Have "TPSs" Caught Up To "FPSs?"
You know, it wasn't too long ago when first-person shooters not only ruled the sales charts, they also ruled in the critical realm as well. Now, I'm not saying this has changed much; the change has happened on the other side of the wall, in the genre known as third-person shooters. There was a time when few "TPSs" could live up to the intensity, polish and overall quality of the best first-person shooters (FPSs) on the market. But are those days long gone?
First of all, bear in mind that games like God of War III and Heavenly Sword are not third-person shooters; they're straight-up action titles. Uncharted and Gears of War are third-person shooters and let's face it, just looking at those two franchises alone, one can make the argument that such games are better than any FPS of this generation, with the possible exceptions of Killzone 2 and Crysis. Naughty Dog and Epic are blazing new trails in the genre that once took a significant backseat to FPS and the more we look around, the more we see TPSs beginning to get their just due. It could be argued that Ratchet and Clank is a member of the TPS category, and we're also very interested in the likes of Wet (and not just 'cuz Eliza Dushku is the voice of Ruby).
Thing is, I know FPSs will always be popular, and there will always be excellent productions available. This holiday season, you can bet that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is going to shatter sales records all over the place, and it's a further guarantee that 9s are in store from reviewers. But do you really think Uncharted 2: Among Thieves won't rival Modern Warfare 2 (at least in terms of critical acclaim)? I mean, when we look at both the PS3 and the Xbox 360, there are exclusives on each console - Gears and Uncharted - that are legitimate system sellers...and they're also TPSs. In fact, I'd dare say more are interested in those games than they are in any FPSs on the horizon. Perhaps it's because developers have really found a way to take advantage of this mechanic with the new and more powerful hardware, or maybe it's just because it has been proven that TPSs can be both awesome and profitable.
I guess the bottom line is this: if you ask after the hottest upcoming titles, perhaps TPSs will be just as prevalent on FPSs when someone responds. Does anybody remember when someone would ask if a certain game was a FPS and then they'd hear it was a TPS and...well, they'd be all disappointed? No more, people.
8/28/2009 Ben Dutka