It’s hard to believe but Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is helping break sales records for the series once again. This is a franchise that seemingly can’t be beat year after year. The reviews are lower than expected but fans are still eating it up.


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Review scores and fan perspectives can be quite different. What is perceived to be the best in the series may not be true for many reasons. Time can age something that was once great and turn it into something more archaic. For first-person shooters, are there any franchises out there that peaked too early with momentous review scores? Plus, do they hold up to those high standards?

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8/8 BioShock

Promo art featuring characters in BioShock

BioShock is a great horror game that took players to new depths, literally and it has an amazing score of 96. The sequels are in the same Metacritic range and technically there are some aspects of them that they do better. For example, the second game allowed for dual-wielding between guns and psychic attacks and has an 88.

BioShock Infinite, the final game as of now, has a 94. The longer the series went on, the more refined the shooting mechanics became. Still, there’s nothing quite like the first in terms of its world-building and horror vibes that are still haunting to this day.

7/8 Dead Island

Promo art featuring characters in Dead Island

Dead Island is a first-person game but shooting is not the principal way players execute zombies. Players will probably bash more skulls in with machetes or oars than they will with bullets. The crafting system in the game isn’t as robust as some other action RPGs, but it did help create some unique weapons. Adding electricity to a melee weapon is one example.

Most games after this one got an 80 and didn’t do so well. The next best game was a retro spinoff called Dead Island: Retro Revenge and it has a 65. Maybe Dead Island 2 will improve the image of the series. The first game had its charm though especially when tackling it with friends online.

6/8 Dishonored

Fighting enemies in Dishonored

Dishonored is a game that was clearly inspired by BioShock and it got close to the score too with a 91. It can be played in a variety of ways from running amuck and shooting wildly to stealthily going through and picking off enemies quietly. The amount of replay value in the first game is staggering thanks to these choices.

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How players execute enemies can also affect the world by adding more rats to the city which is just one of the game’s many hidden secrets. The sequel, which got an 88, is good as well and fairs closely in reviews, but it wasn’t as much of a surprise as the original was.

5/8 Half-Life

Fighting enemies in Half-Life

Half-Life and its sequel are tied on Metacritic with a 96. Each game changed something for the gaming industry, making them both important on the grand scale of things. The sequel is a more refined concept of the original with better mechanics and bigger environments to explore.

However, the foundation that Half-Life created for future first-person shooters changed everything. Most games up to that point, shooter or otherwise, used cutscenes to tell stories. Half-Life used more environmental storytelling to help immerse players more into its wild sci-fi world.

4/8 Halo: Combat Evolved

Promo art featuring characters in Halo Combat Evolved

Halo: Combat Evolved is one of, if not the best, launch games for a console of all time with a score of 97. The next best game, its direct sequel, got a 95, and most games after that are around the 90s and 80s. Microsoft entered the console market with the Xbox which might not have done so well without the first Halo game and Master Chief as a mascot.

First-person shooters on consoles were fine up to that point but everything on PC was better. Halo helped refine the controls for shooters to make them feel more natural. It’s a game that is still fun to go back to thanks to the tight shooting gameplay whether players test out the original version or the remaster.

3/8 Medal Of Honor

Fighting enemies in Medal Of Honor

Medal of Honor was not a game changer like Halo on consoles. Most might think the PS2 game, Medal of Honor Frontline, is where the series peaked but that has an 88 compared to the orignal’s score of 92. That might be true for fans but according to Metacritic, this is still the best entry in the series.

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While that sequel, and the others, were more bombastic war games, the original had a great variety of missions to make it stand out. For example, there were stealth missions to break up the heavy gunplay. It’s not as easy to play today thanks to some archaic controls but that’s evolution.

2/8 Overwatch

Tracer in Overwatch

There is a wide gap between Overwatch’s 91 and the sequel which has a 79. The launch of the new game has not gone well due to some poor server issues on top of several other things. To call it a mess would be an understatement even though it did improve some things over the original.

It’s more of the same which is good, but players would have probably preferred more updates to the original rather than get a full-blown sequel. With time perhaps the sequel will get better scores, but for now, the first Overwatch game is at its peak.

1/8 Perfect Dark

Sneaking around in Perfect Dark

The Perfect Dark series also has a wide gap between the Nintendo 64 original’s 97 and its Xbox 360 sequel’s 81. This sequel is not a bad shooter by any means. It was fine for what it was around the launch of the console with some good graphics and a fun campaign.

However, it can’t hold a candle to its predecessor nor can it stand toe to toe with Microsoft’s bigger shooter franchise, Halo. It’ll be interesting to see if the series can do better with the third game whenever that comes out but it’s hard to imagine it can.

MORE: Best Retro-Inspired FPS Games Ranked, According To Metacritic

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