Two very different takes on the FPS genre, Bulletstorm and Killzone 3, hit the shelves today. And as they go head to head to compete for our time and attention, there are numerous other shooters all set to arrive over the remainder of the year.
From online, class-based shooters like Brink to the all-out anarchy of Duke Nukem Forever, 2011 looks like a vintage year for the FPS genre. Here’s a round-up of this year’s most prominent shooters…Bulletstorm
Out today, People Can Fly and Epic’s ferociously violent Bulletstorm takes a size twelve boot to the first-person genre, adding arcade-style combos and outlandish weaponry. Channelling some of the anarchic, crass energy of the old Duke Nukem franchise, the game has received hugely positive reviews.
Release: Out now.
The previous Killzone featured some stunning graphics, and was rightly applauded as one of the PS3’s finest exclusive titles. Oddly released on the same day as Bulletstorm (that is, today), it’s a very different experience from People Can Fly’s knock-about offering, though it’s received similarly warm reviews so far.
Release: Out now.Homefront
March is a busy month for the FPS genre, and Kaos Studios’ Homefront will be the first to appear. Written by John Milius, the game is set in a near-future America overrun by North Korean troops.
As brave resistance fighters, players will engage in a war of attrition, using guerrilla tactics to loosen the occupying forces’ steely grip. Of all the shooters scheduled to appear this year, Homefront is something of an underdog – it doesn’t have the weight of a big-name franchise behind it, and in spite of the presence of the mighty Milius (the writer behind the thematically similar movie, Red Dawn), its setting and plot aren’t exactly boundary-breaking.
Early signs, however, point to an entertainingly solid FPS, full of epic scripted sequences and a 32-player multiplayer mode that may just tempt players away from the year’s bigger-name shooters.
Release: 18 MarchCrysis 2
Crytek’s gorgeous-looking FPS franchise returns with an equally baroque sequel, this time penned by respected sci-fi author Richard Morgan. Switching location from leafy jungles to a concrete cityscape, the high-tech suits and weapons are still in evidence, and as the new gameplay video to arrive demonstrates, it looks as stunning as we’ve come to expect from Crytek.
Release: 25 March
An online shooter that throws MMORPG elements into the mix, Brink could well prove to be one of the best multiplayer FPS experiences of the year. It features hugely customisable characters and weapons, classes that can be switched at any time, and objective-based gameplay that favours strategy and cooperation over pure aggression. We’ll be taking a closer, hands-on look at Brink next week on Den of Geek.
Release: 26 March
The original Conduit didn’t exactly blow critics away, but as one of the few exclusive Wii FPS shooters, it’s perhaps inevitable that developer High Voltage would return with a sequel that aims to build on the foundations of the first game.
Mixing a globe-trotting offline campaign with a 12-player multiplayer mode, Conduit 2 will introduce character classes, suit upgrades and customisable weapons.
Nintendo’s white brick isn’t the platform of choice for most FPS acolytes, but Conduit 2 may be a ray of hope for those looking for a change from Black Ops Wii or the retro delights of Eurocom’s (surprisingly good) GoldenEye remake.
Release: 22 April
Duke Nukem Forever
A game that most of us thought we’d never see, the stricken Duke Nukem Forever has been rescued from obscurity by Gearbox Software, who’ve lovingly nursed 3D Realms’ project through to completion.
Exactly how good the game will be after its decade-long gestation is anyone’s guess, though what we’ve seen so far is highly promising – the un-PC humour of its hulking protagonist is present and correct, the shooting action abundantly violent.
Release: 6 May
One of gaming’s scariest shooter franchise returns for a third instalment, and once again features all the flying gore, creepy psychics and heavy weapons. FEAR 3’s big new addition is what developer Day One calls a “divergent co-op experience” – in it, each player controls one of two very different character. There’s a Point Man, who has one of those bullet-time abilities that were a major feature in Max Payne or Bayonetta, and a character called Fettel, whose status as a member of the spirit world allows him to possess other characters and fire bolts of energy from his hands.
Release: 26 May
The studio who almost single-handedly invented the first-person shooter genre, id, has been working on its new property, Rage, for about four years. And while this post-apocalyptic shooter doesn’t have the groundbreaking qualities of Doom or Quake, its mixture of on-foot action and MotorStorm-style buggy racing looks like a lot of fun.
Like most of this year’s shooters, it introduces RPG elements such as weapon customisation and an inventory system, as well as a huge apocalyptic world to explore.
Release: 16 SeptemberResistance 3
Insomniac’s Resistance franchise is another PS3-exclusive, and like Killzone 2, the second Resistance game was heaped with critical praise when it appeared in 2008. Wisely released a few months after Guerilla’s similarly sci-fi themed shooter, Resistance 3 marks a move away from the more military-oriented trappings of its predecessor, opting instead for a new protagonist called Joseph Capelli, and a story that focuses on protection and survival.
Release: 6 September
One of the finest online shooters gets a much-deserved new instalment, and for once, it’s PC users who’ll benefit the most from this sequel – while console owners will have to be content with 24-player battles, Windows gamers will be able to enjoy huge 64-player battles.
EA DICE’s new Frostbite 2.0 engine will, we’re told, render the virtual battlefields with an even greater richness of detail, with convincing destructible environments, and more focus on vehicular combat.
If DICE can better the combat in the already excellent Battlefield 2, then its sequel could prove to be the next Call Of Duty game’s biggest competitor for the Autumn’s shooter crown.
Release: TBA 2011XCOM
Reviving one of the most loved names in turn-based strategy and then attaching it to a first-person shooter hasn’t pleased everyone, but 2K Marin’s forthcoming FPS may yet prove to be worthy of the XCOM moniker.
Set in the 50s, XCOM will see an FBI agent attempt to repel an invasion of gelatinous aliens. In a nod to Julian Gollop’s original strategy series, XCOM will require more tactics than you may expect from a typical FPS, and will introduce RPG elements such as tech research and weapon construction to the mix.
Release: TBA 2011The next Call Of Duty
Activision has stated that it doesn’t expect to the next Call Of Duty to be as ridiculously high selling as its predecessor, but then, they said the same thing about Black Ops. The exact nature of the next COD isn’t yet known, though we do know that newcomer Sledgehammer is beavering away on it, and that it hopes to turn out a “95 plus rated Call Of Duty game”. There are rumours that the title will be Modern Warfare 3, and that it’ll feature the character Ghost, though this hasn’t yet been substantiated.
However it turns out, Call Of Duty is the shooter that all other developers will be looking to beat – and thus far, many have tried, but none has succeeded.
Follow Den Of Geek on Twitter right here.