The seventh generation of consoles was really rough. While we did get some awesome games there were a ton of experiments as developers struggled with rising development costs and complicated hardware tech. With the rise of HD gaming, being games rendered in 720p or higher, there was also the struggle to evolve genres with this newfound hardware. First-person or third-person shooters struggled probably the most in this era as open-world games were evolved and, mostly, well done with games like Grand Theft Auto IV, The Elder Scrolls Oblivion, Skyrim, and Saints Row. Shooters were stuck in the past gameplay and design-wise. Corridor shooters with no story or interesting characters, and not to mention lacking an identity which helped make up for the lack of the latter. Your favorite shooters like Doom and Quake didn’t really have a good story or characters, but they had an identity that helped them stand apart from other shooters. The look, feel, weapons, and overall design were unique to that game. This just didn’t happen with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 shooters, and if it did, it was rare. We’re going to take a look at the worst and best shooters in this generation of consoles and why the genre stalled and didn’t really evolve much until the next generation cycle.
This will be a multi-part series due to the number of games. The next feature will talk about the best FPS games of this generation.
TimeShift had a lot of hype leading up to its release. It looked great and seemed to have this cool sci-fi setting with some unique and cool-looking weapons. It had a suit that could shift time and allow you to solve puzzles and work your way through enemies. In the end, the game was a bore-fest corridor shooter with a few open areas. It had some cool effects like the rain and good-looking textures, but it felt like a shooter from the early-2000s. The time-shifting abilities felt like filler and the puzzles were nothing but a joke. The game enemies repeated throughout the game and the weapons, while looking cool, felt like pop-guns with no real feel or impact. I remember renting this from BlockBuster when it was released for Xbox 360 and was just utterly bored. It was so forgettable that when I replayed it last week I didn’t remember a single thing except for the rain effects.
Turning Point: Fall of Liberty
My god was this game just terrible. I rented this from BlockBuster upon release for Xbox 360 and it was supposed to be a cool World War II shooter with some sci-fi and history changes. With Nazi Germany winning the war you are a soldier stuck in the middle. Instead of having a great story and characters, the game just felt as generic as can be. The guns felt weak, the environments were ugly and boring, and the game had so many glitches and an insane amount of slowdown that it made it nearly unplayable. With the steep fall of WWII-based shooters that the industry was sick of, Turning Point needed something different and cool to make it as people were turning to realistic military shooters. The game was just so gray and ugly and didn’t have its own identity. It didn’t sell well and was panned by critics for good reason.
Another shooter with a lot of potentials. This game brought you giant mythological creatures that were taking over a city! Yes! No more boring soldiers, but they just had to screw it up. Developed by the not-so-talented Spark Unlimited, Legendary had decent graphics and cool boss designs, but the shooting itself was awful. There was no feel to them or an identity to the game. Even the story was just barely passable and entertaining enough to push you through the game. This was by far one of the worst games of this generation period. It had a horrible slowdown, glitches, and just didn’t feel good to play at all. I rented this from BlockBuster for Xbox 360 upon release as well and I don’t even think I finished it. That’s how bad it was.
Shadowrun was a highly anticipated FPS online-only multiplayer game set in the Shadowrun universe. Upon release, however, it was pretty much dead on arrival. The lack of content for the full-price tag pretty much killed the game and it felt like a generic last-generation shooter. There was nothing unique about this game nor did it feel like it was in the Shadowrun universe at all. It felt like a cheap cash grab as were the majority of multiplayer-only games that kicked off in this generation cycle. The servers have long since shut down, but if you really are curious you could play with bots or someone next to you.
This was actually quite an impressive game before release. I remember being super excited about the demo. The game looked fantastic and actually next-gen. There were great lighting effects, good textures, and the guns felt okay…at first. Upon release, the game was literally just a single map with objectives thrown in it. It felt like a multiplayer setup and just didn’t belong as a single-player experience. The gimmick was that you could drop down anywhere in the map on a parachute, and it looked good doing it. Lots of gunfire below you, explosions, and the sound design were pretty good too. The weapons just didn’t feel right, they were poorly balanced, the difficulty was all over the place, and it didn’t run very well. This “open-ended level design” that EA toted was a joke. It was a lazy excuse to shoehorn multiplayer maps into a single-player experience.
