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Share Your Old School FPS Memories and Win a Copy of Wrack

You never forget your first.

It seems like there’s a fairly big movement to get back to the roots of first person shooters lately, with games like Toxikk, Xibalba, and even the Doom franchise returning to the mechanics and sensibilities that started it all. Wrack began this journey six long years ago and has almost reached its full release. If you have great memories of those early “Doom clone” days, share one with us in the comments and you can win a copy of Wrack on Steam! To get things started, some of the staff has shared their own. Just add your memory from those early corridor-stomping days in the comments, no matter how brief, before August 19th at noon Eastern time and you’re entered to win one of five Steam codes for Wrack!* 


Launching Grenades in Team FortressMatt Snee

Back in the wild days of the ‘90s, there was no real internet except for services like AOL, Prodigy, Compuserve, and BBSs where you could download porn.  This was also before consoles could handle FPS games, of which there was only Doom really, so if you wanted to get your frag on, you went with a local area network -- usually only available at colleges and corporations.  This was where my mind was first blown by an FPS, playing at Del Tech, a community college in Delaware where I grew up.  One weekend my friends and I went down there, booted up Doom, and the rest of my life would never be the same.  It was amazing -- like nothing else I had ever experienced, and I'll never forget the thrill. 

As the internet improved, and the 90's grew up, we saw the release of Quake and Half-Life, which were soon blessed with online play; unheard of in those days.  Fragging online was a revelation, and I weaved through bullets and blasted opponents into gib upon gib.  But simple deathmatch, as amazing as it was, was nothing compared to the next step: Team Fortress. 

A lot of people forget this was originally a Quake mod, and I can still remember a darkly lit, gothic 2Fort map where people battled for the flag and kills.  Back then, we could rocket jump pretty easily onto the battlements, and there were grenades (the Heavy and Demoman had the best versions).  I imagine grenades were eventually cut due to excessive spamming when the game was reborn in its Half-Life-based incarnation. 

Half-Life allowed Team Fortress to be further refined, and its popularity and legend grew.  You could still rocket jump pretty well, but the classes and weapons we have today were further ironed out, and we also saw new game play modes like Assassination, where one team would try to protect a VIP, while the other tried to kill him.  It was great! 

Even though Team Fortress 2 eventually escaped its development Hell, I'll never forget those early days with the original mod, crouched underneath the stair in 2fort, waiting with my grenade launcher.


Hey, Joe! Where you Goin’ with that Gun in your Hand?Travis Hawks

Everything got completely screwed up when the school board approved “block scheduling” before my Junior year in high school. Instead of six subjects a day, we were shifting to eight classes every two days. What was tossed around as the benefit of this change is long forgotten to me, but the end result was that we had to suddenly pick two more classes to take each semester. The school panicked and created some of the sloppiest electives ever improvised by a teaching staff in the history of education. While I was registering for World Literature (to be with my girlfriend, of course) and Multimedia Technology, my friend, Joe, took a bigger risk and signed up for Computer Hardware and Repair, which turned out to be a weeks-long Doom II LAN party.

Were it not for Joe and that class, I wouldn’t have known about some demon-shooting game from the Wolfenstein 3D people. I was becoming farther and farther removed from video games of all kinds at that stage in my life (it’s that girlfriend thing again), so it was nice to hear about the latest. Every day, he’d tell me about how many “frags” he’d gotten and the amazing and violent weapons there were. It sounded intense and a little nuts that you could play against other people on different computers at the same time – the hell? His memorable stories about dark corridors filled with demons and classmates trying to shoot him even freaked me out a little and made me wonder if I would be able to even handle such a thing.

It was a few more years before I tried any version of Doom or Quake on my own, and it all felt pretty much the way I had imagined it. None of the actual games I played stick in my mind as well as Joe’s stories, though, which is a good reminder that the best parts of those early FPS days were the friends you played against and the stories you created and shared.


