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The 39 best ever first-person shooter games

The best FPS experiences you'll ever have... and a few other shooters, too

Our list of the 39 best ever first-person shooter games continues with DayZ and TimeSplitters: Future Perfect.

21. DayZ

Why it's great: Ah, the surprise hit of 2012. This official modification of 2009's super-hardcore military shooter Arma II seemed to come out of nowhere, and now  it's played by untold legions of people, is due its own standalone version and even has an (alleged) copycat game on the way. It's another zombie survival game, but this is set in a vast, open-world recreation of a fictional ex-Soviet state, where anything can and will go wrong. You might run out supplies, break a bone, have your kit (or life) taken by other players, or you might become infected yourself. DayZ's world lives and breathes and constantly surprises, but rarely to your benefit. This is true survival, and absolutely terrifying with it. It's also a shooter wherein laying hands on a gun is a major, game-changing event rather than just par for the course.

22. TimeSplitters: Future Perfect

Why It's Great: It's not often that you get to bend the space-time continuum on a regular basis, teaming up with versions of yourself from both the past and the future to solve puzzles. For Cortez, the protagonist of the TimeSplitters series, this is day-to-day life.

TimeSplitters had a quirky, surreal style that fit right at home with the time-traveling dynamic, allowing players access to a wide array of weapons from both the future, present, and past. One minute you may be dueling it out with six-shooters, the next firing plasma guns at your enemies - talk about weapon variety! With a rich single-player campaign and addictive multiplayer modes, TimeSplitters 3 is a shooter well worth revisiting.

23. Counter-Strike: Source

Why It's Great: Before there was Halo, there was Counter-Strike: the game that everyone played, even if they didn't play games. What started out as a Half-Life mod turned into the most popular online shooter ever created. Its simple, round-based, terrorists vs counter-terrorists gameplay was fueled by a genre-first weapon purchase system, and the elegance and perfection of Dust sealed the deal. CS: Source came along when Half-Life 2 was released, porting the game into a next-generation engine and stopping the rampant cheating. Despite what some critics said, Valve made the right choice with the port; CS is an experience that will stay pure forever.

Counter Strike: Source

24. Thief: The Dark Project

Why It's Great: Thief pioneered the use of stealth in the first-person perspective. Though not truly a 'shooter', Thief's innovative use of first-person conventions opened it up to an audience thirsty for a new experience. As Garret, a creature of the night, it was your mission to slip between shadows, sneak around guards, and steal to your heart's content. When trouble popped up, as it often did, you rarely responded with force. Garret packed a hefty bag of tricks, from water arrows to douse torches to a nifty blackjack that could down an enemy guard with one whack. By melding first-person shooter gameplay with a deep stealth component, Thief was truly ahead of its time.

25. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas

Why It's Great: From the first moment you signal your team to rappel into a casino, blasting the windows open as you toss a smoke grenade into a blackjack parlor, you know you've hit something special. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas took the dynamic of acting as a team and made it a central asset to the FPS experience. With an emphasis on teamwork, Vegas was also a blast to play co-op or competitively against (and with) other players, constantly forcing gamers to think on their feet as they moved through expertly detailed Las Vegas layouts. What happens in Vegas is a blast.

26. Battlefield 1942

Why It's Great: The Battlefield series truly lives up to its name; instead of casting you as the lone American soldier up against a castle of Nazi goons, you took on the role of one selected unit in the midst of a massive battle. Battlefield's online play was extraordinary for its time, truly giving the players the experience that they were part of a history in motion, reenacting famous battles from the Battle of the Bulge to Omaha Beach. With historically accurate maps ripped straight from history textbooks, a wide array of era-specific vehicles at your fingertips, and team-based gameplay that made you a true team player, Battlefield 1942 proved itself as one of the most authentic - and enjoyable - World War II shooters to date.

27. Unreal Tournament

Why It's Great: Unreal Tournament was a bold move from the team at Epic Games, who later went on to create the fabulously popular Gears of War. Though Unreal Tournament is now regarded as a modern classic, at the time it represented a huge gamble for Epic: at the time, the studio was more famous for its single-player campaign than its multiplayer modes. But upon its release, Unreal Tournament became an instant classic due to its lighting-quick action, massive arsenal, and open support for fan-made mods and mutators. The controls, graphics, sound, and online modes were all hugely influential - this is another series that played a key role in the creation of Halo.

Unreal Tournament

28. Metroid Prime

Why It's Great: Metroid Prime for the GameCube isn't your traditional first-person shooter. Like its 2D predecessors, Metroid Prime focused more on exploration and adventure than white-knuckle combat. Nintendo and developer Retro Studios took the Metroid franchise and turned it on its head with an incredibly deep shooter that still maintained everything from the original titles that made Metroid a household name.

29. Perfect Dark

Why It's Great: Rare took the FPS world by storm with the announcement of Perfect Dark for the Nintendo 64, which served as an important refinement over the classic Goldeneye 007. Players could choose to take part in an epic single player mode, engaging in stealthy espionage and Rambo-esque gunfight sequences as they fought their way towards the truth behind dataDyne's dark past, or jump head-on into a multiplayer experience that many would compare to that of GoldenEye. With incredibly inventive weapons (laptop gun, anyone?) mixed with beautiful graphics and a fantastic soundtrack, Perfect Dark was - and still is - a true must-own shooter. Unfortunately, the Xbox 360 prequel Perfect Dark Zero radically altered the winning formula and lost many of its fans in the process.

30. Crysis

Why It's Great: Crysis is literally one surprise after another. You're dropped on North Korean territory in a government issued nano-suit, and charged with taking down the radical KCP faction. So far, so good. But halfway through your pursuit, a race of advanced extraterrestrials enters the fray. Throw in some surprisingly open-world gameplay, astonishingly detailed visuals, and the option to switch between your nano-suits abilities on the fly, and you have one of the most complete PC shooters ever created. While the steep, steep system requirements definitely took their toll on the game's sales, Crysis is one of the few games that was actually worth the investment in new PC hardware.

NEXT PAGE: System Shock II and Duke Nukem 3D >>

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