Half Life 2 (2004)
Fifteen years after the first Half Life, crowbar-wielding theoretical physicist Gordon Freeman returned to join the resistance against the tyrannical Combine rulers. Winning 39 game of the year gongs and numerous game of the decade accolades, this is a must-play for any FPS fan. Just as well it has plenty of replay value, really; with the wait for Half-Life 3 dragging into its tenth year.
Unreal Tournament (1999)
Unreal Tournament focused primarily on head to head player and bot deathmatches where the AI could be set anywhere between novice and godlike. Classic battles such as team deathmatch and capture the flag ensured that a fully blown frag-fest was always on the cards.
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Many moons ago, iD Software changed the face of gaming with their gory, violent shooter. Although its story was derivative – mashing up the plot of Aliens with Satanic imagery – the game itself was nothing short of revolutionary.
Where previous FPS games had been built on simple grid-layout maps, Doom's expansive world featured verticality, angles and even outdoor sections. And shadows. Oh, the shadows – Doom made use of light and dark and off-camera noises to add an element of primal fear to gaming, inadvertently creating the survival horror genre in the process. That wasn't its only innovation, either; it pioneered network gaming and bespoke mods. Groundbreaking, and still influencing games today.
Metroid Prime (2002)
Nintendo's cheerful plastic GameCube struggled to shake off the impression that it was a kids' toy; Metroid Prime proved that it could be a gaming machine for grown-ups, too. Taking the Metroid series into full 3D was a controversial move, but it paid off; putting you behind the visor of bounty hunter Samus Aran, the game hit the perfect balance of investigation, exploration and out-and-out action. Its most innovative move was its use of multiple visors with different properties, adding a puzzle-solving element to the gameplay.
If your gaming rig could run Crysis at max settings upon its release chances are it was a quantum computer. A couple of years ago, tech benchmarking site AnandTech estimated that you'd be able to run the game on max settings using a single GPU "by early 2014" – so we've only just caught up with its eye-watering graphical gorgeousness.
The plot may not have been particularly inspiring – something about super-soldiers, archaeological digs and aliens – but the game mechanics were innovative. Kitted out with an advanced nano-suit, you could toggle between super strength, lightning speed, armour and invisibility, to suit all styles of gameplay.
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