Third-person shooter


A third-person shooter is a game structured around shooting,[1] and in which the player can see the avatar on-screen in a third-person view.[1][2] Third-person shooter is a game where instead of seeing the games through the main character's eyes, you see the main character moving and shooting in the game and the game is specifically focused on shooting.[3]


It is a 3D genre, that has grown to prominence in recent years, especially on consoles. It combines the shooting elements of the first-person shooter with the jumping and climbing elements of puzzle-based games and brawlers. Third-person shooter games almost always incorporate an aim-assist feature, since aiming from a third-person camera is difficult. Most also have a first-person view, which allows precise shooting and looking around at environment features that are otherwise hidden from the default camera. In most cases, the player must stand still to use first-person view, but newer titles allow the player to play like a FPS; for example, Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath requires the player to shoot from first person, only allowing melee attacks in the chase camera views.

Relationship to first-person shooters

These games are closely related to first-person shooters,[4] which also tie the perspective of the player to an avatar,[5] but the two genres are distinct.[6] While the first-person perspective allows players to aim and shoot without their avatar blocking their view,[5] the third-person shooter shows the protagonist from an "over the shoulder shot" or "behind the back" perspective.[4][7] Thus, the third-person perspective allows the game designer to create a more strongly characterized avatar[5] and directs the player's attention as in watching a film. In contrast, a first-person perspective provides the player with greater immersion into the game universe.[8]

This difference in perspective also affects gameplay. Third-person shooters allow players to see the area surrounding the avatar more clearly.[5] This viewpoint facilitates more interaction between the character and their surrounding environment, such as the use of tactical cover in Gears of War,[9] or navigating tight quarters.[10] As such, the third-person perspective is better for interacting with objects in the game world, such as jumping on platforms, engaging in close combat, or driving a vehicle. However, the third-person perspective can interfere with tasks that require fine aiming.[11]

Third-person shooters sometimes compensate for their distinct perspective by designing larger, more spacious environments than first-person shooters.[12]

The boundaries between third-person and first-person shooters are not always clear. For example, many third-person shooters allow the player to use a first-person viewpoint for challenges that require precise aiming.[5] The first-person shooter Halo: Combat Evolved was actually designed as a third-person shooter, but added a first-person perspective to improve the interface for aiming and shooting.[13] The game switches to a third-person viewpoint when the avatar is piloting a vehicle,[5] and this combination of first-person for aiming and third-person for driving has since been used in other games.[14] Metroid Prime is another first-person shooter that switches to a third-person perspective when rolling around the environment using the morph ball.[15] Alexander R. Galloway writes that the "real-time, over-the-shoulder tracking shots of Gus Van Sant's Elephant evoke third-person shooter games like Max Payne, a close cousin of the FPS".[16]


2D third-person shooters have existed since the earliest days of video games,[17] dating back to Spacewar! (1962);[17] third-person perspective shooting is also featured in its clones, Galaxy Game (1971) and Computer Space (1971).[18] Arcade shooters with a 3D third-person perspective include Nintendo's Radar Scope (1979),[19] Atari's Tempest (1981),[20] Nihon Bussan's Tube Panic (1983),[21] Sega's Space Harrier (1985),[22] Atari's Xybots (1987),[23] and Square's 3-D WorldRunner (1987).[24] and JJ (1987)[25] Third-person shooters for home computers include Dan Gorlin's Airheart (1986)[26] and Paul Norman's Beyond Forbidden Forest (1986).[27]

