From the first-person adrenaline rush in games like Halo, Battlefield, and Call of Duty, to the third-person experience of the Uncharted series, a good shooter requires excellent controls, well-balanced enemy-damage ratios, and a lot of explosive action. We believe that every game on this list, including the honorable mentions, will meet these needs better than the rest.
The GamePro staff selected the following games out of the entire library of current-generation shooters, and we ranked them according to an in-house vote. What you'll encounter after the jump is the exclusive "Best of" list, showcasing fifteen ranked games and five honorable mentions, each one embossed with GamePro's favorite shooters seal of approval.
15 | Halo 3 | Xbox 360
Master Chief's saga comes to a close in Halo 3, capping off three games' worth of an epic, complex science fiction story. But in the last chapter, you don't have to fight the battle solo, as Halo 3 supports up to four-player co-op. Even though you'll probably battle with your co-op team for the right to play the role of Master Chief or the Arbiter, this last piece of the Halo trilogy features a wide-ranging plot that ties up every possible loose end.
Halo 3 is the bookend to Master Chief adventures, but it's also notable for entirely changing the look and feel of the franchise's gameplay. Not only is every gun rebalanced, but new support and power weapons are also introduced to the Halo armory, like the Spartan Laser or the Spike Grenade. Moreover, details like extra items and any weapons carried on your person are visible elements of your character model -- which can be a useful tool for spotting enemy/ally loadouts in multiplayer matches.
Speaking of which, Halo 3's multiplayer is intensely robust due to all the rebalancing, but the real star content lies with the Forge, Halo 3's signature map-editing tool. Rather than having to stick with the maps that you're given from DLC and in-disk content, you can craft your own battleground in Halo 3, right down to environmental objects and weapon drops. It's a package with a ton of customization that really rewards creative gamers, and thanks to Xbox Live's thriving bug of Halo fans, the best content is usually populated with plenty of good competition.
14 | Battlefield: Bad Company 2 | PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Even though the Battlefield series is known primarily as a multiplayer experience, even to the point where fans suggested we outright ignore the lackluster single player experience in the latest iteration, Battlefield 3 (we never can and never will), the Battlefield Bad Company series, which only saw two main releases, did in fact employ a narrative-based single player campaign that was quite successful. The characters you follow in the Bad Company series are one of those typical rag-tag bunch of grunts, filling out the typical action movie tropes like the cigar-chomping leader who is "too old for this shit" and the "funny guy" who has a wisecrack for every inappropriate situation. But behind them is a well-crafted and action-packed storyline that takes your squad through a number of different environments, sometimes with vehicles, against a bunch of textbook bad guys.
It may seem like you've seen it all before, but Battlefield Bad Company 2 (the finer of the duo) really makes it work. The set pieces are exciting and effective, and the NPC banter lightens the mood along the way. It doesn't hurt that the game has a magnificent multiplayer mode as well, but Battlefield Bad Company 2 proved that you can build a modern combat game around a story and it doesn't have to be of the "super-soldier saving the world" variety.
13 | Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 | XBLA, PSN
Sure, everyone's focus might be on Battlefield and Call of Duty right now, but Rainbow Six Vegas 2 still deserves a good chunk of your time. Squad-based tactics and loads of customization options make the game stand apart from other first-person shooters, and the roughly 10-hour story mode ensures that your single-player experience isn't going to be over the same night you bring the game home.
And Rainbow Six's multiplayer options (both a co-op campaign and the standard competitive modes) are still just as much fun today as they were in 2008. The game isn't considerably different from either its predecessor or its contemporaries -- it just does all the things it's supposed to and it does them well. And best of all, you can definitely find a copy of the game on the cheap!