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Default First-Person Shooters that was not short on story/atmosphere

March 4th, 2007, 17:49
The topic is controversial and will more than likely get some flames on a board I know is dominated by oldschool gamers. I got the flamesuit on so try me.

Here I will focus on some First-Person Shooters that actually delivers a well written story, well written NPC's, nice twists and a good atmosphere. The purpose is to show that while the genré is often forgetable, there are some shiny gems worth playing for them who thinks FPS's are for braindead people. Ironically, several of the following got weak sales thanks to not fitting well with twitchhappy actiongamers.

Alien VS Predator 2 (2001)
Main Characters: Corporal Andrew "Frosty" Harrison, a Predator, an Alien
Noteable Characters: Dr. Eisenberg, head researcher of the LV-1201 facility, General Vasili Rykov, head of the mercenaries assigned to defend LV-1201, The Empress, the Xenomorph queen
Story: AVP2 tells a unconventional story about three "heroes" who would probably be bitter enemies against eachother but they all share the same foe. The events intervene and takes place at pretty much the same time. The story is fairly complex to give without giving away spoilers but all three heroes will battle LV-1201 and their corrupt leaders.

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (2006)
Main Character: Jack Walters, private detective
Noteable Characters: Many characters taken from H.P. Lovecraft's novels, most noteworthy Obed Marsh
Story: Based heavily on H.P. Lovecraft's short novel Shadow Over Innsmouth, also borrowing elements from The Shadow Out Of Time. The game tells the story of Jack Walters who are hired to a manor house in Boston, Massachussetts to deal with a cult calling themselves Fellowship of the Yith. Something there happens that are so terrible to Jack's mind that he ends up several years in Arkham Assylum. The real story begins 7 years later in Innsmouth, a run-down, underpopulated and extremely xenophobic New England port town, shut off from the rest of the world. Here Jack is sent to deal with a robbery of a certain Brian Burnham, but Jack is going to find so much more, including the truth about his own past.

Call of Juarez (2006) (Added by Moriendor)
Main characters: Reverend Ray and Billy
Noteable characters: dto
Story: The young and impulsive Billy flees his family ranch after a violent bust-up with his stepfather. Billy roams the length and breadth of America; two years pass, then Billy decides to go home. The day of his return, gunshots are heard at the ranch from as far away as the neighboring town. One of the town’s inhabitants informs the Reverend Ray, the brother of Billy’s stepfather. At the farm, the Pastor discovers the bodies of his brother and wife and then spots Billy, bloodied whip in hand, standing by a wall daubed with the words ‘’Call of Juarez’’, written in blood. The young man notices the Reverend and flees in a panic.
Ray was well aware of the quarrels between his brother and Billy and figures out that the stepson must have killed the couple in a fit of anger. He vows to avenge the death of his brother and sister in law, and sets out in pursuit of Billy. In the course of his pitiless chase, he chooses to become once more what he was several years previously: a fearsome and bloodthirsty killer.
The specialty of CoJ is that you play hunter and hunted alternately.
JemyM comments: I have not played this myself.

Clive Barker´s Undying (2001)
Main Character: Patrick Galloway, adventurer of the paranormal
Noteable Characters: Jeremiah Covenant, Patrick's old war buddy and his siblings, Lizbeth, Aaron, Bethany and Ambrose
Story: The game begins with Patrick receiving a letter from his old war buddy Jeremiah Covenant. Upon arrival (Ireland) Jeremiah explainss that his family have a dark secret. As children the siblings performed a dark ritual and now at adult age they have fallen to madness and eventually death, all except Jeremiah. The siblings have however woke up from the grave and are now haunting the huge family mansion as well as it's surroundings. Patrick as an experienced ghost hunter sets of to deal with the problem. The story is progressed throughout spooky stages, cutscenes, books and notes that you find along the way.

Deus Ex (2002)
Main Character: J.C Denton, a NANO augmented UNATCO agent
Noteable characters: Deus Ex also tells the story of Paul Denton, J.C's brother, but Deus Ex really have more characters and organisations that can be listed in short.
Story: Deus Ex begins in a cyberpunk society, plagued by a virus known as "Gray Death". Because of the rarity of the cure the nation is in turmoil and several terrorist organisations such as the National Secessionist Force plagues the people and the government. A special anti-terrorist organisation is founded under the United States, fighting a war on terror. The story features many twists and turns and the game won several prices for prices for Best Storyline.

