TenSpot Readers' Choice: Top Ten First-Person Shooters

The readers strike back with their rendition of TenSpot: Top Ten First-Person Shooters. Which FPS games do GameSpot readers think best exemplify the genre? Read this feature to find out.

Design by Marty Smith

TenSpot is back for another edition of Readers' Choice. Several weeks ago you read what the GameSpot editors considered the top 10 first-person shooters of all time. We defined first-person shooters as action games, first and foremost, thus eliminating games like Deus Ex and Morrowind from contention because those are really role-playing games at heart. We then presented our list, which included a nice mix of classic and contemporary games that we felt represented the genre best.

At the end of that feature, we gave you a chance to vote and make your voice heard. We read you loud and clear and tallied up thousands of votes. In the end you saw mostly eye to eye with us, but there were a couple of games that made the readers' choice list but didn't make it into the editors' list. Which ones were they? Read on to find out.

Remember, TenSpot lists are not presented in any particular order. Just because one game appears at the front or the end doesn't necessarily mean it got more votes or fewer votes than another game in the middle of the feature. First-person shooters are so popular and have become so refined that it's almost pointless to try to specify a difference between the top games; it should be enough to say that these are the best of the best, and they stand together in their greatness.

GoldenEye 007

"GoldenEye is the game that defined first-person shooters for me. It is also the game that led me to embrace console gaming wholeheartedly. In my opinion it is the greatest game of all time. No other game has combined such a deep and exciting single-player experience with such frantic, fun multiplayer. The controls were so tight and so intuitive (none of this confusing dual-control-stick stuff). There were so many weapons and levels (proximity mines!), and it was all wrapped up into such a cool package. There is in my mind no comparison here." - Nicholas Joy

"It's the best FPS of all time because it was a revolution to FPS gamers. It had multiplayer Bond-style action driving, a massive storyline, and great graphics." - Kjetil

Tank driving was one of GoldenEye's many highlights.

"Best single- and multiplayer experience ever. Maps and weapons were well tweaked. Missions were awesome. Difficulty levels (agent/special agent/007) were truly different and challenging. Although Perfect Dark had better multiplayer, I liked GoldenEye's story and missions better. GoldenEye's replayability is also amazing. The train level in 007 is still a great challenge." - Erik Bastianen

"This is the first game that introduced many console players to first-person shooters. How many nights have we all spent slapping Oddjob or Xenia or trying to be Trevelyan? It set the bar for all others and consequently it's the greatest of all time." - Jamil Lawrence

"Level design is what makes an FPS game. If an FPS has bad levels it's pretty much unplayable. GoldenEye has the best level design seen in any videogame to date. When you think back to it you can almost clearly remember the exact design of each level." - Dan

Perfect Dark

"Axzyr: Hi, my name is Axzyr and I have a problem.
All: Hi Axzyr!
Axzyr: I'm...I...I'm addicted. It started small, a couple of multiplayer battles with some friends. Then it got serious. Tournaments, parties, I couldn't help myself. Now I lost my wife, and my children don't see me anymore. Perfect Dark multiplayer has taken over my life. I don't know what to do. ::sob sob::" - Axzyr De Leon

"Perfect Dark is the best single-player FPS of all time because the AI was absolutely phenomenal. Each enemy you encountered probably had five to 10 different routines and attack strategies at its disposal. If you encountered three baddies at the same time they would work together and pin you down. I recall the AI using an overlap technique where the closest baddie would lay down fire and the baddie in the rear would move up, all the while moving for cover and just generally being a pain in the butt. Playing Perfect Dark on the hardest setting offered 40-plus hours of gameplay. It deserves to stand right next to GoldenEye as one of the all-time greats!" - Steve Simoes

Perfect Dark innovated with four-player splitscreen action that included additional bots.

