In recent years
the FPS market place seems to have been flooded with modern military shooters as developers and publishers desperately try to take a slice of the Call of Duty Cake and gamers have become more and more resentful and bored of them, with the COD series becoming a popular punching bag for a genre that’s increasingly more bland and uninteresting. How about we step backwards… To World War 2?
A few years ago there were plenty of games set in the Second World War. It seemed to be the go-to period to set games, from Call of Duty to Medal of Honor and Wolfenstein. Then unfortunately they seemed to drop in popularity with the modern warfare scene storming in. The last big Second World War shooter was Call of Duty: World at War, which at the time of writing is 6 years old!
The Second World War has always been my favourite setting for shooters, and probably strategy games as well. I am of course saying this as a person who loves history, but I also think there are a few things about World War 2 that make it exciting for everyone.
The problem with a lot of the modern military shooters is that enemy doesn’t feel real or overly threatening. The generic Russian, Middle Eastern or Chinese enemies all seem like bogey men because there have never been any real wars between these powers and the west in a long time. The West (because you never really play as anyone but US and occasionally UK soldiers) also usually has a technological edge over these opponents which make them seem all the less awe inspiring. It all seems to revolve around the Cold War wet dreams of armchair generals, but without reality to base it on it usually comes across as kind of ridiculous or overly nationalistic. Got to include at least one scene where the soldiers all look at the tattered stars and stripes in the sunset right? This is where World War 2 makes all the difference.
I like shooting Nazis
The Nazis are based on realities which make them an unquestionably evil opponent. When your shooting at some random Russian troops in a modern shooter there is usually some shallow or unbelievable story made up to make them almost comically evil so you feel obliged to fight them. With the Nazis you KNOW why you’re fighting them; they invaded most of Europe, Russia, North Africa and tried to commit mass genocide. There is no question in your mind that they are the enemy and they have to be stopped.
What also makes the Nazis a great enemy (probably my favourite thing about shooting them) is that they are very dangerous. When you bump into a tank in a modern shooter you can generally just call in some laser guided air strike or fire some fancy hand held tank killer at it. When you come across a Nazi tank in World War 2 it becomes a real fight, that tank is better than yours and you know it. I remember in Call of Duty 2 a single German Tiger Tank becomes the prime enemy of a whole level, destroying multiple allied tanks and keeping you and your buddies pinned with rattling cannon and machine gun fire. This is just to speak of their tanks. The Nazis also come with an array of deadly rifles, machine guns and other nasty toys which are more than a match for anything any of the allied powers can bring to the table. These guys rolled over most of Europe defeating everyone in their way and even gave the mighty Soviets more than a black eye. They are not to be underestimated.
I’m not saying that we should go back to having all shooters suddenly dump their current setting and shuffle back to WW2 but I certainly would like to see a few more major releases set in the period.
This was the most epic conflict in human history yet first person shooters have only scratched the surface when it comes to the wider war. Yes we all know Stalingrad was a huge horrific battle but Jesus we don’t want to replay it every bloody game! What about Burma? Pre-Surrender France? Italy? Even Poland? These we’re all places where major battles took place in the war but always get brushed aside. I would love it if a game could take us to these battles and give us an opportunity to play as a wider range of nationalities, maybe even the axis powers?
In a nutshell I miss it all and I want a new decent WW2 shooter to sink my teeth into. Forget the lasers, air strikes, slo-mo flag bumming bullshit. I want to have a game with clunky bolt action rifles, cheesy European accents and shit my pant Tiger tank moments. WW2 run and gun was one of the things that made me fall in love with games and just want to relive some of that magic – oh and Nazi zombies are cool too.
So what do you think? Is the WW2 shooter dead or is there still a place for the relics of the past?