Monday, March 12, 2018

So many Calls to Duty

Talking about the campaign of Call of Duty game feels pointless. WWII was pretty good, not as good as Infinite Warfare (yes, I unironically liked Infinite Warfare) but still a good ride. There was a basic story that followed a kid from Texas through a few real World War II events and many more imagined ones. The D-Day invasion was back and it still did not induce the same level of panic as Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. Perhaps decades of shooter have callused me to that specific event. The Battle of the Bulge was new but I do not know enough about military history to tell if it was in any way accurate.

It did make me revisit the question as to why World War II is such a bottomless well of video game material. The answer is two fold. First, it was the last war or conflict or police action in which the good guy and the bad guy roles were clearly labeled, and not just from a 'merican point of view. History lays out clearly that the Nazi's were terrible. Roles of individual Allied nations are undoubtedly exaggerated in their respective history books but even Germany agrees that yeah, we were pretty shitty then and no, no one is allowed to used that imagery ever again.

This makes it basically ok to kill imaginary Nazis. They are little more than storm troopers with better aim. Up until Wolfenstein II I didn't think anyone would argue that fact. The people who did argue that fact recently made it more obvious that yes, it is still very much okay to shoot fictional Nazis.

Second, the vast majority of WWII veterans have died but not so long ago as that they have been forgotten. This coupled with the few remaining survivors makes WWII almost a legend but just real enough, just present enough in the group American consciousness, that exaggerations of heroics are accepted, almost embraced, as truth. We like hearing about GIs rescuing people from concentration camps because it did indeed happen, it's just that the fish has gotten bigger with each subsequent telling.

I would not say that I come from a military family but the facts say different. Both of my grandfathers served in World War II, one as a mechanic on an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific and the other never said a damn thing about what he had done other than to dismiss his purple heart as being awarded for having a jeep back into him on base. There is just enough there that a good story, or a good shooter, has an Animus like effect on me in spite of being completely fictional. This works because WWII was a good war, at least for us, making it okay to relive and honor the events.

Side note: my father enlisted to avoid being drafted during the Vietnam war. They put him on a target range and he intentionally missed the target. They tried to teach him Vietnamese and he could not make the correct sounds with his midwestern mouth. So they sent him to Goose Bay, Labrador to tend bar. True story.

So yes, the story of a Texan kid and the conflict between his commanding officer who respects and loves his men (literally Tom Hanks from Saving Private Ryan) and his by the books second who is more than willing to feed soldiers into a meat grinder if that means obeying orders was effective. When the Texan kid decides to stay with his unit in spite of being injured enough to go home just to save his friend (who happens to be Jewish) from the Nazis it's not sappy, it's awesome.

I guess we aren't tired of WWII yet, after all.

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