The FPS genre exploded in the 2000s, with so many influential games that it’s hard to keep track. From 2000 to 2009, we saw the tail-end of the Nintendo 64 era, as well as the entirety of the PlayStation 2/Xbox/GameCube era and the PlayStation 3/Wii/Xbox 360 era.
Each console had a plethora of awesome FPS titles, so it was incredibly difficult to boil this list down. We’ve done our best to pick from a variety of great sub-genres and franchises, trying to give every unique game a fair shake.
If you think we missed one, feel free to add your own entry! With 10 years of game releases to consider, we probably missed one or two of your favorites.
If you think you have an FPS game that’s worthy of inclusion, be sure to mention it.
The Half-Life franchise has always been the FPS series to break new boundaries, whether through unconventional storytelling or interesting mechanics. In addition to continuing an epic story involving parallel dimensions, alien invaders, and shadowy figures, Half-Life 2 also wowed players with its awesome new technology. Through fantastic graphics and excellent gameplay, this sequel has quickly become one of the most prolific games in the genre.
Apart from the expected visual upgrades that you would expect from a sequel, Half-Life 2 doubled down on giving players a visceral experience that was fast-paced and otherworldly. Many fans will fondly remember the Gravity Gun, which showed off the brand new physics introduced in the game. The game still contained an interesting mixture of gunplay, exploration, and survival, as the game was often challenging in the most rewarding kind of way.
Bioshock fused the horror and FPS genres to deliver a narrative experience unlike anything else in the 2000s. This single-player game put players in the shoes of Jack, a man who descends into an underwater city known as Rapture. There, he uncovers a variety of macabre mysteries, as the city is overflowing with ravenous citizens and psychotic villains.
Beyond its fantastic story and riveting atmosphere, Bioshock is fondly remembered for its variety in gunplay and pacing. In addition to the expected pistols, shotguns, and assault rifles, players could fill out their arsenal with a variety of superpowers. You could shoot flames out of your hands, use telekinesis, freeze enemies in place, and so much more. Even to this day, Bioshock is considered one of the greatest shooters ever made, thanks to its refreshing gameplay and engrossing narrative.
This Call of Duty game is the one that saw the franchise take off like a rocket, with an awesome single-player campaign and addictive online multiplayer. Playing as multiple memorable characters, you'll battle through the war-torn Middle East, fight on cargo ships, and infiltrate heavily-guarded outposts.
The multiplayer is in a league of its own, as it popularized progression-based unlocks and kill-streak upgrades. After reaching the highest experience level, players could choose to reset their rank and earn a “Prestige” badge, signifying their dominance in the online battlegrounds. Between the awesome selection of game modes and the never-ending supply of online opponents, it was easy to sink dozens of hours into Modern Warfare's multiplayer.
Developed by RARE, creators of the N64 hit Goldeneye 007, this FPS delivered fun sci-fi action in droves. Jumping into the shoes of elite special agent Joanna Dark, players blazed their way through missions with multiple objectives and a variety of gameplay mechanics.
The excellent multiplayer suite made things even better, with endlessly enjoyable competitive deathmatch and entertaining arena challenges. Players could compete in fierce split-screen firefights or take on AI opponents together, making it a great competitive and cooperative shooter experience.
Although the first Halo will go down as one of the most influential FPS games of all time, Halo 2 still remains the pinnacle of the series for us. Halo 2 gave Xbox owners an absolutely killer single-player campaign with a number of cool weapons and a cliffhanger ending that we won't soon forget.
Plus, Halo 2 also acted as the introduction to the crazy online battlefields of Xbox Live for tons of gamers. Many sleepless nights were spent dual-wielding SMGs and sword-canceling to out-of-reach spots on multiplayer maps, and we look back on those Halo 2 sessions with ever-growing fondness.
Counter-Strike was so influential in the world of competitive FPS gameplay, that many players will argue it kickstarted the entire scene. Playing as either a terrorist or a counter-terrorist, players engaged in realistic and fast-paced firefights on a variety of online maps.
Although there weren't many different modes, the mixture of objective-based gameplay and skillful shooting always gave players room to improve. Counter-Strike remains one of the most popular FPS franchises in eSports to this day, with huge tournaments around the globe.
The TimeSplitters series rose from the ashes of Nintendo 64 classics like Perfect Dark and Goldeneye007. Made by the some of the same creators as these classic games, the TimeSplitters franchise retained the same style of gunplay while introducing some humor into the story. TimeSplitters 3 amped up the levels of ridiculousness by fully embracing its wacky time-travel premise and providing an incredible amount of playable content.
TimeSplitters 3: Future Perfect was the culmination of all of the series' great ideas. It had an awesome campaign with excellent levels, a huge amount of multiplayer and battle-style modes, and a comprehensive map creation tool to make custom levels with. When you weren't blasting through the various “arcade challenges” or completing the campaign on a harder difficulty, you could even download other people's single-player or multiplayer levels to try. Simply put, TimeSplitters 3: Future Perfect was an absolute FPS gem.
Zombies were (and still are) very popular in shooting and action games throughout the 2000s, but few games pulled off the undead better than Left 4 Dead. Developed by Valve, the company responsible for games like Half-Life, this cooperative FPS was as addictive as it was bloody. The idea was simple; four players shoot their way through levels packed with zombies, working together to take down the hardest of foes.
What made Left 4 Dead special was its random nature, spurred on by an artificial intelligence called “The Director”. The game would change the spawn-spots of certain high-danger zombies, alter objective locations, and more. This gave Left 4 Dead a big boost of replayability, making it a perfect co-op game that always felt exciting and unpredictable.