The Needles

The Needles: The Russians Are Coming!

Andy Chalk | 7 Oct 2008 21:00
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Our other options pale in comparison. North Korea? A half-dozen guys in battery-powered rubber underwear could beat the crap out of the entire country. Venezuela? That'd be like smacking around the special needs kid in the wheelchair who lives down the street. Iran? Sure, let's pick a fight with a place being run by the guy who drives the clown car. China? Kind of awkward, since they make most of the stuff we play these games on in the first place. And as epic, super-powered threats go, they can't hold a candle to our vodka-swilling comrades in the Kremlin.

But Russians are perfect. They're real, they're bad and there sure are a lot of them. 20 years ago, they were our go-to guys when we needed villainous behavior. Games like Red Storm Rising and Harpoon featured epic naval showdowns against the Warsaw Pact forces, while in the unfriendly skies over Western Europe we could square off against the Russian bear in Gunship, F-15 Strike Eagle and a host of others. The technology of the day, sadly, restricted our geopolitical relationship with the Reds primarily to the strategic level, but that didn't keep us from cursing them for ruining our lives with a nuclear firestorm in Fallout. The fact is, we owe the Russians. They gave us someone to shoot at that we could really believe in.

Which is something all games need - an enemy you can really sink your teeth into. That's what the Russians bring to the table: A well-established Evil Empire with a track record of bad behavior and the muscle to back it up. It's no coincidence that the best FPS of 2007 was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, surely all the proof we need that shooting at Russians is a guaranteed win. Upstarts and tin-pots with a primitive nuke or two and no way to get them anywhere are alright for passing time now and then, but for truly epic throwdowns you need something bigger.

Something like nuclear weapons, naked aggression and a heavy hand. Russians have nukes and a massive conventional arsenal and all kinds of pasty-faced conscripts who will die in countless horrible, gory ways, just because they're told to. They're the kind of enemy we need, and it looks like that's the kind of enemy we're going to have. Welcome back, comrades. You've been away too long.

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Andy Chalk isn't actually interested in a real-life nuclear tussle with the Russkies, he's just after a more interesting FPS.

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