The Fourth of July means parades, fireworks, barbecues, and a celebration of all things America. While you could be enjoying that time outside with your friends and family, you could also be indulging in some overly patriotic gaming instead.
We’ve rounded up 9 of the best examples of overly patriotic moments in gaming so you can revel in that cosy all American feeling, no matter what the weather. And who knows? You might even learn something on the subject.
DUKE FOR PRESIDENT
Game: ‘Duke Nukem Forever’
The Duke Nukem series has always been ridiculously over the top in its portrayal of America, offering a plentiful supply of shootouts and explosions, usually against some kind of invading force. Duke Nukem is the archetypal action hero, a parody of the likes of John McClane or any Sylvester Stallone character. He thinks he’s God’s Gift to women, he offers an endless supply of one-liners, and he’s frequently politically incorrect to others.
That’s why it comes as a surprise at the end of Duke Nukem Forever when he announces his intention to run for president. Does the country need that kind of leader? Maybe it’s a good thing that the game’s poor reception means we’ll probably never find out what might happen in a sequel.
DON’T WANT TO CLOSE MY EYES
Game: ‘Saints Row IV’
A tongue-in-cheek take on the Grand Theft Auto series—which is itself a vicious satirization of many aspects of American culture—the Saints Row games are full of parody and over the top patriotism. But Saints Row IV is where it really peaks. You play the newly elected President as he attempts to take down alien forces with various special powers and weapons, including a dubstep gun.
There are many iconic moments in there, but the best is right at the beginning when you climb a nuclear missile mid-launch and stop it from destroying the country, all to the dulcet tones of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing.” Now that’s American.
HAIL TO THE CHIEF
Game: ‘Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja’
Arriving at the tail end of the Cold War, Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja didn’t pull any punches, both literally and figuratively. In it President Ronnie, a character based on then President Ronald Reagan, has been kidnapped, and it’s down to the “Bad Dudes”—Blade and Striker—to save him.
You run from side to side beating up everything in your wake, in a typical show of machismo. The ending is where things get really over the top, as you find yourself sharing a burger with the President outside the White House, while an 8-bit version of Hail To The Chief plays. It’s the stuff that American dreams are made of.
Game: ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’
All the Call of Duty games tend to go a little over the top with their depictions of patriotism. The first Black Ops game went even further than that, though, given the US’s newly repaired relationship with Cuba.
Set during the Cold War, one mission has you trying to kill a young Fidel Castro. If that didn’t sound initially awkward, it gets worse when you gain an achievement or trophy for killing him with a headshot. Sometimes those overly patriotic moments can backfire quite badly.
TALK ABOUT GLOBALIZATION
Game: ‘Metal Wolf Chaos’
Only released in Japan and for the original Xbox, it’s bizarre that Metal Wolf Chaos happens to be one of the most overly patriotic games out there. You control Michael Wilson, a fictitious President, as he shoots everything in sight. It’s all in the name of reuniting the country after the Vice President turns against you, leading to some significant civil unrest.
The over-the-top American imagery is in plentiful supply here, and your patriotic heart will swell at the game’s final speech about fighting for freedom being the American way. Or it would, anyway, if the game had actually been released here. Right.
AMERICA NEEDS YOU
Game: ‘Captain America and The Avengers’
Given Captain America’s origins as a form of patriotic propaganda, it’s no surprise that the games capture that spirit so well. A 1990s side scrolling beat em up in the style of Streets of Rage and countless other retro games, Captain America and The Avengers has you fighting hand to hand against Red Skull and his army in an admittedly fairly formulaic tale.
Where the game really gets your patriotic urges is when you die. A continue screen appears with a voice over shouting “America still needs your help!” reminding you to get back up and save your country.
Game: ‘America’s Army’
Conceived as a way to give people a virtual soldier experience, sort of, America’s Army exudes patriotism from its every raging pore. Promoting the Army’s seven core values, honor is everything here, even more so than simply racking up kills.
America’s Army is a team based tactical shooter at heart, demonstrating the importance of sticking together in battle. While it’s never going to capture the true experience or the danger involved, it’s the kind of game that practically demands fanfare and a huge bald eagle to appear at regular points.
Game: ‘Patriotic Pinball’
In an unusual move, Patriotic Pinball combines what it means to be an American with the classic game of Pinball. It makes little sense, but it does give you the chance to play two tables full of flashing lights, fireworks, and a strange focus on the military side of the country.
It may be a poor way to play Pinball, but it’s also undeniably patriotic.
Game: ‘Assassin’s Creed 3’
Assassin’s Creed III is easily the most educational game on the list. Set around the American Revolution, it can hardly help itself from being patriotic, even as it inserts conspiracy theory subplots into every historical American milestone.
You’re able to explore 18th-century Boston, New York City, and the American frontier and it all looks reasonably realistic. Of course, Templars and Assassins didn’t actually play a role in the Revolution—as far as we know, at least—but you’ll still learn a surprising amount about that period through what unfolds here.
Isn’t that what the Fourth of July is really all about? No? Well OK then. Back to the BBQ, beer and fireworks.
Jennifer Allen is a freelance writer based in not-so-sunny Wales. She’s been gaming for over 20 years and cites Final Fantasy VII and Goldeneye as “life-changing.” Jennifer has written for outlets such as GamePro.com, G4TV.com, and PasteMagazine.com. In her free time, she pretends she knows what she’s doing at the gym.
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