Wars (be they fictional or fact) easily make for a great backdrop to a video game thanks to their unmatched sense of intensity, brutality and an overarching sense that the stakes have never been higher. Most countries were formed in the fires of war, so it’s rather fitting that so many centuries later they’ve grown increasingly popular in gaming, not merely due to our need to discover but also due to those in search of a thrill. Here are IGCritic’s 10 best war games that you should have played at least once before:
Call of Duty: World at War
Firing on all cylinders just when critics felt that contemporary shooter heavyweight Modern warfare couldn’t be beat, World at War shoved our faces into the dirty grit of WWII to make for one of the best war based games that was both memorable and distinct. Featuring the welcomed voice talents of Gary Oldman and Keifer Sutherland, World at War was the WWII game to end all WWII games, letting us play out some of the final intense days in both Japan and Germany all in the effort to storm the third reich and take down Hitler in the process.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Charming, vibrant and gorgeous to look at, Valiant Hearts: The Great War took the horrors of loss present in World War One and successfully contrasted it with a beautiful cartoon art-style that weirdly gave the moody events a greater sense of weight and meaning. Told from various unique perspectives and occupations featured in WWI, Valiant Hearts: The Great War is ideal for those who want to experience the ugliness of war in a video game that isn’t a first person shooter.
Conflict Desert Storm II
Conflict Desert Storm II successfully expanded upon the unique 4 character switching mechanic presented in the first game, upping the stakes by transporting everyone’s favourite Alpha One squad to the ugliness of the Persian Gulf War. The war game was notable for taking place during a war that is not all too often explored a lot in gaming, letting players think tactically by controlling one member at a time in order to triumph over the enemy.
Taking place in an alternate reality time line in which an alien menace invades the earth following the conclusion of WWII, Resistance 3 unlike the previous two war games allowed players to travel across South Central America in the wake of events that occurred in previous entries. Less of a military shooter and more of a post-apocalyptic survival game this time round, Resistance 3 is an underappreciated PS3 war game that truly let you see the vile fallout of a losing alien war.
The original Advance Wars for the Game Boy (you guessed it) Advance essentially placed you in the role of a war commander, strategically executing your plan of attack in the form of turn-based role play. The objective each battle is simple, defeat the enemy army and while presented in the form of a colourful anime art-style the war game could make for some quite intense play at times. Mobile war battling never felt so good!
Command and Conquer: Red Alert
Command and Conquer: Red Alert was a mid 90’s tactical war game that acted as a prequel to the original game, set in an alternate reality in which the Soviet Union was still very much a threat. The war PC game truly resulted in a battle of wits that tested your ability to not only attack, but defend, making it a unique spin on the war game genre that placed enough distance between you and the action it could provide vast amounts of fun.
Whilst this year’s Battlefield 1 looks set to reinvent just how we think battles originally played out in World War One, Battlefield 3 represented the height of the franchise’s popularity thanks in part to it’s quite clear ambitions to take on the mighty Call of Duty. The frostbite engine really made Battlefield 3 really shine, making each battle somewhat beautiful and detailed, which resulted in one of the best war games ever made.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 Vegas
Now who’d have thought one of the most fun and memorable online experiences would come in the form of a realistic military shooter that firmly set its sights on the glowing lights of Las Vegas? Set in the extremely distant future of 2010 (not kidding!), Vegas delivered one of the most immersive war-based military shooters that instantly let players find their competitive edge online, needless to say it was chock full of post-launch support too!
SOCOM 4 from Sony’s still-missed Zipper Interactive studio successfully re-energised their longstanding series that unfortunately played victim to the great PSN outage of 2011. Look beyond its fairly stunted release and you’ll discover a war game with an in-depth story campaign that felt truly grounded and a host of extra co-op and multiplayer game modes that offered plenty to do. It also helped that this war game was gorgeous to look at.
Sniper Elite V2
Sniper Elite V2 fully immersed players in the pivotal battle of Berlin that took place towards the tail-end of the Second World War, tasking you to take a more stealthy approach that most other war games wouldn’t traditionally allow. The game never failed to show you the true impact of every bullet thanks to its unique X-ray kill-cam feature that always came off as brutal, harsh yet strangely satisfying.