"War has changed..." muses Snake in the opening of MGS4. But it hasn't really, has it?
We're still blowing up anti-aircraft guns, traipsing through muddy fields and taking listless pop shots at vague, Nazi-shaped blobs crouching in blown-out barns.
And it's the developers' fault. They assume we all want to be infantry, because ground troops get to run about and shoot things. But there's much more to an army than that; thousands of people doing a million different jobs all contribute to a conflict.
Why don't we ever see the battle from their perspective? Why must we always be a fresh-faced grunt in a squad of racical stereotypes?
Here are some ideas off the top of our heads that we reckon would instantly make for a more interesting war game.
Set during the Vietnam War, Medic! follows the story of a veteran of the U.S. Medical Corps working with an outfit of Marines as they battle the Vietcong in the city of Saigon.
The game features traditional first-person shooting, but as you fight the VC you have to take care of your comrades. If one gets hit, you have to drag him to safety, heal his wounds using a system similar to Nintendo's Trauma Center games.
Challenges you'll face include scavenging enemy bases for medical supplies, comforting your squad, uncontrollable bleeding, guts falling out, legs dropping off - all in startling high definition.
Up Shit Creek
In Up Shit Creek (working title) you're the captain of a U.S. Navy Swiftboat who's been tasked with escorting a group of Special Ops soldiers through the most dangerous, unpredictable warzone in South America.
The game, inspired by Francis Ford Copolla's Apocalypse Now, follows the boat as it makes its way up the the dangerous Guayllabamba River (nicknamed 'Shit Creek'), and each 'level' is a battle the team comes across on the way to their final destination; recovering a stolen nuclear bomb from an insane, megalomaniacal Ecuadorian General. (Or something; the plot needs work, admittedly.)
You pilot the boat yourself and there are no loading times; you can go from one end of the river to the other in real-time. As well as ten to fifteen 'main' missions there'll also be optional stop-offs along the way where you can procure new equipment or upgrade your ship's armour plating.
The game will also focus on the boat's crew, and their interactions and emotions as they witness some of the worst horrors of war imaginable. You'll have to keep their morale up through dialogue choices, otherwise you risk mutiny.
Lt. Jones: "Aw, skipper, this mission's FUBAR. We're never gonna make it to the end!"
A. "Don't worry, Jones. We have enough guns here to liberate a small country. Just stay frosty and keep an eye on the treeline."
B. "Man up, Jones! You're acting like a little bitch. Get below deck or I'll kick your ass up and down this river until you're crapping alligators. DO YOU HEAR ME, JERKWAD?"
C. "Yeah, we're screwed. Let's head back."
Eyes And Ears
In Eyes And Ears, a WW2 first-person game, you play as a scout for the British Army. Essentially a stealth game, your job is to enter enemy-controlled areas under cover of night and map out their defences, troop positions and gun emplacements. You have to cover every area of the map (farms, occupied villages, cities) and report back to your CO with a detailed plan of the enemy's defensive layout.
At the end of each level, the game switches to a top-down view and the game automatically generates a battle based on the data you collected. You watch the battle unfold and if your recon was poor, you'll see hidden turrets and mortars destroy your army.
Your score is determined by how many troops make it through alive; perfect scores are achievable by discovering every piece of enemy equipment in the level and charting all of the infantry's movements accurately.
Brilliant, eh? And we came up with those ON OUR OWN without years of focus-testing and board room meetings.
Can you guys come up with any ideas of your own?