"The incredibly addicting singe-player mode had me losing sleep and nourishment for a long time. My best friend and I both became almost obsessed with the multiplayer action. As a precursor to Halo it offered a variety of multiplayer campaigns and some of the best weapons I have ever used in an FPS. And let us not forget the basic multiplayer mode. 100 words is not enough to describe my experiences and love of those classic matches. Whether shredding through MeatSims with double Phoenixes or going to war with four DarkSims to back me up, it was pure frustrating bliss. It may not have been the first, but it was the best." - Ken Pommerening

"For some reason it seems Perfect Dark is always forgotten when discussions about the best FPS games surface. Rare already had the best FPS in GoldenEye and then improved the graphics, the story, the weapons, the music, and the multiplayer with Perfect Dark. PD was also innovative with the co-op, counter-op, and multiplayer (four players plus eight sims), which is deeper than Halo's. GoldenEye paved the way for console FPS's, but PD perfected it." - Jack Pierce

"Rare's unofficial sequel decimated all competition on the console FPS market. Single-player was outstanding with a great story line and above-average AI. But all in all we know why we love this game. Deathmatch. Actually, one word within the deathmatch universe was the reason--bots. Allowing up to 12 players at a time on a console was nothing short of revolutionary. Another great thing was how you could customize these seemingly simple frag fairs. Bots could be set to do certain things (like the dreaded peace bot, which would take away your weapons), weapon rosters could be changed (and there were a lot of weapons), and you could even save your own unique character. Rare has done nothing greater than this masterpiece." - Nathanael Newby-Kew

Duke Nukem 3D

"What sets this game up for the crown of best first-person shooter is the main character. All first-person games involve the player being behind the viewpoint. DN3D let the player leave his trappings and be someone else for a while. Blondes do have more fun, and so did we playing Duke." - G. Menon

"It combined tried and tested game design methods with unique and original ideas in a way that made the playing experience novel, and added depth. Yet it was still familiar to every FPS player at that time. Half-Life did the same thing, but Duke 3D is superior and benefits from a more focused and original design. This makes Duke 3D the definitive classic-style shooter." - J. Nevin

Duke Nukem 3D oozed humor and personality.

"Duke 3D not only hooked me on first-person shooters but it also hooked me on deathmatch as a whole. With the best selection of weapons in a game as a whole and a built-in map editor the game hooked many of us in a way that no game will ever again. The map editor in itself was awesome; there is definitely no shortage of Dukematch maps out there, and any idiot with half a brain could build a level. Duke 3D brought personality, customizability, and a community of gamers together for the first time in gaming history." - John McDermott

"Every aspect of Duke 3D raised the bar to a level never seen by mortal eyes; the Build engine, though now obsolete, redefined how complex an FPS level could be, and Duke himself served as a template for all characters to come. He was cool, corny, and could kill you five times before you hit the ground. And the Bruce Campbell one-liners didn't hurt either." - Curt Pennington

"Duke Nukem is hands down the best. From the great and crazy weapons to the cool Duke accessories like the holoduke and laser tripwires to the jetpack, this game should be the top of any list. How is it that this game has so much and no other game has come even close to matching it? Nothing beats a properly planned trap like setting up a holoduke and waiting for the enemy to come and shoot at it only to realize it was the holoduke after you blow him to small pieces. Then you get to add the preset insult lines, my fav being "You're an inspiration for birth control." The game was truly great, and I still think that despite its extremely dated graphics it holds its own against modern shooters" - Jack


"Counter-Strike achieved what Unreal Tournament attempted to capitalize upon...being a gladiator in a virtual arena. The realism really isn't that great; the game is more about 'owning' your opponent and killing the entire opposing team, while relishing the fact that 10 people are screaming "HACKER!" - Luke

Because it never gets old.

"Why is this the best? CS is like a relationship; tough and sometimes smooth. But no matter how hard the road might get, it is worthwhile to continue on course because it's an experience with that special someone. That's the way CS is for me; a relationship with its ups and downs. No matter how hard things get I still will love CS like I would a soul mate. Never in my entire history has there been a game that has consumed so much of my time. I still come back to the game even after swearing to myself that I would never play the game ever again. Almost like getting in a serious fight with a loved one and swearing to never speak to that person again I found myself apologizing and forgiving this game time after time. CS has the most perfect blend between fragging and tactics. It's like mixing Rainbow Six and Quake together--an arcade touch to a realistic tactical shooter. Even though the game is very tough on newcomers, it rewards a skilled player unlike any other FPS out to date. I remember when I first started playing CS; I couldn't get a kill to save my life. But I quickly learned how to control the recoil of every weapon, even the heavy recoil of the AK47. The level design of every map was soon burned into my brain like the branding on a cow. I could even pinpoint the positions of my enemies before I had a visual on their location. CS became second nature to me and that's when I knew that I was an addict. I still play CS even today, years after I first started, and it's the only game that I can't put down. I might cheat on it like an un-loyal husband with other games, but CS is where my heart belongs and nothing can change that." - Ryan Looney

