3D Gaming Arrives (96-97)

3D Realms
Duke Nukem 3D (1996)
Several months before Quake was brought to the table, Duke Nukem 3D was released and almost instantly it was universally accepted as the game that kicked Doom off its FPS throne (though in retrospective Doom is by far the most influential and relevant game in FPS history).

From the interesting cache of weapons available, to Duke's bad ass attitude and the scantily-clad women throughout the game, Duke Nukem 3D was a cliché action movie on steroids and you were in control of it all.

Duke today: After the original Duke 3D was ported to every console and arcade machine imaginable, it received a follow-up side-scroller PC game in 2002. Since then 3D Realms has kept on pushing tidbits of information year after year of a true sequel, the very popular (in vaporware circles anyway) Duke Nukem Forever.

id Software
Quake (1996)
Quake was id Software's next shooter franchise after their 1993 hit, Doom. Not only did Quake introduce a true 3d experience to gamers for the first time, but timing aided in boosting the title to becoming the #1 showcase for first generation graphics cards. It also brought a unique multiplayer experience during a period where the Internet was taking off worldwide, making it a revolutionary game for its time in more aspects than one and possibly even one of the top games to ever be released.

Quake today: The series would continue to revolutionize and open the door for online play, even pro-degree competitions. Most memorable of all sequels Quake III: Arena (1999) met a demand that most FPS fans didn't even realize they had; the desire for excessively fast paced multiplayer action that literally felt like uncontrollable chaos (in a good way). Quake III was so fundamentally based upon the multiplayer experience, that the single-player portion is considered to have simply served as a warm up for the wrist workout that the multiplayer was sure to offer.

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (1997)
The original title in the Star Wars: Dark Forces series provided some innovations for the FPS genre, however, the game that followed in the series truly hit the nail on the head; Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II.

Reportedly designed with an RPG style in mind, the game only provided a few key weapons and the rest of your combat was to be waged via “powers” which improved your abilities throughout the game. Natively a first person shooter, the game settings were capable of being altered to display things from a 3rd person perspective if so you preferred.

The Jedi Knight series today: LucasArts continued to develop games on its FPS franchise with mild success, always exploiting the Star Wars element to offer a unique experience. Nevertheless it’s been half a decade since the last JK game with most recent releases focusing gameplay on multiplayer action.