Mom was Coerced by James BondNick DiMola

It all started with GoldenEye 007; well, that’s not entirely true. It actually started with Wolfenstein 3D, but I only had a fleeting moment with the game before having it rapidly ejected from my SNES and swiftly returned to Funcoland once my mother realized what I had bought. I got a taste of the now common FPS and wanted more. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t get back to the genre until GoldenEye 007 released some years later on the N64. But there’s no question that it was worth the wait.

On Christmas Day, I unwrapped what would quickly become one of my most treasured games. My brothers and I popped it in our N64 and huddled around the tiny TV that was set up in their bedroom. Each with a controller in hand, we dove into the game’s multiplayer. It was incredible – running through the levels, discovering all the hidden passageways, planning the best routes for sneak-attacks and gun/ammo/armor collection. Oh, and of course, the mad dash for choosing OddJob to be a cheating bastard.

It didn’t take long before we were making up our own rules and turning on different cheats to make the experience more interesting. As time went on, my brothers eventually got bored with the game and I had conquered the single player mode in 00 Agent settings, but I just couldn’t shake my need for shooting things.

When I realized that the computer we had in the basement was more than just a Jazz Jackrabbit and Sim City 2000 machine, I found myself run-and-gunning with Doom, but the inability to mouse look was a real bummer. Thankfully our old home computer was replaced shortly thereafter and I found myself becoming highly vested in Unreal Tournament, Half Life and its active mod scene, and Quake III Arena – which took several acts of God to get working on the new, but still crappy computer. Ah, those were the good old days.

Zombies and Nazis: A Winning ComboJustin Matkowski

In the early ‘90s, my family didn’t own a PC, so my introduction to first person shooters came while exploring the claustrophobic halls of Wolfenstein 3D on my SNES. It was totally unlike any gaming experience I had up until that point, and I remember the tension of not knowing what lay beyond the next door or around the next corridor. FPS gaming was still in its infancy, and I'll never forget the sheer terror of opening a door only to find a hulking Aryan sporting a Gatling gun in each arm, and then slamming the door and hauling ass away from it like a true war hero.

Mixed in with my introduction to the frights of Wolfenstein 3D and first person shooters, I discovered Night of The Living Dead and the zombie apocalypse genre. The possibilities of player-immersion that were inherent to the FPS genre left me pining for a free-roaming epic in which the story of NOTLD never ended. I often daydreamed about an open-ended game where you traveled the country side, struggling for survival against the hordes of the undead. Interestingly enough, two decades later, I have received my wish with titles like DayZ and Sony's upcoming H1Z1.


*Steam codes only valid for U.S. accounts. Winners will be picked at random from comments that share an actual memory.




08/12/2014 at 05:20 PM

While not QUITE as old as the games the Staff has listed...I had awesome, awesome times with the 2-3 years I spent with Counter Strike 1.6.  The most adrenaline-fueled moments I've ever had in a FPS didn't involve guns...they all happened when an adversary would pull out his virtual K-BAR and scrape it up against a wall.  

In Counter Strike culture, this is a signal from your enemy, and it means one thing: Put Away Your Gun And Come At Me Like A Man.  

In GunGame mode, this was almost always met with honor, i.e. your opponent actually putting away his gun and whipping out that knife for a quick CQC kill contest.  

Nothing gets the blood pumping like this.

Super Step Contributing Writer

08/12/2014 at 07:09 PM

I've forgotten the name of it yet again, but I think technically my first FPS experience was with a PC game in which you were shooting viruses inside the body of a hospital patient in order to cure them. It had the maze of walls most 90s FPS games for PC did and every once in a while there'd be a 3D cutscene of an X-ray or something. 

I doubt I'll win this, but now I just really want to remember the title of that game. 

Otherwise, I guess the hunting portions of Oregon Trail may have been my first time. 

Nick DiMola Director

08/12/2014 at 09:29 PM

Holy crap, I had that game too! I don't remember what it was called either, but I remember walking around the hospital hallways and then jumping into surgeries and zapping viruses hidden in organs in the body.


