Thursday, February 3, 2011

Has the NGP Killed All Hope for 3DS First-Person Shooters?

To keep things simpler, I'm just looking to compare first person shooter games; that is, a game viewed from the first person perspective where your most frequent task is shooting, and you play as a human or humanoid figure that you have full control over. There are certainly some games that include first-person gameplay sections, such as TRON 2.0 Killer App for the Game Boy Advance, maybe you could play a third-person shooter in first-person perspective if you wanted, or something like Touch the Dead that is most definitely first-person, but fully on rails. I'm looking at the most frequent, default gameplay style. 

Video games let even her do this.

It may surprise you to know that the DS has more first person shooters than the PSP. Though, maybe not. Maybe you see the "one analog stick and it's on the wrong side" thing as a big enough hurdle for first person shooters, so it just makes sense, even if it seems like the PSP has the processing power to better accomadate the genre. Despite those considerations, it may still surprise you to know that the DS has almost twice as many first-person shooters as the PSP, and the PSP only beats out the GBA in first-person shooter count by one.

It's really worth noting how many more third-person shooters the PSP got over the DS. For some styles of third-person shooter games, the gameplay is really not very different from a first-person shooter, but this is more about the expectations in terms of controls. I think it's obviously reflected by the number of third-person shooters on the PSP over first-person shooters; developers/publishers felt that the shooter controls that they thought they could implement in the game were more acceptable to the consumer in the form of a third-person shooter. You could look at Sony's own second-party effort, Resistance: Retribution. First-person on Sony's DualShock controller, but third-person when it made it's way to PSP.

The fact that the DS has more first-person shooters than the PSP is striking to me because when I look at the genre today, it seems that developers/publishers lean toward the more powerful systems with the genre. But that may not necessarily be because of the console power, and instead be a factor of the audiences, which may or may not be attracted to more detailed graphics and/or the violence inherent to the genre. While the PSP has more processing power than the DS, many might argue that the placement of the analog inputs of each device (analog nub, touch-screen) meant that first-person shooters can control better on the DS (and iOS devices, arguably). But the NGP appears to trump the 3DS in both graphics and controls, depending on your affinity for 3D. An original first-person shooter game and/or first-person shooter IP for a handheld appears to be riskier than just making the game for a current home console when you start approaching console level presentation with the 3DS, NGP, and PSP. With the NGP a port of a high-dollar console first-person shooter could be made relatively easily and cheaply. Good sales for those ports could show developers/publishers that an audience is behind the platform to support more first-person shooters, which encourages higher-quality ports/version for the platform, as well as new games in the genre.

All this doesn't necessarily steal first-person shooters away from the 3DS. More telling is simply that the NGP already has quality first-person shooter games shown off and promised in the future, such as Killzone, Resistance, the Call of Duty series, and the NGP has the approval of Mark Rein, vice-president of Epic Games who are the makers of a few first-person shooters and the popular Unreal Engine(s). 3DS doesn't have anything solid* as far as first-person shooters go. Sure we could reasonably assume that n-Space will make more versions of the yearly Call of Duty games, but 3DS doesn't have the advantage of it's own Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt pack-in to lead a developer/publisher to believe that an audience of people wanting first-person shooters is available right off the bat. This could mean that the NGP gets its first first-person shooter game before the 3DS gets one, despite the difference in projected release dates. We can hope that the Renegade Kid team (and a publisher) are comfortable with the 3DS price model (buying and developing games), and confident enough in a 3DS exclusive first-person shooter to make one. Or three. High Voltage has hinted very strongly at a 3DS game from the Conduit series*, but my best guess is that it is currently a port of the first The Conduit or Conduit 2, and that any publisher they would secure would only be willing to support a port of the first The Conduit or Conduit 2, rather than an entirely original game from the series. Whatever you think of the quality of the first The Conduit, it remains that most (including myself) that wanted to play it already have, and it stands to reason that without any solid information, someone looking forward to Conduit 2 would get the Wii version rather than waiting for an announcement of a 3DS version.

n-Space, a reliable developer of handheld FPSes.

