Retro FPS Game for a non-FPS player?

I rarely play FPS games, even the ones that cross-over into my favorite genres RPG and Strategy. However, a friend just played Max Payne and loved it - he found that the immersive storyline and good graphics (for its time) made up for the twitch gameplay - if the game got too twitchy he just merrily cheated. He has recommended the game and I am wondering if I would enjoy it.

I tend to prefer games where decision making rather than reflexes are rewarded but I do occasionally enjoy an action game. In the past I enjoyed the Bungie FPS Pathways into Darkness, and in the space sim field Privateer 2. Pathways was a bit slower than the average Doom type game for its time and a little more tactical - it had limited ammo and tough choices, more like an FPS of the last 2 to 3 years than the time it was released. What made it enjoyable to me was the great atmosphere and immersion; I got sucked into the creepiness of its gameworld. Privateer 2 is a weird choice which exemplifies where I’m coming from - most hardcore space sim fans felt it had a weak flight model and simplistic combat. As a non-simmer I enjoyed its simplicity - I hooked up the Sidewinder and blasted away - it had enough strategy / trading / power-building elements that I really enjoyed it. I also enjoy semi-action-hybrids like Diablo. However I felt Diablo 2 was actually inferior to D1 b/c it was a bit too twitchy. StarCraft I loved but WarCraft III was a bit too twitchy.

Now I realize if I go for an FPS it will be very twitchy. But assuming cheats and walkthrus are available, I might still enjoy it. I am looking for something immersive, fun, not too hard, and that won’t strain my limited action skills beyond the breaking point (NOTE – NO damn mazes or jumping puzzles- designers who use those should be shot :) ).

In the last couple years I tried both Half Life (VERY good for about 2 hours then I quit when I hit a damnable jumping puzzle) and Serious Sam (Fun for a couple hours till I got dizzy :) ).

I did some research and here is a list of titles that look promising, in order that I would rank them based on the reviews, and my own tastes:

Deus Ex
System Shock 2
Max Payne
Clive Barker’s Undying
No One Lives Forever

What do you gaming gurus think? What else belongs on that list? Which would you recommend?

Thanks, Dan

Take Max Payne off. If anyone gives a recommendation based on Max Payne’s “immersive storyline”…well I don’t know. It’s got some good action mechanics, but they’re all played out by the end of the first level. It’s just more of the same right through until the end; the only thing that changes is how fast the bullets come out of your gun. There’s one sniper level, and one “lose all your weapons” level, otherwise it’s very small variations on: open door, bullet time jump into the room, hope you can shoot the guy with the shotgun before he kills you, repeat as necessary.

Very good graphics though.

I would go back to Half-Life. Until you get to Xen the jumping puzzles are pretty rare and the rest of it is just too damn good…

Max Payne is a lot of fun, but the story is basically ripped right out of any renegade cop B movie.

Sounds like you wouldn’t dig Max Payne. Also, I don’t see why NOLF is on your list. It’s just another shooter, allegedly with a bit of humor thrown in. I don’t remember it involving any decision making, not even of the standard fps ammo conservation sort.

of the remaining choices I would go for ss2 first, as it strikes a balance between the story/atmosphere of Undying and the (excessively) rpgish Deus Ex.

Have you tried a tactical shooter, like SWAT 3? takes a bit of effort to get into, but the rewards are there. Twitch is not emphasized.

oooh oooh. I know. Get Thief! you’ll love it.

Whatever you do, don’t get No One Lives Forever 2

It is sort of a one-trick pony. The slo-mo mechanic, to be fair, is very well done, and an interesting twist for the genre. It’s not really enough to carry an entire game, though, and that’s what Remedy tries to make it do.

I’d recommend the game to hardcore FPS freaks anyway, for that reason alone. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to a casual shooter player, though. There’s better stuff out there.

Undying is an enormously underrated game, BTW. It’s simple, but very solid and has loads of atmosphere. It reminds me a bit of Realms of the Haunting.

Thief 2, of course.

If you can handle the graphics, the original System shock was great too, but if you can find SS2, that might not be necessary.

Freedom: First Resistance.

Definitely System Shock 2 and Thief 1 and 2. Particularly the Thief games–those are all about planning and decision-making, with almost no twitch elements. You shoot people from time to time, but it’s the sort of thing where you painstakingly line up a shot on an unsuspecting adversary, because you usually only get one chance to take them out.

Until you get the chaingun, that is.

It’ll blow up your monitor.

Not sure what exactly you’re looking for, but you could take a look at the following:

Independence War - a slower-paced, more deliberate space sim
Rainbow 6 (and its ilk) - heavy focus on planning, a little less on twitch

Actually, I’m not sure if you’d tried any of the tactical shooters, but they all tend to include more planning instead of just run and gun gameplay. Of course, they aren’t for everyone, so prolly want to try demos first.

  • Alan

Dan - People recommending System Shock 2 as a non-twitch game to you are just itching to be spectators to a chain reaction that will start with your lips going purple and swelling to the the size of kielbasas, and end with your motherfucking head exploding.

System Shock 2 is a great game. It also has thousands of respawning enemies suddenly dropping in behind you to unexpectedly empty a shotgun into the back of your virtual skull. I’d say it is twitchier than most shooters. I love the game, it is worth playing numerous times, it is immersive and really creepy, but if you can’t stand the twitchiness of a game like Half-Life, System Shock 2 is going kill you.

I echo what DrCrypt said. Actually the respawning zombies (who kept ambushing me when I was in inventory mode) pissed me off so much that I stopped playing SS2, but I will stipulate based on others’ opinions that it is probably a good game.

The patch allows you to change the monster respawn rate as well as the weapon degredation rate. I turned respawn to “off” and weapon degredation way down when I played.

I’d concur with the choices of Thief and Thief 2. I disagree with Jason about NOLF2, I had great fun with that game. I will also agree with Alan on the R6 series, fun sneak games. There is always twitch in an FPS, but these games provide a bit of relief. You might want to grab Splinter Cell for the Xbox or wait until it hits PC. It’s a game where going with guns blazing will get you killed right away. In fact there is a level where you cannot shoot anyone or you fail the mission.

Doing this is what made SS2 playable for me, considering that otherwise you were forced to re-clear areas all the time. You could make an argument that weapon degradation was a good thing because it forced you to make gameplay choices (e.g. investing in the maintenance skill). Then again, the default setting caused your shotgun to break after ~20 shots, so turning down the degradation rate helped significantly. Warning, it gets VERY twitchy at the end unless you opt for psi skills.

  • Alan

I might get laughed at but a patched version of “Sin” and especially the expansion pak (if you can find it) is great fun. The price will be ridiculously inexpensive.