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I’m So Sick Of World War II

Posted on 21st Sep 2009 at 11:46 by Joe Martin with 54 comments

Joe Martin
I don’t mean any disrespect by this by the way, but as far as computer and videogames go I have to say, I’m so bloody tired of World War II games!

Don’t get me wrong, they can be great. I thought Call of Duty 2 was a fantastic game, for example and that bit where you’re crawling through that pipe above the heads of Nazi soldiers is cemented into my head as a favourite. But that was five years ago and it feels like we’ve had nothing but re-runs since then. Not just in the FPS genre either, but with RTS’ too.

And they all have similarly bland names as well; Call of Duty, Men of Valour, Company of Heroes, Brothers in Arms, Order of War, Medal of Honour and the blandest of all, Men of War. It really is like the publishers have two wheels of words that they spin, connecting the result with ‘of’.

The frustrating thing is that, judged on their own merits, the games are often quite good. It’s just the quantity of them that I object to, along with the fact that they all re-use the same bland moments of cinema. I’ve stormed Omaha and sought cover in Normandy hedgerows so many times that I can’t visit France for fear that I’d shoot nearby German tourists on sheer reflex. It’s that old disconnect between the enjoyable mechanics of the game and the repetitive visuals. I’m not tired of shooting people, I’m just tired of doing it then and there.

I’m So Sick Of World War II
I honestly can't even tell what game this is from

What really grinds my goat though is the fact that so many games plunge into the over-familiar WW2 setting without even considering the more interesting settings. Games are about going somewhere else and doing something different – so why do we always go there?

I’ve got a theory on the why of it, actually. I think it’s to do with human curiosity as much as the cinematic appeal of the period. World War II was one of the most mystifying events in modern history and we’re still struggling to understand it as a whole. The tragedies and backstories are so big and complex that they resist being looked at directly, so we settle for watching the endless parade of Hitler documentaries on The Discovery Channel and shooting conveniently arranged Nazis in poorly-named games. We want to understand World War II for the same reasons that we watch TV shows about serial killers and eunuchs – we want to see slices of the macabre and understand the root of them. We’re like the bad guys in a Lovecraft story.

If that’s the case though then I honestly don’t understand why we aren’t looking at World War I instead. It’s a similar enough setting to not be a financial risk and changing hedgerows for trench complexes and biplanes would be enough to keep me interested for a sequel or three, I think. For some reason though it doesn’t have the same resonance with modern audiences, probably because the focus on the more recent war blinds us to the older.

I’m So Sick Of World War II
When can I play a gritty pirate game?

Or pirates! Blackbeard did some nasty stuff too, but we’ve yet to see a spate of truly good pirate-themed games. It’s a shame, as I for one would love a chance to roam in first person on my own galleon, boarding enemy ships with cutlass and blunderbuss. I want to orchestrate naval battles from the crow's nest, pillage Tortuga and search for buried treasure – where’s my FPS/RPG pirate game?!

Unfortunately, the closest I seem to be able to get at the moment is Sid Meier’s Pirates! – an excellent game, but one which doesn’t provide the proximity or sense of reality I long for. That’s the problem with the pirate setting; it’s too campy and kitsch in the eyes of most people. Hence, Galleon instead of Lure of Blackbeard, or whatever.

I’m not the only one dying for something different, am I? Someone, please tell me I’m not the only gamer here who lives for those few, isolated islands of brilliance over the seas of identi-kit drivel.

Please?

54 Comments

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Hugo 21st September 2009, 13:33 Quote
It's getting almost as bad with games set in "modern" times, in that they're basically set in Iraq. I'm pretty sure there's still conflict elsewhere guys.

