|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Atomic Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: TBA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: TBA||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (Multiple Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
December 14, 2009 - Six Days in Fallujah claims to be one of the most realistic war video games ever created, and it's also one of the most controversial. The game has garnered so much negative press that the publisher, Konami, has dropped it like a proverbial hot potato, leaving developer Atomic Games in a precarious position. If they don't get a publisher soon, the company may cease to exist and the game may never see the light of day.
Six Days in Fallujah follows the real-life exploits of American forces during the 46-day battle that took place in this central Iraqi city. The battle began on November 7, 2004 and lasted to December 23 of the same year. More than 1,000 insurgents were killed, and 38 U.S. soldiers lost their lives. The game has taken more than three years to develop at a cost of twenty-million dollars, and it's still not finished due to a lack of funding and the risk that there might not be a publisher to market and distribute the game to consumers.
Realistic war games are nothing new, as titles such as Medal of Honor and Call of Duty are among some of the most popular of all video games. The controversy over Six Days in Fallujah is that it's too realistic. It was developed with the help of marines that actually took part in the battle. They added their experiences, their perspectives, their fears, as well as their names and likenesses. Some claim that this game is disrespectful to those that lost their lives. They call it tasteless. The outcry comes from soldiers, officers, anti-war groups, members of the U.S. and U.K. governments, and also from family members of the slain soldiers. That's hard-boiled controversy. So, can you blame Konami for not wanting to touch this?
Please forgive me as I editorialize for a paragraph or two, as I really believe that we must all do some thinking about this situation. First of all, regardless of your position, let us never forget that our military is defending our freedom. People are dying for the right to produce a game like this. That's what freedom is all about, like it or not. I have not played the game, so I cannot say that it's tasteless, and even if it is, that's part of living in the Free World; a great part. The developers have purposely left out the names and likenesses of any of the fallen soldiers. You also cannot play as the insurgents, so you will not be killing any U.S. soldiers. Let us keep in mind that actual Marines were a part of the creation of this game. They wanted their story told. They wanted to share their experiences with the world. There is nothing legally wrong with this, nor in my opinion is there anything morally wrong with it. I will admit that I am opposed to war, as long as there are still diplomatic measures to exploit. But, such decisions are not made by these soldiers, and when they are willingly risk their lives for their country, I have nothing but the utmost respect for them. Perhaps it's not such a bad idea to see exactly what hell they face.
I think the problem that most people have with Six Days in Fallujah is that it's associated with the word "game." There's no denying the word somewhat trivializes it in some peoples' minds, but that's because these people are unaware of the advances in video games since the days of Ms. Pac-Man. Six Days in Fallujah should be called a simulation. As a matter of fact, Atomic Games was in the process of developing a sim for the U.S. Marine Corps, using members of the Third Battalion First Marines in the development process. These same marines were called to duty during the process to participate in The Second Battle of Fallujah. When they returned, they convinced Atomic Games to create the most realistic depiction of war ever, an interactive documentary on the Battle of Fallujah.
Presented as a third-person shooter, Six Days in Fallujah follows the exploits of the Third Battalion over the course of six days as they attempt to liberate the city of Fallujah of insurgents. Although it's a war game, the genre is classified as survival horror. The horrors of war should be obvious. Survival is the name of the game as you never know what dangers lurk around the next corner or behind the next door. As the real marines did, you will make your way through the ancient streets of Fallujah going door to door in search of insurgents. These rebels will stop at nothing to kill you. Many of them are resigned not to leave the city alive as they lay in wait to ambush you. You will search many homes and rooms with no success, and then when you least expect it the insurgents will surprise and attack; and let's not forget the booby traps. Urban warfare is a different kind of beast. It requires patience, planning, and incredible strategic tactics, all of which is depicted in the game.
Weapons include assault rifles, grenades, C4 explosives, and air strikes, which can be called in to clear a building from overhead. Explosives are used to blast holes in walls in hopes of surprising insurgents by making an unexpected entrance. Thanks to a newly designed engine, the environment is totally destructible. This destruction plays an integral part in the strategy, since you can use sections for cover and even implode entire structures on the enemy. As in real life, you will use whatever limited tools, weapons, and strategies you have at your disposal.
According to Atomic Games' president Peter Tamte, unlike other media, the interactive nature of the video game allows players to put themselves in realistic decision-making processes. In this way, players will experience war as close to first-hand as possible. Movies, books, and even stories are passive. Though they may chronicle events as precisely as possible, you cannot influence the outcome. He claims that such interaction gives people a deeper level of understanding.
Let's hope that Six Days in Fallujah finds a publisher. This is a story that needs to be told. It's more than a game. For those that are opposed to its release, I can respect that but you have the freedom of choice not to purchase or play it. Let us never forget those that died so that we can live and let live.
CCC Senior Writer