Konami's run & gun shooter Contra (1987) featured several third-person shooter levels where the player trudges through indoor enemy bases.[28] Konami's Devastators (1988)[29] is a third-person shooter[30] where, rather than moving forward automatically, the player walks forward by holding the Up direction, as the background slowly scales toward the screen. Devastators also featured various obstacles that could be used to take cover from enemy fire,[29] as well as two-player cooperative gameplay.[31] A similar shooter released that same year was Cabal (1988),[32] which inspired many of its own "Cabal clones," such as NAM-1975 (1990) and Wild Guns (1994).[33] Kurt Kalata of Hardcore Gaming 101 cites Sega's Last Survivor (1988), released for arcades and then ported to the FM Towns and FM Towns Marty, featuring eight-player deathmatch. He notes that it has a perspective and split-screen similar to Xybots, but with entirely different gameplay and controls.[34] In 1993, Namco released a two-player competitive 3D third-person shooter vehicle combat game, Cyber Sled.[35] A year later, Elite Systems Ltd. released Virtuoso on the 3DO. This was an early example of a home console third-person shooter which featured a human protagonist on-foot, as opposed to controlling a vehicle, and made use of polygonal 3D graphics along with sprites in a 3D environment.[36] Fade to Black (1995) was also a fully 3D third-person shooter released around this time, but as well as featuring an on-foot protagonist rather than a vehicle, utilised entirely polygonal 3D graphics.[37]

Tomb Raider (1996) by Eidos Interactive (now Square Enix Europe) is claimed by some commentators as a third-person shooter,[2][4][38][39][40] and Jonathan S. Harbour of the University of Advancing Technology argues that it's "largely responsible for the popularity of this genre".[4] Other commentators have considered it influential on later third person shooters such as BloodRayne (2002),[38] The Contra Adventure (1998),[41] MDK (1997),[42] Duke Nukem: Time To Kill (1998),[43] Burning Rangers (1998),[44] and Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2 (2000).[40] The game eschewed the popular first person perspective of games such as Doom, instead making use of "third person" viewpoints, wide 3D environments and a control system inspired by Prince of Persia.[7][45] Mega Man Legends (1997) by Capcom is another early 3D third person shooter which took a different approach to the genre, mixing this with a role-playing game influence. Around the same time, Deathtrap Dungeon (1998) by Eidos Interactive and MediEvil (1998) by SCE Cambridge Studio (then Millennium Interactive) were some of the first 3D games in the genre to include third person shooter influences in a fantasy setting, with fictional or alternative weapons achieving the same effect as a gun for the player. Die Hard Trilogy (1998) by Fox Interactive was met with critical acclaim at the time of its release,[46][47] and the section of the game based around the first Die Hard film in the trilogy was another early take on a 3D third person shooter.

Syphon Filter (1999) by Eidetic (now SCE Bend Studio) combined the perspective of Tomb Raider with action elements of games such as GoldenEye 007 (1997) and Metal Gear Solid (1998).[48] Richard Rouse III wrote in GamaSutra that the game was the most popular third person shooter for the PlayStation.[49] The Nintendo 64 version of Army Men: Sarge's Heroes by The 3DO Company was released the same year as Syphon Filter, and is an early example of a popular third person shooter which introduced the player being allowed to control aiming of their weapon themselves by means of two control sticks. In Tomb Raider and Syphon Filter, on the other hand, the protagonists automatically aimed at antagonists.[7][49] Forcing or allowing the player to control aiming themselves, either using control sticks or a mouse, would go on to become commonplace in later games in the genre, such as Oni (2001), Max Payne (2001) and SOCOM (2002).[49] Max Payne (2001) was acclaimed as a superlative third person shooter, inspired by Hong Kong action cinema.[50] Several platform games with third-person shooter elements were also released during that time; examples included Ratchet & Clank and most of the games in the Jak and Daxter series, both of which were designed for younger audiences than most third-person shooters.

