System Shock (1994)
Wolfenstein 3D showed the potential of fast-paced 3D shooters in 1992, then Doom moved things forward dramatically a year later – but it was Looking Glass Technologies' 1994 release of System Shock, directed by Doug Church and produced by Warren Spector that really showed the future potential of not just the first person action genre – but that of video games as a whole. Far more than just a 3D action game, System Shock blended traits from multiple genres, like shooters, role playing games, adventures and puzzle games – and blended them together in a nonlinear framework that allowed behaviors and narratives to emerge from the player's actions. It was the progenitor of many of the most beloved story-based action games, from Metal Gear Solid to Half-Life, and It's considered one of the defining games of the "immersive sim" genre and has been cited as the source of inspiration for games like Deus Ex, Bioshock, Dishonored and Prey. Bioshock creator Ken Levine told The Escapist in 2007 that "the spirit of System Shock is player-powered gameplay – the spirit of letting the player drive the game, not the game designer."