High power, low (historical) accuracy
Who doesnt love some good gunplay gameplay? First person shooters are one of the marquee video game genres, and for good reason: theres nothing more cathartic than filling your virtual enemies full of lead as you valiantly save the day using an arsenal of the most lethal tools known to man. Its a fantasy many can identify with.
Theres a little trouble in paradise, though, when we start playing "historically accurate" shooters based in the past or present. Many of the most popular weapons used in those shooters were rarely operated by actual soldiers, or if they were, in nowhere near the numbers you might think. Here are 12 of the worst offenders from the past few generations of shooters...
What games would have you believe: Ah, the Desert Eagle. From Call of Duty to Uncharted, this massive Israeli pistol has become a shooter mainstay known for its insane power.
The reality: The Desert Eagle, while not quite as rare as other guns on this list, has earned its place due to its sheer ubiquity in video games. There isnt a single police or military unit on the planet that uses the prohibitively heavy, expensive, and unreliable Desert Eagle. Weighing in at four and a half pounds (an M9 weighs two pounds) and firing the powerful, but ultimately expensive and undependable .50 Action Express rounds, the Desert Eagle has earned a reputation as the weapon of flashy gangsters and rich, ignorant gun collectors. It looks cool, though, and thats all that really matters to some game developers. As a frequent shooter player, though, I must say that digital Deagles are a blast to play with, and their frequent inclusion in games doesnt trigger my gun enthusiast ire as much as many other entries on this list.
Type 100 SMG
What games would have you believe: In Call of Duty: World at War and Battlefield 1943, among others, the Type 100 is seen as a Japanese general-issue weapon.
The reality: The Type 100 was a simple submachine gun design used by the Japanese Army in World War II. A quick look at the wartime manufacturing numbers reveals that, while a good 24,000 were produced, the Type 100 was not, and could not have been, anywhere near as common as video games want you to think, considering that the Imperial Japanese Army fielded nearly 1.8 million men. The reason for this deception is clear: submachine guns are a lot more fun and satisfying to use in video games than the bolt-action (aka slow-firing) Arisaka Type 38 (opens in new tab) service rifle that was actually the most common weapon used by the Imperial Japanese Army.
What games would have you believe: The Skorpion is often seen in the hands of Eastern Bloc soldiers in Cold War and modern-era shooters such as Perfect Dark, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and many others. (opens in new tab)
The reality: While a few hundred thousand were produced over the weapons lifespan, the Skorpion was mostly used by tank crews, truck drivers, cooks, and other support personnel as personal defense weapons. Most Warsaw Pact frontline troops, and their descendants in Eastern Europe today, would be armed with variants on the indomitable AK-47 design. The Skorpion has become a popular weapon in shooters for a very simple reason: it looks cool. Its industrial and blocky design makes it a great bad guy weapon, and also makes it easy to model. I expect well be seeing depictions of the Skorpion as long as there are shooters to use them in.
What games would have you believe: Every. Single. WWII game has German soldiers carting around StG-44s.
The reality: The StG-44, the first true assault rifle, saw a fair amount of use in the brutal battles of the Russian front of World War II, but was rarely seen in any other theaters of combat. Almost every game set in Western Europe during World War II features enemies carrying the StG-44. While a respectable 425,000 of the remarkable guns were produced, the insatiable conflict against Russia on the Ostfront saw entire divisions armed with the weapon and it still barely made an impact. As with the Japanese army, the majority of the Wehrmacht (the WWII German army) was armed with the infinitely less exciting bolt-action Kar98k.
What games would have you believe: According to video games like the Battlefield: Bad Company series and various Rainbow Six titles, the XM8 assault rifle sees use with American special forces groups, or even general deployment, as in the underrated Mercenaries 2: World in Flames.
The reality: This is a complete fabrication on the part of video game developers. In actuality, the XM8 was a prototype weapon intended to replace the aging M16/M4 weapons systems in the United States military. During the trials, some 7,000 prototypes were produced, but the project was eventually cancelled in late 2005. XM8 style designs now see limited use by some PMCs and in Malaysia, but not in the US military. I can totally see why many video games continue to use the XM8, however: the smooth lines and plastic construction give the gun a sexy, futuristic outline that fits right into the near-future settings many titles use these days.
The reality: The FG-42 was used almost exclusively by German paratroops, with the average soldier still carrying the ubiquitous Kar98k. Beyond this basic fallacy, another mistake that almost every game uses the FG-42 depicts it as firing with just a bit of kick in full automatic mode. In the real World War II, the FG-42 had a ferocious kick in fully automatic fire due to its light weight, and most troops used semi-automatic fire only. As usual, however, devs put "gameplay" above the sacrosanct historical fact. Pfft. Who needs fun games when you can have slavish historical accuracy, right guys? Guys?
