Hail to the (Commander in) Chief
Know what? There are a surprising number of video games out there where you run into the President of the United States. Sometimes theyre totally fictional constructs of that world (I'm looking at you, Hideo Kojima) and sometimes theyre the real deal. And then sometimes theyre fictional versions of a real President. Because video games (*cough*Kojima*cough*).
But whatever the presentation, games are often ostentatious in their treatment of their chosen POTUS. Presidents are pretty important, after all, so if they're looped into a game plot it'd better be a big deal. So it seems only right to compile the best of the best, which is why I want to talk about
7. Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja
No list of Presidents in games would be complete without mentioning Bad Dudes. In a lot of ways, the phrase video game President has become synonymous with the phrase Bad Dudes save the.... Why? The beginning of the game features one President Ronnie--an obvious reference to (then) actual United States President Ronald Reagan. The whole point of the game is to save him from the presumably evil DragonNinja who has kidnapped him. Yeah, its one of those kind of games. An 80s one, basically.
Once said 'bad dudes' defeat DragonNinja, President Ronnie treats them to burgers, so... yeah, pretty much what youd expect from a 26-year-old Japanese arcade game. There's also something worth discussing about the sheer weirdness of '80s Japan making a game where ninjas kidnapped the leader of the free world. But then compared to a giant ape throwing barrels at a carpenter, this seems relatively banal.
6. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty holds the unique distinction of having its protagonist meet two sequential Presidents--President George Sears and President James Johnson--in the same video game. President Johnson ends up in charge after the Patriots (a secret conclave of computer programs) pushes Sears out of office following the events of Metal Gear Solid, but the weirdness doesn't stop there.
President Sears? Hes really Solidus Snake, the third clone brother of both Liquid and Solid. Hes in his mid-thirties but looks older thanks to the accelerated aging that plagues most Big Boss clones. Its kind of complicated, just like most everything else in Hideo Kojimas mixed-up world. It also sort of doesnt matter a great deal to the overall plot, just like most of the weirder frills of Hideo Kojimas mixed-up world. In the end, both Presidents Johnson and Sears are, shall we say, no longer an issue, as the direct result of a plot to control a giant robot in order to access its AI for reasons that are beyond most peoples comprehension. If put on the spot, its probably best that you just surmise it with a confident but vague Nanomachines, son. Yeah, nanomachines. Thatll do it.
5. Resident Evil 6
Poor President Adam Benford. Its not his fault that he exists within the greater Resident Evil universe. Given the egregious shit-storm hes thrown into, its impossible to say whether hed really have been a good or bad President in normal circumstances. But he did hire Leon to the Division of Security Operations, so hes at least got good taste in floppy-haired, suplex-ready security operators? Yeah, theres that. Important factor in a presidential campaign, that one.
Unfortunately for President Benford, he was the guy who ultimately decided that it was time to tell the public about the whole US-government-nuking-Raccoon-City thing, after an entire game series built around keeping that sort of thing top secret for about 18 years. Well, that and the occasional, unrelated dalliance with rescuing unrelated Presidents daughters from dubious Spanish rural types. And zombies. Always zombies. But either way, total shit-storm for President Benford. Thats the main point here. And speaking of zombies, any guesses as to how Benford shuffles off this mortal coil? Yup, he becomes a brain-chewer, and his floppy-haired security guru has to put him down with a bullet to the brain. Once more: Poor President Adam Benford. Poor corpse-faced, rotten-smelling, shot-in-the-face President Adam Benford.
4. Assassin's Creed 3
Much like his real-world inspiration, Assassin Creed 3s George Washington fights against the British during the Revolutionary War. Technically hes not yet the President when he meets Connor, but seeing as ACs historical fiction has no problem mixing Templars, ancient civilisations, hologram AIs and Desmond bloody Miles into real, documented fact, I'm going to call his appearance on this list fair game. Also, it's worth noting that he's portrayed as well, kind of a dick.
Turns out that (then) General Washington ordered the burning of Connors Native American village back during the French and Indian War. Spoiler alert: Connors mother died during the attack. Another spoiler: Connor isn't too happy when he finds out about that. To say that this puts a strain on the relationship between Washington and Connor would be an understatement. And yet, Connor still plays errand boy for Washington in many instances, and saves his life a handful of times. Overall, Connor begrudgingly finds him a to be reasonable man which is not exactly high praise, but its better than nothing. And anyway, their semi-reconciliation ensured that from then on, Presidents and Native Americans were always the best of friends.
3. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2
The Command & Conquer franchise is chock full of camp, over-the-top acting from its live-action characters. No matter what position they hold in the grand scheme of things, be it special agent or Emperor, the whole cast are a bunch of gleeful, gurning, caricatures. The Red Alert series continues this storied tradition with RA2s President Michael Dugan and--to a lesser extent--Red Alert 3s President Howard T. Ackerman.
It doesnt help that both Dugan and Ackerman have to deal with absolutely (and intentionally) ridiculous time travel plots--Red Alert 3 is basically an alternate timeline to Red Alert 2s alternate timeline, and gets exactly as complicated as that sounds. Dugan has to contend with Russian advisor Yuris psychic nonsense, and Ackerman must face down Japans Empire of the Rising Sun. Even so, they somehow make time to personally speak with the player about mission objectives, while not even blinking an eye at the constantly recast Tanya. Staunch, professionals in the most trying of circumstances. Bless them both.
2. Fallout 3
Ah, President John Henry Eden, the so-called President of the Enclave; AKA, whats left of the United States of America after it all gets blown into dust and 1950s knick-knacks. Sure, hes just a disembodied voice coming out of a pre-war ZAX supercomputer with a major lust for the Presidents of old, but he leads his troops with gusto, largely thanks to being voiced by Malcolm McDowell. Being voiced by Malcolm McDowell tends to allow you to do everything better.
Yes, hes actually an AI, and is prone to get a little explodey if the Wanderer walks him through a logic loop, but hes also the only one that seems to want to wear the mantle after the events of Fallout 2 and President Dick Richardsons demise. Its difficult to pick up the pieces after a homicidal President plots to murder every near-human they can reach, as Richardson did. Thats enough to make anyone hesitant to lead. So, er, well done, crazy robo-McDowell. At least you stepped up to have a go.
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops
If Call of Duty: Black Ops had only one thing going for it, its that theres a plot thread devoted to the protagonists brainwashing to murder the President. Which President? John F. Kennedy. JFK eventually goes to Dallas, and well even if you havent played the video game, you likely know where this is going. Spoiler warning, I guess?
But before that all goes down, and the blame is pinned on one Lee Harvey Oswald, theres a nice little scene in which President Kennedy directly gives the player their orders. It's kind of surreal, and actually really fun right until the protagonist hallucinates pulling out a pistol and pointing it at him. That gets weird. Nothing else too drastic seems to go down during the briefing, though it is certainly suggested that the players character might have had something to do with his eventual assassination later on down the line. Which is actually pretty drastic, now that I stop to think about it. Not to mention a massive faux pas given the two mens previously productive working relationship. Awkward.
What a term
What video game Presidents do you find fascinating/ridiculous/amusing? Perhaps the cameo from President Barack Obama in Madden NFL 11 tickled your funny bone? There are surely a few overlooked Presidents not included here, so let us know in the comments if you have any suggestions.