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The PS2 FPS:
A Look at Things to Come

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November 8, 2001


I am an action junkie. Strategy, tension, reflex, firepower, a sure-fire adrenaline rush—these may not be the noblest of reasons to play a video game. They are, however, the most likely to get me to shell out fifty bucks at my local retailer, call in sick at work, and settle into VR bliss. And I can think of no better way to experience the action than through the eyes of the hero. This is exactly what the First Person Shooter does best.

N64_pd_6-01.jpg (4911 bytes)The PS2 has seen several FPS games in its first year. Some were good, and some were not. One thing’s for sure: none of them have offered the kind of well-balanced game play that console owners have come to expect after playing Perfect Dark. Released a year and a half ago on the N64, Perfect Dark embodied the best qualities of the FPS—a compelling single player mode, complete with evolving objectives and unlockable secrets, as well as an intense and infinitely customizable four-player multiplayer mode. So what happened on the PS2?

sptunrea_screen8-01.jpg (3689 bytes)Well, both Unreal Tournament and Quake III: Arena abandoned the single player storyline entirely and focused on arena style action. Of course, they never claimed to be anything else. And Unreal Tournament delivered, in its own distinctive, fast and furious way. It had a number of things going for it: a wonderfully dark cast of characters, imaginative settings, a variety of game modes, and lots of gore (presented mostly in nasty, bouncing giblets). But Unreal Tournament seemed to pride itself on being the big, dumb bully of FPS games—the levels were so simple, the weapons so devastating and uneven, that it always ended up as a race for the biggest gun. That wasn’t enough to please all FPS fans (myself included). It was, however, leagues above the abysmally bad Quake III, which as far as I can tell had no redeemable features whatsoever.

010-01.jpg (3607 bytes)Then there was TimeSplitters, the sitcom of FPS games. The single player mode in TimeSplitters had low-concept, formulaic game play that was pumped full of atmosphere and good-humor. The only reason to play the single player mode was to unlock options and have a few laughs. The multiplayer mode, however, was a blast. Still is, in fact, as it has stood the test of time. It is completely customizable, and full of great characters and complex levels. The arsenal includes some of the best weapons of any FPS. The ricocheting projectiles fired by the sci-fi handgun are classic. I still laugh at the first time I fired a volley at another player, only to realize that my own bullets had bounced off of the wall behind him and were coming straight at me. And those through the window, off a wall, and around the corner ricochet kills are the best. Plus it has a level-builder that is easy to use and adds tremendously to the replay value.

ssotw05-01.jpg (5611 bytes)Most recently there was Red Faction. This was the first PS2 FPS to feature an actual single player story mode. Replacing objective-based levels with a continuous story line, Red Faction is one of the most compelling FPS games released on a console so far. Looking back, it was the little in-jokes within the story that I enjoyed most. For instance, nearly every non-player character you meet in the game is killed within seconds of hooking up with you. A typical exchange goes like this: "Hey Parker, I’m here to help you, follow me." BLAM! "Aaargh!" Also, your character is constantly being made fun of for being oblivious to what is going on. And what about Eos’s final piece of advice? "You’re a hero now . . . go home, find a job, get a girlfriend." It’s as if she was speaking directly to pasty-faced gamers everywhere. Of course, Red Faction will be remembered foremost for innovation (re: geo-mod). However, the multiplayer left something to be desired. Sure, geo-mod changed the way we play a FPS. It made for brilliant combat strategy. But what’s up with only supporting two players? Not to mention the unforgivable lack of customization and unlockable levels, characters, and options.

But this is just the beginning, dear gamer. For PS2 owners, it is a good time to be a FPS fan. There are at least six FPS games set for release on the PS2 by the end of the year. More will follow in early 2002, including Aliens: Colonial Marines, an online version of Tribes, and the greatly expanded and much-anticipated sequel to TimeSplitters. There are ports of PC favorites and console originals, story-driven single player titles and four-player party games, colorful sixties spy tales and violent gore-fests. In short, there should be something for everyone, and GF! is going to give you the skinny on them. So let’s get started and remember, as always, the release dates are subject to change.

The Quick List (just click on the title and go directly to that preview):

Soldier Of Fortune
Project Eden
James Bond 007 in Agent Under Fire
No One Lives Forever
Deus Ex
Aliens: Colonial Marines

Jeremy Kauffman