6 ways history makes video games look dull
Real life is ALWAYS more interesting
'Real' and 'historical' are trigger words for some people. They conjure images of pale Wednesday afternoons learning about revolutionary loom technology and seed drills. To the feeble minded, the past is nothing more than gold to be melted down then recast into the next Assassins Creed game. Well, I've had enough.
This is the moment I dramatically finish my flagon of research, wipe the the frothy residue from my beard, and slam down my facts on the tavern table. History kicks ass, and I intend to prove this in the most sensible, moderate way possible: by making history and video games fight, like angry crabs on the beach. Be brave, take hold of my mailed gauntlet, and let's learn: here are six things history does better than games.
The Dashing Antihero - Nathan Drake vs Bohemond of Antioch
You could throw a shoe in Gamesville and it would hit a loveable rogue, but since were talking history I'll go with Nathan Drake. Yes, he's killed enough pirates to populate a (realistically very dangerous) city, but he's relentlessly chipper and looks great in a scarf.
In contrast we have Bohemond of Antioch, who perhaps was more anti than hero. This rugged Norman leader was such a chunky baby that he was nicknamed after the legendary giant Buamundus Gigas. During the First Crusade, he had Anna Comnena swooning, and he personally scaled the walls of Antioch. Bohemond was a crafty, conniving, medieval Drake - albeit one with an entire army at his disposal, who broke a promise to the Emperor of Constantinople and ended up stealing an entire city. Stick that in your celadon oil lamp, Nate.
The Elite Unit - Resident Evils S.T.A.R.S. vs the Gurkhas
Resident Evil's Special Tactics And Rescue Service sound pretty efficient, don't they? Well, they should actually be called Special Hopeless Idiot Team. Here's why: they get trapped in a mansion by some dogs; their helicopter pilot abandons them at the first sign of trouble; and their master of unlocking doesn't even carry a lockpick. And thats the frikkin' Alpha Team: only one of Bravo Team survives, leading me to assume that Charlie Team all died making breakfast.
Instead, let Umbrella deal with the Gurkhas. The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration the United Kingdom honours system, and the Brigade of Gurkhas has been awarded 26 of 'em. Notable recipients include 411 Lachhiman Gurung, who blew off his own arm throwing back enemy grenades, before defending a trench literally single-handedly for over four hours. For S.T.A.R.S., the Raccoon City incident was a disaster; the Gurkhas would sort it out in an afternoon.
The Indestructible Guy - Adam Jensen vs Rasputin
Any game with regenerating health makes you moderately indestructible, but for the purpose of comparison I'm picking gravel-voiced scowlborg Adam Jensen from Deus Ex: Human Revolution. He gets chucked through glass, strangled, and shot twice in the head. He survives, thanks to a cybernetic upgrade which includes built-in sunglasses and fist chisels. Impressed? You shouldn't be.
While the facts of Grigori Rasputin's death have certainly been embellished, he did take some killing. Rasputin was a peasant faith healer who became a figure of public vilification due to his alleged influence of the Russian government and Tsarina. Firstly, he survived being stabbed in 1914, making a full recovery. Then, on the night of his death in 1916, he was allegedly poisoned and shot twice, after which Rasputin woke up and tried to strangle one of his assailants before attempting to escape. A third bullet to his brain killed him, after which his body was savagely clubbed and thrown in a river. You know, just to make sure. If you don't want to play a game where you control a mechanically upgraded Cyber-Rasputin on a quest for revenge, I'm not sure what you want from life.
The Genius Inventor - Eli Vance vs Nikola Tesla
If I wasnt completely rigging this fight, I'd have chosen Lucca from Chrono Trigger here. Instead, I'll go with Half-Life's Eli Vance. Eli built Dog (big robot, not really a dog, less shit than it sounds) and carried out crucial work on teleportation. He also designed the Gravity Gun, for which all gamers should be deeply grateful. Is any of this enough? Hah! No.
Nikola Tesla gets the nod, and I when I say 'nod' I actually mean, "let's coil up and make things resonate, you sexy science warlock". He's the father of modern electricity, because screw you Thomas Edison. He let Guglielmo Marconi use 17 of his patents to invent the first radio telegraph system. He identified x-rays, predicted radar, and obtained around 300 patents outside of his numerous inventions, most of which remained unprotected. He also spent $2,000 on repairing a pigeon he was in love with - yes, an actual pigeon - but I'm ignoring that.
The Feisty Teen Heroine - Lara Croft vs Joan of Arc
This is Lara Croft: Ooh, isn't life hard? My family is wealthy but I'm troubled, and now me and my supporting cast of cobwebby, stereotype sidekicks are being menaced by a feral wizard with an army of oafish mercs. Now, I'm not suggesting that Crofty has it easy - she survives being shipwrecked, maimed, and mummified - but can she compare to the awesome power of history-o-fact?
Chienne, s'il vous plait. By the time Lara was having a wobble about offing a deer, Joan of Arc had led armies, chatted with the Archangel Michael, helped lift the siege of Orlans, and been martyred by the English. Incredibly, she did all this despite being born a peasant - and, perhaps even more damningly for the time - a woman. Admittedly, her story ends with her agonising death by burning, as opposed to triumph over evil and resulting therapy, but I doubt well ever see a St. Lara of Abbingdon.
The Heroic Dog - Shadow from Dead to Rights vs Sgt Stubby
Representing dogs in games, we have Shadow from Dead to Rights: Retribution. Shadow can gnaw off enemy gonads and fetch weapons like a normal dog would fetch slippers. He can also sense an enemy's heartbeat, which would seem useful and perhaps even romantic if I hadn't just been talking about scrotums. On the downside, he's called Shadow, which is what you'd call a dog if you had a tattoo of a fallen angel and played in a metal band called Blasphemy Fist.
In contrast, we have Sgt. Stubby: a pooch with the same rank as Sgt. Slaughter. Allegedly the most decorated war dog of World War I, Stubby took part in 17 battles and four offensives. He learned to warn his unit of incoming gas attacks and locate injured soldiers in no mans land. Stubby earned so many awards that the women of Chteau-Thierry made him a tiny coat to pin them on, making him look both impressive and utterly adorable. What a good boy.