Well it finally happened…we tapped the well drive in just about 10 years and we are now digging a new one.
I am of course referring to the current state of the FPS genre in video game land.
For the past 10 years the FPS genre has thrown us into the shoes of soldiers fighting across war-torn virtual battlefields; whether it be the fighting men of World War 2 era grunts or highly trained Spec Op agents in Present day conflicts. No matter where it was we have fought across every contemporary setting in some form or another.
That is all changing starting with this year.
As gamers our imaginations are always moving faster than most of the game developers out there and with the large amount of science fiction movies surrounding us in movie theatres it was only a matter of time before we started seeing that influence in our beloved hobby as well.
To be clear here. I am well aware that there are already FPS games within the category of ” sci-fi” but I’m not talking about fighting aliens or giant robots or flying around in space ships blasting through asteroids. I’m talking about a future that is in the ” not to distant” and still has us on the ground blasting other humans and enemies…albeit with much more advanced tech.
2012 will see 2 major franchises make the leap into that ” not to distant future” and give us a glimpse into what future warfare will look like.
Ghost Recon Future Soldier arrives first and gives us quite possible the most grounded version of that future yet. The game is vague in its approach to when it takes place but shows us that it is still very much grounded in the world we currently know.
You play 1 of 4 “GHOST” team members sent around the world on various missions to stop a mad man from detonating a piece of destructive technology. Its standard FPS story but wrapped in a nice hi tech shell.
You will have all sorts of gear at your command and according to the developers all of this tech is stuff that the military is currently working on for our soldiers now. Future Soldier keeps it close to chest and doesn’t stray to far into the lands of imagination.
When your playing the game you still feel like its modern but the ability at your disposal clearly paint a different picture. My hunch is that GRFS will be the benchmark for ‘”Near Future” shooters to come. It’s a tough balancing act to pull off and a slip in either direction could lose an audience that is known for being fickle.
Next up is the newly announced Black Ops 2. At first glance you would just assume this is another COD installment( judging by the “Michael Bayish trailer”) and granted you should expect it to use recycled graphical assets and of course the same engine powering it ; the setting and timeline will act as a caution not to pre judge it .
Set in the year 2025 Black Ops 2 paints a future that is somewhat familiar ( if you have seen any of the Terminator movies) and all together scary. The basic plot is that the US has lost control of all of its state of the art miliary hardware to a foreign power. The trailer depicts a war-torn los angelas with resistance fighters battling against un manned jets, drones and all sorts of nasty weapons of war that would make Arnold himself run for the hills
The big difference here compared to Ghost Recon is that this is clearly not our world anymore! While it retains a contemporary setting ( earth) the rules in which we have grown accustomed to have been re written. The setting is a story that needs to be told and fleshed out. Black ops 2 is not just side stepping into Future Warfare its taking an olympic long jump!
So the real question here is whether or not we as gamers want to see some of our most beloved franchises take this step closer to the home turf of games like HALO, Crysis, Gears of War and Killzone?
To be certain, other franchises will be following suit next year . Rainbow six patriots has been shown to be using some cool new tech, Battlefield 2143 ( sequel to 2142) is rumoured to be in the works, Crysis 3 and even the fate of the Modern Warfare series is rumoured to be undergoing a name change ( Future Warfare anyone?)
The story possibilities themselves are endless and will allow writers to finally take some creative liberties without having to maintain an authentic perspective on the conflict. If the conflict hasn’t happened yet there is no need to maintain accuracy.
By moving into this genre game developers will start to see the art form much in the way James Cameron has with his Avatar movie; writing the rules to fit his vision.
Some may argue that we are leaving our established roots pre maturely and while there may still be many stories to tell I myself having played over a dozen contemporary military shooters in the past 2 years alone am excited about what the future holds.
Dwayne”EVO Knight” Morash