Also, pirate games lend themselves to the spinning wheels, too!
Pirates of <location>
Pirates of the <sea/ocean>
Buccaneers of... etc.
Tyrmot 21st September 2009, 13:35 Quote
A new pirates game would be awesome
NikoBellic 21st September 2009, 13:37 Quote
I was discussing the same thing with my mate a few months back... one of the reasons I don't enjoy FPS titles anymore is because of the fact that they are all the same and probably just have slightly improved graphics over the previous one I played...
DragunovHUN 21st September 2009, 13:41 Quote
WWII games could be refreshed if more of them focused on the eastern front. But the yanks wouldn't buy that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HugoB
It's getting almost as bad with games set in "modern" times, in that they're basically set in Iraq. I'm pretty sure there's still conflict elsewhere guys.

Yeah but Afghanistan and Pakistan are basicly the same thing as Iraq, and a game on Somalia would meet a lot of resistance from the politically correct.

Pirates FTL, they dont have machineguns. I remember playing a game called Tortuga, that was fun but it was an RTS/Adventure/RPG sort of thing not an FPS.

EDIT: Reading the article right now. WWI wouldn't make a good game, unless you enjoy spending weeks in trenches and rushing into machinegun fire while trying to get past all the barbed wire and artillery barrage.
Combinho 21st September 2009, 13:47 Quote
There was a game called Age of Pirates, made by a small Russian studio, which was quite good, but it got repetetive and was more bug-ridden than the biscuits on a pirate ship. Personally, I don't think I have played a WWII FPS since Medal of Hono(U)r Frontline. I think my will to buy a game switches off as soon as I see WWII.
Stuey 21st September 2009, 14:03 Quote
They keep making these games b/c they sell well. I'd guess that the biggest video game market is amongst 15-25 yr old males.

How well do you really think that a 3-4 year old game will sell compared to a 0-1 yr old game?

While the "I"m so sick of WWII games" is a valid complaint, it's quite whiney. If you're tired of WWII games, then stop playing them. Find a different genre to play. Find and install mods for the game. Or even better, do something more productive with your time.

What do you really want? A game based on the Korean war? The Chechnya conflicts?

Play some CoD4 and then hold your breath until Modern Warfare 2 is out.
CardJoe 21st September 2009, 14:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stuey

While the "I"m so sick of WWII games" is a valid complaint, it's quite whiney. If you're tired of WWII games, then stop playing them. Find a different genre to play.

Um, I'm not really in a position where I can...
mjm25 21st September 2009, 14:17 Quote
Don't worry joe, it'll be over by Christmas.
[PUNK] crompers 21st September 2009, 14:20 Quote
wheres our ninja game? 1950's gangster game? colonial jungle warfare game? roman legion game? roundheads and cavaliers? cowboys and indians? japanese feudal? american civil war?

something new now please!
Narishma 21st September 2009, 14:47 Quote
WWI would make a very poor setting for an FPS. The weapons weren't that great and fighting in the trenches (which is what most of WWI was) would be too boring. It would work in other genres though, like flight sims (Red baron) and RTS.
Hugo 21st September 2009, 14:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Um, I'm not really in a position where I can...
A-Men.

I almost forgot, I'm getting sick of 'space marine' games, too. ODST is a bit of a change of pace, but seriously guys, let's have a new genre already.
Rkiver 21st September 2009, 14:58 Quote
Quote:

Yes, yes YES YES BLOODY YES!

I am sick of WWII shooters being pumped out constantly. What makes it worse is that it always seems to be from the US point of view, forgetting that there was a rather large war in Europe before they arrived, and North Africa? Hello never see much of that.

Give us something new and interesting. Oh wait, there is. Osmosis, Braid, etc etc. Thank you for the indy developers giving us something different!
WildThing 21st September 2009, 15:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by crompers
wheres our ninja game? 1950's gangster game? colonial jungle warfare game? roman legion game? roundheads and cavaliers? cowboys and indians? japanese feudal? american civil war?

something new now please!

