Shooters, shooters, shooters. Gaming is full of them these days. I mean, one has to look no further than this year’s gaming line-up of heavy hitters and system sellers like Call of Duty: World at War, Resistance 2, FarCry 2, Fallout 3, Gears of War 2, Mirrors Edge, Quantum of Solace and the like to see that shooters have replaced the titles of old.
With all of these titles coming out, it’s easy to start wanting a little more from the genre. At this point, we’ve slaughtered so many imps in Doom and Nazis in Wolfenstein 3-D that we kind of know what to expect.
However, there’s the occasional shooter that has a unique and exciting feature, or an old one that’s given a facelift so well that you wonder why nobody’s done it before. Mirror’s Edge, for instance, is coming out this month and has platforming elements unlike any shooter has ever seen. Today, we’ll be looking at other similar features and what made them work so well, and how they could work for other games.
5 Features That More Shooters Need
5. Vehicle Combat (Halo Series)
While many new shooters are adding vehicle combat, none have still quite matched the brilliance of the first Halo CE game. Heck, in recent weeks, I’ve played the new Standoff Heavy gameplay mode in matchmaking, and found it to have some of the most addictive and fun vehicle combat I may have ever played.
Nothing beats driving over huge jumps in warthogs, rolling over and pummeling enemies with turrets, or watching a vehicle explode above you as you down it with a spartan laser. I’d love to see mechanics like this worked into more shooters, because it really ups the scale and adds to that feeling of huge battles. The Battlefield series has come close, but the vehicles just don’t have the same feel as they do in the Halo series.
4. Buying weapons (Counter-Strike)
I know that other games have had weapon buying systems, but none of them were as good as one of the first, Counter-Strike. It’s simple, it’s fluid, and it gives much greater variety than just picking a class and starting with whatever weapons come available.
It also balances gameplay in a way unlike no other shooter I’ve played before. Players are forced to be smart, strategic and thrifty in order to budget for the weapons and armor that they want in each round. It really makes you think about what you’re doing, what your options are going into each round and changes the gameplay accordingly. Do I buy a smoke grenade or a flash grenade? A kit or a frag grenade? These are the kinds of choices more shooters need.
3. Perks and Rewards (Call of Duty 4)
Really, there are a slew of features from the Call of Duty series that could have made it into this list, including the last stand, where players are on the ground using their pistol Saving Private Ryan style until they’re finished off. However, one of the shining features of Call of Duty 4’s multiplayer is the way that its perks worked. Players being able to choose bonuses for their character really added not only depth to the multiplayer, but longevity as well. Juggernaught, martyrdom, conditioning, all of them made fore a more robust experience.
In addition, rewards for killing sprees kept the other team on its toes, but also varied up the gameplay enough each round to show you visibly when the momentum might be shifting in your team’s favor. Nothing was more devastating than almost getting a lead back only to discover that the other team had a little jerk saving a helicopter ambush to clinch the victory. I would love to see more features like this in the shooters, whether it means air strikes, alien helpers, whatever. It just rules.
2.Contextual Commands (Rainbow Six: Vegas, RE: 4, Gears of War)
I had to list all three of these games, since all three of them implemented this feature so well. Contextual commands in shooters really give the player a lot more freedom in terms of becoming the master of his environment. Plus, how freaking cool was it in R6:V to drop down on a rope and smash through a window to take out a room full of terrorists, all with a few button presses. Or curb stomping a dude in Gears of War.
We love adding these little features, and I can’t wait to see even more creative ones in the future. Heck, Splinter Cell was the master of these commands at one point, but has since lost a lot of its luster. Even MGS implements these in a way that is clunky and confusing. Where are our two sneaksters?
1. Squad Based Command Structure (Battlefield 2)
If you’ve never played it, the squad based command structure, when it works, is one of the coolest additions to a shooter I’ve ever seen. Basically, the team of 32 is divided into several squads, each with their own squad leader. Your spawn point is always your squad leader, and the squad leader is in a squad of sorts with other squad leaders, and then the commander issues orders to them.
It adds a huge strategic element to a battle, but also helps you feel like you have a real place in the war, instead of just being one dude that runs around trying to change the tide himself. It’s not Halo. Sure, if some little noob manages to be the commander and makes a total mess of your army, it’s no fun. But when it’s good, it’s great, and I’m dying to see more shooters organize big team games in this way. If you’ve ever played Big Team Battle in Halo, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
So what about you guys? What are some of your favorite features in shooters these days and how would you like to see them added to new games?