Oh, sure, no harm in spending your Fourth of July rooting for one former Axis power or another in the world semifinals of un-American football, but sorry, a few of us just don’t get what’s so corny about 230*** years of freedom, and we spent this Independence Day the way Tom Jefferson would have wanted: Online, waiting for the beta release of Kuma Reality Games’ (kumagames.com) Assault on Iran, Pt. 3: Payback in Iraq. Part one, a free download simulating a U.S. raid on an Iranian nuclear facility, made headlines in May when Iran’s Union of Islamic Student Societies announced plans for a counterstrike: Commander Bahman, a rescue-the-captured-Iranian-nuclear-scientist scenario. Not missing a beat, Kuma picked up the gauntlet and promised episode three by the Fourth. “We look forward to responding with the same level of thought-provoking, relevant game-play in which the whole world can participate,” said the press release. Oh, it was on.
But alas, as of press time, this has been a vaporware war. Commander Bahman isn’t due out until next March, and July 4 came and went with no payback from Kuma in sight. Those eager to sample Kuma’s unique brand of ripped-from-the-headlines mini-games had to settle for the curiously unsettling Death of al-Zarqawi, rushed online just two weeks after the event and offering two distinct play options. Option one: Storm Zarqawi’s safe house and fight your way in. Option two: Call in an airstrike, like they really did, and walk up to Zarqawi’s corpse for the win. The deadpan hilarity of the contrast was a head scratcher: Are these games really the warped conflation of war and entertainment they’re cracked up to be, or is there some kind of sly comedy going on here? The patriots among us didn’t give it too much thought, though. We were too busy shooting.