What games would have you believe: According to many super spy and special ops games, the G11 was used in combat more than any gun ever. Ev-er.
The reality: Heckler and Kochs G11 rifle is the product of a 20 year project to develop a gun to fire caseless ammunition, which would theoretically allow a 3-round burst that was so fast that the third round had left the weapon before the user felt the recoil of the first. Unfortunately, the G11 tended to have a slight problem: it would fire uncontrollably until it had worked through the entire magazine due to residual heat in the barrel setting off the ammunition. This fatal flaw, combined with the high cost, meant that the G11 never saw combat during its 20 year lifespan. The guns unusual shape and flashy appearance has guaranteed it a place in video games for years to come, however.
Japanese Type 5
What games would have you believe: The Type 5 was Japans copy of the American M1 Garand. According to the Battlefield series, the Type 5 was used by Japanese soldiers in WWII.
The reality: While it is portrayed in the Battlefield games as a comparable weapon to the M1 Garand (one of the best weapons of the era) the Type 5--in real life--was a prototype weapon that never entered production because of Japans lack of resources in the late years of the war. As with several other entries on this list, the Type 5 is included in games for balance rather than looks or "coolness": The M1 Garand has no general issue counterpart in the Pacific War, so game designers have to scramble for one to balance their multiplayer. Im actually a little sad the Type 5 doesnt see more use in real life, considering its interesting combination of Japanese and American designs.
PTRS-41 (As seen in World at War)
What games would have you believe: Call of Duty: World at War portrays the PTRS-41 as a scoped rifle, used to hunt men as though they were deer at extreme ranges.
The reality: Thats a freaking lie. The PTRS, or Simonov anti-tank rifle, was a Soviet anti-tank rifle during World War II, and was never recorded as being scoped or used as a sniping weapon. One look at the massive rifle is all it takes to put the notion of using it with any mobility right out the window. Almost 7 feet long and weighing in at 46 pounds, the PTRS requires a team of men to handle and can only be fired from a prone position on its bipod (unless you want to try to rest it on someone elses shoulders. Good luck finding volunteers for that). Included as an analogue to Modern Warfares Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle, the PTRS is probably the most egregious of World at Wars many gun mistakes.
What games would have you believe: The PP-2000 sees play in many modern era video games in the hands of Russian troops. The Battlefield: Bad Company series, in particular, is remarkably liberal in handing it out.
The reality: The PP-2000 is almost exclusively used by Russian police and special forces. The modern Russian military, on the rare occasions they use submachine guns, will most likely use the Soviet-era PP-19 Bizon (opens in new tab) rather than the expensive (but effective) PP-2000. This lack of an "official" submachine gun for the Russian military has allowed developers to take their choice of contemporary Russian SMG designs, and many have chosen the PP-2000 for its interesting and fancy design. Theres also an element of game balance here, as well, considering that the PP-2000 was created as a response to the MP-7 personal defense weapon, and is often seen in games as a counterpart to the western design.
What games would have you believe: The Gewehr 43, World War II Germanys attempt at a semi-automatic battle rifle, can be found in the hands of German frontline troops in games ranging from Call of Duty to Wolfenstein.
The reality: The G-43 is probably the closest any weapon on this list has gotten to general distribution. 400,000 rifles were produced during the last years of the war, and they saw use all the way down to the squad level. What the games get wrong, however, is the number of weapons and the role they played. While many games portray the G-43 as a frontline weapon, German army units used it as a designated marksman rifle. Riflemen, using a 4x scope, would hang back behind the assault troops (armed with the Kar98k or MP-40) and provide cover and suppression fire as their comrades advanced.
What games would have you believe: This unusual sniper rifle is occasionally seen in the hands of virtual special ops soldiers, most notably in the Rainbow 6 and Hitman series.
The reality: Walther Arms WA-2000 is a high-end sniper rifle developed in the late 1970s. The bullpup (where the magazine is housed behind the trigger) design kept the overall length short. While the WA-2000 is amazingly accurate, it was also very expensive and fragile, meaning that not a single military unit in the world bought any, and only 172 are known to exist. Now, theyre only seen in elite collections and at the occasional shooting competition. Its a damn shame, really, because the WA-2000 is a sexy little weapon, with premium wood furniture and an industrially utilitarian box shape that speaks of unassuming accuracy and deadliness.
Weapon of choice
Those were the least common weapons commonly seen in video games. What FPS guns do you think see more use than what their real-life versions would suggest? Tell us all about it in the comments below!
And while youre here in the crazy gun nut section of GamesRadar, why dont you check out the Most ludicrously impractical FPS weapons (opens in new tab) and our loving tribute to gamings best shotguns (opens in new tab).