Not to be so glum about the situation, we should definitely consider that 3DS could get it's own Renegade Kid, a development house dedicated to the system and fans with a penchant for first-person games. Or we could look forward to a number of smaller, focused first-person shooters through the 3DSWare service, like we see from the App Store or WiiWare. A few ports of first-person shooters "courtesy" of GameLoft, perhaps. And of course Renegade Kid and High Voltage could continue to support Nintendo systems and fans with first-person shooter efforts.

I don't mean to seem like I put a lot of stock in first-person shooters, either as an vital component of selling a consumer on a system, or as a vital component of the quality of a system's library. First person shooters are certainly big sellers (at least in the states), but I myself only pick up one every 12 to 18 or so months currently. For the price that I suspect the NGP to be, I don't think I will be picking one up over say, a PS3 or 360. I have a 3DS pre-ordered, and as I mentioned I think the control options it has, whether touch-screen or gyroscopic, would lend themselves to a fun first-person shooter no less and no more than what the NGP offers. I am particularly interested in seeing a first-person perspective game of any genre in 3D, and usually those are of the shooter variety. As well, a gyroscopically controlled first-person game has been the "dream game" of mine for many years, a virtual window into another world, and the addition of 3D only amplifies that experience to a new level I never even imagined, so I hope you see why I would be so interested in the subject and genre to write a piece just about that.

Do you guys see the NGP poised to steal some FPS thunder from the 3DS? Does it bother you that the 3DS doesn't have any FPS thunder in the first place yet?

EDIT: High Voltage slipped this little confirmation by me as I was researching, writing, and posting this piece. They are definitely working on a Conduit series game that they plan to shop around to publishers. No confirmation if it is a first-person shooter, but it's most likely over a top down version ala The Grinder on PS3/360. They seem excited about the prospect of being a stand out title for the 3DS, so the implication seems like it will be a first-person shooter.

Below are just a collection of the shooters I came across while researching this piece. The lists for first-person shooters are complete, I believe. However the lists for third-person shooters are likely to be very incomplete.

GBA first-person shooter: Ecks vs. Sever 1 & 2, Dark Arena, Serious Sam, Doom 1 & 2, Duke Nukem Advance

DS first-person shooter: GoldenEye Rogue Agent, Quantum of Solace, GoldenEye 007, Metroid Prime: Hunters, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Mobilized, Black Ops, World at War, Modern Warfare 2, Dementium 1 & 2, MOON, C.O.R.E., Peter Jackson's Kind of Kong, Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2011, Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball Max'D, Bionicle Heroes

PSP first-person shooter: Call of Duty: Roads to Victory, Medal of Honor: Heroes 1 & 2, Brothers in Arms D-Day, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas, Coded Arms, Coded Arms: Contagion, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

App Store first-person shooter: Star Wars: Imperial Academy, Battlefield Bad Company 2, Archetype, N.O.V.A. 1 & 2, Modern Combat: Sandstorm & 2: Black Pegasas, Puppet War: FPS, DOOM: Resurrection, Wolfenstein 3D Classic Platinum, DOOM Classic, Eliminate Pro, Brothers in Arms 2: Global Front, Rise of the Triad, Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies, Duke Nukem 3D, NEX, iFPS Online, Prey Invasion, Hill Billy, Alien Mangle, Zombie Mansion, Cube

GBA 3D third-person: Kill Switch

DS third-person shooter, on-rails, first-person other: Brother's in Arms DS, Touch the Dead, Bloodstone, Deep Labyrinth, Unknown Soldier (japan), Army Men: Soldiers of Misfortune, Custom Robo: Arena

