America is a land of contrasts, but at the end of the day there’s no place else we’d rather live. Our country is founded on immutable principles of liberty, equality, and freedom that, at their best, create an atmosphere for individual excellence. And also: video games! The world of electronic entertainment started here, and many video games have tapped into our love of country as subject matter. For this July 4th, plug in your star-spangled joysticks and play these 10 overwhelmingly patriotic video games.
The iconic American action hero might be our greatest cultural export, and side-scrolling indie game Broforce lets you step into the shoes of thinly disguised takes on Rambo, the Terminator, Chuck Norris, and dozens more as you rescue hostages and blow up terrorists around the world. Waving American flags, jingoistic dialogue, and more explosions than you can shake an M-16 at make this a satisfying romp, and the difficulty gets surprising as levels become more complex.
Before From Software found its groove with the Dark Souls series, it was notorious for kicking out some seriously oddball concepts. 2004’s Metal Wolf Chaos puts players in control of US President Michael Wilson, who has to pilot a massive armored mech to put down a military revolt led by his own vice president. It’s a wild and goofy premise that is attached to some deeply satisfying action, with over 100 different all-American weapons letting you cause property damage all across this great nation.
18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker
Of all the Japanese developers out there, it often seems like Sega really understands the “America-ness” of this country better than anyone. Many of its games feature exaggerated takes on the United States that somehow hit close to home, and 2000’s 18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker is a perfect example. As the driver of a big rig, you tear through the continent pulling tons of cargo and trying to keep ahead of the nefarious rival driver Lizard Tail.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
World War II might have been the last time we could confidently think of ourselves as the good guys, so the premise of The New Colossus, where series protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz has to liberate the United States from the Third Reich oppressors. It’s not only a top-notch shooter with great set pieces, but also a remarkably interesting meditation on American values and what they actually mean. Plus, your main character gets decapitated and then gets his head put on another body because he has more Nazis to kill.
The Division 2
After the Green Poison decimates much of the world, survivors band together in Washington D.C. to try and rebuild our nation in The Division 2. This third-person shooter uses the nation’s capital as a dynamic backdrop for a story involving a possible cure for the pandemic, as the president is being held hostage by one of the gangs fighting for control of the city. Although the setting is grim, the tone is hopeful as the last holdouts truly believe that there’s a way back to a republic out of the chaos.
Liberty Or Death
Japanese developer Koei was famous in the 16-bit era for its dauntingly deep strategy games like Romance of the Three Kingdoms, so it’s sort of funny that now it does the mostly brainless Dynasty Warriors series. Its 1994 Super NES game Liberty or Death lets you play the leaders of the American Continental Army as you attempt to drive the British from the New World and establish the country we all know and love. Of course, you can play as the Redcoats too, but who would want to do that?
Saints Row IV
Originally positioned as a knockoff of Grand Theft Auto, Remedy’s Saints Row series rapidly transformed into something much weirder and wilder. By the fourth installment, your protagonist has become the President of the United States after fending off a terrorist attack. Things get extremely weird when a fleet of aliens trap you in a virtual reality simulation, but you can’t keep a good president down for long. Eventually you rise up, arm yourself with a variety of hyper-patriotic weapons and free America from bondage once more.
Assassin’s Creed III
Ubisoft’s flagship series is notorious for jumping to a new historical era in almost every installment, so the setting of the American Revolution for in Assassin’s Creed III wasn’t terribly surprising. As half-English, half-Mohawk Connor, you battle through two decades of some of the most turbulent events in American history, fending off the Templars as they attempt to secure control of the newborn nation. This game grapples satisfyingly with the colonial origins of America and how we’ve treated the First People since then, and it’s a satisfying dive into living history.
Here’s another alternate history that really slams home how unique the United States is. Created by IO Interactive, the team behind Hitman, Freedom Fighters takes place in a New York City taken over by the Russians, with the protagonist a plumber turned resistance leader. The fight for independence is a key element of the American mythos, so seeing it reframed with the Soviets as the occupying force is a neat way to play around with patriotism.
Christian Founders 3D Adventure
Let’s close this out with a game that pushes the “patriotism” lever all the way to 100 without really thinking about what that would mean for the fun factor. Christian Founders 3D Adventure lets you steer a rotund, barely animated Uncle Sam through low-poly 3D labyrinths, picking up patriotic icons and reading interminable walls of text about the Founding Fathers and why they believed in God.