have been subject to numerous free 'mods' which are available to download, such as Counter-Strike, Day Of Defeat and Vampire Slayer.


    Crysis is perhaps the most graphically advanced FPS game currently available and requires a hefty PC to run the game in all it's visual glory. The game itself runs much deeper than the visuals however and places you not only in the middle of an invasion by aliens but also between a North Korea – United States standoff.

    Crysis offers players a highly immersive FPS experience in which they will have to adapt their tactics, weaponry, armour and gameplay style to survive and defeat the alien invasion.


    Bioshock is set in an underwater environment and begins when the players plane crashlands in unknown waters. It is here the player finds an Atlantis-esque city called Rapture cocooned within a rusted bathysphere – an underwater Utopia for the selected few, but has turned into a nightmare where you must fight your way through hordes of genetically modified inhabitants if you are to escape.

    Like Crysis, however, to fully enjoy the game at it's best, you'll need a powerful PC.


    F.E.A.R. stands for First Encounter Assault Recon, and is a first-person shooter with a scary, paranormal twist. In the game the player is a genetically enhanced soldier and member of F.E.A.R who has to investigate when a paramilitary force seizes control of a multi-billion dollar aerospace compound. As it transpires, the troops are telepathically controlled clone supersoldiers and the player must eliminate them and their controller, Paxton Fettel. However, it isn't long before a mysterious little girl in a red dress begins to manifest...

    F.E.A.R is a highly atmospheric, sometimes spine-tingly chilling, FPS. While graphically not as intense as Crysis or Bioshock, a decent-spec PC is recommended in order to get full satisfaction and playability.

    Far Cry

    Far Cry is now a classic, having been on general release for four years. However, it is still ranked one of the most influential games of the genre, and raised the graphics bar a couple of notches on it's release.

    The player takes on the role of Jack Carver, a boat-charter operator in the South Pacific who is hired to take a passenger on a secret trip to an uncharted island. The boat is destroyed by a rocket, and Jack now finds himself stranded a long way from home. In the game, Jack will come face-to-face with mercenary troops and genetically altered primates called Trigens as the player unravels the secret of the island.

    These are just a very small sample of the many first-person shooter games available within the genre, with the range of titles covering everything from science fiction to medieval thievery, swords and sorcery to World War Two and everything in between. There have even been FPS based on franchised material, such as Star Trek and Star Wars so newcomers to the genre are sure to find a game here which suits their own particular interests.

    Just remember to duck when the shooting starts!

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