Jericho had so much potential and it’s one of those games I’m really mad that never turned out well. Clive Barker only did one other game and it was fantastic. Undying is a classic. Jericho was just so good leading up to release. The atmosphere, Clive’s classic monster style, and graphics looked great, and upon release, it was an utter disaster. Switching between numerous squad members was just too clunky and you want to talk about corridor shooters? This is more like a hallway shooter. The levels were too small to move around in for the number of enemies thrown at you and the number of squad members you had to manage and switch between. The game’s difficulty was all over the place, but it was nice to look at. The game bombed hard and didn’t sell really at all and Clive Barker has yet to embark on another video game adventure again.
Hellgate was a long-anticipated MMO for PC but was surrounded by controversy. You could play the game offline, but to access new content you had to pay a monthly fee. The game was just ugly, clunky, claustrophobic, and the RPG elements just weren’t implemented well. It felt low budget despite the coverage it got and just didn’t feel finished upon release. You can still play the game today as Hellgate Global is owned by a Korean-based publisher now. It was released on Steam in 2018, but almost no one plays.
BlackSite was a game I was personally excited for as I thought it would be an awesome reboot of the 2005 Area 51 game which was fantastic. This game turned out to be just like the other games mentioned. Dull, boring, cookie-cutter, and with no identity. It looked ugly, had lots of glitches, and slow down, and there wasn’t a single redeeming quality to the game. The guns were dumb, the story and characters were pointless, and even the aliens were boring. How could you mess up an IP like this? I remember playing the demo on Xbox 360 before release and it was a decent demo as it showed the only interesting part of the entire game.
Soldier of Fortune: Payback
While not inherently awful, Payback brushes the line between mediocrity and bad, however. The game did have decent graphics and good gore effects. So good in fact that Australia banned the game. Besides all of that, the game was generic, boring, and the weapons felt like pop-guns. There was no character to the shooting, no feeling, no weight, no nothing. The game’s trial-and-error difficulty balancing was terrible as well and not even multiplayer could save this one. The series hasn’t had the best history and mostly lives in “bad game” territory.
Turok is another game that borderlines bad and awful. Being the second reboot of the franchise, this version barely resembles the amazing Nintendo 64 games. Instead, we get a boring and generic shooter through equally dull jungles and concrete buildings and even messes up dinosaur encounters. The story is bad, the characters and voice acting are bad, and there’s not much worth playing here unless you’re a die-hard Turok fan and want to see what the hoopla was all about. Don’t get me wrong, this was a highly anticipated game because of its positive history, but this wasn’t it man.
This was a game I skipped upon release due to the terrible reviews it got. I later played in 2020 and was highly disappointed. It had a lot of potentials. The few morsels of the decent story were when the game explored the effect of the Haze serum on soldiers and how they would hallucinate in battle. The use of the serum to overload you during gameplay was a neat idea, but the game looked dated even upon release and felt dated. The weapons were boring, the enemies repeated forever, and there were a lot of game-breaking glitches and slowdown. This game wasn’t even decent or barely passable, it was downright terrible and not worth your 6 hours.
Oh man, this game is laughable. I doubt it sold barely anything. Not only was it a budget shooter, but it felt like something from the early 2000s. It was ugly, boring, generic as can be (white dudes in suits and sunglasses generic) and there are zero reasons to even sniff in this game’s general direction. The idea of being a secret service agent was unique at the time as there aren’t any games that did that, but instead of an interesting story with well-written characters and maybe some unique gameplay with scripted events you just get a corridor shooter mowing down bland enemies with weightless guns.
