Third-person shooter

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Third-person shooter (TPS) is a subgenre of 3D shooter games in which the player character is visible on-screen during gaming, and the gameplay consists primarily of shooting.

3D computer graphics graphics that use a three-dimensional representation of geometric data

3D computer graphics or three-dimensional computer graphics, are graphics that use a three-dimensional representation of geometric data that is stored in the computer for the purposes of performing calculations and rendering 2D images. Such images may be stored for viewing later or displayed in real-time.

Player character fictional character in a role-playing or video game that can be played or controlled by a real-world person

A player character is a fictional character in a role-playing game or video game whose actions are directly controlled by a player of the game rather than the rules of the game. The characters that are not controlled by a player are called non-player characters (NPCs). The actions of non-player characters are typically handled by the game itself in video games, or according to rules followed by a gamemaster refereeing tabletop role-playing games. The player character functions as a fictional, alternate body for the player controlling the character.

Gameplay is the specific way in which players interact with a game, and in particular with video games. Gameplay is the pattern defined through the game rules, connection between player and the game, challenges and overcoming them, plot and player's connection with it. Video game gameplay is distinct from graphics and audio elements.



An illustration of a protagonist whom a player controls and a tracking camera just behind, slightly above, and slightly facing down towards that character. Number-person views.png
An illustration of a protagonist whom a player controls and a tracking camera just behind, slightly above, and slightly facing down towards that character.

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]

Avatar (computing) graphical representation of the user or the users alter ego or character

In computing, an avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user's alter ego or character. An icon or figure representing a particular person in a video game, Internet forum, etc. It may take either a three-dimensional form, as in games or virtual worlds, or a two-dimensional form as an icon in Internet forums and other online communities. Avatar images have also been referred to as "picons" in the past, though the usage of this term is uncommon now. It can also refer to a text construct found on early systems such as MUDs. The term "avatar" can also refer to the personality connected with the screen name, or handle, of an Internet user.


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.

First-person shooter Action video game genre

First-person shooter (FPS) is a video game genre centered around gun and other weapon-based combat in a first-person perspective; that is, the player experiences the action through the eyes of the protagonist. The genre shares common traits with other shooter games, which in turn makes it fall under the heading action game. Since the genre's inception, advanced 3D and pseudo-3D graphics have challenged hardware development, and multiplayer gaming has been integral.

Beat 'em up is a video game genre featuring hand-to-hand combat between the protagonist and an improbably large number of opponents. Traditional beat 'em ups take place in scrolling, two-dimensional (2D) levels, though some later games feature more open three-dimensional (3D) environments with yet larger numbers of enemies. These games are noted for their simple gameplay, a source of both critical acclaim and derision. Two-player cooperative gameplay and multiple player characters are also hallmarks of the genre. Most of these games take place in urban settings and feature crime-fighting and revenge-based plots, though some games may employ historical, science fiction or fantasy themes.

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]

Over the shoulder shot

In film or video, an over the shoulder shot is a shot of someone or something taken from the perspective or camera angle from the shoulder of another person. The back of the shoulder and head of this person is used to frame the image of whatever the camera is pointing toward. This type of shot is very common when two characters are having a discussion and will usually follow an establishing shot which helps the audience place the characters in their setting. It is an example of a camera angle.

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]

Cover (military) physical protection from attack

In military combat, cover is anything which is capable of physically protecting an individual from enemy fire. This differentiates it from the similar concept of concealment, in that an object or area of concealment only affords the benefit of stealth, not actual protection from small arms fire or artillery fragments. An example of "cover vs. concealment" would be sandbags vs. tall grass. Cover may be a naturally occurring feature, such as a rock or a tree stump, or it may be a constructed feature, such as a foxhole or a trench.

<i>Gears of War</i> series

Gears of War is a video game franchise created by Epic Games, developed and managed by The Coalition, and owned and published by Xbox Game Studios. The series focuses on the conflict between humanity, the subterranean reptilian hominids known as the Locust Horde, and their mutated counterparts, the Lambent and the Swarm. The franchise consists of five third-person shooter video games, which has also been supplemented by a comic book series and five novels.

