Why 2004 was the Best Year for FPS Gaming
The year 2004 was a historically great year for the FPS genre. The magic that the year 2004 possessed will likely never be recreated. In that year there were many great FPS games for PC, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Every sub genre and type of FPS had an excellent entry. This was a once and lifetime year to witness.
For arena shooter fans there was Unreal Tournament 2004 and Painkiller. Painkiller offered a unique art style and gameplay that was reminiscent of Quake. Unreal Tournament 2004 offered vehicles and large terrain based maps for the first time in the series. It was a great addition to the Unreal series and held the tradition of having 50+ maps and many game modes. UT2004 also had a map editor with a strong mapping/modding community. These 2 entries primarily only helped PC games at first, but later on Painkiller was ported to Xbox.
For the fans of Counter Strike 1.6 who have been playing since 2000, they now have two new options in the same year. Both Counter Strike Condition Zero and Counter Strike Source were released in 2004. Both offered significantly better graphics and new maps.
For those wanting a lengthy quality campaign on PC, there was Half Life 2, Far Cry, Doom 3 and Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault. Each of these were significantly differently from each other. There was a quality single player campaign for every style FPS player. Half Life 2 is the perfect example of how to create a sequel. Many times movie and game sequels don’t live up to the hype, but Half Life 2 might be the greatest follow up game created. Half Life 2 offered a lengthy campaign (15-20 hours) and was very unique and offered excellent gameplay altering physics. Half Life 2 had vehicle action, various enemy types and featured unique physics based puzzles. Also 2004 was the year when the iconic Far Cry series made it’s debut. Those looking for jungle warfare loved Far Cry. Those who wanted tight crowded dark corridors had a ton of fun massacring demons in Doom 3. Players who didn’t want a fiction based story line and theme of Half Life 2, Doom 3 or Far Cry could enjoy playing Medal of Honor’s WWII campaign.
Players who prefer large scale battles with vehicles were also in luck because in 2004 Star Wars Battlefront and Battlefield Vietnam were released. Battlefield Vietnam was the second game of Dice’s now famous series, it provided a solid sequel to Battlefield 1942 and allowed for 64 player matches on PC. Star Wars Battlefront is considered one of the greatest Star Wars game ever created. It was available for Xbox, PC and Playstation 2. It feature many maps and vehicles from the Star Wars universe and allowed both third person and first person camera views.
PlayStation 2 fans also received a great gift in 2004, which marked the birth of the Kill Zone universe. Kill Zone offered the best graphics that the PlayStation 2 could handle. It received mixed reviews from critics but many players (myself included) loved the gameplay.
Xbox players were able to experience Xbox Live in the best way possible with the release of Halo 2 in 2004. Halo 2 offered a solid single player campaign, co-op and multiplayer. It made great use of vehicles in multiplayer. The maps showcased a bright & colorful art style. It was a wonderful sequel and amazing sequel to Halo. Many new weapons were included and the Arbiter perspective were added to ensure the series was kept fresh.
Nintendo platforms aren’t generally known for being heavy weights in the FPS world, but even the Game Cube received some quality FPS in games in 2004 including Golden Eye: Rouge Agent, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Call of Duty: Finest Hour.
So in 2004 the PC, Xbox, Play Station and Game Cube fans all received great FPS games. It was the ultimate year for FPS since nobody was left out whether it be a PC or console gamer. It was the perfect year, several great new series were born: Star Wars Battlefront, Kill Zone, Painkiller and Far Cry; plus the already existing series built upon their legacies with excellent sequels such as: Unreal Tournament 2004, Half Life 2, Doom 3 and Battlefield Vietnam. This was a once in existence year for FPS gaming and will likely never be topped, unless if some bizarre turn of events causes all the stars to align and Valve creates Half Life 3 after trolling fans for than a decade; and if Epic Games redirects their attention away from their cash cow Fortnite and makes Unreal Tournament 2020; and than EA Games has a change of heart while becoming less greedy and publishes a great Star Wars Battlefront 3 game and so on. However this isn’t likely, so we will just have to be nostalgic.
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