Warning: Slight spoilers in the videos shown below.
When Paul Tibbets died at his Columbus, Ohio home not long into his nineties, he claimed to have done so without any shred of guilt. He’d done nothing but his patriotic duty, and he died knowing he’d done the very best job he could. Reflecting on his life, he claimed to have slept clearly each night. This man piloted the Enola Gay.
He was responsible for opening the chute under ‘Little Boy’ and reducing a city to cinders. A whole city reduced to, in his words, ‘a smudge’ under a blanket of smoke and fire. To date, it’s arguably humanity’s greatest atrocity. That said, I think Tom Cruise has a movie or two coming out this year, so who knows. Go hard, Tom.
Fortunately, the Nagasaki and Hiroshima injustices are the only recorded nuclear detonations in the history of human warfare. A streak North Korea are keen to go all combo-breaker on, having just vowed to light Washington up like a Christmas tree. Luckily, the nation under God has another invisible, much more tangible ally on their side – gravity.
So, let’s see, can I list some of gaming’s most spectacular mushroom clouds before Korea manage to see a missile over the ocean? Okay, go.
5World in Conflict
Fret not, real-time strategy fiends. I shoehorned one in, just for you guys.
I looked at the likes of Civilization and that Tom Clancy abomination, but neither really captured the wanton destruction of a nuclear bomb. The former has a tendency to be a little cartoonish, whereas the latter was just a steaming pile.
This example from World in Conflict, though, says all there is to say of nuclear warfare. It’s an intricate science understood by greater minds than ours, wielded by simpletons. And though the eerie, alien hum that goes hand-in-hand with the detonation might be exaggerated, it rings true to a certain extent.
To most of us, this is alien technology.
4Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t exactly get what Solid Snake is all about, or what has happened throughout the Metal Gear saga. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to understand.
So I’ll offer a hearty thumbs up to anybody who can provide context for the following clip which sees… let me check my notes… Volgin, detonating a, hang on, Davy Crockett nuke to cover up, uh, a theft? Needless to say, there’s a nuke in this clip and it makes quite a boom.
Never is your hand forced by Mister Burke. Though when a payload is so attractive, it’s hard not to strongly consider reducing an entire town to rubble.
The beauty of the Fallout games is that they require soul searching, playing on the user’s moral compass. The denizens of Megaton aren’t real people, obviously. But bonds are formed and some (not all) feel a knot in their stomach when they’re considering the power of the atom at their fingertips. It’s a testament to great writing, if nothing else.
Some might argue that founding a city around the worship of an undetonated atomic bomb is a fool’s gambit and that the troglodytes had it coming. Others might meet that with dissension, arguing that one will cling onto whatever crazy sliver of hope remains in a dystopian wasteland, and if that means wrapping arms around nuclear arms, then so be it.
Me? I just wanted to set the world on fire.
2Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Along with the infamous betrayal and the airport shootout, there was one scene that stayed with me long after the credits rolled to the magnificent sounds of Hans Zimmer.
High above the pale blue dot, an astronaut toiled away over his daily work. Then, from the dark side of the world, a glint of light. Then came the trail behind it. As it neared the eastern coast of America, it went ‘pop’ as a bright, fiery band radiated from it. In his moment of peril, the astronaut was worse than helpless. Just another casualty of this war.
As the Russians tightened their stranglehold on Washington, the resultant electromagnetic pulse caused a blackout on both sides – once again restoring balance to the fight. It was a desperate measure by Price to deploy the warhead over his own roof, so to speak, but it was a necessary one.
1Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
The death of Sergeant Paul Jackson is one that Call of Duty aficionados won’t ever forget.
When a full-scale assault on the presidential palace of Al-Asad goes pear-shaped, a nuclear device detonates and sends the helicopter, on which Jackson is riding, into a death spiral. Most games might leave it at that, leaving it to the gamer to infer that our hero perished in the explosion. Not Infinity Ward.
To seal the deal and place that final nail in Jackson’s coffin, we see his slow, tortured death as he succumbs to his wounds and presumable radiation poisoning. The laughter of playing children can be faintly heard as a light engulfs the screen. Some like to imagine that our life flashes before our eyes when our time is up, don’t they?
Agree? Disagree? Either way, let us know in the comments below!