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]


Star Fox: Assault features third-person combat with several types of firearms. Total kills are visible on the top right of the screen, as are enemies on a radar screen on the bottom right. StarFoxAssaultScreenshot.JPG
Star Fox: Assault features third-person combat with several types of firearms. Total kills are visible on the top right of the screen, as are enemies on a radar screen on the bottom right.

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]

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

Related Research Articles

A tactical shooter is a subgenre of shooter games that cover both first-person shooters and third-person shooters genres. These games simulate realistic combat, thus making tactics and caution more important than quick reflexes in other action games. Tactical shooters involving military combat are sometimes known as "soldier sims".

A stealth game is a type of video game in which the player primarily uses stealth to avoid or overcome antagonists. Games in the genre typically allow the player to remain undetected by hiding, sneaking, or using disguises. Some games allow the player to choose between a stealthy approach or directly attacking antagonists, but rewarding the player for greater use of stealth. The genre has employed espionage, counter-terrorism, and rogue themes, with protagonists who are special forces operatives, spies, thieves, ninjas, or assassins. Some games have also combined stealth elements with other genres, such as first-person shooters and platformers.

Shoot 'em up is a subgenre of video games within the shooter subgenre in the action genre. There is no consensus as to which design elements compose a shoot 'em up. Some restrict the definition to games featuring spacecraft and certain types of character movement; others allow a broader definition including characters on foot and a variety of perspectives.

Survival horror is a subgenre of video games inspired by horror fiction that focuses on survival of the character as the game tries to frighten players with either horror graphics or scary ambience. Although combat can be part of the gameplay, the player is made to feel less in control than in typical action games through limited ammunition, health, speed and vision, or through various obstructions of the player's interaction with the game mechanics. The player is also challenged to find items that unlock the path to new areas and solve puzzles to proceed in the game. Games make use of strong horror themes, like dark maze-like environments and unexpected attacks from enemies.

An action game is a video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time. The genre includes a large variety of sub-genres, such as fighting games, beat 'em ups, shooter games and platform games. Some multiplayer online battle arena and real-time strategy games are also considered action games.

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Action-adventure is a video game genre that combine core elements from both the action game and adventure game genres.

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<i>Xybots</i> 1987 video game

Xybots is a 1987 third-person shooter arcade game by Atari Games. In Xybots, up to two players control "Major Rock Hardy" and "Captain Ace Gunn", who must travel through a 3D maze and fight against a series of robots known as the Xybots whose mission is to destroy all mankind. The game features a split screen display showing the gameplay on the bottom half of the screen and information on player status and the current level on the top half. Designed by Ed Logg, it was originally conceived as a sequel to his previous title, Gauntlet. The game was well received, with reviewers lauding the game's various features, particularly the cooperative multiplayer aspect. Despite this, it was met with limited financial success, which has been attributed to its unique control scheme that involves rotating the joystick to turn the player character.

<i>Syphon Filter</i> (video game) Video game

Syphon Filter is a third-person shooter stealth video game developed by Eidetic and published by 989 Studios for PlayStation. It is the first game in the Syphon Filter series, the plot centres on special agents Gabriel "Gabe" Logan and Lian Xing who are tasked by the United States government to apprehend an international terrorist from Germany.

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Light gun shooter, also called light gun game or simply gun game, is a shooter video game genre in which the primary design element is aiming and shooting with a gun-shaped controller. Light gun shooters revolve around the protagonist shooting targets, either antagonists or inanimate objects. Light gun shooters generally feature action or horror themes and some may employ a humorous, parodic treatment of these conventions. These games typically feature "on-rails" movement, which gives the player control only over aiming; the protagonist's other movements are determined by the game. Games featuring this device are sometimes termed "rail shooters", though this term is also applied to games of other genres in which "on-rails" movement is a feature. Some, particularly later, games give the player greater control over movement and in still others the protagonist does not move at all.

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A cover system is a video game gameplay mechanic that allows a virtual avatar to hide from and avoid dangers, usually in a three-dimensional world. This method is a digital adaptation of the real-life military tactic of taking cover behind obstacles, for purposes of attaining protection from enemy ranged or area effect attacks, such as gunfire or explosions.


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