The Fourth of July is the one day all year that everyone’s inner patriot really comes out, you may not have the flag hanging off of your mailbox, but it’s a day where Americans come together and celebrate our freedom. It’s a fun day typically full of cookouts, family gatherings, fireworks, parades, and relaxing in the sun (unless you live where I live and it’s overcast all day.)
There are lots of video games that have come out over the years that aren’t necessarily meant to be patriotic, but have a very American atmosphere to them. Yes, most of them are shooters, but I think at this point, the Shooter seems to just be the American genre at this point, so I suppose it’s best to embrace that and roll with it. Anyway, let’s roll out the freedom and talk about the Top 5 games that you should be playing during the 4th of July weekend.
5) Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland
Hey, it has “American” in the title, how can you go wrong? THAW was all about freedom, freedom to find new parts to the skate park, find new areas to skate in, do side missions, customize your character, and do whatever you want at your own leisurely pace while also increasing your own abilities. Is the story anything about heroism, patriotism, or being all that you can be? Well no, it’s a game about skateboarding and building an awesome skatepark, but it does all of those things so well, it makes you feel free, it gives you tons of options, and for a game that came out in 2005, that’s saying a lot.
It was on that PS2/PS3, Xbox/Xbox 360 fringe, and it performed just as well on both generations. It may not hold the nostalgia for most people that Pro Skater 2 does, because that game was a masterpiece, and I can’t dispute that. I will, however, stand by THAW as my favorite Tony Hawk game, and as one of the first games that I played that truly gave me a sense of freedom, and come on, what’s more American than freedom? Besides apple pie, of course.
4) Call of Duty: World at War
Aside from perhaps the Revolutionary War, World War II is my favorite war that America was involved in, probably thanks to the display of badassery the USA put on during the war, especially in the Pacific Theater after Pearl Harbor. Don’t get me wrong, Modern Warfare 1 and 2 were two of my favorite COD games ever, but World at War was just an awesome game from top to bottom, and the campaign was the best combination of gritty dark atmosphere and slam-bang action. The Russian campaign was really cool, and the characters were all memorable, but the American Pacific campaign was like Saving Private Ryan if it had been written by Quentin Tarantino.
The opening of the game where you have to watch as your friends get brutally murdered in front of you by Japanese officers is just completely hardcore even for a COD game. Every moment after that is just crazier and crazier, and to my knowledge, it was the only COD with real nasty gore and dismemberment, adding to the nitty-gritty WWII experience. I wouldn’t say that America is about blood, gore, and going to war with other countries, but if you want a WWII experience that trumps all others, even if you hate COD, if you haven’t played World at War, you should definitely give it a shot.
3) Saints Row IV
The most American thing you can do is become the President of the United States, and to one-up that, having super powers makes you even better, and in Saints Row IV, that’s a totally feasible thing. Not only that, but you get to run around and punch aliens in the head, smack them with giant dildos, blow them up with fireballs, ground pound them into dust, run them over with hover tanks, and lots of other things. Again, with the theme of freedom, this game makes you feel free as a bird, being able to run at supersonic speeds, clearing buildings with a single leap, gliding, and leaving explosions and fire in your wake.
The story is nothing novel-worthy, but listening to Nolan North as the President is kind of a treat, especially after hearing him as Deadpool for so long, it was pretty humorous. Saints Row IV was not as well received by long-time fans of the series because of how radically different it was from past entries in the series. The Crackdown-type gameplay put off a lot of people, however, those that went in with an open mind really liked it, I know I personally thought it was an awesome just absolutely ridiculous fun time. But hey, America has made a lot of changes since it was born back in 1776, and I’d say that life is a lot better now than it was back then, so I see that change as a good thing.
2) Bioshock Infinite
Bioshock Infinite was the last entry in the Bioshock series on last-gen consoles that brought the whole series full circle in a very confusing way, but it did it nonetheless. While the first two games take place in the underwater city of Rapture, while Infinite takes place in the sky-high city of New Columbus in the year 1912, and patriotism is everywhere. Between the propaganda posters hung up all over the place, the flag being flown in every doorway, outside every storefront, and robotic replicas of George Washington with machine guns that want nothing more than to murder you in the most red, white, and blue way possible.
Although it’s a pretty dark take on America, it’s not far off from how things were at one time, between the racism, the god-fearing folks preaching to you as you walk down the street, and the merchants peddling their bullshit magical serums to everyone everywhere (except in this case, they’re vigors, so they’re actually really magical). There are some pretty disturbing segments in the campaign like being encouraged to throw a baseball at an interracial couple because it’s 1912 and thank god we’ve made it as far as we have in the last hundred years, because it’s pretty depressing to think that people really thought this way at one time. But hey, once again, America has made some seriously good changes in its life, so let’s have a toast to 100 more years of good change!
1) Fallout 3
Now, sure, Fallout 3 takes place in the bombed-out husk that once was our great nation’s capitol, but you can’t have everything at the same time! Somehow I don’t think we could get away with the crap we do in Fallout 3 if we were in modern-day Washington D.C., people usually don’t take kindly to blowing them up with alien weaponry and stealing their clothes. This game reeks of patriotism though, between the old-timey radio that plays some of the best classics from America, or that one radio station that just plays the star-spangled banner and other American classics that make you cry a single tear of freedom, or make you want to blow your brains out with a 40mm pistol, you know, whichever.
Everywhere you go in the Capitol Wasteland you find remnants of what America had been before the war that preceded, not only the buildings, the rusted out cars, but weapons like Lincoln’s Repeater pass down the power of ole’ Honest Abe right down to you. The choices that you make can weigh heavily on the rest of the game, such as deciding to blow up Megaton, killing off certain characters, stealing things from people, it’s up to you whether you want to be a model citizen or a terrorizer of the good people of the Capitol Wasteland.
So what game will you play? What kind of American experience do you want when you play a video game? Try one of these games if you haven’t played them already, they’re all awesome, whether on the fourth or not, so try them out!
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