First Person Shooters ( FPS ) games are great, and it’s the genre that I really got into for a while — mostly in my late high school / early college years. The first game in this genre that really grabbed me and put me in this zone was the FPS game Wolfenstein 3D, followed by Doom ( modem to modem style ), and then my big time waster QuakeWorld w/ Threewave CTF ( old timers remember that QuakeWorld was an optimized Quake version for 56K/ISDN usage /200+ms ! Until QuakeWorld, the folks at id were all playing on T1s and had no idea what lag was like on a 56K connection ).
I played Wolf3d, Doom, and Quake1 all with a keyboard, no mouse. I used tons of keyboard shortcuts for certain moves, and it felt crazy to not use a joystick, but it all seemed to work great, and I was always near the top of the list for any given game.
Then came the 3dfx grafx card that I had to have, and it really changed the PC gaming scene. 3dfx was formed by a bunch of former SGI folks, who wanted to bring big time 3D grafx to the masses. The first generation Voodo card was an add-on card that kicked in any time you fired up a 3d game, and it really upped the stakes ( brought OpenGL into the mainstream too ), and made 3d style games look great and feel much more immersive.
All of the sudden I actually wanted to look around in 360, and I made the switch to keyboard + mouse, using what was then called WASD ( W to move forward, A for left, S for back, and D for right ). The mouse acted as my viewpoint, so that I could now move at will, and look anywhere. Capture the Flag (CTF) QuakeWorld games also introduced a grapple that made the maps much more 3D and meant that you had to be aware of your surrounding – and be ready from any angle.
And so the controls were set, a super fast laser powered mouse, plus a few simple keyboard keys, and every FPS I played from that point on – Quake2/3/Arena/UT mods, and Halife 1/2, were controlled in the very same way.
It became like second nature to play keyboard+mouse, and the pro players, and tournaments that followed, all were based on a similar controller setup.
I then fell out of gaming as RealLife took over, random free time was diminished, $$ spent on upgrading a PC seemed like an irrational thing, and the overall learning curves for games seemed to get higher and higher.
I didn’t play much of anything for a while, until I received a PS2 as a gift. I dipped my toe back in, mostly playing sports games, but tried a few FPS games as well. Sports game were great with a console’s controller, but FPS games seemed just wrong. I needed my mouse + keyboard, and I needed a true FPS angle, not this 3rd person stuff that seems to be the rage on consoles.
I’ve now picked up an Xbox360 – and if I’m lucky I get to play 1 hr per month. I still enjoy sports games – Tiger Woods, Fifa, etc — but I kept reading about how great Gears of War was – so I picked that up too. And yes, it’s a great looking FPS game on my 40″ LCD HD, but the controls still seem all wrong ! I’m pretty good at learning new things, but how do you aim with precision when it’s a controller ( hint: many of these games auto aim for you ).
What’s wild is to see a generational shift from keyboard+mouse –> console controllers all because of one game — Halo. People who grew up in gaming with an Xbox have only played with a controller and look at us old guys as relics. To be fair, there are some hardcore gamers out there that say “get a keyboard+mouse and hook it into the Xbox360″ – gizmodo reviewed such a product, and the comments could have come from me:
“I always prefer keyboard and mouse – more controls, more configurable, easier to combo. Not to mention that I’ve spent/wasted way too much time honing my keyboard/mouse skills in Quake to give it up.”
Fantastic idea. I’m a PC gamer and could never see myself using the standard Xbox controller for FPS’s. This has me one micron closer to a console, but for now i’m sticking with the PC
I’m personally not keen on introducing more gadgets that into the living room, but I do wonder how many people do that.
So not sure if I’ll ever quite master using a controller for FPS games on the console. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing — as RealLife does have many advantages over gaming :)