The best single-player FPS games
We recommend the following games for anyone who wants to sit alone and blast monsters. They may include multiplayer modes, but there are better multiplayer shooters—we chose these games and put them in this section because we think they offer the best single-player campaigns around.
Release Date: 2009
Developer: Raven Software
This criminally under-appreciated reboot showcases Raven Software’s strength for creating absurd sci-fi weapons and entertaining enemies for you to point them at. You’ll inevitably use a Tesla Gun to arc lightning at skeleton-sorcerers (above) and Nazi dominatrices. The Third Reich’s grunts are even better, tumbling, barking, and dismembering like stage actors playing to the back row of a theater—snipe a Nazi kneecap with an upgraded KAR 98 and watch him reach for where his foot used to be. The guns’ particle effects and the damage they cause are both spectacularly over-the-top, embracing fun over seriousness. A well-designed hub town called Isenstadt acts as a Nazi-occupied playground between missions. You're real trouble, we're afraid, may be finding a copy.
Release date: 2011
Developer: People Can Fly, Epic Games
Bulletstorm is an incredibly well-made score attack shooter that’s a little different than everything else on the list. The energy leash, the ability to kick enemies and the fast player movement give you plenty of scope to put together cool, flashy combos and to use your armory creatively. The sweary, deliberately immature script, put together by comic book writer Rick Remender, matches the over-the-top action perfectly. The only downside is it’s still locked behind the infernal Games For Windows Live, and getting it to work at all is an absolute pain in the arse—it could really do with an update or two.
No One Lives Forever
Release date: 2000
Where many classics play better in our memories than on our modern PCs, No One Lives Forever holds up brilliantly today thanks to the garish ‘60s art direction, a fine arsenal (from a petite .38 Airweight with dum dum rounds to lipstick grenades and a briefcase missile launcher), as well as remarkably sophisticated AI. Monolith wraps it all up in endlessly inventive level design and writing so consistently hilarious that it created its own genre—the comedy FPS—and hasn’t been outdone since.
Release date: 2010
Developer: 4A Games
In the Metro series, mankind survives in the tunnels beneath Moscow, having abandoned the nuclear-irradiated overworld which is now infested with mutated creatures. With the idea is that ammo is finite and each stash is precious, Metro walks an interesting line between survival horror and first-person shooter. The guns feel great, but it’s the fiction around them, the commitment to such a bleak tone, and the gorgeous environments with just a few signs of human life that you’ll remember Metro for. Now in a Redux version, it looks even more fantastic than before.
Release Date: 2007
Developer: Irrational Games
BioShock's greatest asset is its setting, and what Rapture provides from its ruined eden are enemies that are hysterical, tragic figures. One encounter with a Splicer or a Big Daddy can arc from curiosity, to sympathy, and then swing into full-on fear and violent panic. One of the best things Irrational does is imbue its monsters with terrifying sound design: the psychotic speech of Splicers, the fog horn drone and steel steps of the Big Daddies. The claustrophobia and anxiety Rapture throws at you gives you permission to fight recklessly, tooth-and-nail with powerful plasmids and upgraded shotguns as a way of getting revenge on the horrors that haunt you.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
Release date: 2010
Developer: GSC Game World
What’s most refreshing about Pripyat is how much trust it puts in you to figure out its brutal setting yourself. In The Zone, standing next to the wrong pond might be all it takes to kill you—it’s the genre’s capital city of death, populated with zombies that carry guns, invisible humanoid Cthulhus, and horrifying walls of energy that have emanate “nope” in a mile-wide radius. It’s a game blissfully low of exposition and hand-holding, making each time you escape alive feel earned. GSC’s compromises between realism and playability are smart, and excellent ballistics modeling and tracer effects bullet make for gritty firefights. It only improves with mods.
On the next page, more of the best single-player FPS games...