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Unfortunately, there are plenty of shooters that break these stereotypes that just get buried underneath the dross that we have come to expect from the annual Call of Duty releases. These are games that do something absolutely new and different with the genre, but will never be as successful as a Halo or Gears of War. I thought I'd outline a few examples of some older games that break the mold of the generic shooter, and I hope that in the future we will see more games that are as pleasantly surprising as these titles are. So please, game developers, steal some ideas from these games.
Borderlands: LootCertainly one of the more original titles to emerge from 2009's holiday rush, Borderlands expertly blended a Diablo-esque loot system normally found in action RPGs with a solid foundation in shooter action. Headshotting a midget and watching his skeleton dissolve in acid while blue and green shiny guns fly out of his torso is an endlessly entertainingly experience.
Combined with a killer co-op experience and an over-the-top, dark sense of humor, (and the promise of a sequel), Borderlands created a new hybrid of game genres that has yet to be exceeded.
Shattered Horizon: Three-Dimensional CombatAnother indie game that was lost in the dump truck of releases in fall 2009, Shattered Horizon took the tired concept of a sci-fi first-person shooter and turned it on its head.
Mirror's Edge: Color and MovementAt first glance, Mirror's Edge is a visually stunning game. The art aspect of this game is nuanced enough that I could write entire articles about it, but I'll keep it short for now. The game uses bright, hyper-realistic primary colors to draw interest to certain objects and areas, something that most artists know how to do instinctively.
Getting to your destination in Mirror's Edge is the core of the game experience. Vaulting, rolling, leaping, and wall-running from point A to point B are some of the most fulfilling experiences I've had in a game this generation. The fluidity of motion and the gut-wrenching acrobatic feats that Faith performs make sprinting from one kill to another in Call of Duty pale in comparison.