Yeah, some great ideas for games there! As for an FPS/RPG pirate game, yes please! ;) Another thing I've wanted for a long time now is a good FPS/RPG medieval game, say with elements from Oblivion, Thief, Dark Messiah of Might and Magic etc, but without any of the magic and mythology. Just plain old history. The closest I've found is Mount and Blade, chopping people down from horseback with a two-handed axe cheesecake!
mjm25 21st September 2009, 15:09 Quote
does noones else think that its perhaps the weapons that make the games?
for example i keep going back to Day of Defeat Source cos u just cant beat the thrill of a bolt action rifle... i think its the same reason i like Killing Floor every now and then.
The german guns like the k-98 versus the American Garand make for some awesome firefights but you can't rip the guns out of the setting cos it feels all wrong.
it might just be me though... Far Cry 2: i take the bolt action sniper rifle every time, Killing Floor: i take the lever action rifle every time, Day of Defeat: almost religiously play the Wehrmacht and take the k-98. i am royally screwed if they put something bolt-action in Left4Dead 2 :(

anyone else have bolt-action-fixation? ...i might start a forum thread on this.
Xtrafresh 21st September 2009, 15:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Um, I'm not really in a position where I can...
I hope you aren't really expecting us to feel sorry for you while you get paid to play videogames, do you?

No wait, forget i said that...
*ahem*



Joe, i feel really really sorry for you, and because i'm such a nice guy, i'll help you out. I'm willing to take your place in the bit-tech offices for a few months. I'll play all those nasty videogames for you, and i'll even write about what i thought of them. I'll even be kind enough to write the odd column. All i need is the attached paycheck. Waddaya say, huh?

Ok, more ontopic, i do agree with your point. Moreover, all WWII games seem to be terribly biased and overly focused on the whole Nazi = evul theme. As if the german footsoldiers you are shooting at were all puppy-murdering baby-eating seal-clubbing orcs. :(

However, because i'm not forced to play them by anyone, i'm mostly able to ignore them. Instead, when i want to shoot some stuff i play Crysis, COD4, Halo, Stalker, Dead Space, a bit of UT, or Left4Dead. All of those are great and completely Nazi-free. ;)
I basically behave like a proper consumer, which you never can because you get sent all these games for free. (poor, poor man. I am very serious about the offer you know, i'm just that much of a nice guy)
Krikkit 21st September 2009, 15:16 Quote
I know what you mean Joe, the same-old battles done over and over are getting a little boring.

I wouldn't mind more WW2 games if we could have something that was a little more focussed on one theatre, say North Africa, through Italy and then to Germany, following one person/squad, rather than the CoD way of having a million people on different fronts.
CardJoe 21st September 2009, 15:22 Quote
Why can't we play as good Nazis?
mjm25 21st September 2009, 15:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Why can't we play as good Nazis?

oooooohhhhhh... too soon? ;)
alpaca 21st September 2009, 15:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjm25
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Why can't we play as good Nazis?

oooooohhhhhh... too soon? ;)

people don't like to eat babies, murder puppies or club seals in a videogame
[PUNK] crompers 21st September 2009, 15:42 Quote
or maybe something like the man in the high castle, america after the nazi's have won the war, largely japanese rule. brilliant setting.
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpaca
people don't like to eat babies, murder puppies or club seals in a videogame

*ahem*
Wozzname 21st September 2009, 15:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpaca
people don't like to eat babies, murder puppies or club seals in a videogame

*points at Overlord 2*
Dr. Strangelove 21st September 2009, 15:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpaca
people don't like to eat babies, murder puppies or club seals in a videogame

Are you sure? And surely its better to do it in a videogame than in real life ;)

Hehe anyway I can totally follow you Joe.
Besides why do games have to be about shooting and killing people.. can't we all just get along???:D:)

At the end of the day IT'S A GAME.. why do we need a reason (such as a war) to go around killing people??
fargo 21st September 2009, 15:57 Quote
what is wrong with korea and vietnam these wars are cherry for war games
even thou a few have been done none to my liking. I can't understand why
the guys at cod or someone else hasn't exploited this era!!
DragunovHUN 21st September 2009, 16:01 Quote
nvm delete pls
Blademrk 21st September 2009, 16:26 Quote
I haven't played a WWII game since COD2.
Kiytan 21st September 2009, 16:47 Quote
Also really bored of WWII games, they all sort of blend into the same mishmash of brown averageness. Not to mention you always seem to play an american, it's like we weren't involved in the war at all.
Theres also becoming a rather large number of zombie games, some of them even in a WWII setting, which is concerning.