F.E.A.R (2005) (Added by Moriendor)
Main character: F.E.A.R point man
Noteable characters: Alma, Paxton Fettel, Harlan Wade, Norton Mapes
Story: The player is a part of F.E.A.R, a secret special ops unit of the U.S. government specialized in dealing with paranormal threats. At the beginning of the game, the player witnesses how a man called Paxton Fettel is taking command of a batallion of telepathically controlled clone supersoldiers and how Fettel's army seizes control of the Armacham Technolgy Corporation (ATC) structure, killing all its occupants. F.E.A.R's mission is to track down and eliminate Fettel. For more or full info on the story check here at Wikipedia.
JemyM comments: F.E.A.R is a horror game with alot of scary scenes and alot of atmosphere with a dark and gruesome story. I was personally distanced from the story due to the prescence of the "Replica Soldiers" who you are forced to fight throughout the entire game. Theese soldiers do not seem to have anything to do with the rest of the story and there are far too many of them based on the explanation why they are there. A storytelling technique Moriendor did not mention is that F.E.A.R use answering machines that can be used to play up messages, usually among people who talked to eachother before things went sour (similar to System Shock 2). This helps to flesh out the story.

No One Lives Forever 1 (2000) & 2 (2002)
Main Character: Cate Archer, scottish spy
Noteable characters: The entire gallery of NOLF is memorable, including the villians. Following the story of Armstrong, the scottish villian is as fun as following Cate Archer herself.
Story: In the year of 1960, in a homage to classic spy movies/books, UNITY, a secret organisation, works against the terrorist organisation known as H.A.R.M. The main character, a female ex-thief who struggle with old male prejudice, resembles Emma Peel from The Avengers. NOLF1 packs one of the greatest end twists of all time, which gave birth to NOLF2. The game won several Game of the year prices, including Computer Games Magazine, Computer Gaming World, PC Gamer and Gamespy.

System Shock 2 (1999)
Main Character: Military recruit
Noteable characters: Dr. Janice Polito, the mystical Shodan, XERXES the computer A.I
Story: The player takes the role of a military recruit hired to protect security on the spaceship Von Braun's maiden voyage. He is awakened from cryo sleep just after something strange happened with the ship. Quickly he discovers that something is wrong. The events that have taken place on Von Braun is told through events, discs, letters, e-mails and journals from other passengers.

The Jedi Knight Series
Main Character: Kyle Katarn, Jedi Knight
starwars.com's databank
Noteable Characters: Jan Ors, Kyle's friend and ally, several villians and famous characters from the movies
Story: 3 games were made with Kyle Katarn as the main character and 2 have him present as a master. A few books use the character.
In Dark Forces, Kyle work under Mon Mothma, dealing with the Dark Trooper Project. Dark Forces expand the myth of Dark Troopers. The real story about Kyle begin in Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, where Kyle learns of his true heritage. Morgan Katarn, his father, once helped the Jedi Rahn to close off the Valley of the Jedi, a resting place for Jedi who became one with the force. Jedi Knight uses cinematic cutscenes with real actors. In Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith, Kyle acts as the master for Mara Jade (character from the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn). In Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (My personal favorite), Kyle have resigned as a Jedi when Jan Ors are taken prisoner and killed. Kyle sets off across the galaxy to bring the Dark Jedi Desann to Justice but must first relearn the force to stand a chance. In Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy Kyle again takes the role of a master to the main character, Jaden Korr, force prodigy. In the end the player may take the dark path and make Kyle the antagonist. The true end of Kyle Katarn is considered to be unknown, chosen by players of Jedi Academy.

Vampire: Bloodlines (2004)
Main Character: A new vampire
Noteable Characters: Many interesting characters like the powerhungry Sebastian LaCroix, Smiling Jack the Anarch (your mentor), and the sexy malkavian Jeanette with her sister Therese
Story: Vampire Bloodlines tells the story of a fresh new vampire in Los Angeles. Places like Santa Monica, Hollywood and Chinatown are visited in the game. The players are torn between competing organisations of vampires. Beyond finding your space in the city, the plot surrounds a mystical sarcophagus that all factions wants, with different ideas of it contents. Some say it contains an ancient vampire that, if consumed (drinking it's blood), would give the consumer godlike powers.
Last edited by JemyM; March 5th, 2007 at 16:42.
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March 4th, 2007, 18:09
As for a atmosphere (although this is probably not exactly the thing you have on your mind), the best one for me was the first Half Life.

From the list about, the Deux Ex was most noticable in my opinion, featuring several interesting characteristics, that may qualify it (as often stated) as semi-RPG-FPS game.
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March 4th, 2007, 18:59
While I have a few other FPS favorites they fell off the list because the story wasnt as complex and memorable. Games like The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and Far Cry.

