Little did the world know that Microsoft’s first foray into console gaming with the original Xbox would set them up for such a massive future.
Released in 2001, the Xbox would go on to sell 24 million consoles before its lifecycle ended in 2006. During that time, the Xbox would compete in the sixth-generation console era against the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Sega Dreamcast.
And, while Microsoft didn’t want the era, they did introduce one of the most important first-person shooter games of all time with Halo. Let’s explore the best FSP titles below.
What is a First-Person Shooter?
Imagine playing a game where you are seeing everything from the perspective of the player. Whatever your protagonist or in-game character sees is exactly what you see. Now, imagine that you are playing this style of game but you have many weapons at your disposal. That’s a first-person shooter.
This game genre is generally viewed as only being able to see your in-game character’s arms and hands, which are generally holding some type of weapon or medkit. A first-person shooter might also be split among other genres in games, like Far Cry, which is both an open-world and a first-person shooter.
Was the Xbox Known for Its First-Person Shooters?
In the case of many consoles over the past fifteen years, first-person shooters have often been near the top of the most popular and best-reviewed games on a console. In the case of the Xbox, it isn’t just that first-person shooter titles were among the console’s most popular — Halo arguably made the console what it is today.
There might be some Xbox fans out there that will argue the console would have been just as successful without Halo, and that very well might be true. What we do know is that, because of Halo, Xbox rocketed into the stratosphere of console popularity and is now one of the most dominant console platforms in the world.
Thankfully, Halo wasn’t the only first-person shooter on the Xbox worth remembering. Let’s take a look at some other fantastic titles still worth playing today.
#7: emBrothers in Arms: Earned in Blood/em
- This sequel to Brothers In Arms - Road To Hill 30 brings back the action, story, and authenticity that had critics and fans raving
- New single-player narrative as you defeat the last enemy bastions and bring freedom to Normandy
- Cooperative Multiplayer mode - Take on the enemy with a friend by your side, working together and uses each other's squads to avoid certain death
- Missions and battles accurately recreated from real U.S. Army photographs, maps and post-action reports
- Unique multiplayer missions and improved online support on PC and consoles - featuring an all-new Skirmish mode that follows a real tour of duty
At the time of the console release, before 4K graphics, emBrothers in Arms: Earned in Blood/em helped show the world the power of what a war game could be on the Xbox console.
Right from the jump, players found the gameplay mechanics outstanding for the era and helped establish something of a standard for future consoles.
The same can be said for the enemy AI, which, unlike many other FPS titles, shows them reacting to your gunfire and attempting to take cover before firing back. This experience added a deeper overall challenge to the game than the FPS titles before it, and that’s exactly what you expect now from any FPS title.
Throughout three different storylines, you command a squad of soldiers (paratroopers) and are reliant on their help to outsmart the enemy. Just don’t even think about the run-and-gun approach here, it’s a good way to find yourself throwing your controller across the room.
Between the single-player and the four-player multiplayer campaigns, it’s easy to see exactly why emBrothers in Arms: Earned in Blood/em holds an 85 Metascore.
Pick up emBrothers in Arms: Earned in Blood/em on Amazon here.
#6: emTom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3/em
- Track down a hidden neo-fascist organization in a race against time to stop their evil plot
- Travel from the Caribbean to Rio De Janeiro to London in a desperate effort to stop a psychotic doomsday plot
- In 15 exciting single-player missions, you'll use real counter-terrorist tactics and military weapons
- Over 50 weapons, from handguns to rocket launchers, as you battle in 30 different Specialist modes
- Defeat a plot to destroy the world -- one takedown at a time!
Often considered the breakout hit of Xbox’s “Xbox Live” service, emTom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3/em is one of the great examples of how to do single-player and multiplayer video games well.
This squad-based game puts you in the role of Ding Chavez, a character well-known from the Clancy novels or the Harrison Ford Clancy movies. Throughout 14 different missions in the single-player campaign, Chavez and his three AI-controlled teammates must learn how to handle rescuing hostages and entering rooms without getting in each other’s way.
Thanks to an excellent voice-command system or on-screen interface, ordering your AI teammates was wonderfully easy. This game is the rare example of where you should not only shout orders at the TV, it’s actually encouraged by the game and it’s oh so much fun. You can do the entire campaign in multiplayer co-op mode which just makes it all the more engaging.
Try your hand at running through each level as part of a four-man team with your friends (or family if you dare) and see if you can properly stack up on a door before entering a room full of terrorists. It’s so much fun that it’s no surprise at all emRainbow Six 3/em scored an 86 on the Metascore.
Grab emTom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3/em on Amazon here.
#5: emTimeSplitters 2/em
- TIMESPLITTERS 2 - XBOX
A successful title on every platform it saw release on, emTimeSplitters 2/em is a terrific first-person shooter consisting of ten different levels.
As the protagonist, you’ll play as one of two different space marines tasked with the usual job of stopping an alien race from invading and destroying everything. What makes the emTimeSplitters 2/em storyline unique is that it takes place across many different time periods, including the 25th century. Each time your player jumps into a new time period, he takes over the “body” of someone from that era and stays there until you recover all of the missing “time crystals.”
It might all sound a little silly, but there’s nothing silly about this game as it’s just pure fun. That’s true of the single-player game but also the multiplayer component that enables up to four players on a television screen at once. Throw in Xbox’s “System Link” and you can jump that number to 16 total players competing in various game types like deathmatch or capture the bag (think capture the flag). The game earned an 88 on the Metascore scale for its light-hearted take on the FPS genre.
