The War

Check In: Today it became clear that I have a cold, or some other dastard virus. I’ve found that steamy showers multiple times a day are keeping the post-nasal drip and itchy throat at bay, but today, my body went into full on you’re not going anywhere fatigue mode.

That’s the Wright Brothers’ plane! In Kitty Hawk in 1903, Charles Lindbergh flew it 15 miles on a thimble full of corn oil. Single-handedly won us the Civil War, it did. — Grandpa Abraham Simpson, Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming

I’ve been developing a certain taste for unreliable-narrator first-person shooters. Games that fit both qualifications, unreliable narrator and FPS are not very common, and I’m not even sure I have been playing any. So I’m not entirely clear how this evolved into a fetish.

There are very few games that actually feature unreliable narration and first-person play in the same place. Borderlands, perhaps, or Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. I’ve not played the latter.

One of my greatest gaming moments, though, was that (unspecific) moment in Portal (the first one) in which I realized to my horror that I am not, in fact, Chell, the scientist’s daughter getting tested for fun and community outreach in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center. Rather, I am, in fact, Chell, the captured test subject being held against my will in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center being toyed with and forced to test by GlaDOS. And this AI could kill me at any time but hasn’t for the soul reason that I’m more interesting alive.

Anyway, the quote from Grandpa above and some small part of Yahtzee Croshaw’s review of Enemy Front (which otherwise sounds like a terribly quotidian game) gave me this idea:

An old grandfather tells his grandkids about the war. In the game the player is Grandpa, as he remembers his experiences from fifty years ago when he was a young soldier. And the game plays out as he spins those adventures to his grandkids.

Grandpa is a bit dotty.

War action is unevenly blended with famous movie scenes and anachronism. Sometimes the bad guys have pointed helmets, sometimes they’re furry hats, sometimes they’re gray or butternut Käppi Sometimes they’re the Gerrys, sometimes the Reds, sometimes the Ijas He might even encounter some Charlies and Tangos

Grandpa missions feature two-fisted pulp action sequences such as running from giant stone balls and fighting giant apes atop skyscrapers, battling giant (Nazi combat) sharks and fighting the enemy through ancient city streets of gold and turquoise.

There was even a point when Grandpa was in a plane speeding through a narrow canyon, gunner turrets at all sides and ace fighters at his six. He dropped a special bomb and wiped out a huge and critical enemy installation which slowed the Axis enough to evacuate an allied base. (That one, actually happened.)

And while grandpa may not have super-powers, expect that he’ll occasionally accomplish tall-tale feats like:

~ I took a sniper shot from Lanouée to the Wehrmacht officers’ forward HQ in Guillac. Dwayne said it couldn’t be done with a Springfield, and he was probably right, but that day I got lucky. I didn’t hit Oberstleutnant Cramer, but instead set fire to the writ from the Führer that let them open the supply depot at Ploërmel. Transfers to the Russian front daunted everyone in the Wehrmacht and keeping the paper trail intact was a big deal. The depot couldn’t be opened for at least two more days while another order was secured, giving us the critical time we needed to push forward with the sabotage operation.

~ As I flew through the smoke and flaming debris, what I didn’t see was sheer cliffs of Crêt de la Neige looming above me. I was going too fast to avoid the mountain, but in a blink there was the Montets tunnel, wide enough for two trains and four cars. My wings scraped as I flew in, and the whole 1100 meters, I could only think how absurd it was that I was trying to fly the tunnel without breaking up. Somehow, I exited the other side without crashing.

~ Both sides were sure they wanted the bridge destroyed rather than see it fall to the enemy. We were on the wrong side of the Sûre. Between the Frenchies and our platoon we had forty, fifty men, which wouldn’t be enough to stop the armored Gerries only minutes away. But we were determined to leave not one of us behind. It just so happened that two years prior I collaborated with a harlequin from Moulin Rouge who was in a secret order descended directly from Chicot the Jester. They were dire times, and against his oath, he taught me secret clown techniques lest such lore, forbidden to non-clowns, would serve the resistance. That day at the bridge, I used clown car packing technique. We were able to fit all the men into a single utility Jeep and race across the bridge moments before it was destroyed in front of the armored offensive.

~ Amazingly, after the shrapnel blast, my head was fine. It was just twenty feet from my body. Colonel Laitano wasn’t really a doctor yet, but he studied under The Great Doctor Ponticelli who’s medical experiments were thought rather outlandish. Laitano remembered an experimental head-reattachment procedure and tried the process on me in an effort of desperation. To this day, I don’t know how I am still alive.

History enthusiast developers would get a chance to feature any weird unit that saw action (or didn’t quite). Steam-punk / diesel-punk enthusiasts would have the opportunity to blend design styles between historical and pop-culture units, such as a Sienar TIE-Fighter and a Messerschmitt Bf 109

Guns featured in the game would start out standard-issue armaments but along the way he’d pick up rarer and weirder weapons, getting into specialized paratrooper and mobster guns to mild anachronisms to steam-punk early releases and purely fictional weapons. Eventually, he’d even acquire a Reverse-engineered heat-ray developed from the Ambiguous London Disaster of 1897.

Also, it’s never revealed whether Grandpa just has a bad memory, or he’s willfully embellishing to keep the kids entertained. In the end, Grandpa still has the special claw-wrench necessary for starting the Flying Deathtank.

Addressing my post yesterday this would be the kind of war-themed game that would feature child civilians, but whenever they get exploded, they crawl out of a bomb shelter a few seconds later. And stray fire that hits a kid seems to only put a hole in his cap, or burst his canteen. Because that’s how Grandpa remembers it.

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