Halo had a decent story but was quite repetitive and a bit long in comparision to the games actual content. Nice epic final level from an actiongamers point of view.
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March 4th, 2007, 19:40
You listed Clive Barker's Undying; it can't be mentioned without comparing it to Realms of the Haunting (yes, once again ). RotH (which preceded Undying by several years) tried to merge the shooter and adventure genres; it delivered a strong haunted house story that actually spanned several realms. Most critics loved it while sales bombed: 'average' adventure gamers found it too heavy on action while 'average' shooter gamers thought there was too much pixel-hunting going on. It still has a strong fan base, and those who loved RotH found Undying the only game that came close in style and atmosphere. There even was a fan project about a RotH remake with the Undying engine; alas, it never came to fruition as far as I know.

Realms of the Haunting (1996)
Main Character: Adam Randall, son of a recently deceased Cornish priest
Noteable Characters: Rebecca Trevisard, unexpected little helper; Claude Florentine, schemer; Aelf, Hawk and Raphael, good guys; Belial, Gaul and the Dodger: bad guys; the Gnarl: strange guy.
Story: Adam's father died in a fire; shortly afterwards, he is visited by a former colleague of his father's, who gives him a box full of broken coins. When Adam visits the mansion where his father lived before he died, he soon discovers that he won't be able to leave without solving its mystery…
This may sound like your typical Haunted House story, and it is… with nice twists and a unique atmosphere.

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Last edited by Jaz; March 5th, 2007 at 18:21.
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March 4th, 2007, 19:44
There was actually someone on another forum mentioning Realms of the Haunting. I had personally completely missed that one. I bet I would have loved it if I knew about it sooner but it looks a bit too outdated today.
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March 4th, 2007, 20:10
AvP2 is an incredible game, and that took me by total suprise. I expected it to suck, but was wholly taken aback by the suspense in that game. It scared the hell out of me a few times!

On that note, I think Nosferatu is worth a mention. The story is nothing special, but the game's atmosphere is superb. Highly recommended for people who like the classic American and European gothic horror classics.
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March 4th, 2007, 20:13
@JemyM: I replayed it last year and I still loved it, but it's one of my favorite games, anyway, and I don't mind outdated graphics at all.
Screenies: http://www.realmsofthehaunting.com/screenshots.php

Heck, I even replay Catacomb 3D and Ken's Labyrinth from time to time… *that's* what I'd call outdated graphics
Catacomb screenie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:2cat3d_3.png
Ken's Lab screenies: http://advsys.net/ken/klab.htm

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March 4th, 2007, 20:35
Originally Posted by Jaz View Post
I don't mind outdated graphics at all.
I have a problem with year 1995-2000. Thoose were experimental years. The passover from 2d art to 3d art. Prior to year 2000 the polygons/textures was of a such low quality that they remind me about virtual reality rather than an attempt to create an actual world. Post 2000 (Deus Ex and forward) the maps started to look more like real 3d rendered places, with improved character models with real faces/facial expressions and higher textures.

Another technique I cannot stand though are lowres games using digitized actors or bitmapped 3d renderings downscaled to low resolution. This is the 2nd reason I have problems with the 1995-2000 era. For example, Toonstruck or Darkseed.

I can, however, appreciate handdrawn 2d art. Such art does not feel cheap which makes them as impressive today as when the game was first released. Because of this, I play many 2d games, and I have a personal goal to beat all adventuregames that was released up to 1995 as long as they had some recognition as good games.

All of this sadly means that System Shock 2 is a bit outdated by my standards as well. If I would play it today I would use the high-res texturemods.
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March 4th, 2007, 20:39
Originally Posted by xSamhainx View Post
AvP2 is an incredible game, and that took me by total suprise. I expected it to suck, but was wholly taken aback by the suspense in that game. It scared the hell out of me a few times!
AVP2 was the first game I cheated in since the Amiga age… reason being that I just cannot stand anything with 8 legs and thoose facehuggers in particular. So I used noclip to bypass an area as a predator… out of pure fear…
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March 4th, 2007, 21:42
For atmosphere I quite liked Vampire: Bloodlines. The Seaview hotal was very well done and the characters you met in the first 2 locations were good it was a shame it went a bit to FPSy (new word) when you had to go through the Nos's base.

