Last week, the trailer for the Rambo video game was released. While this isn’t the first Rambo video game to come out—the first one dropped in 1985 with four others after it—it’s the first one to really capture the extreme, cartoonish violence the films became iconic for.
The trailer begins with a cut scene of John Rambo running through a rocky hill and then cuts to a medley of enemy soldiers being cut down by machine gun fire. Heads explode, bodies disintegrate into red mist and throats are turned into cutlery blocks. Rambo the Video Game completes the bloody checklist of the former soldier’s adventures.
But the most fascinating thing about Rambo the Video Game isn’t the game itself—it’s what it represents, and that’s playing out the most violent scenes conceived for a 1980s movie screen. The punchline of all this is that no one will even complain about it when it’s released.
To judge Rambo the Video Game would be to judge Hollywood at the time it was cranking out the most unbelievably brutal movies seen in America. It would be a judgement of films like The Terminator, Robocop and Mad Max. Each are critically hailed as classics and would never be torn down today as much as today’s video games—which have the same or less violent content.
The most used example anti-video game activists and mainstream media like to use is the killing of hookers and cops in the Grand Theft Auto franchise. These are animated characters acting out a violent scene indeed but compared to the exploding arrow scene in Rambo: First Blood II, it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
Rambo the Video Game has some obscenely graphic stealth kills like shoving a hunting knife into an enemy’s throat. It surely won’t get any heat because it’s a scene from the movie. If video game developers, want to make a violent game without the threat of backlash, basing it on a hit movie would be the best choice. Had Call of Duty been Platoon the Video Game, Activision would have saved themselves a lot of headaches and the morality pundits would have to single out Hollywood as the problem. If Bungie used Will Smith instead of Master Chief and changed its title from Halo to Independence Day the Video Game, people like Jack Thompson wouldn’t have a soapbox to stand on.
Blaming Hollywood doesn’t always get a cause moving but blaming something that people are ignorant to does. Especially people who are also too lazy to do the research themselves. Creating a moral-less monster out of video games is easy to do, but messing with Hollywood is a futile movement that will leave a person looking like a tin-foil hat wearing hater or a religious zealot. Dissing Hollywood would get a person dismissed as an out of touch crackpot but going in on video games is a much safer bet. This is why when John Rambo goes on a cop killing spree in the video game, it’ll be glossed over as just a scene from the movie, no matter how violent it is.
With no release date yet for Rambo the Video Game, there is still time for the developers to switch things up, but depending on what’s being promoted so far, there’s a fat chance of that happening. As someone who can appreciate violence in both video games and movies, I hope that Studiocanal S.A. packs in even more ridiculous bloodshed. Perhaps every video game company should say that their violent games were inspired by a blockbuster film. That would shut up some of the anti-video game folks while the gross majority of video game enthusiasts—who can discern fact from fiction—can enjoy shooting up virtual bad guys in peace.
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