Resident Evil 4 (2005) was influential in helping to redefine the third-person shooter genre,[51] with its use of "over the shoulder" offset camera angles, where the camera is placed directly over the right shoulder and therefore doesn't obscure the action.[52] An important gameplay mechanic that helped revolutionize third-person shooters in the past decade was the cover system. Koei's WinBack (1999)[53] has a cover system. Kill Switch (2003) features the cover system as its core game mechanic,[54] along with a blind fire mechanic.[55] Gears of War (2006) employed tactical elements such as taking cover,[56] influenced by Kill Switch,[57] using off-center viewpoints inspired by Resident Evil 4. The game also employed grittier themes than other titles and used a unique feature which rewarded the player for correctly reloading weapons.[58] Gears of War, as well as games such as Army of Two (2008), place a greater emphasis on two player cooperative play,[59] as does Resident Evil 5 (2009).[60][61] As of 2009, the third-person shooter genre has a large audience outside Japan, particularly in North America.[62] Vanquish (2010) by PlatinumGames featured a gameplay style reminiscent of bullet hell shooters, with bullets and missiles coming from all directions.[63]

See also


  1. Nate Garrelts, The Meaning and Culture of Grand Theft Auto: critical essays (McFarland, 2006), 159.
  2. Anne-Marie Schleiner, "Does Lara Croft Wear Fake Polygons? Gender and Gender-Role Subversion in Computer Adventure Games" Leonardo Journal, Vol. 34, No. 3 (2001): 222.
  3. "Know Your Genres: Third-Person Shooters - Xbox Wire". Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  4. Jonathan S. Harbour, Microsoft Visual Basic game programming with DirectX 2002
  5. Rollings, Andrew; Ernest Adams (2006). Fundamentals of Game Design. Prentice Hall.
  6. Geddes, Ryan, Beyond Gears of War 2, IGN, Sept 30, 2008, Accessed Apr 2, 2009
  7. Blache, Fabian & Fielder, Lauren, History of Tomb Raider Archived 2012-10-11 at the Wayback Machine, GameSpot, Accessed Apr 1, 2009
  8. Hutcheon, Linda, A Theory of Adaptation (CRC Press, 2006), pp. 55-56
  9. Levi Buchanan (2006-11-10). "'Gears of War' is next-gen at its best". NBC News. Retrieved 2009-03-02.
  10. Ryan Donald (2002-08-27). "SOCOM: US Navy Seals (PlayStation 2)". CNET. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
  11. François Dominic Laramée (2002). Game Design Perspectives. Charles River Media. ISBN 9781584500902.
  12. Määttä, Aki, GDC 2002: Realistic Level Design in Max Payne, GamaSutra, May 8, 2002, Accessed Apr 6, 2009
  13. "Halo Move to First-Person Shooter Confirmed". Inside Mac Games. 2001-03-15. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
  14. Sal Accardo (2004-09-24). "Star Wars: Battlefront (PC)". GameSpy. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
  15. Louis Bedigian (2002-11-23). "Metroid Prime Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on 2009-06-04. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
  16. Alexander R. Galloway. Gaming: essays on algorithmic culture (U of Minnesota Press, 2006), 60.
  17. Jones, Steven E. (2008). The Meaning of Video Games: Gaming and Textual Strategies. Routledge. pp. 83–84. ISBN 9781135902186. Clearly this early third-person shooter [Spacewar] paved the way for the FPS proper. The rockets are drawn on the screen against a 2-D backdrop of stars.
  18. Voorhees, Gerald A.; Call, Joshua; Whitlock, Katie (2015). Guns, Grenades, and Grunts: First-Person Shooter Games. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781441191441. Some of the earliest video games, such as the mainframe game Spacewar! (1962) and commercial games based on it like Galaxy Game (1971) and Computer Space (1971) also involved shooting . . . [T]hese games featured shooting from a third-person perspective.
  19. Stanton, Rich (2015). A Brief History Of Video Games: From Atari to Xbox One. Little, Brown Book Group, Hachette Book Group. p. 114. ISBN 9781472118813. Radar Scope owed much to the popularity of Space Invaders and Galaxian, but nevertheless felt original thanks to its 3D third-person perspective.