"No other game could stand the test of time even half as good as Counter-Strike. Who hasn't played for hours, days, weeks, or maybe months on the many maps? Which game has more custom maps than CS? Which you can play with others as the community is very big? CS may look old-fashioned now but remains the best FPS I've ever played." -Rudi Dewilde

"Two words: head shot." - Andrew

"Counter-Strike illustrates how great gameplay can outlast even new games that have brilliant graphics. Counter-Strike is by today's standards an old game, but still gets an astounding amount of play even though the graphics are much less than snazzy. Another aspect which is commendable about CS is that it began as a multiplayer mod and became the ultimate "rags to riches" story. I still play CS and I will never stop. (except for maybe CS 2)" - Clay


"I haven't played that many shooters, but I have played most of the classics, and Halo was certainly the most enjoyable. It really just comes down to the good graphics, the epic story, and the pure fun of battling skilled opponents (or just blasting away at the fungus zombies). There were times that I wished that I could carry just one more gun at a time but that's the beauty of it. The two guns limit would be much less enjoyable in any other game, but in Halo each weapon was strong and fun to use. Certain situations could make the pistol better than a plasma rifle." - Oskar Ståhl

"Halo is simply the best. It combines all the elements of a good shooter. It has superb graphics, a realistic frame rate, excellent AI, and vehicles...we all love the warthog. No other shooter in my humble opinion has the overall package." - Hitek

Warthogs. Enough said.

"Halo is a great game. This is evident in the amount of attention the game still receives as we close in on the game's three-year anniversary. But what elevates Halo above the rest of the pack is what it did for the console FPS subgenre. Console gamers have always gotten the short end of the stick where FPS games were concerned. With only one really great FPS to the console side of things (GoldenEye), Halo came on the scene and made console FPS games a legitimate subgenre. PC gamers had always had the better control, the better graphics, and the better multiplayer. Then along came Halo. This game has inspired PC-style LAN parties, two tunneling software packs for allowing online play without XBL, and uncountable hours of players fragging one another in a variety of great game types. Good games come along reasonably often. Great games come along less often but with a reasonable amount of consistency. But the truly revolutionary titles like Halo are few and far between. This is what elevates Halo into the top spot of the FPS genre. Despite not doing anything terribly original it managed to take so many standard conventions of FPS games and perfect them that it easily deserves the title of best FPS game of all time." - Paul Dozier

"Halo may not have been the first to create all the things that are good in an FPS, but it's my opinion that it does these things better than anything else. Plus it pushed FPS's further along the evolutionary line with additions like actual "useful/fun" vehicles, plus melee and grenade attacks. The story and characters in Halo are great and actually enjoyable/likeable. You want to know about every one of them and the world they belong to, and this goes beyond what you see in the game. But for me most of all why Halo beats out any other FPS (plus any other game for that matter) is its style. The look, the art, and the design of Halo from the characters to the vehicles to the weapons to the environments simply kill anything else out there. This game just looks too damn awesome." - Alex Kiranov

"Because it combined so many great concepts and added a number of original touches along the way. And everything just feels...right in Halo. The AI still hasn't been bested, the environments are beautiful, the guns awesome, the physics and vehicles are spot-on. You feel like the Master Chief and the story has you playing long into the night, yet every time you play it, it's a different experience thanks to a superb AI. It's so much more than the sum of its parts--a wonderful game." - Andreas Bøttger


"Half-Life was one of the first attempts at creating a seamless gaming experience. The level design was awe inspiring but believable; you actually felt like you were making your way through a complex, and each level brought new challenges. Most of all the enemies were balanced, original, and fun along with the weapons." - Bill

"Half-Life has the guts and the glory. Guts because it dares to go for 100 percent persistent first-person immersion; glory because it thereby manages to draw the player into its space and story like no other game before and arguably since, with a fantastic world design, and supremely atmospheric music and effects. The clever mix of real-world scenery and sci-fi fantasy, meshed well with a varied and inventive weapon arsenal; all these things and more are a very rich icing on the cake." - Patrick

Go on, Barney - you go first.