I had the honorable displeasure of finishing this game on PC years after release. While it did have a few good scenes that depicted PTSD from ‘Nam soldiers, it was just such a terrible game. All the classic signs are here: awful story and characters, stereotypes, boring and generic gunplay, guns that have no weight, ugly visuals, slowdown and glitches, and too linear. Rebellion isn’t that great of developers anyways given their pretty bad track record, but you think after how bad the first was they would tighten it up a bit. There are zero reasons to ever give this series a minute of your time other than sheer curiosity. There are much better military shooters in this era out there.
Can you tell the difference between these two? I sure can’t. Only release 2 years apart this is one of the most generic shooters ever made for the Xbox 360 and PC. It’s so boring and generic I can barely remember the game I played years ago on PC without looking it up. Everything is gray, ugly, and the weapons feel weightless and boring to use. I do remember the game has awful difficulty spikes and was a chore to play through. The multiplayer didn’t redeem the series either and the PS3 version of the first game wound up being canceled due to poor sales. The studio had such faith in the sequel that it wound up being a digital-only release.
Yes, this was a PC-only release, as the series home is on PC, but how can you screw up such a high-profile classic? Painkiller may not have been very innovative, but it had a rocking soundtrack, really fun weapons, level, and enemy variety, and just felt good to play. It was a “wave shooter” like Serious Sam and less like Doom and Quake. This sequel just didn’t work and was completely broken gameplay-wise. The levels were awful, the guns weren’t fun to use, and the graphics were incredibly dated. Just how do you mess something like this up? Sadly, the series is dead and the low sales of this game are probably why.
Rogue Warrior wasn’t just a low-budget FPS that littered the scene in the day. This was a somewhat high-profile shooter with a retired Navy Seal helping design the game and Mickey Rourke cussing his way through the game. What we got was just a broken mess that wasn’t finished. The story and characters were lame stereotypes and used cussing as a way to make the story feel mature. The guns felt bad, the controls didn’t work right, animations were broken, there was lots of slowdown and glitches and crashes. It was just a hot mess and it was a tale as old as time back in the late ’00s.
What could probably be known as one of the most anticipated games of the seventh generation of consoles, Perfect Dark Zero had a lot of hype behind it. It was a beloved Nintendo 64 franchise debuting on a next-gen console. It looked next-gen leading up to release, but once we finally got a hold of it the game felt like it was stuck in the ’90s. Dated gameplay, boring missions, pointless story, and the stealth gameplay were pretty much ruined. I don’t understand the high scores this game got outside of people just being excited about the game or possibly being paid by Microsoft. Even the multiplayer couldn’t save this one. There’s no redeeming value in this game other than it existed on the N64 at one point.
Call of Juarez: The Cartel
The Call of Juarez series is a causality of the HD era. It came and went in that single generation and this game is what killed it off. The previous games were forgettable but enjoyable experiences. Quick weekend rentals and nothing more or bargain bin purchases. The Cartel was an absolute disaster and it’s sad as it had a lot of hype around it. The game was pretty much unfinished with game-breaking bugs, glitches, and slowdown. This was a by-product and a common scenario of the struggle to bring games to the HD gaming era. This game just didn’t work out and was quickly forgotten about.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
This game was heavily hyped as was the whole The Walking Dead franchise. It was at its peak in the late ’00s with The Walking Dead adventure game by Telltale Games launching the franchise into the stratosphere in the video game world. With the success of that series, everyone wanted their hands in the franchise’s honey pot, but there wasn’t a single good game that came from it. Survival Instinct was dreadful. It was ugly, boring, and despite using Norman Reedus in the game his likeness wasn’t used very well. The game followed the TV series pretty closely, and instead of the tense atmosphere from that show, we got a boring arcade-like shooter.
I have never seen a game series so consistently terrible as the Sniper series. Both of the first two games were boring and generic as can be for military shooters. The game looked great on PC as it used the Crytek engine, but it ran poorly and looked pretty bad on consoles. There were some great sniper animations, but other than that the voice acting was bad, the levels were borderline free asset quality and there are zero reasons to bother playing this entire series. The series took a 4-year break before releasing Ghost Warrior 3 in 2017 and that one is barely passable.