  20. Therrien, Carl (Dec 2015). "Inspecting Video Game Historiography Through Critical Lens: Etymology of the First-Person Shooter Genre". Game Studies. 15 (2). Retrieved October 16, 2017. [Tempest] corresponds to a third-person shooter, by contemporary standards.
  21. Tube Panic at AllGame
  22. "Top 10 Sega Franchises That Deserve Platinum Treatment -". 10 October 2010. Archived from the original on 10 October 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2018.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  23. Xybots at AllGame
  24. 3-D WorldRunner at AllGame
  25. JJ: Tobidase Daisakusen Part II at AllGame
  26. Airheart at AllGame
  27. Beyond Forbidden Forest at AllGame
  28. Game of The Week: Contra, GameSpy
  29. Kurt Kalata, Konami Run 'n Guns, Hardcore Gaming 101
  30. Devastators at AllGame
  31. Devastators at the Killer List of Videogames
  32. "Hardcore Gaming 101: Cabal / Blood Bros". Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  33. "Wild Guns". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  34. "Hardcore Gaming 101: Last Survivor". Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  35. Cyber Sled at AllGame
  36. "Virtuoso for 3DO (1994)". MobyGames. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  37. Dominguez, James. "Deadlight, an unsatisfying flashback". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved August 22, 2012. Even Flashback's own sequel, Fade to Black, was a fully 3D third-person shooter.
  38. Peter Cohen, "Bring out the big guns.(The Game Room)", MacWorld, Sept 1 2003
  39. Dickey, Christopher ; Scanlan, Marc ; Lee, B. J. "Let the Games Begin.(World Cyber Games 2001)", Newsweek International, Dec 24 2001
  40. "REVIEWS: PC". Computer and Video Games. August 13, 2001. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
  41. Bobba Fatt, The Contra Adventure, GamePro, Jan 09, 2004, Accessed Aug 4, 2009
  42. Sengstack, Jeff (6 May 1997). "MDK Review". Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  43. "Duke Nukem: Time to Kill (1998) PlayStation review - MobyGames". MobyGames. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  44. "Burning Rangers Review". 21 August 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  45. Poole, Steven (2000). Trigger Happy. New York: Arcade Publishing. p. 30. ISBN 1-55970-539-6.
  46. Sterbakov, Hugh (1 December 1996). "Die Hard Trilogy Review". Retrieved 25 March 2018.
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  49. Rouse, Richard, Postmortem: The Game Design of Surreal's The Suffering, GamaSutra, June 9, 2004, Accessed Apr 1, 2009
  50. Kasavin, Greg, Max Payne Review Archived 2012-07-16 at, GameSpot, Dec 11, 2001, Accessed Apr 2, 2009
  51. Daniel Kaszor (December 30, 2009). "Decade in Review: The most influential video games since Y2K". The National Post. Archived from the original on June 9, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-24.
  52. Dobson, Jason, Post-GDC: Cliff Bleszinski Says Iteration Won Gears of War, Gamasutra, Mar 12, 2007, Accessed Apr 2, 2009
  53. Brian Ashcraft, How Cover Shaped Gaming's Last Decade, Kotaku
  54. Why Vanquish will make Gears Of War obsolete, Play
  55. "Articles". IGN. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  56. Marc Saltzman, "Microsoft turns out gorgeous, gory shooter with 'Gears of War'," USA Today (11/30/2006).
  57. "GameSpot - GDC 07: Cliffy B disassembles Gears, mentions sequel". Retrieved 2007-07-05.
  58. Adams, Ernest, The Designer's Notebook: Ten Years Of Great Games, GamaSutra, Nov 26, 2007, Accessed Apr 6, 2009
  59. Ocampo, Jason, Lock and Load: Upcoming Military Shooters of 2007, GameSpot, Aug 4, 2007, Accessed Apr 1, 2009
  60. Faylor, Chris & Breckon, Nick, Resident Evil 5 to Sport 2P Co-op, Cover System Archived 2008-05-26 at the Wayback Machine (May 22, 2008), Shacknews, Retrieved on May 22, 2008.
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  62. Nutt, Christian, That Tecmo Flavor: Kikuchi And Shibata On Surprising The Audience, GamaSutra, Jan 8, 2009, Accessed Apr 1, 2009
  63. Vanquish an intense sci-fi shooter, Toronto Sun
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