Shoot ’em up
Doom — $5
Doom revolutionized PC gaming upon its 1993 debut and the Xbox rendition of the classic is just as faithful, and pixelated, as the former. It follows a lone, unnamed marine stationed on one of Mars’ moons when a military experiment goes awry, leaving the soldier with no alternative other than dismantle an overwhelming legion of monsters in his quest for freedom. The favorite telltale weapons of the momentous FPS remain intact, bringing back old favorites like the BFG 9000 and chainsaw, but the campaign has been expanded with a fourth episode released after the original as part of a deluxe edition. It’s challenging, but there’s always the frantic, four-player online competitive mode if you somehow manage to stumble through the game on the “ultraviolent” difficulty.
Battlefield 1943 — $15
Let’s face it, no one buys a Battlefield title strictly for the campaign. The multiplayer is where the FPS thrives, bolstered by an incredibly addictive gameplay mechanics and a well-proven, balanced class system featuring a standard infantry unit, an antipersonnel scout unit and a long-distance rifleman. The three Pacific-clad maps are dynamic, though rather outdated at this point, but the tanks, planes and the rest of the game’s vehicle arsenal add greater depth and strategic advantage to an otherwise simple and incredibly lean shooter. Keep in the mind the game is built purely for multiplier (there’s no single-player campaign to speak of), simultaneously pitting two teams and up to 24 players against each other in varied WWII-era campaigns under a stringent set of victory conditions.
If you don’t already know by now, Counter Strike is considered one of the defining pinnacles of online, team-based shooters. The skill-based title has remained evolutionary immune to an ever-changing game genre, reveling in permanent death and a lack of modification, while offering it’s borderline-cult players an entirely different way of playing. However, Global Offensive does exhibit a few welcome tweaks and notable additions that should keep even the most seasoned players on their toes. Maps have been modernized and added, along with game modes like Arms Race, and the title now boasts an astonishing 45 available weapons in addition to its robust leaderboards and awards. Remember, people don’t play Counter Strike for the visuals — they play it for keeps. Seriously.
Geometry Wars Evolved 2 — $15
Not all shooters are reserved for first-person, run-and-gun gameplay and chaotic online multiplayer. Geometry Wars Evolved 2, Bizarre Creations’ retro-seared sequel to the mini game first bundled in Project Gotham Racing 2, tops the original in almost every aspect, albeit still with a lack of online multiplayer. The game has a very Galaga-esque feel to it, ushering players to destroy never-ending, incoming swarms of enemy shapes using their claw-shaped geometric vessel and right joystick. Although there are five new modes catering to different gaming styles, the primary goal is to survive and rack up as many points as possible, whether flying through the vivid and bright single-player mode or battling the relentless hordes of shapes alongside your buddy.
Sine Mora — $15
It must be difficult to imprint a memorable mark in a field so heavily saturated with as many classically-inspired, horizontal shooters as our own. Fortunately for Sine Mora, it’s utilization of time manipulation and brutally-honest storytelling make a trip worth taking. The challenging game is centered around a group of humanoid animals akin to Star Fox and Co., but it contains more mature themes (and swearing) than Nintendo ever could. Players must navigate through a beautifully-rendered, diesel-punk airspace of Seol — laden with enemies, power-ups and intimidating boss battles — but survival relies more on a time component than your stereotypical health bar. Case in point: destroying enemies will buy you more time while receiving blows will adversely shorten your lifespan.