The best FPS games usually have the best weapons--innovative, effective, balanced, and most importantly, fun to use. The fun can come from a number of factors: the sound, the look of the weapon, or the playstyle it mandates. Usually the best weapons use all three aesthetic styles. Here's a list of ten FPS weapons that'll make you proud to pull the trigger.

Truly silent and deadly, the knife 1-hit KO’s any opponent—if you get them in the back. A frontal assault usually leaves you dead before the second or third slash are in, so unless you’re feeling suicidal, don’t go that route. But silently sneaking behind a perched opponent, preferably one who’s dawdling with one of your teammates in his crosshairs, and knifing the sucker in the back a blink before he hits the trigger—now that’s pwnage. It’s the silence and mandatory tactics that make this weapon a joy to successfully wield.

Doom 2 had an awesome super shotgun, but Quake 2 gets an extra notch on the bonus meter, mostly because of the sound this thing makes. “Boomstick” hardly does justice to this do-it-yourself intestinal surgery tool. Ammo’s plentiful, and with a medium-fast fire rate, this weapon could be your primary through the whole game if you wanted. Small enemies get gibbed to bits at the first blast, and medium to heavy guys get knocked on their robotic butts where you can serve up a point-blanc lead taco. Even the heaviest baddies take high damage if you move in close, and as a short-range death match jousting weapon it shines above the rest. Well, you could use the rocket launcher, but you’d probably die too. Arm yourself with the shotgun, crank up your computer speakers, and relish as that thundering sound brings your foes to their knees, with or without their legs intact.

Gordon conveniently picks up this little beauty right before several areas filled with military “grunt” soldiers. While their AI is formidable, their one most used tactic—reconnaissance—works against them while you’re armed with this puppy. Listen for the enemy radio chatter, then watch as they move to a new location. During the brief moment they scuttle from cover, pop them in the side of the skull and watch their brains paint the wall. No recon for you! Out shooting the computer has rarely felt so good.

Love it or loath it, “lock n’ load” has morphed into “lock n’ lunge.” Some players call it a no-skill weapon, and true, its one-hit beat downs are overpowered, especially when they’re so damn hard to dodge. Once your foe has that red-death-reticule on you, it’s all over in a blink. He hits the trigger, he lunges forward, and suddenly your kidneys are poking through your ribcage. The Energy Sword’s pleasure stems from its simplicity. It’s a weapon anyone can use, but only pros can master. The risk and ultimate reward make the kill feel great. Plus, your controller makes that nice force feedback rumble. It warms my heart.

Lots of games have a rocket launcher, sure, but Quake had the first rocket launcher to be an overpowered and abusive manhandling weapon of spawn camping noob death. Not only was the Quake rocket launcher strong, but fast. Really fast. Players could still dodge the missile itself, but the huge splash damage would injure or kill you anyway. Worst (or best!) of all, Quake was one of the earliest games to introduce free look in a 3D world, so aiming at a player’s feet and letting the splash alone do the damage was all you needed to score a frag. These shortcomings, however, are what made the Quake rocket launcher so great. Grabbing it, mastering it, and owning the map with it was a gleeful side of the death match to be on.

The Heavy Weapons Guy hauls around a big ol’ chain gun—and I mean hauls. It’s a good thing this class is blessed with 300 armor and 100 health, because you’re going to need it. You’re the slowest dude on the battlefield, so if turning your back on a fight is suicide anyway, ya might as well hold the line. And with that thick armor and a gun hailstorming 10,000 rounds per minute, any enemy foolish enough to stand against you is toast. Swiss toast. A HWG at the end of a narrow corridor can mow down the invaders as indefinitely as he’s got ammo. A sort of mobile-substitute for a sentry gun, movement with Medic support is a viable way to crawl ever closer into enemy territory, eventually spawn-camping in their base. Holding down that trigger until there’s nothing left in your sights, then advancing to the next defensive point and doing it all again is a hella cool gaming experience. At least until you get sniped in the head…

