“Tango Down”: The Cutting Edge Shooter
The first trend to look at is currently the most popular and it has been reigning strong since the early 2000s – the cutting edge shooter. In my mind, Counter Strike (1999) served as a precursor to the trend due to its popularity and huge influence which is still easily visible today in Black Ops for instance. The trend escalated slowly and really kicked off in 2007 with the hugely successful Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Although modern combat shooters had been around for a while, we suddenly witnessed a bombardment of titles following in the footsteps of Infinity Ward’s modernisation of the Call of Duty series. Innovation took a backseat for a few years as the industry explored this goldmine. With this, the focus of a lot of shooters shifted to being realistic, gritty and modern and it wasn’t long before this style spread to other genres as well. Having the best graphics soon became a priority, after all; how can you be cutting edge without looking realistic? Being on the cusp of the modern inevitably became the main goal and it was not too long before we saw things getting just a little too close for comfort (Medal of Honor).
This year the ‘realistic’ cutting edge shooter has already seen a bashing and the way things are looking right now, this could be the last year of this trend. Granted, Duty Calls was a clever piece of marketing for Bulletstorm, but it hit a nerve within the industry – the mine is starting to run dry. Call of Duty has been the most successful series of games in this era but it is meeting with fierce competition that may just force it to evolve or die. In my opinion Battlefield 3 is going to force this upon the Call of Duty series and the cutting edge shooter as a whole. We have all heard the rumours of a Call of Duty space shooter! The return of Duke Nukem (hopefully) also harks back to the previously popular sci-fi shooters that were characterised by over-the-top, fantastical madness. Could we see a return of the less serious shooter? I think so. I predict that upcoming games like RAGE, Doom 4 and Duke Nukem Forever will pave the way for what I hope will be the next trend in shooters this decade. In the words of Joker, “Why so serious?”
Now that the music-based rhythm phase seems to have died out, zombie games are looking to be the most tired fad. Capcom was the developer that scared the crap out of us with zombies in the Resident Evil series in the nineties. They didn’t let that craze rest lightly though, and so with the capabilities of the latest generation they gave us Dead Rising and a zombie experience like never before. Just like its biggest influence, George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, Dead Rising proved that zombies didn’t have to be scary all the time, and were also a brilliant source of hilarity. It feels wrong to not mention the similarly comic Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without A Pulse of 2005.