PSP third-person shooter, third-person other: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 & Predator, Space Invaders: Evolution, Star Wars: Battlefront Elite Squadron, Renegade Squadron, II, Resistance Retribution, Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror & Logan's Shadow & Combat Ops, SOCOM: Tactical Strike & Fire Team Bravo 1 & 2 & 3, Gun: Showdown, Chili Con Carnage, Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters, James Bond 007: From Russia with Love, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Essentials, Infected, Dead to Rights: Reckoning, 3rd Birthday, Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops & Peace Walker, Gundam Battle Tactics, Gundam Seed: Rengou vs. Z.A.F.T. Portable (Japan), Gundam vs. Gundam Next Plus (Japan), Oretachi no Sabage Versus (Japan)


  1. I think the FPS games will work better on the NGP...because of the dual analogs. That's my biggest reason I'm not "sold" on the 3DS, because I think they really should have added two analog sticks for the FPS games, and others that would benefit from easier camera controls that way.

    I've played Dementium II for a bit on the DS, and the controls definitely are not ideal, and I would prefer a dual analog setup over the touch screen stylus controls.

    I've had a draft saved on this topic...about the LACK of the dual analog sticks...for about a month now, but I held off on posting it until the Sony conference and all the "rumors" that were circulation before-hand.

  2. I haven't played Dementium 2, but I have played Dementium 1, Metroid Prime: Hunters, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare as far as DS FPSes go. I popped in the game just to be sure, but Dementium 1 doesn't have any adjustments for aiming like the other games do, and it might be the same for the second one. For me, the aiming is overly sensitive in Dementium, but it's nice that they included the ability to invert the Y-axis so it feels comfortable to use the thumb-strap.

    You know, I must have commented on some message board about FPSes right before or while I was writing this piece, because there were some more words about camera controls and some comparisons to the N64 controller that wrote which I keep remembering, and those words aren't present in this piece.

  3. Well first of all, I really like your site, Wes. Your articles are well thoughtout and very informative (like the frame rate article). I'm just random wanderer who likes to visit GoNintendo and found one of your articles. However, back to what I wanted to talk about, I'm actually really excited about FPSes on the Nintendo 3DS just because of whole new control options *somewhat* exclusively to the system.

    Since I actually bought Dementium 2 for christmas, I understand where coffeewithgames is coming from, but the grip that I had about the game's controls were the melee attacks were just too cumbersome but the game's shooting functions were like any other ds fps game.

    Also, I agree with coffeewithgames that FPS will rule on the NGP (in NA and Europe at least) because of the system's dual analog sticks, but since I usually enjoy playing FPS games on the PC (mostly CSS and Day of Defeat: Source), I rarely touch the dual analog control scheme. With the 3DS, however, I think that FPS game developers will think outside the box for the system.

    For example, I could see developers using the system's gyroscope function to move up and down, left and right. Now you're going to think, "What if I'm on the bus or on the train? I'm going to get strange looks". Well, the developer could use the touch screen to move the camera in the game which would be nice complement to the gyroscope controls (this is with the thumb strap in mind so there might be some flaws to this).

    Also, this control scheme could be used on the the idevice and the NGP, but since the NGP has dual analog, most developers wouldn't use this type of control since gamers "wouldn't understand" it. Well, just wanted to say about this article but keep up the good work on the Wes!

    @ coffeewithgames: do you still have your gaming blog up? I haven't checked it out in a while.

  4. @ Falco8

    Thank you so much. It means a lot.
    I agree with most of what you've said, and I've discussed such things in some other forums.

    If you know a friend with an iPhone, you can try the free demo of the App Store first-person shooter N.O.V.A., and if you grab one of the (free) updates for it, you can use gyroscopic controls, if you just want to try it. With some tweaking, I think the control scheme will be really interesting for first-person shooters.

    I'm just not quite sure which control options are exclusive to the 3DS. The NGP has everything the 3DS has except a 3D camera (touch-screen, one analog on the left, one d-pad on the left, 4 face buttons, 2 shoulder buttons, inward facing camera, outward facing camera, gyroscopes, accelerometers,and microphone), but adds the back-touch panel, multi-touch, and the second analog stick on the right side. As you said, for the simple fact that the NGP has the familiar dual-analog set-up for first-person shooters, developers might not include gyroscopic or touch-screen control options.