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Six Days in Fallujah

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Developer: Atomic Games


PS3/X360/PC Preview - 'Six Days in Fallujah'

by Thomas Wilde on April 20, 2009 @ 9:00 a.m. PDT

Six Days in Fallujah is a new third-person shooter experience that puts the player in the center of the largest urban military operation in four decades. Six Days in Fallujah combines the action of a military shooter with the realism of a documentary film to create a new kind of experience that is both historical and engaging.

The most interesting thing about Six Days in Fallujah is what it's trying to accomplish. A lot of prior games have gone to extreme lengths to faithfully reproduce a historical period, mostly in the overstuffed sub-genre of World War II shooters. Six Days in Fallujah, on the other hand, is a deliberate attempt by the people who lived through a historic battle to make a video game as a historical snapshot, immersing the player in a specific place and time.

Six Days in Fallujah is set during Operation Phantom Fury, also known as the Second Battle of Fallujah, in late 2004. It was a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation to retake the city of Fallujah from insurgents, and it turned into the bloodiest battle up until that point for U.S. forces.

Atomic Games isn't a particularly well-known developer; they made the Close Combat tactical shooters for the PC and have written a great deal of training software for the Marine Corps. They were approached by a group of Marine veterans of Operation Phantom Fury, who wanted to create a game about their experiences. In conjunction with those veterans, Atomic has done its best to accurately recreate Fallujah as it existed in 2004 in order to place you in the role of one of the Marines retaking the city from the insurgents.

Six Days in Fallujah runs on the all-new Atomic Engine, which works on a simple principle: There's no such thing as hard cover. Given the application of sufficient firepower, anything in the game world can be destroyed, from concrete pylons to building walls. A support column turns into powder, revealing the twisted rebar core; cardboard boxes disintegrate, and entire buildings may come crashing down.

You still want to take cover as best you can, but you cannot take it for granted that the cover will exist six seconds from now. This is doubly true when you consider how many improvised explosives and rocket-propelled grenades the Iraqi insurgents tend to use; in the short clip of gameplay shown at Konami's recent Gamers' Day event, the player took shelter behind the concrete edge of a building's balcony, only for an enemy to put an RPG straight through it. That rather conclusively ended the demo.

In single-player mode, you command a squad of Marines battling the pockets of armed resistance inside Fallujah. Insurgents can appear from almost anywhere, but not everyone in the city is an insurgent. In a gunfight, anything is destructible, which allows you to flank an enemy emplacement by blowing down walls with explosives. Just watching the demo made me appreciate how paranoid and jumpy the Marines must have been; imagine a moderately developed urban area, where any doorway or rooftop could conceal a guy with an AK-47 who wishes you harm.

Six Days in Fallujah isn't about whether or not the war in Iraq was justified. It's a view of the war from the troops' perspective, showing you some of the bloodiest conflict of the war as if you're there. It remains to be seen if the game will live up to the hype, but Six Days in Fallujahis one of the earliest attempts to use video games as a medium for the preservation of history, and represents a step forward for gaming as a form of communication.


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