FPS Games - do they need a story?

Story and gameplay should be integrated, at least in so far as the single player experience goes. I don’t see myself shooting at stuff for the sake of shooting at stuff. I’m probably in the minority here, but part of my disappointment with the game mechanics in Doom 3 was partly alleviated by all the backstory and little plot details and data pads. OT rant: I’m certainly NOT pre-ordering “Doom 4: The Return of More Monster Closets”: this Doom has stung me, the next Doom purchase will have to wait for the reviews.

I need at least a little story to give everything context. One of the worst things about painkiller was that its a bunch of disjointed settings with no explanation as to why you are where you are.

Well, I agree with you at least. :) Doom 3 would have been immeasurably better, though, if there had been any actual exposition in the later parts of the game. The game’s sole, single, solitary secret is that the teleporters temporarily send people to hell. And that one isn’t exactly high in the ranks of good plot revelations.

I had the same problem. Maybe that’s why I didn’t get into the game; because it just felt like I was in this random place for no reason other than to just shoot random skeletal creatures until a passageway forward opened. No motivation whatsoever.

If the game is fun then I don’t need a story. But if there is a story they had better have done a good job with it. No story > stupid story any day.

No, but it sure helps.

Story is a big part of the payoff for me, and most of the reason I’m slogging through Doom 3. But if it’s a truly fantastic shooter then it’s just icing on the cake and could be omitted.

What’s really important for me when I play FPSes is the atmosphere, not the story. I want the game to suck me in and have an interesting setting. But having a good and interesting storyline is the best recipe for a good atmosphere. That’s why Deus Ex is still one of my absolute favorites, although I will get a lot of flak here for admitting that. :wink:

But the original Doom did the same thing for me with half a page of introduction in the manual as “story”.

Hell yes! FPS games definitely need a story. If the porno industry can shoehorn a plot into their movies, there is absolutely no excuse for game developers. In fact, they can even look to the porno industry for inspiration:

<Duke Nukem walks up to the front door of a modest home. Wiping the sweat from his glistening brow, he glances up at the blistering sun and rings the doorbell. A young woman answers the door. She is dressed in revealing lingerie that peeks out from beneath her silk robe.>

“Good afternoon, miss. I’m Duke Nukem of the Monster Cable Company. You reported a problem?”

<The young lady licks her lips, and gives Duke a appraising glance.>

“Did you say Monster Cable?”

“Yes, Indeed. You reported a problem?”

"No, I didn’t. But my mother probably called for you and forgot to mention it to me. "

“I see. Is she here now?”

<the young lady flips her hair back, exposing more of her ample chest. She catches Duke glancing at her heaving bosom and smiles.>

“No. She went out to buy me a birthday cake. I just turned eighteen, you see. But you’re welcome to come in and take care of our…big…problem.”

“Th-thank you. Now if you can just tell me where I can find the TV.”

“We have two TV sets, but I’m certain we need your help in the bedroom. Please, follow me. I’m sooo glad you’re here. Call me Bunny”

<The young lady leads Duke through the living room, her hips swaying invitingly. In the bedroom, Bunny accidentally trips over a pair of her high heel shoes and spills onto the bed, her robe falling free.>

<Duke licks his lips and moves forward.>

“Let me help you, Miss Bunny.”

<Suddenly, cyber-ninjas crash through the windows and attack Duke. The game has begun! You are armed with a stiletto heel…>

A recent column by our academics discussed how environments are the story in games.

Thanks Dante, you just caused them to delay Duke’s release by another year since they have to re-write the plot now…

Isn’t asking if FPSs need stories like asking if they need the latest visual eyecandy?

They aren’t necessary, but can help a game. The lack of them won’t make great core gameplay bad, but they can make a game with average core gameplay good.

Next up, do FPSs actually need guns? ;)

I can’t imagine anyone actually sticking with a substandard game just because of what passes for a story with most video games. If you’re only in it for the story, wouldn’t it be better to just watch a movie or read a book?

I said “average” not “substandard”.

Was the core gameplay of System Shock 2 all that great, or was it an average FPS engine that is remembered because the story and atmosphere help elevate it above being just another FPS in space?

thief series of games? i only played thief 2, which had a good story, and not that much fighting.

saw the second resident evil movie today. thought to myself, just like everytime i see a zombie movie, what a great game it would be if you just started out a normal day, then it slowly becoming worse and worse as the day progressed.

like you would be told by you mom to buy go buy some milk, walk to the store and see people acting weird. then coming back home see news reports about people attacking and biting other people for no reason. then coming home and seeing a weird bloody guy trying to get into your house, you grabbing a bat or whatever is lying around to stop him. then it goes to being like the beginning of ‘dawn of the dead’ remake. you head to a government safe zone, only to have to escape as zombies overrun it, etc. not sure how much fun it would be if it used a half-life passage of time vs levels with big jumps in time.

i would totally play the game even if i couldn’t fight and had to depend on meeting random gun nuts/badass black dudes/superhuman neck-snapping chicks.

Yeah, I didn’t mean to sound like I was just saying it to you. Several people have talked about how they completey tire of boring repetitive games, but stick with them because of the story.

As for System Shock 2, I’m the wrong person to ask. I must have tried that game at least a half-dozen times and could never get into it.

I’m going along with that and adding that the storytelling should match the pacing of said genre. FPS means that the gamer probably wants an action-packed story, so requiring long & unskippable cutscenes is going against the grain. Shoot first, ask questions later. The telling of the story should be like that, also. Make it snappy.

Yeah, exactly. Half-Life is the prime example–the story in that game was minimal, but the game delivered it in such an effective manner that it worked.

OTOH, I love the cut scenes in the Thief games. But then again, those games have a much more deliberate pace than the average shooter.