Shooting stars

Monday 11 September 2006
We don't mean it as a criticism when we call the good old FPS a simple pleasure - just like in driving games you drive, in first-person shooters you shoot. From first person. And that's been pretty much it, unless you count swearing at the screen during jumping puzzles.

We've had (slightly) different guns, vehicles, and squad mates over the years, little tweaks and bigger numbers, but what's the wider future for the run-and-gun?

We've picked eight games - some released, some upcoming - that show the directions the next generation of FPS heavyweights could draw their inspiration from.

Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2 wasn't the first FPS to introduce physics, but it was the one that did it in ways we'll never forget: whether it was halving zombies with saw blades or flooring deathmatch players with a well-aimed porcelain toilet bowl.

The honking, blooping gravity gun brought so much to multiplayer - scooping up a radiator to use as a bullet-proof vest, or those frantic duels where you and another player scramble to suck up and fire every appliance in a room - that the game's guns seemed dull in comparison. You can squeeze off a one-hit sniper kill from the other side of the map in any shooter, but only one lets you crush them underneath a perfectly-judged lob of a filing cabinet.

Half-Life 2 is out now on PC and Xbox and is coming in 2007 to Xbox 360 and PS3

Above: Never mind Gordon or Alyx, it's the Gravity Gun - or Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator, if you prefer - that's HL2's star