More pirate games is always good
yakyb 21st September 2009, 16:57 Quote
I loved the Far cry 2 setting i just beleive it could have been done so much better
ffjason 21st September 2009, 17:12 Quote
Agreeing that WWII games are booooooring now. Glad i'm not the only one.
chocolateraisins 21st September 2009, 17:16 Quote
the only reason its milked out so much is that was the last time America did something beneficial to the world through war..

:)
Combinho 21st September 2009, 17:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by yakyb
I loved the Far cry 2 setting i just beleive it could have been done so much better

+1. Far Cry 2 was a pretty bad game IMHO, but a realistic FPS set in an African civil war could be very good, as well as raise some complex issues. Although I doubt child soldiers would be involved.
Altron 21st September 2009, 17:34 Quote
I too would like to play something different. WW2 is fun, but every game has the same guns, the same play style, and the same maps. I played soooo much Return to Castle Wolfenstein back 'in the day' like 2001/2002, and every game I see just looks like it has the same characters, weapons, and terrain types. I guess that's one of the reasons I liked Half Life a lot - I thought the setting was very interesting, and the play-style was different.

There are so many interesting themes in movies and novels that could probably make great games.
How about Mad Max? I think a Mad Max game would be epic. Make it sorta like Grand Theft Auto combined with "Freelancer". You start off with a car, and you can buy armor, upgrades, weapons, and all sorts of stuff like that, and go on missions and stuff.
Or why not Stephen King's "The Gunslinger"? It's a series where the main hero is this sort of immortal knight-errant, but with a gun instead of a sword, and he is on this sort of endless quest thingy. Doesn't have to have the plot, but the setting and characters from "The Gunslinger" would make a pretty interesting game.
Zoon 21st September 2009, 17:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpaca
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjm25
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Why can't we play as good Nazis?

oooooohhhhhh... too soon? ;)

people don't like to eat babies, murder puppies or club seals in a videogame

People who play KoL would disagree with the last one, and perhaps the middle one. Although KoL does it in a cute and funny way.

Don't see much of a cute or funny way to do the first one. Eeeuw.
Jack_Pepsi 21st September 2009, 17:46 Quote
We need the X-Ray engine to either improve or for later STALKER games to use a better engine. I gave up on WWII games after CoD 2 - I want something that is relatively close to our time (a few years ahead of now) with manky mutants, slobbering zombies, and the after-thought of....

:O

This could actually (have) happen(ed)!

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. made in the Dunia engine, that'd be awesome.
Nexxo 21st September 2009, 17:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by HugoB
I almost forgot, I'm getting sick of 'space marine' games, too. ODST is a bit of a change of pace, but seriously guys, let's have a new genre already.
QFT.

Don't get me wrong: I like shoot-em-ups like Unreal Tournament or Quake, but mainly because of the surreal, over-the-top quality about them. Realistic depictions of wars give me the creeps. Anyone who wants a Medal of Honour should just sign up to the army for that lifelike HD surround-sound experience.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Why can't we play as good Nazis?
Because:
SO5WoLnOOlU
TSR2 21st September 2009, 18:19 Quote
It is really rather annoying that most games do seem to be focused on WW2. Why not focus a game on some of the other wars? Pre about 1850 would be pretty hard to do as anything but RTS, as there wasn't much scope for individuality then (unless you play as a skirmisher) and death was pretty much a lottery, but some of the colonial wars would be interesting; be put in charge of a gunboat and have the responsibility of sorting it out. You could even put some pirates in (stopping slavery and all that), or something like the Zulu wars. However, this would incur flak from the PC brigade and it just wouldn't sell in the States.
1ad7 21st September 2009, 18:21 Quote
I agree WW2 is getting a bit old. The only WW2 game I can see my self buying is a Massive Online type, 2 Hour battles and 150 people on each side.

