Wednesday, April 8, 2015

3 Reasons Why A New WWII Game Wouldn’t Be A Bad Idea

3 Reasons Why A New WWII Game Wouldn’t Be A Bad Idea

I know, deep down in my heart, that a good number of people will disagree with me right after reading the title of this article, and they probably have good reason to, the WWII genre had been presented to us for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the same way vampire/zombie movies were and superhero movies currently are. Perhaps it's because I'm a WWII history buff, or perhaps it's because I was too busy playing Halo when the WWII trend was in full swing, but I just ask that you bear with me when I say that I believe it's time for just one more WWII game.
Better love story than Twilight.

The last “great” WWII shooter was Call of Duty: World at War (with a few slight exceptions) and that was back in 2008. For those of you, like me, that don't immediately have a good sense of time, that was 7 years ago, plenty of time for a breather. I'm not saying we should restart the trend (I'm fighting an uphill battle just getting you to read an article with “WWII” in the title), I'm just saying that it wouldn't be the worst idea for Call of Duty and/or Battlefield to take one (or two, at most) dip back into the Second World War, and here's why:

1. There Are More Stories to Tell

Perhaps one of the reasons we all got so burnt out on the WWII era was because we kept telling the same story over and over: 'Murica fighting the Nazis and kickin' Hitler's fat face in.

Insert foot here.

Call of Duty: World at War changed this up by introducing the Pacific Theater to the mix, and that was a great change in tactics and setting. You were no longer fighting like-minded soldiers through towns, you were wandering through tropical environments, fighting an enemy that was hiding beneath your feet. It was no longer a fight against the evil Nazis, it was a fight to survive the night, and it's a shame that it didn't come up until the end of the trend.

But it seems one thing we tend to forget is that WWII was a world war. You don't have to just be America fighting the Nazis or the Japanese. You can be the French Resistance fighting for freedom, or British forces fighting behind enemy lines. Maybe even turn the tables and play a German soldier. We demonized the Germans so much that we forget that they were also just fighting for their country. To speak out against or refuse to help the Nazi Government meant disappearing. You could play the rise of a Nazi soldier, see his revelation that turns it into a sort of Hunt For Red October story. It wouldn't be the most controversial thing Call of Duty has done.

“Shooting up an airport of innocent people is one thing, but fighting for my life for a government that demands my unquestioning loyalty?”

There's also the possibility of an alternate reality story. We got that with Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, but it turned out to be a big disappointment, and we almost got that with Band of Brothers: Furious 4, but news on that fell silent years ago. But who hasn't watched Inglorious Basterds and wished they were the ones unloading a truckload of ammo into Der Fuehrer's face?

2. We Can Now Make Bigger And Better Looking Games

The Xbox 360 came out in 2005 and the PS3 came out in 2006, we had only had a couple years to play around with the consoles' power before our last proper taste of WWII. Since then we've seen a huge increase in video game power, thanks to the Xbox One and the PS4. Thanks to this increase in power, a video game can come closer to achieving the big scale battles that occurred in WWII. Battlefield 1943 was one of the first Battlefield games to incorporate really destructible environments, thanks to DICE's Frostbite engine, which has come a long way since then. Not only can you have destructible environments, but you can have more. More people, more buildings, more everything! Imagine playing a proper scaled version of the D-Day landing. Mile long beach, thousands of soldiers, bombs flying from every which direction.

“Remember, only 30 at a time! We can't render all of you!”

Why limit it to being the soldiers on the beach? Be one of the paratroopers parachuting behind enemy lines, be a fighter pilot fighting in a dog fight above the battlefield, recreate the Battle of Prokhorovka or Operation Goodwood with tank v. tank warfare, maybe even ship v ship battle like we saw in the short Battlestations series. Modern warfare may be compact and small enough to get away with the limits we had in computing power 7 years ago, but WWII was a war with massive scale that couldn't have been reached before.

3. It'd Be A Much Needed Change In Mood/Setting

Wanna know something I loved about Call of Duty: World at War? It's dark and gritty feel that would allow some few people to argue that it's horror. Just listen to the main menu music.

Don't look behind you.

I might be wrong, due to the fact that I haven't played Call of Duty since Black Ops, but it seems that shooters have always glorified war in some way. Even most of the WWII games did it. World at War took that idea of the greatest generation's glorious fight for freedom and turned it on it's head. Half of the game took place at night, the soundtrack contained sounds you'd only hear in your nightmares, limbs were blown off of peoples' bodies! World at War shares some very Saving Private Ryan-esque moments (it even features an achievement named after the film) and shares the idea of showing the brutality of war. You can't do that with modern warfare games, it's too close to home (time wise) and those who served in the modern wars are part of the gaming community.

One of the most powerful moments in a video game cinematic, for me, was the finale for World at War (spoiler alert, the Allies win the war).

Still gives me chills.

The actual footage pulls you into that “This all really happened” mindset and then it hits you. “60 million lives were lost as a result of World War II”. I'd hope a new WWII game would hit those same chords, maybe even harder. Show how the war affected civilians (China and Russia had massive numbers in civilian casualties) or even pull some influence from Band of Brothers and have a scene where you liberate a Concentration Camp. Maybe we don't have to go THAT dark, but just something to take our emotions for a ride.

A Call of Duty: World at War 2 or Battlefield 1944 would be awesome, but really it'd be cool to have any WWII shooter, Call of Duty and Battlefield just have successful and proven formulas. Perhaps I'm a black sheep, and everyone's perfectly content with the modern/futuristic shooters (nothing wrong with those). Perhaps I'd have to form my own video game developing company to see this wish come true.

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