08/12/2014 at 11:13 PM

My best times old-school wise were with Pain-Killer. IT had that frantic & fast shooting action with the awesomest weapons ever conceived.(Electric shuirken launcher!) The fact most of its' enemies and settings reminded me of Hell Raiser and Spawn helped too! 


08/13/2014 at 06:50 PM

I loved the wooden stake gun in Painkiller. As everyone knows I'm not much of an FPS guy but once in a while something comes along that amuses me for a little while/


08/13/2014 at 07:41 PM

Can't beat pinning enemies to the walls. lol.


08/13/2014 at 07:50 PM

I bought Black when it was on sale for a couple of bucks on GOG. For some reason I was able to play for a bit without getting motion sickness.

Blake Turner Staff Writer

08/13/2014 at 05:37 AM

Well, I mean I did just write a whole article lamenting the state of modern FPS and reminiscing of old, but in terms of actual nostalgia nothing can beat my first real FPS experience with Serious Sam.

 I was nine years of age when I bought a copy of the Australian version of PC gamer - because demos bitches! This issue in particular only had one demo and it was for Serious Sam. And damn, it was a big demo. I remember it showed an earlier level. It was more enclosed and similar to what we were used to. Then I jumped over to the other level, and my mind was blown.

 The level was HUGE! Like scary big for the time, and there were seemingly millions of enemies all coming for me at once. As a kid, I had nightmares about the screams of the kamikazes. I fucking hated those enemies. But me and my brother used to try and see if we could beat each others high scores on that level on hard. We never made it very far, but holy damn it was fun watching each other play and laughing our asses off and swearing in frustration.

 You just don't get moments of sheer tension like you did in that game. You know those moments where you barely dodge a kleer skeleton, blow it to bits with a double barrel shotgun then turn around and have 7 kamikazes all bearing down on you while you frantically switch to an automatic weapon and try and backpedal, sidestrafe, and shoot your way to safety.

 Ah... that game was awesome.


08/13/2014 at 02:47 PM

I just remember there weren't many  FPS games that used system link on systems like PS1 in '95, and so my friend and I hooked together a couple of PCs with Pentium 75 MHz processors (egads we're over 3 GHz now) to play Doom and Doom II. We played split screen on the consoles, but LAN was the way to go at the time.

Matt McLennan Staff Alumnus

08/13/2014 at 03:20 PM

As happy as I am to see Goldeneye 64 on this list, do you all want to know how disappointed I am not to see Perfect Dark on this list?

DAMN I DISAPPOINTED, but all sarcasm aside, Perfect Dark was my bonafide all time favorite FPS game. Even as giant as a monster it is, the N64 controller just felt perfect for FPS console games.

Nick DiMola Director

08/13/2014 at 05:04 PM

I thought about including it, but "I sat in my room for a whole summer and binged on Perfect Dark, beating it on Perfect Agent and earning all of the cheats," just didn't have the punch I was looking for. Plus, it kind of makes me sound like a loser and I just can't let the internet know that. Oh wait...


08/15/2014 at 01:06 PM

I was introduced to Marathon early on, but the game that really pulled me in was Descent.

I cannot tell you how many hours I played and replayed Descent.  Unless I am mistaken, Descent had been one of those shareware games.  This meant that they incorporated a nice stopping point to the game after level 7 with a boss.  I never could figure out what I was supposed to do, so I replayed those first 7 levels over and over and over and over again.  I had them memorized.  Imagine my glee, and surprise when one day I finally defeated that boss and found out that there were another 24 levels to explore.   


08/15/2014 at 10:53 PM

I was more of a console kid, so my exposure to FPS came from arcades, games like Virtua Cop light gun games. Aside from that it was probably 007 Golden Eye like Nick, most likely was my first console FPS, and probably RE light gun games on PSOne or PS2? I forget? Then there were also the Call of Duty games and SOCOM. Does Metroid Prime count?

