It's a matter of debate, but a common idea bandied around when it comes to FPSes is that they're more "visceral," since the idea that a game like Bulletstorm is more exciting when you're blowing off heads and creating crazy kill-combos from a more immediate first-person perspective. Mirror's Edge is another great example of this. The parkour involved with being a Runner essentially becomes an interactive extension of the player, once they understand how the core mechanics operate, whereas the third-person Mirror's Edge iOS feels like an entirely different experience, one that's less about feeling the momentum than straight-up platforming.
While animation might be considered a more surface-level factor, it's important insofar as it's something we take for granted in a third-person game. Again citing Fallout 3 and New Vegas as examples, fans went bananas when they saw how basic and comparatively primitive the running and shooting animations in the games were when played in third-person. Though it might not look like it, character animations that aren't handled with motion capture (a staple of most third-person games) are awful—all you have to do is mess with the console of whatever PC FPS you want to see that. The fluid and seamless animations in games like Uncharted look natural because they're based in reality—while character animations are still important in FPSes, chances are there's going to be more tech devoted to other bells and whistles like lighting and shadow, texturing, particle and environmental effects—basically things you're going to notice more from a first-person perspective. It is possible for third-person games to handle all that stuff just as well? Absolutely. But that sort of attention to detail may not be quite as prevalent with the camera pulled back.
Expectations of ApproachThis is probably the biggest deciding factor between first and third-person titles: for the most part, first-person is dominated by the sole mechanic of shooting, so chances are if you're going to go with a FP game it's going to be an FPS, and given the industry's penchant for always building on the same ideas, it's likely that means you're expecting a very particular type of experience. With 90 percent of the shooters on the market today, that means Call of Duty—a short, violently punctuated thrill-ride campaign coupled with a stat-based multiplayer that focuses on character and skill growth. There are exceptions to this rule, of course.
Aside from the aforementioned Mirror's Edge and Portal, which bend the expectations of the first-person genre towards momentum-based platforming and puzzle-solving, respectively, there are games like BioShock, where the narrative and themes are far more important than any social element to the game. First-person games can even go into adventure territory, as is the case with the Mass Effect-ish Deus Ex reboot Human Evolution. Sure, you can shoot your way through a situation, but you can also use stealth or persuasion. In comparison, third-person games still offer a broader market approach—everything from platfomers and open world games to adventure and third-person action and RPGs are encompassed with a behind the player or shoulder cam view. What kind of game experience you get will depend on which visual route you choose.
CCC Freelance Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*