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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 System Shock II and Duke Nukem 3D.

31. System Shock II

Why It's Great: The sequel to the stellar System Shock (and precusor to BioShock) was groundbreaking in more ways than we can count. This is a survival-horror game for the hardcore horror junkie. From the game's skin-crawling storyline (a race of alien parasites slaughter the crew of a cutting-edge space vessel), to the manipulative and utterly indifferent ‘ally', to its unbelievably bone-chilling audio design, System Shock II is one of the most immersive games ever designed. The sole survivor of the faster-than-light Von Braun military starship, you battled deformed humans, psionic lab chimpanzees, and unspeakable cyborg half-breeds with wrench (and pistol) in hand. In the end, though, the ultimate brilliance of System Shock II revolves around its devious plot twists. Not everything is quite as it first seems.

32. Duke Nukem 3D

Why It's Great: Take equal parts Ash from the Evil Dead films and Rowdy Roddy Piper from the cult classic They Live, sprinkle a myriad of pop culture references layered with clever puzzles and fast-paced gameplay, and you've got Duke Nukem 3D in all its glory. This game, for its time, was revelatory because it imbued its environments with never-before-seen levels of interactivity. We're talking functional mirrors ('Damn I'm looking good'), functional toilets ('Oooh...much better'), and more movie references than any game before or since. The graphics haven't aged particularly well, but the gameplay and interactivity are still unmatched. See also: Duke Nukem Forever review.

33. Doom II

Why It's Great: When a game tells you to leap head first into the depths of Hell, guns blazing, you don't ask questions; you point your BFG-9000 at the closest Cacodemon and let 'er rip. Revolutionary for its time, and still an absolute blast to play to this day, Doom II set new standards for what to expect from a shooter, not to mention helping pave the way for the FPS genre in general. A wide assortment of colorful weapons (including the notorious double-barreled shotgun) and an even wider selection of demonic enemies made this trip to the afterlife worth taking, and gave gamers the perfect excuse to scream 'See you in Hell! before blasting a Spectre's head off'.

Doom II

34. GoldenEye 007

Why It's Great: Who doesn't remember crowding around a television in the dark, eyes red and drooping from exhaustion, hands aching and cramped around a Nintendo 64 controller as you mutter to your friends, 'One more round!' GoldenEye was a simply exquisite title on all fronts and is still regarded as a crowning achievement in multiplayer gaming. From races through deserted military barracks in search of the prestigious Golden Gun to simply arguing over who got to play as Oddjob, GoldenEye had a winning formula on all fronts that has yet to be matched by any other FPS. Without Goldeneye, Halo simply wouldn't exist.

35. BioShock

Why It's Great: A collective gasp spread throughout the gaming community the first time casual gamers and jaded critics alike first laid eyes on the underwater dystopia of Rapture. Featuring one of the most engaging premises in a video game to date, BioShock was more of an experience than it was a game. With smart, scary gameplay and a refreshingly mature storyline, BioShock also marked a significant turning point in the video game industry, tearing asunder any stereotypes that this was a children's medium or a passing mainstream fad. BioShock gave its players an amazing amount of freedom regarding how they were experience the world of Rapture, from blasting enemies with powerful genetic abilities to hacking turrets and security bots, it was evident from the start that there was no one way to play BioShock. Truly a modern classic.

36. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Why It's Great: Modern Warfare grabbed the hearts and minds of gamers worldwide in late 2007, becoming a bonafide phenomenon almost overnight. Updating the already prestigious Call of Duty series with a new modern setting, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare pumped vitality into both its single-player campaign and its pulse-pounding multiplayer modes. A combination of new RPG-styled Perk abilities, weapon upgrades, and ultra-tight controls make Call of Duty 4 a modern-day legend.

37. Half-Life 2

Why It's Great: Rise and shine, Mister Freeman& Wake up and smell the ashes. It's tough to find a game more spell-binding than Half-Life 2. From the moment you find yourself riding that train into the dystopian future of City 17 to the instance good ol' Barney tosses you your trademark crowbar, gamers everywhere knew that they were in for one hell of a ride. With unmatched in-game cinematics and a memorable cast of allies and villains, Half-Life 2 was an experience more than it was a game.

Half Life 2

38. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay

Why It's Great: It's rare to find a movie-based game that's better than the film itself - much less a Vin Diesel one (XxX for the GBA, anybody?) Amazingly, Chronicles of Riddick took the gaming world by storm with a genuinely original gaming experience, impressive HD visuals, and smart stealth-based action.

Taking place before the Riddick films, Escape from Butcher Bay told the tale of how Riddick came to be the badass you meet in Pitch Black, all the while painting a gritty environment with the ‘inescapable' prison world of Butcher Bay. Throw in note-perfect voice work by Diesel himself, Ron Perlman and even acclaimed rapper Xzibit, and you have a cinematic experience that's not only unexpected, but simply excellent.

39. No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way

Why It's Great: No One Lives Forever had all of the elements for a winning FPS formula: a tongue-in-cheek script, fantastic visuals, tight controls, imaginative weapons, and of course, a shag-tastic 60s leading lady. Throw in outlandish situations such as shooting while skydiving or gunning it out in the eye of a tornado and you have the makings of an unforgettable experience. A savage spoof on the James Bond genre of spy films, NOLF2 is a deserved cult classic and is not to be missed.

If you don't agree with any of our choices, let us know in the comments field below

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