Celebrate your nations independence by blowing up a small chunk of it.
It’s the Fourth of July, which means that – for our American readers, at least – it’s the day we mark as when the United States officially cast off the rule of King George III and declared our independence.
<aside>The vote to do so was actually held on July 2nd, but the 4th was the day that famed Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress so it could eventually be stolen by Nicholas Cage (for its own protection, of course).</aside>
Regardless, we here got to thinking about how video games have become such a prevalent form of entertainment in the US (yes, across the rest of the world as well, but it’s our birthday so it’s gonna be about us today), and how so many games have chosen to use the good ol’ US of A as a backdrop – both literally and metaphorically – to tell their stories. So, before we leave to don our best, most ostentatious red, white and blue getup and gather ’round someone’s laptop or phone for the traditional Watching of Bill Pullman Talking About Aliens, here are some of our picks for the Most American™ games of all time.
The Last of Us
Even in its apocalyptic state, the remnants of the United States are still standing in The Last of Us. Amidst the chaos surrounding the country, you can still sense the ideals set by the founding fathers. As people try and claim land and ownership of their governing prospects, it is still prevalent that the drive to remain human, respect humanity, and uphold a standard of law (as much as the current state of the world allows) is strong.
And that is what being American is. To be able to possess free will, no matter how messed up the world is, is in itself something America will always fight for.
– Brandon Hunt, Branded Social Producer
I was initially going to write Cornhole, but Bioshock Infinite has enough of the American traditions showcased in the game to suffice. It even keeps in some of America’s old-fashioned racism and problems with inequality.
– Stella Chung, Associate Producer
The Bioshock games were always about a uniquely American form of objectivism; a strongman justifying authoritarian control with vague and lofty principals like “liberty” or “individualism.” But Father Comstock is the most American of all the franchise’s villains, and Columbia is such a heightened, feverish version of American patriotism gone wrong that seeing scenes reminiscent of it in the real world is really eery. Plus you get to frag 8 foot tall mechanized Founding Fathers which is cool.
– Eric Sams, Social Media Manager
Saints Row IV
Saints Row IV is a game where you play as a gang leader, who is also the President of the United States, which is also a Matrix-like construct of a hostile alien race. You can fly a jet shaped like an eagle and wield a gun that assaults people with dubstep. You can save Christmas, go to hell, and disarm a missle mid-flight while blasting Aerosmith. It simply does not get more (mid-2000’s) American then that.
– Jeremy Azevedo, Sr. Director of Games Video
Grand Theft Auto IV
Grand Theft Auto IV is probably one of the most American games I’ve ever played. It stars an immigrant coming over in search of a better life, realizing American streets are NOT paved with gold, but then picking himself up by his bootstraps and becoming a successful businessperson (albeit in the criminal underworld).
You also take part in other American activities such as fighting loan sharks, killing terrorists for the government, and conducting…uh…business transactions with sex workers. ‘Murica!
– Jobert Atienza, News Producer
Grand Theft Auto V
GTA 5 summed up what the USA looked like to an outsider like me; the country seen through the lens of its most extreme traits. Capitalism-obsessed and nihilistic, yes, but with endless opportunity and an insatiable attitude for doing-whatever-the-hell you want. Wanna hijack a jet-ski while wearing an Armani suit and ride it onto the beach? ‘Merica’s the place for you.
– Lucy O’Brien, Executive Features Editor
Super Baseball 2020
I can’t think of anything more American than going old-skool with Super Baseball 2020 on SNES! If you choose the American Dreams team, you can be even more patriotic.
– Jesse Wade, Homepage Editor
Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes
In Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, players must covertly infiltrate an American military encampment in Gauntanamo Bay to rescue a pair of children being held prisoner. To me, there’s nothing less American than children being held prisoner in military encampments. Thankfully, Metal Gear is a fictional series, and nothing like this would ever happen in real life. I like video games because they don’t involve politics.
– Max Scoville, Host/Writer
Empire: Total War
What’s more American than re-enacting the Battle of Bunker Hill, one of the most important engagements in the American War of Independence? You totally can in Empire: Total War. Sure, the Americans historically lose that battle, but boy do we make the British pay for that victory!
And since this is a video game, you can always replay it until you win, which does nothing to change the course of actual history. But if George Washington could see you, he’d probably give you supportive clap on the back!
– Jobert Atienza
When the US Army gets involved in video game development and publishing, you know you’ve got a classic military recruitment tool on your hands!
– Ginger Smith, Product Manager
As a child growing up in Australia, my outsider’s view of the United States was heavily shaped by eighties action movies. Thus Broforce, an all-guns-blazing, all-biceps-flexing tribute to the Reagan era stuffed with iconic yet copyright-dodging characters like Rambro, Brommando and Brobocop, is about as American as games get as far as I’m concerned.