The gun was originally designed for the safe handling and transport of hazardous materials. Or something. Here’s an idea; how about I transport some hazardous materials--like this red, fiery barrel over here--into your face. Other fun and probably- not-what-the-original-manufacturers-intended uses include scrapping wooden pallets and throwing the shards at your foes, or barraging them with paint cans, cinder blocks, and old take-out boxes. Take that, Combine scum! Seriously though, there are some great moments in Half Life 2 where the Gravity gun is your best friend. The ability to pick up anything not strapped down and use it as a weapon makes Half Life 2 beg the same question every time you load up the game: “What can I kill things with today?” No ammo? No problem. Maybe Half Life 3 will let Gordon load his crowbar into that Gravity beam so we can launch it and chunk dents in our foes’ skulls.

Painkiller has weapons that look like they were fashioned in Charles Manson’s shop class. Guns such as the Nailgun/Flamethrower and the Shuriken Launcher/Lightning Gun were wacky combinations that did a surprisingly good job of dishing out the pain. The game’s signature weapon is the Stakedriver, a crossbow type weapon that launches wooden bolts at high speeds. Before Painkiller, “stake-um” was just a misspelling of a vile frozen meat product. Now you’ll be humming a tune while you stake-um-all to the floor, the wall, or other enemies that got too close to the sucker you just staked. Painkiller’s advanced physics engine gives meaning to every bolt you launch. Enemies react to force of the bolt, their body tossed backward or sideways, or hung from the wall they meandered too close to. It feels good to watch that happen, and you’ll want to stake-drive every baddie you meet.

The Railgun technically debuted in Quake 2, and it was pretty awesome there. Quake 3 makes the list because of the game’s more direct center on rocket jumping and midair sniping tricks, something Quake 2 touched on, but didn’t focus. With Quake 3’s cracked and jacked play style, scoring a hit with this slow, single-shot weapon is hard enough, but oh, so worth it. The Railgun deals exactly 100 damage, so the first shot doesn’t always kill, but it does severely weaken the opponent, and a mid-air strike from the bolt will push them far off course, usually off the map and to their deaths. Hitting a jump pad and using your moment aloft to snipe a tiny target are what happy video game dreams are made of. Skilled players can even rocket-jump themselves upwards when no jump pads are available, using the rocket splash damage to injure their opponent, then switching to the Railgun mid ascension and finishing the job. The game even acknowledges your skills, giving you a nice “Impressive” railgun icon over your head and the voice of the arena announcer. Nice shot, soldier.

UT2K4 doesn’t have the rail gun, but the Shock Rifle is the next best thing. Primary fire sends an instant-hit beam that’ll brighten your enemy’s day, and not in a good way. Secondary fire launches a slower moving “shock ball” that causes minor splash damage. Put the two together and you end up with the most guttural weapon in FPS history. Hitting the slower moving ball with the primary fire makes the sphere explode, splashing enough massive damage to kill three or four whole subdued crabs. Big ones, even. If the blast kills your enemy, their bodies are ripped in half, torso landing yards from the legs. And if by some chance your opponent lives, the blast will still push them around, sometimes off a cliff, or at the least disorient the player enough to let you get in a finishing blow. Best of all, true mastery of this weapon takes months of skill and practice. There are no lucky shock combos, only unlucky players who walk into the wrong end of one. Scoring a kill with this weapon, hearing that awesome fwoom echo through your computer speakers, and watching their body separate is one of video gamedom’s deepest pleasures. Now go get some double kills!

Most of these weapons are from PC games, but the top of the chart shooters are usually PC based, so it had to be. Other contenders that didn't quite hit the list are the Goldeneye RCP-90 and the Gears of War Curbstomp, but hey, I can only put ten on the list. As the FPS genre continues to evolve, game developers will have to rack their brains even harder to create even more unique weapons. Even if you're wielding the 700th revision of that same ol' shotgun, though, the best developers will design in that extra mental "push" and ensure you get a good feeling every kill you make.

List by BrownieCyclone (05/24/2007)

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