Developers need to pick a new war. I could go for some vietnam games but I dont think that is going to happen.
Red 5 21st September 2009, 19:45 Quote
I refuse to buy any game based within a real conflict, or which supplants one (i.e 'modern, desert' setting), unless it's placed far from reality (e.g Wolfenstein's supernaturalism), so I grew tired of them long ago. How long has it been since the realistic ones started, about a decade? I think they've had long enough.
mute1 22nd September 2009, 00:40 Quote
Joe, I would pretty much agree with your theory, except to me it was not so much that World War II offers a unique window into humanity but that it is so familiar to a mass audience. The fact that all these games do not explore any of the more interesting aspects in a deep way testifies to that (e.g. the murder of virtually the entire Soviet army command structure in the 30s and 40s and the effect that had on their defence against the German invasion; the increase in anti-Semitism in the USSR after the invasion; the unofficial war between the Soviets and the Japanese in the East, where the Soviets won decisively enough that they could turn the attention to the East; etc; etc; etc).

As some others have pointed out, there are many, many, many very interesting periods in history that would make great games: any one who has studied late Republican or early imperial Roman history would agree (really any period of Roman history in the right hands would make a great game). The life of Caesar? Incredibly complex and fascinating. So too the life of Alexander the Great. Either one in my mind would make a great FPS/RPG hybrid (seriously - I know how it would work, but no room to discuss it here. No scepticism, please).

Somewhat off-topic but hopefully the development of Dante's Inferno will lead to the conversion of more literature into games (no matter how much that particular game has discarded the themes of sin, repentance, faith, etc present in the original). The Odyssey? Great game waiting to happen. The Iliad? Maybe. The Aeneid, Don Quixote, Count of Monte Cristo, Nineteen Eighty-Four... the list is endless. And it is not necessarily a bad thing for a new take to be made on these (a la American McGee's Alice).

Bit more on topic but I consider it a greater problem that RPGs sit in almost two settings: fantasy (medieval kind with magic, etc) and sci-fi (Star Wars, Mass Effect, etc-kind). No matter how good they are, it gets a little tedious. I don't count Deus Ex in the sci-fi category as it was different enough to warrant being called original. One reason it is the best game of all time (please let it be remade...). I can't play Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines any more - I've finished it about ten times. Everything is etched indelibly into my memory. Hopefully Alpha Protocol will be good.

(Apologies for the essay...)
thehippoz 22nd September 2009, 00:57 Quote
american civil war.. that would be interesting- like call of juarez games.. if they do another ww2 game it should be based on hogan's heros.. with the ridiculous german accents and hogan making them look like fools- oh nm they already made wolfenstein
dec 22nd September 2009, 01:52 Quote
what about vietnam or korea a good jungle war cant hurt right? i dont mine ww2 games but so many of them are about the americans in the war. change it up a little. what if germany/japan/italy/etc won? what if normandy was the disaster that it almost was?

id like to see a game set in south america. FPS guerilla warfare style

@person w/essay. 1984 would be an awesome game....as long as its done right
CardJoe 22nd September 2009, 09:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mute1
snip

A truly excellently written post - +rep!

As for all those people talking about Vietnam or Korean War games, well there are already plenty of those. They're just mainly really, really bad and made from a purely American perspective. At least, the ones I've played have been.
Xir 22nd September 2009, 09:57 Quote
The alternative theaters... Battlefield Vietnam, Vietcong...even (the excellent) Vampires the masquerade have one thing in common...they sold badly

That's the simple reason why we keep returning to WW2.

Far Cry 2 was beeing put down as racist because most of the opponents are black (cause it's okay to kill nazi's or russians but not black people Mkay?)
Kris 22nd September 2009, 10:00 Quote
Mhm, you are so right Joe - why can't be there something different for a change... Like someone mentioned, a ninja game(perhaps an RPG to boot?) would be great :)
Aragon Speed 22nd September 2009, 10:09 Quote
Here are the last 3 games that I bought in order:

Call of Duty 2
Oblivion
Mass Effect

I would buy more games, but lately (Last 2-3 years) I am finding it hard to find a game that is interesting enough for me to want to pay out £35-£40 for it; They all seem like rehashes of previous games.