Pick up your copy of emTimeSplitters 2/em on Amazon here.
#4: emDoom 3/em
- Battle six new demons - including the hunters - with new weapons like the double-barrelled shotgun
- Possess demonic powers to use against the enemy
- Slow down time to outmaneuver enemies, or harness the force of gravity to control your environment
- Manipulate objects and use them as weapons or access secret areas
- Fight in all new 8-player capture the flag arenas
All but ignoring the first few games in the Doom series, emDoom 3/em resets the franchise back to square one but does in a way that’s well deserving of its 88 Metascore.
Set on Mars in the year 2145, a teleportation experiment has opened up the gateway to hell, and, as you might easily guess, demons come pouring in from the other side. As one of the only survivors of the initial invasion, you are forced to fight through various levels choosing between ten different weapons as you make your stand. Unlike previous Doom titles, there is an NPC element here that helps advance the storyline by providing plot information that helps you complete each level.
The multiplayer element is just as good as the single-player campaign adding four different game modes that can be played between four different players. Even with four different game types, all of the multiplayer options surround deathmatches which are very Doom-like. The expansion pack, Resurrection of Evil, would increase the player limit to eight players at a time in any multiplayer match.
Pick up emDoom 3/em on Amazon here.
#3: emBrothers In Arms: Road to Hill 30/em
There’s no shortage of WWII games that have come out on consoles past, present, and undoubtedly in the future. When emBrothers In Arms: Road to Hill 30/em was released for the Xbox, it was hailed as one of the most accurate representations of battle in a game to date.
Throughout the game, you play as Sergeant Matt Baker and command a small team to secure various targets and eliminate the enemy.
It’s a thrilling and historical look back at some of the famous locations and targets of the second world war. It earned an 88 on Metascore which is too low in our opinion, but that doesn’t make it any less of one of the standout FPS titles on the original Xbox.
During the single-player campaign, you’ll focus on the four F’s, and no, they aren’t what you think. Find, fix, flank, and finish are words your protagonist should never forget as they are responsible for keeping him and his squadmates alive. Multiplayer enables up to you and three of your friends to split screen and each take on the role of one of the squadmates.
Grab emBrothers In Arms: Road to Hill 30/em on Amazon here.
#2: emHalo 2/em
- Master Chief can now wield two weapons at once, board Covenant vehicles and steal Covenant weapons like the incredible double energy sword
- Lead an all-new unit of super-soldiers, the ODST -- tougher, badder and deadlier versions of your old comrades
- New enemies, allies and surprises
- Intense combat with enhanced AI and real-time lighting
- Incredible single-player action with massive landscapes and huge cities to explore and defend
- Destructible and interactive environments
- Take the action online with your Xbox Live and switch sides
The best-selling game of the original Xbox era with more than 8.4 million copies sold is emHalo 2/em.
Not only did this game help establish the Xbox as the force it is today, but it introduced millions of players around the world to the first-person shooter genre. The sequel to Halo: Combat Evolved (spoiler, the number one FPS) was released in 2004 to massive critical acclaim. The 95 Metascore is proof that critics quickly found this was a near-perfect title.
Once again you’re back with Master Chief as the primary protagonist as he battles to take down attacking Covenant fleets attacking Earth and finally ending the Halo battle once and for all. As soon as you complete the campaign, turn all of your attention to excellent multiplayer, which pits up to 16 players against each other in each split-screen or system link mode.
Online multiplayer was also available through Xbox Live and Halo 2 had a surprisingly long lifespan before Microsoft pulled online servers in 2013.
Jump into the shoes of Master Chief with emHalo 2/em from Amazon here.
#1: emHalo: Combat Evolved/em
- Renewed copy
- Game of the Year Award and voted Game Of The Year by IGN.com, Electonic Gaming Monthly and Xbox Magazine
- All new multiplayer mode for up to 16 players
- 15 multiplayer maps and 6 brand new maps
emHalo: Combat Evolved/em is the pinnacle of first-person shooter games on the original Xbox platform and, ultimately, one of the best FPS games ever made.
Coming in with a massive, perfect 97 Metascore, it’s no surprise this game sold just over five million copies. Released in 2001 as a launch title for the Xbox console, the game is set in the 26th century where you play as a genetically enhanced super soldier known as Master Chief.
Along with the famous Cortana, Master Chief battles alien enemies from the Covenant as you seek to unlock the secrets of the “Halo.” While it’s a dedicated first-person shooter, Halo also switches things up periodically by jumping into the third-person when you are in a vehicle and using a turret to battle enemies.
Across 13 different maps and 26 different game modes, Halo is a title that still holds up to this day. Its multiplayer experience is equally as good as its campaign, allowing a co-op mode throughout the campaign or five different competitive multiplayer modes. Up to 16 players can take part (four on each Xbox) with System Link and LAN parties with Halo, which became a phenomenon after the game’s release.
Not only is Halo one of the best FPS games ever released, it very well may be one of the best video games ever released.
Introduce yourself to Master Chief with emHalo: Combat Evolved/em on Amazon here.
The Xbox was a formidable console for first-person shooters with healthy competition and game titles that are still fondly remembered to this day. That said, no game on the Xbox platform is as fondly remembered or as highly regarded as Halo: Combat Evolved. Even Halo 2, which sold more copies than its predecessor, doesn’t evoke the same sentimental memories of what it was like to pick up Halo: Combat Evolved for the first time.