Paula Bustamente / Agence France Presse – 2006-06-23 22:49:22
(June 23, 2006) — A video game which features mercenaries invading Venezuela to guarantee oil supplies for the United States has become the latest source of tension between the two nations. The game, “Mercenaries 2: World in Flames” only comes out next year but Venezuela’s Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel has already expressed anger — at the US government.
“This shows the perversion of North American society, its government,” said Rangel on Wednesday, calling President George W. Bush’s administration “a government of gangsters, drug traffickers and criminals”.
“Mercenaries 2” is being made by Pandemic Studios, a Los Angeles-based company whose games are developed in California and Brisbane, Australia.
Pandemic bills the new product as “an explosive open-world action game set in a massive, highly reactive, war-torn world.” The invading mercenaries have the muscles, tattoos, blonde hair, square jaw and dark glasses of many a Hollywood action hero.
“A power-hungry tyrant messes with Venezuela’s oil supply, sparking an invasion that turns the country into a war zone,” says the maker on its website.
No names are mentioned. But is it a coincidence that Venezuela sells more than 1.5 million barrels of oil to the United States each day, about 14 percent of US needs, and that Washington frequently criticises the democratic credentials of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez? Chavez, in turn, has accused the United States of making plans to invade his country.
Pandemic insists the aim of its game is purely commercial. “Pandemic is in the business of entertainment. It has never been contacted by any US government agency concerning the development of Mercenaries 2,” a company spokesman told AFP on condition of anonymity.
In a statement sent to AFP, Pandemic added: “The decision to choose current interesting events and locations for any of its games is purely designed to make a fun and rich experience for the gamer.”
The fun in “Mercenaries 2” is certainly very life-like. The three dimensional scenes look frighteningly similar to Caracas and the country’s oil facilities. The game graphically depicts several districts of Caracas being engulfed by flames from aerial bombardments and also depicts the logo of Venezuela’s national oil company in its scenes.
Pandemic has already won prizes for its games and could easily do so for stirring controversy.
Some big hits in the industry have already depicted scenes from World War II along with the Korea and Vietnam conflicts. More recently, “Conflict Desert Storm” depicted the first US-led Gulf War while personal computer games depicting the current Iraqi campaign are already under development.
Even the United States military relied on computer-graphic simulators to train its soldiers for urban combat against entrenched terror cells in Baghdad and the Iraq’s insurgents-filled “Sunni triangle”
“We want to bring our players an amusing and rewarding experience by basing some of our games on interesting places and events,” the game maker said.
Copyright © 2006