Dead Island: Riptide
Riptide’s mistake was trying to be a sequel. It was pretty much the exact same game without any changes. This would have been better off as an expansion or DLC. The game also didn’t fix any issues from the decent first game. Lots of bugs, glitches, poor optimization on PC, and overall just not a fun experience. The open-world was void of any interesting characters and the story was just as lame. It did retain the eerie post-apocalyptic atmosphere and setting and was still enjoyable to smash zombies up and run away from them and craft weapons. If you never played the first one you can skip that and go straight for this one, but the entire Dead Island franchise has a sad history and just isn’t very good compared to similar games like Dying Light.
Alien Rage is another byproduct of the era. Boring and sleep-inducing gameplay with generic aliens, weapons, and an overall feeling of low-budget cheapness. The graphics were awful and there was zero redeeming value to look in this game’s direction. Even by bad shooter standards this one fell into almost infamy of “why did they bother?” The problem is that no one wants to buy your game if it’s bad. The idea of quick cash grabs by releasing quick and dirty shooters just doesn’t work. You couldn’t even save this one with just good graphics or cool aliens. Everything about this game screams “I don’t care”.
Probably the most infamous shooter on this list Forever has a well-documented development cycle of hell that can be traced back in detail. What we got was a gross, dated, ugly, and messy game that barely felt like a Duke Nukem game. The jokes were dated, the gameplay, while varied, just wasn’t fun. The game was also poorly optimized, crashed, and glitched everywhere, and the slowdown was abundant. The hype wasn’t enough to make sales and it flopped with collector’s editions rotting on store shelves. Sadly, we haven’t seen hide nor hair of the franchise since outside of some cameos and releases. This game may have single-handedly killed the franchise forever.
Another well-documented example of the troubles HD gaming brought to the industry. What was here could have worked, but the lack of support, content, and overall polish killed what could have been one of the best multiplayer shooters of the era. The game also had average gunplay that felt generic and the overall aesthetic of the game was very bland and sterile feeling. It didn’t have an identity or rather one that was the culmination of broken or half-baked ideas. No clan support or single-player campaign didn’t help either. Poor sales led to this game’s quick demise and you can’t even play it anymore if you wanted to.
This is a perfect example of generic military shooters. This game tried to be arcade-like but also felt too realistic for its own good. It was boring, ugly, messy, and just wasn’t any fun to play. The first level showed you pretty much everything there was to offer. The guns had no weight, the enemies were copy/paste from other shooters, and the story and characters were pretty much in the background barely existing. Codemasters was trying to capitalize on games like Bulletstorm and Rage with fast-paced FPS action, but this just wasn’t it.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Probably as infamous as Duke Nukem Forever, and sadly by the same publisher. Aliens was one of the worst games released of the HD era. Period. It was unfinished, rushed, lie and mess. It was so bad that there were glitches in the AI script for the aliens that users had to fix on the PC version. It was so different from what was shown in demos that Gearbox was sued. The game was boring, ugly, and didn’t feel like an Aliens game at all. Even the multiplayer couldn’t save this one. I played through the first level and never touched it again. This isn’t even a game that could have been patched up. It was rotten from its core and it shows.
Danger Close is talented in the sense they can screw up two games in a row this badly. The first game was an ugly dated mess using the Unreal Engine 3 and just felt like a game stuck in the past. Ditching WWII and trying to capitalize on the realistic military shooters and compete head-to-head with Battlefield, Medal of Honor was just a boring and generic feeling. The use of the Tier 1 operatives didn’t do anything, and the multiplayer had downgraded visuals and felt like a worse game in general. Warfighter looked much better but was a linear, scripted, and boring unoptimized mess that didn’t stand out from the crowd at all. You’re better off playing the older WWII shooters and leaving these to rot. There’s a reason why the series died after Warfighter.
Probably the single worst Bond game to date. Legends shoehorned memorable Bond moments with some of the worst Call of Duty clone shooting you can imagine. This is a perfect example of the HD-era shooters that shouldn’t have existed. This was a plague in the industry to create quick cash grabs from the Call of Duty fanbase. GoldenEye this was not.