It's been an interesting year for shooters, with the arrival of big budget risk-takers like Bulletstorm - It's great! Why didn't more of you buy it? - and long-awaited blockbusters such as Rage. In between all that, Deus Ex: Human Revolution trashed convention, Crysis 2 trashed Manhattan, and Duke Nukem trashed his own reputation. Now, though, as we head towards December, things are starting to get serious.
As far as the FPS is concerned, Christmas 2011 is all about a fight between two titans, as the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises finally go up against each other. It's going to be a clash of loud, shooty giants, and you can tell it's big news not just because of the massive advertising spends, but by the way that other games are getting out of the way. It's a bit like that bit in The Day After Tomorrow where all the birds flee New York just before the tidal wave hits.
Not everyone's leaving town though. Some shooters are standing by their original release dates regardless and refusing to run - you know, like Jake Gyllenhaal and the hot one out of the American version of Shameless. That's why we've decided to give you the lowdown on the all of the big FPS games that are battling it out this Christmas. It's an odd bunch, frankly - and, if you're interested in drinking games, we suggest you keep an eye out for military shooters and remakes.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Platforms: PC, PS3, 360, Wii, DS
Release: November 8th
If there's a safe bet this Christmas, Modern Warfare 3 is it - and yet, beneath the surface, this blockbuster's had a troubled development. Firstly, Infinity Ward lost a lot of staff following the high profile firing of studio heads Jason West and Vincent Zampella, and then Battlefield 3 started releasing a number of rather eye-catching videos. Soap's finally got real competition.
We don't expect the tension to show up in the game, though. If anything, Modern Warfare 3 might be a little too safe for some. The single-player campaign will visit London, Moscow, and New York amongst other locations, as the Russians continue their plans for world domination, but cinematic pacing may leave too little to chance in amongst the scripted tube-train chases and downed choppers. Multiplayer, meanwhile, will revamp the killstreak system and the unlocks.
What we're very interested in is the return of the brilliantly arcade-tuned Spec Ops suite - a series of co-op challenges that run alongside the single-player story - and the new Survival Mode, which sees you facing off against waves of aggressors across all of the multiplayer maps. Then there's COD Elite, a kind of social network for people who like to shoot each other. It will launch with the game in free and paid form, promising plenty of stats and tutorials and - if you're stumping up £34.99 per year - regular competitions and all of the DLC for free.
Platforms: PC, PS3, 360
Release: October 28th
Battlefield 3 is going to struggle to take on COD when it comes to sales figures, but it's looking to win over a lot of gamers regardless. The campaign is shaping up to be as slick as any of Soap MacTavish's adventures as the plot ping-pongs across the Iran-Iraq border, and there's a series of co-op missions that might see you and a friend disarming bombs or titting about in choppers.
You'll be able to tit about in choppers during the multiplayer, too, and this is where Battlefield 3 should really be able to distance itself from COD. With much bigger maps - the PC version supports 64 players matches, the consoles will 'only' allow for 24 - and four classes, you'll be able to leap into a variety of tanks, jets, and other vehicles for some large-scale tactical battles. Powered by the Frostbite 2 engine, war has never looked so pretty.