A team of square-jawed super soldiers murdering terrorists, planting the American flag atop the resulting pile of body parts and then flying away in a chopper while the whole place burns? Why, you could say that Broforce is as American as apple pie (and you’d be entirely accurate, in the sense that neither Broforce nor apple pie were actually created in America).
– Tristan Ogilvie, Video Producer (IGN AU)
Red Dead Redemption 2
If you want the quintessential “Americana” experience, Red Dead 2 is about as close to an IRL WestWorld as you can get. There’s a very specific feeling that riding slowly through the green fields and pastures of New Hanover or the dusty plains of New Austin elicits, one that feels both serene and dangerous. Nothing so accurately captures what many of us assume to be frontier life to be than that, and RDR2 also does a good job of engaging with the politics of the age, from the struggles of people during Reconstruction to the trials and tribulations of early suffragettes. Then there’s its overall theme – that greed and paranoia can so easily go hand in hand, and how it’s up to us to make the right choices to avoid ruination at those hands – which not only provides a strong narrative arc but also clearly echoes so many issues in our own time (and, let’s be honest, all of history).
– Jon Ryan, Senior Features Editor
Spec Ops: The Line
Spec Ops: The Line is this really fun shooter where you go to the Middle East for reasons that are entirely unclear and slowly go mad while sort of inadvertently committing war crimes. USA!
– Jeremy Azevedo
Far Cry 5
The first Far Cry games set in the good ol’ US of A lays it on THICK with freedom and democracy! It’s also has a cartoonish depiction of back country America where everyone is either a prepper or paramilliatary unit, everyone has guns and extensive training on how to use them all.
– Kevin Lee, Hardware & Roundups Editor
Far Cry 5 is an excellent representation of modern American society: religious zealots take control of as many people’s lives as they can, committing violent atrocities against anyone who doesn’t conform to their apocalyptic outlook, all while the government either aids them or get too busy wringing their hands and/or clutching their pearls to do anything about it and the people behind it all claim that there’s nothing political about it.
– Jon Ryan
Tony Hawk’s Underground 2
Just see if you can imagine trying to explain Bam Margera to someone outside of the US in 2019. THU2 is a sequel to a reboot of an annual franchise, which is also a great example of the great Ameirican institution of late capitalism.
– Jeremy Azevedo
Metal Wolf Chaos
Seriously, how is this not the most American game ever? You play as the President of the United States – in a mech – fighting to stop Vice President Richard Hawk from taking over the country. The phrase “suck on my missile punch” is actually used. Then you fight in space! PRESIDENTIAL MECH BATTLES IN SPACE! C’mon, people, what more do you want??
– Brendan Graeber, Guides Editor
The game is literally all about driving all over the USA
The Crew / The Crew 2
Aka Cruis’n USA 2019, this is the only racing game (to my knowledge) that lets you drive all over the USA from the East Coast, Midwest, South, West Coast, etc.
– Kevin Lee
Life is Strange 2
While only 3 episodes into its 5 episode story, Life is Strange 2 explores police brutality, racism, the great outdoors, queerness, and an illegal pot farm. These brothers are abandoning the American Dream because they felt the system abandoned them and left them without any viable options. Depending on your background, we all have varied perspective of life in America – and this is one we don’t see often in games.
– Janet Garcia, Associate Guides Editor
Assassin’s Creed III
Assassin’s Creed III brings players back to the early days of the United States and lets you explore areas around Boston and New York City as the bootstrapping young nation takes shape.
The game isn’t perfect by any means, but it does a surprisingly good job of portraying some of the complex issues around America’s founding. Plus, you get to stab bad guys in the neck.
– Chris Reed, Commerce Editor
Red Dead Redemption/Gun/Sunset Riders (Basically Any Western)
America is well known for it’s love of westerns; Gunslinging bad hombres on horseback, a smoking gun in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other. No one in the world has ever had or even seen a mustache as impressive as the mustache of a real western man. No one in the world has ever loved a horse the way a trail-worn American cowboy has.
The love between a western man and his horse is a forbidden dance… like “The Lambada” except in English. Red Dead, Gun, Sunset Riders, etc are all about these things, and also the romanticized fiction of the classic western hero being trampled under the well-oiled boot of industrial progress, or something like that. Giddy up, pardner!
– Jeremy Azevedo
Honorable Mention: True American
This non-video game from the TV show New Girl mixes two things Americans believe they’re great at: history and drinking.
– Francesca Rivera, Associate Producer
Those are just some of the games we feel hit the American nail on the head – what about yours? Let us know in the comments!