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A Satirical Side-scrolling War Game - We Want YOU Review
Gamers get a depiction of war every time they play games like Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and Ghost Recon. These games are an attempt at realism when it comes to the battlefield, and they put you at the core of the action. Indie developer Quicksand Games has created We Want YOU, a side-scrolling shoot ‘em up with 2D visuals, in an attempt to bring gamers a satirical look at war, its themes, and its controversies.
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We Want YOU Storyline
We Want YOU doesn’t feature a detailed narrative at the beginning of the game or any kind of briefing to get you started. Instead, the game’s plot—or rather purpose—becomes clear as you play along. As you progress through the game, you see lines of text—meant to be seen as news headlines—poking fun at war, all the while touching on serious subjects such as death toll, peace protests, religious takes on war, and homosexuality in the military. The game is meant to send a message in a lighthearted manner, and it does so quite flawlessly. You’ll see just how serious We Want YOU can be when you read headlines such as “AXIS OF EVIL: Who do we attack next?” pop up on the screen.
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We Want YOU Gameplay
In We Want YOU, you must guide your soldier downward. You must traverse different platforms, shooting down enemy soldiers as you try to make your way toward friendly ground. The game starts out simple enough, but the challenge soon picks up, with enemies getting stronger and using better weaponry the more you progress.
As your character takes damage, you can see the wounds of war on his tiny, pixilated body. His armor depletes and he gets bloodier with every shot he takes. You’ve got one life, so once you die, it’s back to the start unless you’ve managed to get far enough to reach a checkpoint. Unlike titles such as Spelunky, where permanent death is a main element in the game, We Want YOU does allow you to regain health and upgrade armor and weapons. By shooting crates, you can find sniper rifles, armor, and other such useful tools. And there are also various refuge tents where you can heal your soldier and equip flamethrowers, rapid-fire guns, shotguns, and more.
Game progression takes place through in-game years. As you go downward, you see the game’s portrayal of time. You go from rainy days to snowy weather, and you see a headline for every year you survive. This element makes one think about the promises the government makes: “You’ll only be an active soldier for two years, then you can return home.” That grim farce becomes very clear in We Want YOU as you get to your fourth and fifth years in-game with no end in sight.
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Graphics and Sound
We Want YOU features a simple look typical of titles created through Game Maker. Despite its simplicity, though, it’s effective in its goal at creating a lighthearted-looking title. Character sprites are small and lack detail, and the game’s environment consists of different types of blocks that are combined to create battlegrounds and walls. The game’s look is for all intents and purposes overly simplistic, but once you understand the premise of We Want YOU, you’ll see that the graphics do a good job at creating a visualization for this satirical war game.
In terms of sound, We Want YOU features a catchy soundtrack that consists of piano themes and old-school tracks. Surprisingly, this combination works well. One moment you’ll get a retro vibe from the game, and the next you’ll get a feeling that makes you think, “Wow, this game’s themes are pretty serious.” Sound effects are equally effective, if not more so. This is because, while gunshots sound like something straight out of a 2D video game, enemy cries can sound somewhat realistic. This is especially true when you set them on fire using a flamethrower. These realistic shouts and groans add to the realism that We Want YOU pokes fun at, and they help send the game’s message.
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We Want YOU is the kind of game that you can go back to countless times. If your goal is to get through the entire game and see the big twist at the end, then you’ll spend a good amount of time playing We Want YOU. Other gamers will play solely to see if they can last more in-game years. Still others will play simply due to the fact that We Want YOU is an addictive, engaging shoot ‘em up experience.
Additionally, the game invites you to play any way you want. If your sole purpose is to get through the game, taking down whatever enemies necessary, you can do just that. If you’d rather take the pacifist route and see how far you can get without killing a single enemy unit, that’s a path you are definitely welcome to take. There’s a nice level of freedom in We Want YOU, and it’s kind of funny to see a war game welcoming freedom of all things.
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We Want YOU Overall Score
We Want YOU isn’t a blueprint game. It certainly doesn’t follow many of the conventions that some of today’s war games stick to. Instead, We Want YOU offers gamers a simple, though insanely engaging, shoot ‘em up experience with a deep meaning. Quicksand Games combined quirky visuals with satire to project a serious message about war. In that sense, this is one of the most realistic war games out there, and it should definitely be played by anyone who can stomach the reality of warfare.