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March 4th, 2007, 21:45
Originally Posted by Kendrik View Post
For atmosphere I quite liked Vampire: Bloodlines. The Seaview hotal was very well done and the characters you met in the first 2 locations were good it was a shame it went a bit to FPSy (new word) when you had to go through the Nos's base.
Oh wow. I missed that one >_<

I will have to add that one after some sleep.
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March 4th, 2007, 23:56
There… correctly (I hope) formatted for your copy & pasting convenience in case you should deem these two worthy of adding to your list .

F.E.A.R (2005)
Main character: F.E.A.R point man
Noteable characters: Alma, Paxton Fettel, Harlan Wade, Norton Mapes
Story: The player is a part of F.E.A.R, a secret special ops unit of the U.S. government specialized in dealing with paranormal threats. At the beginning of the game, the player witnesses how a man called Paxton Fettel is taking command of a batallion of telepathically controlled clone supersoldiers and how Fettel's army seizes control of the Armacham Technolgy Corporation (ATC) structure, killing all its occupants. F.E.A.R's mission is to track down and eliminate Fettel. For more or full info on the story check here at Wikipedia.

Call of Juarez (2006)
Main characters: Reverend Ray and Billy
Noteable characters: dto
Story: The young and impulsive Billy flees his family ranch after a violent bust-up with his stepfather. Billy roams the length and breadth of America; two years pass, then Billy decides to go home. The day of his return, gunshots are heard at the ranch from as far away as the neighboring town. One of the town’s inhabitants informs the Reverend Ray, the brother of Billy’s stepfather. At the farm, the Pastor discovers the bodies of his brother and wife and then spots Billy, bloodied whip in hand, standing by a wall daubed with the words ‘’Call of Juarez’’, written in blood. The young man notices the Reverend and flees in a panic.

Ray was well aware of the quarrels between his brother and Billy and figures out that the stepson must have killed the couple in a fit of anger. He vows to avenge the death of his brother and sister in law, and sets out in pursuit of Billy. In the course of his pitiless chase, he chooses to become once more what he was several years previously: a fearsome and bloodthirsty killer.

The specialty of CoJ is that you play hunter and hunted alternately.
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March 5th, 2007, 00:53
No-one mentioned the original System Shock which is still an awesome game!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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March 5th, 2007, 02:44
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
AVP2 was the first game I cheated in since the Amiga age… reason being that I just cannot stand anything with 8 legs and thoose facehuggers in particular. So I used noclip to bypass an area as a predator… out of pure fear…
It was one of several FPSs I put back on the shelf just because I started to feel there is no reason the get scared to death, that it is in fact not a real fun for me. Who wants nighmares just because playing games, life has enough of it's own scaring moments. So after several 'I hear it coming somewhere from the dark' with the typical radar sound making it really sound dangerous, I gave up, it was too scary for me. It was one of those games that helped me to realize what I like and what is too much for me. That's why I did not buy latest Doom for example. I know, it would be too scary for me .
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March 5th, 2007, 04:11
I've played every game mentioned so far with the exception of NOLF 1&2.

All really good games imho except for COC: Dark Corners of the Earth. I was incredibly disappointed by that game because I had very high hopes for it and waited 3 years for it to come out. It was a short, unbalanced, boring, and buggy piece of dung
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March 5th, 2007, 07:23
I didn't play Vampire and Call of Cthulhu, but I agree with all other games mentioned so far. All good .

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March 5th, 2007, 07:40
[QUOTE=JDR13;21525] I've played every game mentioned so far with the exception of NOLF 1&2. QUOTE]


Have to correct myself here.

I haven't played Vampire:Bloodlines yet either. I did just get a copy off Ebay recently and hope to play it later this year.
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March 5th, 2007, 08:39
The reason I did not originally add F.E.A.R is that I know plenty of people who tried it and ended up dissappointed.

I personally enjoyed the game (I love horror games), but the game had one major flaw to me… I never understood who thoose Replica Soldiers were and why they were absolutely everywhere like a huge army. So throughout the entire game you fight hordes of enemies that had almost nothing to do with the story.

Call of Juarez do not work well with nvidia's 8800 series, from what I gathered from the first map you might be right, the game really have alot of western feel.
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March 5th, 2007, 08:59
Added F.E.A.R, CoJ and Vampire: Bloodlines
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March 5th, 2007, 09:24
I'm playing F.E.A.R. right now(2nd time) and loving it. You must have missed something if you didn't understand the purpose of the Replica soldiers, they were definitely part of the story. I can't wait to start playing the Extraction Point expansion.


I'm a little confused about this thread though. The title says "First-Person Shooters" but there are some titles being mentioned that are more RPG-Adventure than shooter.

Did you mean any game featuring a first-person view?
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