Generic Modern Military Shooter Genre
The Modern Military Shooter (MMS) is a video game sub-genre that was largely created by the runaway success of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and the relative simplicity of the gameplay template it established. It is often held to encompass both first-person CoD knockoffs and third-person Gears of War knockoffs set in the modern era, as both used similar level design and gameplay conceits.
It should be noted that not every modern Shooter is an example of this, some modern FPS are actually good and don't felt like a generic military shooter. Such as Wolfenstein (reboot), DOOM (2016), Bulletstorm, The Darkness, Hard Reset, Shadow Warrior 1 & 2, Titanfall 2, and many others.
Why It Sucks
- The over-saturation of this genre led to other popular genres like RPGs and Platformers to become significantly less prominent.
- The games in this genre are often full of boring, repetitive missions.
- The multiplayer tended to die out quickly because players move on to the newer game in the series (or possibly any newer shooter game) that keeps coming out too quickly.
- Many of these games either prioritize high-quality visuals over gameplay or lack both.
- The first generation of these games and overall, a lot of games from seventh generation console era hid their somewhat shoddy textures by using a washed-out palette of greys, or made heavy use of earthy browns (aka yellow or brown filter), and also used excessive amounts of HDR bloom. While this worked for some games as a stylistic choice (eg Resistance: Fall of Man, which was supposed to look like degraded WW2-era film stock) it was copied to the point of near meaninglessness. A second generation then tried to use oversaturated colors to make up for this, and looked just as bad. Now we are (thankfully) largely back to something resembling reality.
- Bad, linear level design: there are often so few paths that the map might as well be a tunnel bored through solid rock. Encounters were often overdesigned with only one practical way to deal with each.
- Campaigns feel like a straight line from A to B, instead of a maze in which you are forced to find things to survive, like classic first-person shooters used to. Players are often penned in by invisible walls, sometimes indicated by ridiculous objects such as waist-high fences, or surrounded by kill barriers.
- Slow access speeds on last-gen consoles (cause by low RAM and Microsoft's spec requiring no mandatory hard drive use for 360 games, to allow compatibility with cheap 360 variants that didn't have one) meant that levels had to be broken up with loading pauses, meaning routine unskippable cutscenes or drawn-out minigames to open doors.
- Unengaging stories which usually involve the U.S. stomping all over other countries, mostly Russia or the Middle East. The alternative is fighting a "shadow unit" or similar who wear black uniforms and use whatever guns the designers thought looked cool when they were on Future Weapons.
- The player character was usually a silent protagonist with no characterization who simply did whatever the objective box said to do and followed the actual characters around.
- NPC constantly barking orders at the player to get over here and do this thing, often repeating the same one or two barks every few seconds. For bonus points, some of these games had hidden items the player was supposed to be looking for while they were being shouted at to hurry up and do the thing there was no hurry for them to do.
- Early examples were cross-platform developed for the PS2 and Wii, leading to very limited graphics (usually just higher-res textures on PS2 level geometry), and often had entirely pointless motion sensor gimmicks either mapped to the PS3's Sixaxis motion control or mapped to buttons on the Xbox 360. Often these were either QTEs or timewasting minigames like painstakingly screwing a detonator into a block of explosive in Call of Duty 3.
- Examples in the middle of the FPS glut were often filled with QTEs, in particular often using them to replace a final boss fight with the bad guy with a cutscene where you pressed the right buttons to beat him up.
- Later examples were often riddled with questionably needed, ridiculously overpriced DLC and loot boxes.
- Weapons were often balanced for multiplayer rather than singleplayer, leaving the campaign weapons a lot less fun to use.
- Weapons aside from rocket launchers were almost always hitscan to make programming multiplayer easier. This made singleplayer very frustrating.
- Since many of these games were set in the modern day, a lot of them featured the same handful of real-life weapons. Older features like multiple ammo types or alt-fire functions largely vanished from the genre for quite some time.
- Another issue due to setting the game in the modern day was almost no enemy variety: usually they were either exclusively humans with guns you could use, or at most would have dogs, sentry guns, jeeps and perhaps tanks or helicopters which had to be fought with a rocket launcher. Human AI would usually just poke its head out of cover, blind-fire from cover, and repeat this, with the only real variation being the degree to which they spammed hand grenades and how much they were magnetically drawn to machine gun emplacements already surrounded by dead bodies. Very rarely would they do anything intelligent like work together as a unit (something Halo managed), pick up a weapon up off the ground if it was better than the one they had, or retreat if they were losing. After it got to the point even the companies couldn't pretend this wasn't bad, the standard enemy set started to include a BIg Guy in an EOD suit who had a machine gun, and sometimes a melee guy or suicide bomber who just rushed at the player.
- Repetitive yearly games with short dev cycles meant little difference between installments: the long console generation with each game using the same hardware and engine as the last also severely limited how much better games could look without sacrificing even more gameplay.
- Regenerating health was used, often as a crutch by developers to get out of proper level design. Instead, the world suddenly filled with incredible amounts of chest-high concrete walls and mysteriously bulletproof wooden fences, leading to very a stop-start gameplay experience.
- Games typically used a movement model based on limited movement speed in any direction but forwards and limited sprint, meaning that the classic run-and-gun gameplay of shooters like Doom and Serious Sam gave way to hiding behind a piece of cover and poking out to shoot.
- Aiming systems where hipfire accuracy was virtually nonexistent and accuracy penalties for moving excessively high also encouraged this style of poking out and shooting, and left many games ruled by camping with sniper rifles.
- The initial success of these games caused countless clones and rip-offs to the point that many gamers are getting sick of First Person Shooters.
- Some companies like to follow this trend by making some games based off beloved franchises blend into Modern Military Shooters, or something that focuses much more on shooter elements or darker, gritty settings, such as Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Bomberman: Act Zero, Shadow the Hedgehog, Castlevania Lords of Shadow sub-series, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon and even EA Star Wars Battlefront.
- They make reboots that are more vulgar and mean-spirited like the infamous DmC: Devil May Cry.
- It's also worth mentioning that this genre is causing many beloved classic FPS series to go a modern style, such as Duke Nukem Forever, Battlefield 3, Call of Juarez: The Cartel, Halo 4, and even Medal of Honor (2010).
- Some of the shooter games had less development time and recycled assets from the previous game. Such as animations from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's ending to the intro of Call of Duty: Ghosts.
The Only Redeeming Quality
- The military shooter genre used to be good, specifically in the 6th generation era and the early/mid 7th generation of consoles days, before it started to go downhill.
As with many other over-saturated genres before it, Modern Military Shooters have lost significant amounts of popularity over time, with new genres, namely MOBAs, Hero Shooters, open-world sandboxes and Battle Royale, taking its place as the most popular.