I honestly didn't get into shooters until Halo and the XBOX original. I was just never into them. I'm only now going back and trying out older games as a video game archivist, sort of. I've yet to get through System Shock or Half-life 2. Please don't shoot me! Cry  I heard they were good games from someone on pixlbit. ; )


08/19/2014 at 09:28 AM

I'm not much into FPS's these days but I still remember the first ones I played.

I remember playing Doom and Duke Nukem on our Nintendo 64. I wasn't very good at them but I remember enjoying Doom because I love exploring and finding secrets. I also liked the monsters that jumped out at you. For Duke Nukem's part it was just hilarious. Totally different experience. I did more laughing than I did jumping.

My first real experience with PC FPS was Unreal. One part I remember clearly is when the lights go out, click, click, click. One section at a time and when you finally use the flashlight or flare there's something big and ugly attacking you.

It's funny but what I remember most of all is not getting as seasick as I do now. Ahh, the joy of aging.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

08/19/2014 at 10:07 PM

well I think the other thing about the old FPS's is you couldn't look up and down really.  probably makes it less disorienting.  

still can't believe you saw Jimi though.  Surprised


08/20/2014 at 07:56 AM

I used to go to concerts all the time back then. I had tickets to see the Doors but the concert got cancelled because they wouldn't let Morrison into Canada. Then the bastard had the nerve to die on me. :(

Matt Snee Staff Writer

08/20/2014 at 08:44 AM

he's not dead.  he's hiding out.  Tongue Out


08/27/2014 at 03:36 PM

Sooooooo....who won??

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

08/27/2014 at 09:58 PM

Haha, you busted me! I was out on vacation when the contest ended... See the comment below for the results!

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

08/27/2014 at 10:08 PM

Since we only had eight (fantastic) memories, every one who entered won a code! If you entered a memory here before the cut off time, check your PMs for your Steam Code.

Thanks for the good memories, everyone, and let us know what you think of Wrack!

If you missed your chance to get a code, keep an eye on the site to see what our community manager comes up with to give out a couple more!

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

08/27/2014 at 11:37 PM

Well, there was a problem (see comments below with DarthKill). Everything will be straightened out soon. If you won, you shoudl have two PMs from me. The second one gives instructions on how to get your prize. 

Sorry for the fumbling. I'll get it straightened out. 


08/27/2014 at 10:56 PM

Hmmm...well i didn't end up with a copy of Wrack...but a coupon for 25 percent off...???  Thanks for that

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

08/27/2014 at 11:00 PM

Well, this is a SNAFU that appears to be all my fault. I will see what we can do here. Sorry about this. 


08/27/2014 at 11:07 PM

Oh dude, I don't mean to sound ungrateful!  I was merely under the impression I'd won a copy of the game.  My apologies!

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

08/27/2014 at 11:11 PM

I was under the same impression! There was a miscommunication that I am rectifying. 

If you got a code (for a coupon) - please don't redeem it yet. I will be sending you a new PM shortly.


08/27/2014 at 11:17 PM

too late dude I already redeemed it.  am I now up the creek?

EDIT: I think you mean the coupon itself....if that's what you meant, no worries, I haven't used the coupon.

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

08/27/2014 at 11:35 PM

No, you're fine. I know you already redeemed it. Everything will be fine. Check your PMs. Sorry for this amateur hour.


08/28/2014 at 03:00 PM

alright, sent you a request.

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

03/19/2019 at 09:51 PM

Well, looking back at this string of comments is kind of painful since I clearly hosed up this entire giveaway. Funny thing is, one of these copies is sitting in my steam account unredeemed. If you actually want a copy of Wrack and will play it soon, hit me up on twitter (@travishawks) and I will pass it over to you.

I'd say leave a comment here, but I forget to check in often, and my messages are just overflowing so I probably wouldn't notice it.

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