Top 5 90's First-Person Shooters that Should Make a Comeback

Thanks to Doom Eternal's success (both financially and critically) earlier this year, classic shooters are once again in the limelight and getting the love that they deserve.


One of the best shooters ever made, the latest entry in the legendary Doom franchise is an absolute blast and if you haven't picked it up yet, make sure you do - or check out this thorough review if you need more convincing.


Gaming icons id Software are no strangers to bringing their classic shooters to modern glory, whether it be their superb 2016 reboot of Doom that paved the way for the near-perfect sequel Doom Eternal, or their modern reinvention of another revered series in the form of the free-to-play Quake Champions.


In addition to the afforementioned games, id's publisher Bethesda has also rebooted another classic shooter to great success in Wolfenstein, with its two main games being amongst the best shooters (and games in general) released since the reboot hit shelves in 2014 (its two spinoff expansion-esque titles were less stellar, but still solid games nonetheless).


Bethesda aren't the only ones that have managed to bring classic shooters back to prominence in recent years though - Square Enix and Eidos Montreal have released two incredible shooter-RPGs to revive the Deus Ex franchise, while Devolver Digital and their obscure Flying Wild Hog studios have managed to reboot Shadow Warrior and turn it into one of the most fun campaign shooters around despite its modest development team and budget.


There's clearly a strong demand for old-fashioned shooters in today's market and there are plenty of classic titles that have been on the shelf for far too long - here are five FPS classics from the 90's that deserve a modern reboot or sequel.


Blood

A Doom-style FPS featuring bucketloads of blood and gore, plenty of dark humour, a scary atmosphere and excellent level design? Sign me up.

Released in 1997 from the talented developers at Monolith Productions, Blood put players in the shows of an undead early 20th-century gunslinger seeking revenge against his former master.


Heavily leaning into occult and horror themes that complemented its extremely violent nature, Blood's large arsenal of weapons (which included alternate/secondary fire modes, one of the first games to introduce this concept), interesting assortment of enemies and powers, and challenging gameplay made it an instant classic.


Unfortunately a rather lackluster sequel was released just a year later (that also flashed forward into a cyberpunk-style depiction of the year 2028) and failed to recreate the success of the original, ultimately killing the promising series before it had even gotten started.

With the modern success of the Doom and Wolfenstein franchises however, it seems like a no brainer that someone should try and revive this classic shoot-em-up.


The original's unique setting, characters, weapons and horror vibes combined with modern gameplay would certainly be a treat in a genre that now mostly consists of modern war games and battle royale clones.

Looking at the modern Doom games for inspiration, Blood could easily be reborn as a more story-driven shooter with its diverse array of unique weaponry and powers and an emphasis on blood and gore making it stand out from the pack.


It would be wise to lean heavily into the horror aspects as well - although considered more of a niche genre for gaming in the past, recent years have seen horror games (and first-person ones in particular) gain a ton of popularity, from genuinely frightening survival horror gems like Outlast and Alien: Isolation to more action-focused haunts such as Resident Evil 7.


Although Monolith Productions seems to presently be focused on their excellent Middle-Earth games, they are plenty capable of rebooting the beloved classic and turning it into a scary thrill ride.


They created the popular F.E.A.R. and Condemned games after all, two very different but nonetheless excellent first-person horror games, and their proven expertise in the horror sector could set a Blood sequel apart from the other classic shooter reboots we've seen in recent years.


It may not have the name recognition of some of the other picks on this list, but with a title like Blood it's hard to imagine a reboot would have a tough time attracting its target audience.


Turok

Have you ever wanted to wander around a lush jungle, exploring the beautiful wilderness while shooting an assortment of massive dinosaurs with more arrows, bullets, and explosives than you can count?


Of course you have.


Turok is possibly the most nineties game franchise ever made - it's a fast-paced first-person shooter featuring dinosaurs.


Based on a comic book series from back in the fifties, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter set the gaming world on fire back in 1997 with its impressive graphics and exhilarating dino-slaying combined with lush jungle environments and solid platforming mechanics.


The first sequel was also a smash hit in 1999 before the series began to fizzle out, scoring a respectable third entry in 2000 before petering out with 2002's Turok Evolution.


Following Evolution's lackluster performance, there would be a disturbing lack of dinosaur-murder simulators until the simply titled Turok reboot graced store shelves in 2007.

Made by the now-defunct Propaganda Games, the reboot attempted to bring the classic game to modern audiences via a more serious tone and slightly deeper story. The release lived up to the series' reputation for delivering impressive graphics and a beautiful setting, but it wasn't exactly at the top of the food chain in terms of gameplay or level design.


2007's middling Turok may not have been the smash hit the original was, but the reboot still found commercial success and a sequel was quickly greenlit - unfortunately it would never see the light of day as its struggling publisher was shuttered and the project was scrapped as a result.


With the Jurassic Park franchise returning to prominence in the last few years and the advent of a brand new console generation with incredible graphical potential, it seems like the time is now to return to the once beloved gaming franchise.