"Doom is like the godfather of FPS. Quake is the lean son that excelled in a different direction, but Half-Life is the greatest, a master that casts a huge shadow of exception over the entire genre. We just haven't seen a game since that has changed everything. I am amazed that many modern games with better graphics still can't capture the magic." - Chris

"I hate to be so cliche but nothing immersed me into a world more than the Black Mesa Lab. It wasn't the graphics or high-tech weapons, but the gameplay that made me want to play the game over and over again. Every twist every turn of every corner, and every headcrab that shot at my head from nowhere, drew me further and further into Half-Life's experience. FPS gaming no longer became a frantic frag fest à la Doom. I became fully immersed by what was going on around me (the world going to shambles by my own doing). I actually cared about the choices that I made in the game. Never before or since has that happened in an FPS." - Barry

"Half-Life is the best first-person shooter of all time for several reasons. First of all it doesn't remove the player from the experience at all (aside from the very brief loading times), and it has AI that is still unrivaled even in today's market. Also there has not been a single FPS that has been made since that hasn't in some way taken a leaf from HL's book. Though it all started with Quake, nothing has been able to top Half-Life since '98." -Noble McCredy


"You don't know the meaning of 'l33t' or '0wned' without having played Tribes. Watch a competitive match demo of any of the top teams (5150 Imperial Elite, S3 Team Fusion, or Pissed Off Ewoks) and see for yourself. You will understand why this is the best game ever, hands down. Tribes is the granddaddy of team-based multiplayer games, and the closest thing to a cybersport. Some of the other games listed pale in comparison to this game, and I laugh at you all for calling yourselves gamers." - Ara Kevonian

Today's vehicle-based games all owe a little something to Tribes.

"The Tribes franchise clearly holds the best FPS titles of all time. What they lacked in popularity they gained in required skill level and dedication to the game. Working on routes and setting up spam timing attacks were the order of the day, not just your basic "cluster around the noobies with your rocket launcher" stuff. The game's dynamics with offense and defense, armor types, and weapons give Tribes a limit to how good you can be, based solely on the player. There's always room for improvement." - Astro-Lorf

"Tribes found the perfect balance between teamwork and a demand for personal skill. Constant developer support turned it into one of the most exciting games to play whether public or in a private ladder match. This combined with a fantastic community allowed the unique jetpack-toting game to become possibly the best and most innovative FPS of all time." - Cuthbert

"Tribes was the precursor to nearly all new outdoor games. BF1942, UT2k4, and even Halo all owe their success to the innovations in the Tribes franchise. It was one of the first (and definitely most popular) games to offer vehicles vast outdoor environments and fully three-dimensional combat." - Aaron Westman


"For me it was the first to have superb online multiplayer capabilities. It was responsible for establishing a faithful online gaming community and introduced the concept of clans and organized competitive teamplay. I also spent the better part of college playing Quake!" - Jose

DM4 - one of the all-time classic deathmatch maps.

"The original Quake was like the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's album: It isn't the best concept and experimental album of all time but paved the way for so much of today's music. Quake created online gaming as it is today. The title gave rise to clans, tournaments, ladders, and leagues. QuakeWorld leagues are still played today. Other titles may do online FPS better, but none of them created a genre." - Marc "ionized" Dukes

"Packed with action! I don't want realism. I want lots of rockets that fire at once without delay! This game has it all! Rocket jumping, bunny jumping, rockets so fast that you could get the opponent airborne and keep him in the air by shooting rockets at his feet! And there's the lightning gun...a mean weapon but fair in the way that you have a range limit (not like the railgun, which is lame). The game might not be pretty anymore, but it has the best gameplay ever! Forget reality wannabes...if you want reality go outside! Quake is a whole different world." - Thomas Olsen

