WW2 Games Aren't Dead, They Just Need New Digs

As has been established by science, there are over 100 recent video games set during the Second World War. Yet for a war that literally spanned the globe, we sure do spend a lot of time in, and above, France.

John Constantine over at MTV has written a piece today on alternative locations for WW2 games, which I am going to add to, as this is something that's been grinding my gears for some time now as well.

I mean, how many times do we need to storm the beaches of Normandy? Or scour the ruins of Berlin? It's no wonder people say they're sick of playing WW2 games when they play the same people fighting the same enemy in the same locations over and over and over.

The Second World War was fought across Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, North Atlantic, Indian sub-continent, South East Asia, the South Pacific, even Australasia, so it's time games started mixing things up and representing some of these theatres. Who knows, it may even breathe a little life into a "genre" the industry has finally decided has had its day.

John listed five (one of which, Egypt, has actually been well represented in both Call of Duty and strategy titles), so I'm going to list five more, involving theatres and nations that go a little beyond your standard Allies vs Nazis fare.

The Malayan Campaign - While Japan's attacks on Pearl Harbour have been well-covered, their initial attacks on the British Empire have not. The Malayan campaign saw the Japanese army completely overrun an ill-prepared force of British, Australian, Indian and local forces, and would end with the fall of Singapore, the single largest surrender in the history of the British armed forces.

East Africa - One of the forgotten theatres of the war, the East African campaign saw a motley collection of "British" troops - from Britain, South Africa, India, African colonies and even some Belgian and Palestinian forces - take on the Italians in what is now modern day Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Sudan. Hardly the most epic confrontations of the war, but the terrain, locals and forces involved are more than unique enough to make up for it.

Korea - Another forgotten theatre, Korea saw action in the closing days of the war when the Soviet Union, free to focus on the Pacific theatre with the Germans defeated, declared war on Japan and invaded Mongolia and Korea. The weary Japanese forces were completely overrun, with the speed and brutality of the Soviet offensive doing much to contribute to Japan's surrender, a fact often overlooked by Western historians.

New Guinea - In 1942, the island of New Guinea - at the time governed by Australia - was invaded by the Japanese. Throughout the next year the Japanese and Australian armies would fight bitterly along the "Kokoda Track", a campaign now famous for the fact it for the first time blunted the Japanese land advance in the South Pacific.

Finland - Finland's participation in the Second World War is both fascinating and tragic, as the Scandinavian state actually fought three separate conflicts between 1939 and 1945. The first, the Winter War, was when the Soviet Union - as part of the same deal that saw the Soviets and Nazis divide Poland between them - invaded. Against the odds, the Finns defeated the Russians. The second conflict came when the Finns sided with the Nazis and invaded the USSR, hoping to reclaim some territory lost in the Winter War. By 1944, however, the Finns had turned on the Germans, and fought a series of battles in Lapland, driving them back into German-held Norway.

Those are just five to get us started. There are plenty more worth investigating - Japan's advance on India, the Chinese Communist Party's guerilla war and Operation Pastorius (German subs landing spies on the US mainland) - and that's just a few. Hopefully in the years to come some of these unheralded (yet extraordinary) tales can be brought to life in a game, showing that it's not necessarily the war that's grown stale, it's just certain parts of it.


Comments

    How about no? I mean I love WWII games but can you imagine how badly they would stereotype us Aussies? Ive heard enough Aussie slang stereotypes in games thank you very much.

      I disagree, I don't see what's so bad about the Aussie colloquialism being thrown around thus far. Heck, it's rare to even have an Aussie character full stop (unless we're referring to the Sniper in TF2 but the whole point of characters in that game is that they're over the top)

      The Aussie campaign in New Guinea is a something that should get some attention. Even a small number of missions would be awesome, just enough to give it some exposure.

    I've always thought that the Winter War in particular would be a fantastic game - this is the conflict that had possibly the greatest sniper of all time (Simo Hayha - google him for awesome stories...) as well as the birth of the molotov cocktail! The finns were woefully outnumbered, but just fought amazingly hard to preserve their homeland... but it will probably never get made because they ended up allied with the Axis for parts of the war, which makes for bad PR.

    You could base an entire game around New Guinea alone, Kokoda, Milne Bay, Suvla Bay, Gona...

    The Australians we're on mop up duty in New Guinea while the Americans were on their Island Hopping march through SE Asia...and that mop up duty was some of the bloodiest fighthing in the war.

    Id like to see Australians get a bit of recognition for what we did in the Pacific...since we got ignored by Treyarch in World at War.

    I was really disappointed with COD: World at War, for the fact they didn't focus on other parts of the Pacific campaign, like how earlier COD titles featured the British campaign in Egypt. Oh well.

    A WW2 FPS set on the Kokoda Track and in the rest of New Guinea would sure as hell have my attention. My mind is running wild and i have a silly grin on my face at just the thought!
    Does anyone else think could the Darwin Bombings make an interesting setting?

      I've got $5 that says it's refused classification.
      Although, that at least would bring the issue to a head.

    I'd actually be interested in a WW1 game...the fact that most of the weaponry evolved very quickly over that period, and the different types of emerging warfare...

    Mind you, people probably wouldn't like being denied chainguns or rocket launchers...

    Studios don't bother with these aspects of the war because they lack one defining, cash-winning aspect;
    Americans.
    If there aren't battalions of Yanks whuppin' Jerry and Tojo's ass, then the American audiences don't care, and they wont buy it. It isn't financially viable for them, as the US is the largest market for FPS games.
    It's a massive, crying shame, really, because while Americans did a (mostly) good job, they don't compare to how hard the Aussie, British and other colonials had to work and fight to achieve their goals. I'd love to see one of these games come to life.

      I agree with your market analysis, however what I don't agree with is you making a point that somehow the yanks weren't involved in any fighting that was as brutal as the other allied nations. quite franklin delano roosevelt, that's ridonkulous!

    Playing through Hell Highway, makes me feel we haven't even scratched the surface of WWII.

    I like all those suggestions. I doubt we'll see these though as over the last 20-30 years the focus on WW2 in entertainment has shifted nearly entirely to Nazis and the Holocaust.

    In the USA, the History Channel may as well be renamed to the "Hitler Channel" because all you ever see are programs about him and the Nazis. The Pacific theatre is forgotten unless they do something on Pearl Harbor or the atomic bombs. As for other theatres, it's like they don't know there were any.

    Would love a game based on the memoir by Eugene B Sledge called With the Old Breed ( Pacific theater )

    Maybe the upcoming mini series called the Pacific ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0374463/ ) will inspire a Dev to create it

    What I want to know is why haven't we had a Korean War game? That was one of the more "exciting" wars for technical development, and overall strategic manouver. the only one i can recall was Mig Alley, or something like that, a flight sim... WHICH MY BROTHER NEVER LET ME PLAY :P

    I would love to re-enact any scene from Band of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan with Call of Duty intensity.

      COD 1, 2 & 3. Go knock yourself out.

    As CloneTrooper mentioned, there is a lot more to Australia's efforts in New Guinea than Kokoda.

    Although, I wouldn't call it 'mopping up'.

    The Syria-Lebanon Campaign is rarely mentioned either.

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