A modern survival shooter with a strong arsenal of badass weaponry, combined with an epic array of detailed dinos and vibrant outdoor environments rendered in beautiful 4K...in the right hands, Turok would be the equivalent of a license to print money.


It's a series that many old-school gamers have fond memories of and has a ton of potential to bring in new fans with its simple yet enticing concept. Frankly it's a bit absurd that we haven't seen a good dinosaur shoot-em-up grace our gamepads in the last decade - here's to hoping the next console generation is graced with stunningly detailed 4K chunks of dinosaur meat.


System Shock

An innovative shooter set in a cyberpunk future, System Shock made waves when developer LookingGlass Technologies released their masterpiece way back in 1994.


The title's impressive emergent gameplay and immersive environments would inspire countless videogames for decades to come, and its own sequel in 1999 from Irrational Games (a studio created by LookingGlass vets) is still praised today as one of the best and most influential games of all time.


The sequel managed to improve on the original in every way and added RPG mechanics into the mix as well with great success, fusing many disparate systems into a cohesive and balanced whole to make one of the deepest and most rewarding shooters ever made.


Although it received widespread critical acclaim upon its release, System Shock 2 failed to meet its financial targets and instead has been remembered as a game far ahead of its time.


Despite not finding financial success, the two titles would prove extremely influential in the videogame industry and two very notable franchises would later emerge as spritual successors - Deus Ex and Bioshock.


After many years of waiting, System Shock 3 was announced to be in development by OtherSide Entertainment, a small studio created by the co-founder of LookingGlass Technologies.


The surprise announcement thrilled the gaming community, but as time went on that enthusiasm soon turned into disappointment - the project appeared to simply be too big and ambitious for the small studio to handle and reports came earlier this year that the majority of OtherSide's staff were laid off and the project has been on hiatus ever since.


A remake of the original System Shock is still slated for release at some point this year and is being handled by another small developer in Night Dive Studios, showing there's clearly still interest in the influential franchise.


Considering the success of its spiritual successors, particularly Bioshock, and the fact that cyberpunk settings have become all the rage recently, it seems like the perfect time to deliver a true, AAA sequel or to reboot the franchise entirely.


With modern polish and upgrades, the gameplay systems of the second entry in the series would make for a superb campaign shooter and would also fill the gaping void left by Bioshock's extended absence, not to mention its unique and intriguing storyline and settings.


Given the third entry's development struggles, it's a wonder a major developer hasn't swooped in to pick up the rights to the franchise at a steep discount - one can only imagine what a next-gen System Shock game with a sizeable budget could deliver.


Here's hoping an exec at one of the big publishers reads this obscure blog and cashes in on the obvious potential of the System Shock brand.


Duke Nukem

Oh, how good it was for Duke back in the 90's.


After seeing two successful 2D platformers released in 1991 and 1993, Duke Nukem would be propelled into mainstream consciousness with 1996's Duke Nukem 3D, which transformed 3D Realms' popular platformer into a smash hit first-person shooter.


The titular character's risqué humour lampooned Hollywood action heroes of the time and its blend of silly one-liners and pop-culture satire hit all the right notes with fans.


The game's gratuitous violence and portrayal of women incited controversy that brought major media attention and only served to make the game even more popular, to the point that Duke Nukem 3D is often considered responsible for popularizing first-person shooters and turning them into the massive genre that continues to be at the forefront of gaming today.


Originally announced in 1997, a sequel titled Duke Nukem Forever would later become the textbook definition of the phrase "development hell" - the highly anticipated project would be teased for years but wouldn't see the light of day for some 14 years.


Following quality concerns, redesigns and even lawsuits between 3D Realms and their publisher Take Two Interactive, the game was eventually finished by Gearbox Software and several of its smaller studios.


Though a few forgettable console spinoffs and mobile games had released in the years since Duke Nukem 3D, the true sequel eventually arrived in 2011 and to say it wasn't worth the wait would be an understatement.


Extremely dated writing and humour, basic and dull gameplay, terrible performance issues, weak level design, and piss-poor graphics disappointed fans and reviewers alike and effectively put the once-beloved game character out of his misery.


Although a possible return was hinted in 2015, Gearbox later nixed the idea and the once massive franchise has been shelved in disgrace.


That doesn't have to be the end of Duke however.


As we've seen with other reinvented classic shooters, nostalgia sells and if a developer can put together a strong and confident FPS game behind an iconic character or brand, it can certainly see success.


Unfortunately with Duke Nukem, one of the biggest aspects of its success in the nineties was the edgy sense of humour that has since aged quite poorly and trying to copy it would inevitably end in failure (like Duke Nukem Forever).


Rather than simply trying to graft the old jokes and out-dated character onto a modern shooter, a much more reasonable approach would be to embrace the satirical model and turn it up to eleven with a competent comedic writing team.


With games rarely managing to do humour well, looking at their big screen cousins could bear fruit and this writer has the perfect R-rated superhero movie to draw inspiration from: Deadpool.


