For better or for worse, the first-person shooter is by far the most popular genre in modern gaming. In today's crowded shooter market, it's easy to forget just how far the genre has come. This list is not examining the best shooters of all time (though it could be argued that many of titles below are in fact the best), but the titles that completely changed people's perceptions of what first-person shooters could be. These are the games that were endlessely copied at the time of their release, resulting in many "(instert influential game here) clones". From Crysis and Killzone, to Battlefield and Counter-Strike, almost every first-person shooter in the history of the genre can be traced to one of these games in some way.
id's Wolfenstein 3D may have practically invented the genre, but at the time of its release it was really only played by hardcore PC gamers. It wasn't until the release of Doom that the first-person shooter genre truly received widespread notice. Giving rise to an onslaught of "Doom clones", Doom truly ushered in a new era for gaming. Two sequels followed, and id is currently hard at work on a Doom 4.
Quake II (1997)
Doom showed gamers what single-player FPS gaming could be all about, but Quake showed them the holy grail that was multiplayer. Quake II's sci-fi inspired aesthetic and single-player campaign were certainly improvements over the original's somewhat drab design, but the multiplayer is what Quake II was all about. Both Doom and Quake introduced "deathmatch" to gamers around the world, but Quake II is when the concept really took off. Suffice to say, without Quake II , the state of modern onling gaming wouldn't be where it is today.
GoldenEye 007 (1997)
Prior to GoldenEye 007, FPS gaming was primarily for the PC audience. Sure, Doom and its various clones were ported over to the N64 and PSOne, but GoldenEye 007 was one of the first FPS games designed from the ground up for consoles, and it changed everything. Based off the James Bond movie of the same name, it actually released two years after the movie (which explains why it's one of the few film-to-game adaptations that isn't appalling). The biggest innovation that GoldenEye brought to the table was split-screen multiplayer. For the first time, gamers didn't have to hook up a bunch of PC's via LAN to play FPS games together; all they needed was a TV and four N64 controllers. Last year's remake of this game was pretty decent, but it failed to capture the magic of the original.
Half-Life is often attributed for making the FPS genre "smart", but the truth is games like System Shock had already done that, but had an extremely limited audience. What Half-Life did accomplish, however, was make a FPS game that was both intelligent and accessible to a wide range of gamers. Opting away from the traditional Doom method of "kill everything, find keycards", Half-Life pioneered in deep stories, enemy AI, and scripted moments that are still mainstays in many shooters today.
Halo 2 (2004)
Why Halo 2, and not the original Halo: Combat Evolved, you ask? The original Halo, while great, was not all that influential; Bar the arbitrary two-weapon limit, Halo merely presented a very, very polished console shooter, that expanded on the mechanics that GoldenEye and Half-Life introduced. Then came Halo 2 . With one fell swoop, Halo 2 changed the industry. Master Chief's super-soldier induced regenerative health became mandatory in pretty much every action game, even games like Uncharted and Call of Duty where the concept of characters instantly healing from bullets made absolutely no sense. But what people remember most about Halo 2 is the multiplayer that put Xbox Live on the map, where shooters like Call of Duty, Gears of War and Halo: Reach currently thrive.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)
First there were the "Doom clones", then there were the "Halo clones", and now we live in the world of the "Call of Duty clones". Pretty much every multiplayer game worth their salt has tried to emulate Call of Duty 4's massive success, be it the urban combat it helped popularize, the aiming down the sights mechanic, or the incredibly addictive RPG influenced multiplayer. Fans may deride the series now for its annual sequels, but Call of Duty is truly a force to be reckoned with.
If Half-Life showed that first-person shooters could be intelligent, BioShock showed they could be genuine works of art. Drawing upon the works of Ayn Rand and Objectivisit philosophy, BioShock is one of the few games to seemlessly combine narrative and gameplay, ("Would you kindly?" remains one of the single greatest moments in gaming history). Ever since BioShock 's release, nearly every narrative driven action/adventure game has borrowed elements of BioShock in some form or another, be it Resistance, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dead Space, Singularity, and even Halo. BioShock is not only one of the most influential first-person shooters, but one of the most influential games of all time, period.
There have been many great first-person shooters released since Call of Duty 4 and BioShock , but none have innovated and changed the industry quite like the games listed above. Until then, we appreciate everything the titles on this list have brought to the genre, and we can't wait for the next industry changing shooter.
What say you? What do you think are the most influential first-person shooters of all time? Let us know in the comments!