Be sure to watch this in fullscreen in HD.
First of all, this video is meant to represent nothing else but my personal preference. I hugely dislike lists that are presented with an aura of objectivity, because in doing so, the makers of these lists will always bestow injustice upon certain titles that didn’t make the list, either because they hadn’t heard of them or because these games didn’t cater to their personal preferences. As such, I can safely say that, for now, the only reason why I omitted games from lauded series such as Killzone and Halo is because I simply haven’t played them enough to be able to judge them properly.
10. Red Orchestra 2
I only got Red Orchestra 2 quite recently, after the big update that added the Realism and Action modes. But even in the short time I played it, the game stood out to me as achieving both realism-induced challenge and an arcade-like sense of speed. With fantastic gunplay, intricate level design and gameplay that rewards brains over brawn, Red Orchestra 2 simply is an extraordinary WW2-shooter.
9. Metro 2033
Metro 2033 is often compared to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. due to its presentation, but in reality this game is quite different. Where S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is centred around a deep emotional relationship between the player and the game environment, Metro is much rather a game that invokes feelings of complete isolation, with the remnants of human hope in a post-apocalyptic world being the main theme the story thrives on. The survival-focused, lightly stealth-based gameplay makes for an exciting playthrough, though several game design and pacing issues keep it from being higher on the list.
8. Team Fortress 2
While Team Fortress 2 is not the only class-based shooter out there, I can think of few other games that have the different classes cover such a broad spectrum of gameplay styles. It almost feels as if you’re playing a different game when you switch to a different class, and even changing the load-out of your class can turn everything upside-down. If I have a complaint with Team Fortress 2, it’s that the auto-balancing happens too often and is ineffective in truly balancing the match. But even with that minor issue, Team Fortress 2 stands out as one of the best online games of the past decade.
7. BioShock 2
Many people will wonder why I chose BioShock 2 over its predecessor. The answer is simple: because it did nearly everything better. The dual-wielding, improved AI and new, booby-trap-based ammo types made for much more enjoyable combat, all the while the story remained of a consistently high quality throughout the entire game (whereas BioShock 1’s story fell apart after the plot twist). With its light-hearted blend of stealth, RPG elements and old fashioned FPS carnage, BioShock 2 was one hell of an enjoyable shooter to play through.
6. Battlefield 2
Battlefield has always been an interesting series due to its pseudo-realistic approach and relatively large scope. This formula made for versatile, open-ended games that were still fast enough to provide the player with a constant flow of action. Battlefield 2 saw the game switch from the old WW2 and Vietnam settings to the present day (long before Modern Warfare made this step, mind) and adding light strategic elements with the commander and team structures. The result was a faster, more dynamic game featuring some of the most iconic maps of the series.
I’ve already explained in my article on review writing that it bothers me when people try to dismiss a review because the game in question is ‘old’. Games really don’t age as fast as many of us like to think, and F.E.A.R. is the perfect example. While it may not showcase top-notch graphics by today’s standards, the game itself is still one of the most enjoyable linear shooting experiences out there. To a large extent, the game of course owes this to the fantastic AI. But also important is the excellent pacing that prevents the action from ever getting stale despite the too-samey environments.
When someone calls Crysis ‘generic’, or claims the game is ‘all graphics’, you can be pretty certain of the fact that they either did not play the game, or just weren’t paying any attention during their attempt at a playthrough. Because with a balanced mix of stealth and over-the-top, Rambo-like action, Crysis stimulates the creativity of the player, encouraging him to use the open-ended environments to his advantage. That this highly progressive and replayable game also happens to showcase some of the best graphics out there, only makes it better.
3. Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason
Cryostasis is perhaps the least-known game on this list. In all honesty, it is not even a pure shooter: ammunition is very limited throughout most of the campaign, and the survival/horror-nature of the game prevents it from throwing too much action into your face. Still, the game mechanics reveal that Cryostasis is a shooter at heart, and a brilliant one at that. The story(telling) might just be the best I’ve ever seen in a video game, and to spice up the slow-paced gameplay, the game introduces some highly original mechanics that together ensure a truly fascinating experience. (Read my full review here.)
2. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
Shadow of Chernobyl is one of these love it or hate it type of games. And in accordance with its position on this list, I love it to no end. The campaign does take a while to get started, but what this game does so well is build up tension slowly but steadily, meaning that the game only gets better and better. Add to that an unrivalled atmosphere, intense gun fights and very successful horror elements, and you have a game that easily ranks among the best single player experiences of this generation.
1. ArmA II: Combined Operations
Getting into ArmA II isn’t easy. In my first few months of owning the game, I only played it for three hours. But now, it’s probably my most-played game of this generation. The reason for this inaccessibility is that ArmA II is a typical ‘make your own experience’ type of game. But once you do go into the editor and start exploring the game’s possibilities, there is nothing that even comes close to the amount of freedom, versatility and depth that is offered by this experience. While the game is completely unrefined, its near-bizarre ambition makes up for a lot, effectively establishing this game as the antithesis to the ultra-polished modern linear arcade shooter. The incredibly tense combat is just something I’ve never seen before, and the endless amount of possibilities makes it hard for me to go back to more conventional shooters. ArmA II is a game I’ll continue playing for a long, long time. (Read my full review here.)
All of the footage you see was custom-made for the video. The title cards with the nationality of the developers in them were meant to give a bit more colour and flavour to the countdown aspect, as Windows Movie Maker’s standard text options were too simplistic. I used the free image editing program GIMP 2 to make the cards.
I shot all of the game footage – from gameplay to cutscenes and opening clips – myself with the premium version of Fraps in full HD (1920×1080). At times, this required me to jump through hoops as I didn’t have save-games near certain cutscenes or segments I wanted to use. A good example is having to play through the first hour of F.E.A.R. to get to the sequence where you fall through the window because of an explosion called by Alma. For the ArmA II footage, I even went into the editor to create specific situations that would look cool in the video, such as the final clip where I enter an abandoned military camp with dead bodies lying around.
Real PC FPS fans will recognise the music from the end credits from S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat. The song had exactly the right mood, pace and length, so using it for this video was a no-brainer. I think good music is vital for game videos: so many good vids are ruined by obnoxious nu metal or cheap dance music. I also decided to not completely mute the in-game sounds, because particularly gunshots lose all their impact when you only hear music.
With everything taken into account, the video was created in a period of over two weeks, so I hope you enjoy it.