The blockbuster hit featured the kind of raunchy and satirical comedy that Duke Nukem 3D could only dream of and showed that when done right, it can be massively successful with modern audiences.


If Gearbox could score Deadpool's writing team (aided by some experienced videogame writers to iron out the transition in mediums) they could reinvent the classic character to not only suit modern audiences, but turn Duke Nukem into a mainstream icon all over again.


Combine that kind of humour and energy with a polished shooter that places an emphasis on blood and gore, destructible environments, and epic setpieces, and you have a surefire hit on your hands. Just don't take 14 years to make it this time.


Unreal Tournament

A personal favourite, Epic Games slowly but surely took over the game engine market thanks to their Unreal series of games and the robust engines that powered them.


Seeking to compete with id Software's id Tech, Epic created a visually stunning (at the time) first-person shooter named Unreal which would be the perfect showcase for their brand new game engine.


The immersive shooter would make quite a splash thanks to its unique world, incredible graphics, and exhilarating gameplay in 1998, but a year later an even bigger title would make waves in the gaming community: Unreal Tournament.


Initially intended as an expansion to Unreal, Unreal Tournament improved upon their excellent fast-paced shooting and shifted the series' focus to multiplayer arena combat. Thanks to incredible level design across dozens of maps, a breakneck pace that rewarded skill and precision, and a now-iconic arsenal of weapons, UT became one of the most popular multiplayer shooters in the world at the turn of the century.


The Unreal franchise would grow over the years as Epic created new iterations of the Unreal Engine, showcasing their platform's impressive capabilities to the world through their unique brand of shooters and enticing other developers to license the use of their engine.


Between 2002-2005 five new Unreal games would be released - two sequels to UT dubbed Unreal Tournament 2003 and 2004, a sequel to their original more story-driven shooter dubbed Unreal II: The Awakening, and two Xbox exclusives; Unreal Championship was essentially Unreal Tournament 2003 ported over to Microsoft's console, while Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict was an entirely unique beast that showcased their engine's versatility and pushed the original Xbox to its limit with the beautiful first-person/third-person shooter/melee action hybrid.


The games released were all top-flight shooters, but with the bevy of releases came some franchise fatigue; UC2 in particular suffered from underwhelming sales numbers (despite its awesome concept and stellar implementation, which earned it praise as one of my top five most underappreciated games in need of a comeback). The series earned a well-deserved break before it would be rebooted for both the PC and the new generation of consoles in 2007.


Unreal Tournament 3 (they essentially counted UT 2003 and 2004 as one entry) would scratch the itch for hardcore fans as it rebooted the series but kept the core gameplay intact and instead improved on it in virtually every way. It was a superb shooter with tons of classic maps (along with new creations), modes, mods and its oh-so-satisfying brand of shooting.


Though the excellent title garnered critical acclaim and sold fairly well, Epic Games would instead focus on their exploding engine licensing business and their massive new franchise on the Xbox 360, Gears of War.


After years of waiting, Epic Games would tease a return to their beloved Unreal Tournament series in 2014; eventually, it would be unveiled as a pet-project for the studio, in that the next title would be crowdsourced; instead of being developed by the team at Epic Games, members of the community could contribute to the project themselves using the now free-to-the-public Unreal Engine 4 and fans would essentially be making the game themselves with some help from Epic.


While undoubtedly a neat concept, it ended up being an endeavour worth trying only for aspiring game developers. After long periods without any official updates, in 2017 Epic Games stopped updating the project entirely and a proper release never saw the light of day.


The chances of seeing a proper installment in the series has become a pipe dream in recent years as Epic Games' Fortnite exploded into mainstream popularity and began earning the company billions of dollars in revenue, with Epic now entirely focused on three separate revenue streams - their lucrative Unreal Engine licensing business, their new Epic Games Store for PC gamers, and their cash cow Fortnite.


Unreal Tournament is simply one of the best multiplayer shooters ever made and it would be a tragedy if we never got another entry in the beloved franchise.


Unlike some of the other games on this list, Unreal Tournament had several great and successful sequels (and spinoffs) that didn't kill the brand or lose money - it simply fell by the wayside when its creator saw greater success in other avenues.


With the advent of a new generation of consoles and the brand new Unreal Engine 5 however, now would be the perfect time for Epic to once again show off the potential of their latest engine by releasing a new Unreal game.


Though their main focus is understandably the massively successful Fortnite, part of that game's success with the masses is its cartoonish style and simplicity, which isn't exactly an impressive example in terms of showcasing a game engine's capabilities.


Instead, a return to the extremely detailed, gorgeous environments and the buttery-smooth chaos that fills the iconic maps of Unreal Tournament would be just what the doctor ordered and with the resurgence of classical shooters in recent years, Epic Games could easily see great success with a return to their roots.


Here's hoping we can shred our friends into bloody little pieces with a shiny new flak cannon at some point in the near future.

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