The Half-Life era (98)

Red Storm Entertainment
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six (1998)
For its time, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six proved to be the game to own if you had any interest in tactical special-op battles where clever plotting would typically separate winners from losers.

While it could be said that the single player campaign had its faults due to a short play-through time and frustrating situations, it was extremely satisfying for those that held a desire in methodically resolving puzzle-like levels and hostage situations. The multiplayer portion carried its own weight and then some by pitting two teams of 8 against one another in a game of metaphorical cat and mouse.

The Tom Clancy's games today: The Tom Clancy titles (and man are there a lot of them) have seen a huge wave of success in past years and there is no sign of them slowing down. Titles typically follow the tried and true formula of strategic/stealth action mostly based around fictional world conflicts influenced by modern times and technology.

Monolith Productions
Shogo: Mobile Armor Division (1998)
As the first person shooter industry exploded, inevitably, knock-offs and imitations of the genre's best titles cluttered the market and the rarity of freshly explored concepts grew at a greater rate than the genre itself. A title that shattered this phenomenon is Shogo: Mobile Armor Division.

A more anime-esque style on both the graphic and audio fronts along with being one of the first FPS's to implement cut-scenes in-game was certainly the initial step in originality. To match that, not only did the game have a healthy blend of original weapons and standard on-foot FPS gameplay, it allowed players to wage war in several 100' tall Mobile Combat Armor units.

Shogo today: A planned sequel for Shogo was eventually cancelled and since then Monolith has moved on to work on other successful franchises like No One Lives Forever and F.E.A.R.

Valve Corporation
Half-Life & Counter Strike (1998)
Frequently praised for systematically refurbishing previously stale FPS styles to feel fresh and uncharted, Half-Life generated a massive fan-base that is currently unrivaled by any other FPS series. The game somehow managed to strip out the entire concept of “levels” to allow a more constant experience, while also introducing a more believable weapon/health discovery system.

While the original Half-Life had plenty of potential as a standalone game, the way Valve embraced modders paid off more than they could have ever imagined. Roughly seven months after the game’s release came a downloadable modification that would change everything. Counter-Strike effectively pit terrorists against counter-terrorists and introduced a slew of new realistically modeled weapons, tactile-minded maps and scenery with an appealing set of game modes which continuously drew in gamers, making this the most played online FPS to date.

Half-Life today: Perhaps one of the most active franchises to this day, the series has received several sequels (including the episodes) and expansion packs, most of which have been received gracefully by gamers. Half-Life is the most glorified first person shooter along with the original Doom.