eGamer Awards 2013: Best Third Person Shooter
The third person shooter genre is another of those that has dwindled this year. While not to the extent of other genres such as role playing games, we were hard-pressed to find any really great third person shooters with a bunch of mediocre offerings pretty much overwhelming anything that actually tried to be good. There were some great hybrids that unfortunately did not strictly qualify, so those were immediately written off and placed in other categories. The rest just played it really safe, not really innovating or offering up something truly special. Then again, it’s not something entirely unusual given the attitude towards the genre in recent years. This, then, is our collection of the best third person shooters avalable for the year of 2013. May future years shower us with better offerings.
Where would gaming be without guns and baddies to use them on? Probably not many fun places. In order to be nominated for this award, a game has to make sure it packs one hell of a punch, and uses its arsenal of weaponry and mechanics in the best way possible. In the end, it’s not just about what kind of weapons are on offer or how many chest-high walls you can crouch behind, but really about how they’re all used within the design and how the game itself plays while using them. Whether the game in question opts for a cinematic experience, classic arcade-like shooting or exciting multiplayer, it needs to be top notch in terms of both quality and mechanics in order to walk home with the prize here.
Dead Space 3
The third game in Visceral’s popular series released with the promise of concluding the story of Isaac Clarke, the engineer at the middle of a galaxy-wide alien infestation. This time around players journeyed back to where it all began, where the very first Marker was found; the planet of Tau Volantis. Following on from Dead Space 2’s shift towards a more action-oriented approach, Dead Space 3 went even further into the action classification, bringing with it the likes of cover shooting, combat rolls and human enemies. The ammunition system for the game was completely revamped and weapons crafting was introduced. But at its core, it still remained Dead Space; atmospheric, captivating and hauntingly beautiful, with excellent visuals and even better sound design. Dead Space 3 was a fitting conclusion to the trilogy.
Gears of War: Judgment
Gears of War: Judgment was a game that didn’t really need to be around. The Gears of War trilogy had ended, fans of the series were still gunning along in multiplayer to Gears of War 3, and the world was happy. But Epic Games decided that they were not quite done yet, and together with People Can Fly, released Judgment earlier this year, as the final Xbox 360 exclusive title. Judgment was a prequel that followed the story of Lt Damon Baird, who is put on trial for high treason and asked to recount his crimes for the court. You then play through the testimonies of Baird and his teammates, ultimately leading to his inevitable judgement and sentencing. The game brought a new ratings-based system that awarded stars upon completion of each level, aided by a new type of challenge mode called Declassified Missions, which were like optional objectives you found and activated during levels, creating scenarios for the players in order to award them with stars upon successful completion. Multiplayer also saw some refinements and new game modes, making for an excellent overall offering and a worthy Gears of War title.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified was the third person shooter follow-up by 2K Marin to last year’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown, in a bid by the license owners to revitalise the old XCOM IP. What started as a first person shooter was eventually converted over, we assume because sometimes it’s just nice to see your character while zapping aliens, and the result was a very clever tactical shooter set in the sixties, with impressively stylised visuals and a real sense of intelligence to its design. We appreciated that it forced you to think tactically and rewarded you for doing so.
It wasn’t The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, because we honestly found it a little confusing and were not nearly as immersed into the world as we should have been, plus it felt kinda cheap that we had a permadeath system that wasn’t actually permadeath, making our characters’ lives and the preservation of such somewhat pointless.
Our selected winner wasn’t Dead Space 3 because there was just too much of extra baggage that weighed it down, whether you consider that the story never really went anywhere, or that resource gathering was a case of ‘do you want to pay more real money for faster collection’, or that the true ending of the game was hidden behind paid DLC; in the end, Dead Space 3 wanted more money from us than we could afford but wasn’t willing to give us a whole lot if we didn’t fork out.
Gears of War: Judgment
Make what arguments you will about necessity, the truth is that even though we didn’t really need a new Gears of War title, the fact that we got a pretty decent one means that it’s no great loss in any case. In fact, Judgment presented gamers with hundreds of hours more of potential gaming with a host of new game modes, including, at last, a variation on Horde Mode where players got to pick their side. Add in the Declassified missions from singleplayer and you got some of the best variety yet, from a Gears of War title. And there’s that minor consideration of just how freaking beautiful the game is… and it’s a Gears of War title, at that. Gears of War: Judgment carried the flag quite nicely, for the Xbox 360 this year. That, together with just being a really fun game that takes a while to tire of, is what makes it our best third person shooter of 2013. “WOO!”