Do you remember when you could play a game like Turok for the N64 and unleash the Cerebral Bore on unsuspecting enemies, watching intently as brain matter comes gushing out of their doomed skulls? What about the first time you were sniped by The Farsight XR-20 in Perfect Dark? Even going back to the days of Doom and Quake you can find arsenals that were unique and exciting. The First Person Shooter (FPS) genre always felt like something new was right around the corner.
Then in 2001 Halo
came out for the XBox and creativity came to a screeching halt. Even though the game itself was immensely fun to play and brought the FPS back to the forefront of consoles, the shockwave it had over the genre devastated the landscape. Things like regenerative health bars and space marines began overtaking the entire genre, being put into situations that made absolutely no sense in context of the game. Even World War II soldiers were magically patched up after ducking behind cover for a few seconds! The worst part of the post-Halo FPS, however, is the same arsenal being seen in 95% of all games. You all know the list, so sing it along with me:
Pistol, machine gun, shotgun, sniper rifle, rocket/grenade launcher, and one unique exotic weapon.
Ever since 2001 it seems that you can find these weapons in order, usually leaving the one unique weapon for the last level to beat the last boss. Usually it isn't even that unique, usually being some type of laser or an explosive that's slightly larger than the rocket launcher. It just seems that developers are playing things safe and are deathly afraid of rocking the boat. I can only think of three interesting and new weapons off the top of my head that can really be considered truly unique that have been out recently (Half-Life 2's Gravity Gun, Portal's Portal Gun, and Bioshock's Plasmids if you're wondering) . I think it's about time to turn the arsenal template upside down and throw some creativity back into the FPS. I've come up with a few ideas myself to help jumpstart the imagination train:
The Pink Pistol
You may think itís weird to start with a pistol after ranting about the stagnation of the FPS genre, but this is no mere paint job. This baby shoots corrosive acid
instead of bullets. Itís like a super soaker from hell. This weapon would be designed more for weakening enemy armor, but it can be used to melt some faces in a pinch. This is just the beginning, however. The next weapon you get isÖ.
The Hole Gun
You remember those old Loony Tunes cartoons when Bugs Bunny would toss a small circular hole in the way of Elmer Fudd and heíd fall right in, then Bugs would pick up the hole and walk off-screen? Thatís basically this gun in a nutshell. Just shoot this gun at the feet of your enemies and a small hole pops up. If the enemy doesnít realize it in time, heíll walk right into it. The hole shrinks and closes before the enemy can climb back out, leaving them in whatever black void theyíve fallen into. Itís meant for smaller enemies since big enemies wouldnít drop into it, but itís a good way to get rid of those stupid little grunts so you can concentrate on the bigger threats. Thatís what this next weapon is for.
The Rain Maker
Itís a simple weapon that shoots a mortar shell into the clouds above. After a few seconds, blood will rain down from the sky, creating a surreal scene perfect for any epic battle. The blood will have no effect on your enemies, but the obscene amount of lightning shooting from the sky should get their attention. Every lightning hit causes a good amount of shock damage and stuns for a few seconds, allowing you to go to town on them using other weapons. This oneís definitely for the people who feel the desire to dance in puddles of blood as they destroy their foe. This wonít work inside, however, but weíve got you covered on that front.
The Sonic Boomer
When you absolutely positively need to clear a hallway in the next five seconds, the Sonic Boomer is here to help. It takes a few seconds to charge, but get this baby at max force and get ready to unleash a sonic boom at your opponents. Itís especially effective in closed spaces, where the boom canít disperse anywhere but forward. Itíll blow any enemy to the back wall if used correctly, allowing you the opportunity to toss a well placed grenade at the newly built pile of bodies. If the enemy has been weakened enough, however, theyíll simply get their skin and muscles blown away, leaving only a skeleton to crumble to the floor. While itís an incredibly fun gun to use, it may not hold a candle to this next one.
The Rock You Rocket (aka the RYR)
Sometimes you just need to publicly humiliate your buddies in a death match and send the other team a message. This baby is sure to do the trick. Simply launch this rocket and control it remotely to the target. Once it makes contact, it will attach itself to the enemies back, allowing up to ten seconds to do whatever you want to them. Maybe you want to spell your initials in the air and show the other team who killed their member in style or maybe you want to send them chasing after their teammates. Whatever you chose to do, a smile is sure to follow. Thereís even a secondary mode that allows you to attach it to your own back for an immense speed boost, just as long as you remember to jettison the pack before it explodes on its own. As humiliating as this weapon is, it doesnít have anywhere near the ďownedĒ factor as the ultimate weapon on this list.
The Omega Javelin
Itís just your regular, super-rare secret government project Olympic javelin. You only get a small amount during the course of the game, but thatís due to their overwhelming power. Take a few steps and hurl this thing at your target of choice and get the hell out of the way. The countdown goes for five seconds before everything in a certain radius of the javelin loses all color. If you find yourself in this grayscale nightmare, then I hope you made your peace before the next second.
Thatís when a high pitched microwave emission annihilates everything in the grayscale radius, allowing you a split second to see everything simply break apart before the entire field goes white. When your vision returns, youíll see nothing remaining in that radius, not even dust. All youíll see is a radius of barren wasteland of unfertile soil. This weapon is most satisfying when you plant it in the stomach of some poor enemy and watch his futile attempts to pull it out before the countdown ends. Feel free to laugh menacingly as you observe this from the safety of your binoculars.
Thatís just the list I came up with in a month. Development time for games these days lasts years, even a simple FPS. Iím sure developers do have ideas for weapons such as these, but theyíre probably afraid publishers wonít accept wild out-of-the-box ideas and prefer they stick to the ďsafeĒ template of Halo. I humbly ask publishers to let the FPS genre off its leash and allow it to bring create the memorable weapons of today that weíll still be talking about ten years down the road. For the sake of FPS fans everywhere, please put the machine gun away and give a fully automatic unicorn head that shoots horns a try.
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