"America, love it or leave it." So said the bumper sticker on the F-150 parked outside my local GameStop. So, after pondering, "would one really have to leave if they didn't love America? I mean what if they just really liked it?"
I decided that I did, in fact, love America, thus securing my residency, and at the same time, I do love video games. 72% of American households also play computer and video games, so I can only assume they love both as well.
With the Fourth of July, aka Independence Day, just around the corner, it seemed it was time to recognize the games that loved America and its residence back.
Few games love America more than "Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots." Heck it's in the title!
Just like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis, our action hero, "Old Snake," has put on a few years and is looking a little long in the tooth. No matter. If it worked in the "Expendables" it works even better here.
Nukes, nanotech, a fist-fight on deck in the high seas! This game screams America. Sure, the story gets a little strange at times, and its hard to tell who's a clone of whom, but so what? This game follows all the major tropes of a great American action film, a really long action film.
"Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots" stealthily earns five "bombs bursting in air" out of five for patriotism.
No game has looked so deeply into the gritty underbelly of America and lived to tell the tale.
From being subject to wicked mind control at the hands of the Russians (they're back!) to living through the war rock version of Vietnam, "Call of Duty: Black Ops" shows the price of being a video game patriot.
Oh, and you get to shoot zombies as JFK, so that somehow seems all too American.
Five out of five RC-XD's for exploring the toll of patriotism, and for best use of zombies.
"Madden NFL 11" epitomizes America's favorite pastime.
Oh, I can hear you on the other side of the screen, "nononono, Baseball is America's pastime!" Yeah, not so much. I mean the NBA, or whatever that organization that runs baseball may want that to be true, but it isn't.
America loves Football. More folks watch the Super Bowl than any other program on TV. And there is no better simulation of the sport than Madden.
For sheer sports greatness, Madden earns five Turduckens out of five.
Aww, I was just kidding! Wow, I've never gotten hate mail "before" publishing an article, but like I was saying, haha, just kidding!
"MLB 11: The Show" is Sony's PS3 exclusive baseball game, and it sings. Great graphics, fast, and you can play with both tight controls on the DualShock 3 controller, or mix it up and use the PlayStation Move motion controllers. Please protect your 3D TV and wear the wrist strap when pitching!
America loves baseball and it has always loved us back, even when we scolded it for steroid abuse, which oddly enough never made it into the game.
"MLB 11: The Show" gets five boxes of Cracker Jack out of five for letting guys like me knock one out of the park.
Pixar is a great American success story. Not only did they create the mainstream market for computer animated movies, they save the animated movie biz and Disney along with it.
"Cars 2: The Video Game" is about more than just cars with names and attitudes, racing, and beating each other in multiplayer matches, which Americans love. It's also about putting guns and missiles in cute little cars and using them in glorious four-player split screen 3D! By the way, it's no small feat.
And it's actually quite fun, an even rarer feat for a movie based game.
For combining the automobile, firearms, and 3D, "Cars 2: The Video Game" earns five humilitating loses to an 8 year-old out of five.
6. Zen Pinball
If there's a more casual "semi-official national pastime" it'd have to be pinball. Even after the fall of the arcade, pinball still gets played in bars, pizza parlors, and student unions accross the country.
There's simply been no better version of the game on a console than "Zen Piball." Not only are there plenty of tables to choose from, but they are so well designed that I had a friend talk about how he used to play one of the pinball machines "back in the day." Note, these are all new virtual tables, but they look and feel like they should have been real.
"Zen Pinball" gets five silver balls out of five for keeping American nostalgia alive.
This was America's response to "Street Fighter." It was bloodier, easier, and more techincally advance. If "Street Fighter" is a martial art, then "Mortal Kombat" was an action movie about martial arts.
It's also one of two games, along with "Night Trap" that scared congress so much that they threatened to censor games if something wasn't done, and so the ESRB was born.
The new "Mortal Kombat" is familiar, like running into someone again at a high school reunion, only they've gotten hotter.
"Mortal Kombat" earns five out of five firm handshakes, for showing us all that even best friends sometimes want to harpoon eachother.
"Truth, Justice, and the American way." Fight alongside Superman as an up and coming super hero in "DC Universe Online." Or, have more fun and join do-badders like myself as super villains in-training alongside Lex Luthor or The Joker.
Either way, nothing is more patriotic than aliens, goddesses, and billionaires donning tights and running around New York, or, errr, Metropolis doing battle.
While there are less players here than there used to be, DCUO still sports some of the finest game content this side of Krypton. That's where they breed the world's finest Americans. Don't ask, I didn't make that part up.
DCUO gets five red, yellow, and blue super-suits out of five for promoting team work and either pro or un-American values, depending.
America is a nation of immigrants. Even in these times where we argue over who should or shouldn't get to be "American" we still have reminders, like the Statue of Liberty, that America is a place where an immigrant from humble beginnings can make it big.
Just look at Niko Bellic from "Grand Theft Auto IV." Born in, umm, an unidentified country in Eastern Europe he uses his ruthlessness and knowledge of the underground to really make something of himself in Liberty City.
Well, rough edges aside, Niko is a conflicted and charming protagonist who is as much a cultural critic as a thug.
GTA IV gets five get out of jail (mostly) free cards out of five.
Think "Hogan's Heroes" meets "The Losers." Based on a long line of buddies-in-a-bad-spot war films, "Battlefield: Bad Company" puts you into a second-rate band of misfits just trying to stay out of trouble.
Of course you end up finding gold, ousting a warlord, and driving some sweet helicopters and tanks. It is a video game after all.
It's all the fun of "Tropic Thunder" except you get to blow-up more stuff. "Bad Company" may not be the latest in the series, but it was the most fun.
For best use of humor, "Battlefield: Bad Company" gets five out of five corn dogs.