"It's all about the rockets, baby. The only true FPS that used the baddest, kickass rocket formula to the greatest extent. Rocket speed was just right. Newbies can't dodge them, but expert players dance with them. Rocket damage was the right amount, making dodging the rockets o' death imperative. Lastly, the sound was awesome--it goes Ttttgsh! Tttgsh! Quake is the best" - Elbert

"Quad damage." - Jasper


"This is the one that started it all--the action, the multiplayer, the tangible fear. All FPSs that have followed Doom have on some level all been derivative. And the original still stands on its own merits, dated graphics and all. There has yet to be a game which has surpassed Doom in balance of gameplay, and there has never been another game to make me jump in my seat and scream the way I would when surprised by a rocket bursting from behind me in deathmatch play." - Matt Williams

It's just you and your boomstick.

"Doom introduced completely frightening environments, brilliant level design/graphics/sound and revolutionary multiplayer *.wads to expand gameplay tremendously. Doom in one game did more for a genre than a year's worth of games typically do. It's the definition of "classic." Most of the games on this list simply couldn't have happened without Doom." - Tom Rush

"Because it cost me a year of education. While I should have been studying during my civil drafting course me and my classmates had the entire Computer Aided Design and Drafting dept. set up for network Doom. My two-year course became three, but what a fun year I had." -Robert Howell

"The one that started it all. It was the first FPS I ever played and it had me hooked. I remember buying the shareware version for like $5 and then spending hours trying to get our 10-base-2 network running to play Doom on a LAN. Not to mention the time we played over null modem. Although there are some more advanced games on here with better story, Doom is the game that not only got me into gaming but also into PC hardware and upgrading. Overclocking a 386DX-25 to play a few frames faster. Oh yeah!" - Aaron Hale

"After spending my first semester of college playing Doom I started to dream in pixels. Honestly I had a dream with fireball-spitting demons chasing me up a pixelated stairway...Blew their hell-spawn arses away" - Emmett Merwin

Unreal Tournament

"This is the greatest FPS ever because there is more skill involved in this FPS than all of the others in your list. This is because of things such as dodging and timing. There is also a hell of a lot of strategy involved in this game because you have to try to think where the other player (or players) are. If you have an idea to where they are on the map (which are excellent as well) you just fire a shock combo. Another reason why I think that Unreal Tournament is the greatest FPS of all time is that it is the only game that I know of that you actually get addicted to and you actually enjoy training to become a better player." -Matthew Taylor

Shock combos were an interesting innovation.

"While Unreal Tournament didn't invent the multiplayer FPS genre, it arguably refined it to a level that could be enjoyed by the masses. Never before UT had it been so easy to load up a game, find a server, and frag away. And for the Internet deprived, all it took was a few mouse clicks to add some bots and enjoy 10 minutes of intense offline action before work or school. The intuitive interface, clever announcer voices, and gorgeous graphics were icing on the cake. This was the game that brought deathmatch out of college dormitories and into the suburbs." - Scott Fehringer

"Unreal Tournament, released in the shadows of the long-awaited Quake III, took the gaming scene by surprise. Featuring amazing visuals, serious online play, and stable net code, and a very entertaining training and single-player mode, I played this one for a very long time--possibly longer than any game I can remember. I still come back to the game every once in a while, and it remains one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences around. This is easily one of the greatest FPSs if not games of all time." - Ramzi

"Up until I tried UT I hadn't really played many FPS games other than Rainbow Six and the old ones like Doom--and then I'm suddenly thrown into the single most intense gaming experience I'd yet had! The frantic gameplay (not uncontrollable like Quake III), imaginative weapons, and fantastic weapons all combined to make the best FPS ever." - Tom Hammond

"Classic Unreal Tournament tops my list of best FPS's simply because of the great memories it creates. Remember how it felt to stand atop the tower in CTF-Face and hear an unending symphony of 'Head Shot' and 'Monster Kill?' Or the feeling you got when you finally mastered the flak cannon and fragged the opposition for hours on end until your friends kicked you out of the LAN party?" - Christopher White

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