While this is not totally unavoidable as there are only so many genres to pick and choose from, they could at least not make them total carbon copies of what has gone before with a tweaked GFX engine.

WW2 games as mentioned in the OP are the worst offender, and there are so many of them currently, that it is becoming hard to find anything but these games grinning at you from the shelves, but this syndrome is not just limited to that type of game, just that they are the most obvious culprits due to their promiscuous ways.

Mass Effect is one of the few games recently that made me want to buy it, and I have enjoyed it hugely over the last few months (even though it is criminally short for something with RPG tendencies IMO) because it is not just another carbon copy game.

I feel that the reason I enjoyed Mass Effect so much was because of the plot (it had one for a start), some more story driven games with today's graphics engines to back them up (not a GFX engine with a weak plot tagged on to give the player a very shallow reason to be doing whatever they are currently supposed to be doing) would help tremendously in creating more varied, interesting, and satisfying games as far as I am concerned.
binary101 22nd September 2009, 11:38 Quote
Quote:
I agree WW2 is getting a bit old. The only WW2 game I can see my self buying is a Massive Online type, 2 Hour battles and 150 people on each side.

Have a look at Battleground Europe http://www.battlegroundeurope.com/ the graphics is so so but its a WW2 MMOFPS. The battle for a town/city can last for days wtih tanks, planes, aa and at guns, more than 150 on each side i can tell you that.
Rocket_Knight64 22nd September 2009, 12:53 Quote
Stuey 22nd September 2009, 14:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Um, I'm not really in a position where I can...
Why?
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehippoz
american civil war.. that would be interesting-
That'll likely never happen - there's still bitter sentiment over that in the south.
thehippoz 22nd September 2009, 16:52 Quote
Quote:
That'll likely never happen - there's still bitter sentiment over that in the south.

I guess.. they re-enact it all the time though in full costume and everything

that monkey island remake on the cryengine looks good- I didn't care too much for the cartooney remake of the first one.. the voice acting was tops, couldn't have been better than that, but I found myself playing in the old format more than the new updated

they should make a emo game called cry of ritalin, that might make joe change his mind and go running back to the ww2 genre
Stuey 22nd September 2009, 23:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehippoz
I guess.. they re-enact it all the time though in full costume and everything

I'm not sure, but I don't think I've ever heard of a reenactment in a Northern state. In quite a few Southern communities, people just haven't gotten past it yet, nevermind that the Civil War ended before they were even born. That the South still dwells on the war fuels a lot of jokes on Family Guy and elsewhere.
Dosvedagna 23rd September 2009, 10:46 Quote
Couldnt agree more, theyre over produced and getting dull and uninteresting, medal of honour is a particularly shining example of a bad, boring, repetitive war game - a series long dead in my eyes.

and as for pirates....

YARRR!!

heh

(also how awesome would it be, for a pirate game with really innovative sword fighting... guns are point and shoot so its easy to program, but how awesome would it be to have complex theatrical sword fights in games??)
OtakuHawk 24th September 2009, 23:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjm25
Don't worry joe, it'll be over by Christmas.

this post is win on large variety of levels. I applaud you sir.
Yemerich 25th September 2009, 16:33 Quote
The answer to why they don't do this or that is ALWAYS the same:
MONEY!

It's ok to ruin a franchise like fallout because of money. And them claiming they sold more than the previous ones combined.

They make WWII games because it sells good. Pirates? I would love to see one, but i really don't think it will sell well.

Actually what I can't see anymore is FPS's... WWII, in future, or anything like that. The only one i really care about is L4D because of the multiplayer. Period.
slugbug 29th September 2009, 05:20 Quote
Has there ever been a WW1 combat game?
captainpie 8th October 2009, 14:13 Quote
some of the mods for red orchestra are quite cool with the different theatres of ww2 there. Also i recall a mod for half life i think which was based in colonial america. dont know how far it was developed but it looked like it had potential
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