Back in 2009, Konami ceased work on Six Days In Fallujah, a first-person shooter that had been in development by a studio called Atomic Games. Now, 11 years later, the former CEO of Atomic has returned with a new studio, under a new publisher, to again attempt to retell the second battle of Fallujah as a tactical shooter.
The new studio is called Highwire Games, and the new Six Days In Fallujah is expected to release this year. It's being published by Victura, and the two companies boast former Bungie talent among their ranks—including Halo and Destiny lead designer Jaime Griesemer and composter Marty O'Donnell.
The elephant in the room is, of course, that setting. The original Six Days faced heavy criticism from veterans and anti-war groups over its planned vision of an interactive recreation of one of the bloodiest battles in the Iraq War, a conflict in which Iraqi NGOs and medical workers believe as many as 6,000 died.
While Highwire claims to have done its research to "tell these military and civilian stories with the integrity they deserve," initial reception has been frosty.
Ex-Vlambeer developer Rami Ismail is skeptical of the US-centric framing, raising questions over where Six Days will draw the line in portraying the events authentically.
"The note to press stresses that the developers are working with frontline marines & soldiers who fought in the Battle, with over 100 marines, soldiers & Iraqi civilians who were present sharing their stories, photos & recordings."So this'll be in the game I presume: pic.twitter.com/wQrdbwfK1xFebruary 11, 2021
Industry analyst Daniel Ahmad, meanwhile, doesn't hold out much hope considering Victura CEO Peter Tamte's previous firm, Destineer, was commissioned to work on training simulations for the US government.
I couldn't possibly guess why Six Days in Fallujah is being revived at a time when US army recruitment is at an all time low. This reboot is from the same people that worked with the FBI and CIA on training systems and is basing its game on excusing US war crimes. pic.twitter.com/5H8vVqKh9sFebruary 11, 2021
In a press release, the studio stresses that it has spoken to over 100 marines, soldiers and Iraqi citizens present at the battle, and that the game will feature firsthand accounts both in-game and through documentary footage. That release also includes a quote from former Marine Sergeant Eddie Garcia, who pitched the original game concept back in 2005.
"Sometimes the only way to understand what’s true is to experience reality for yourself," said Garcia. "War is filled with uncertainty and tough choices that can’t be understood by watching someone on a TV or movie screen make these choices for you. Video games can help all of us understand real-world events in ways other media can't."
Tamte added: "It's hard to understand what combat is actually like through fake people doing fake things in fake places. This generation showed sacrifice and courage in Iraq as remarkable as any in history. And now they’re offering the rest of us a new way to understand one of the most important events of our century. It’s time to challenge outdated stereotypes about what video games can be."
Whether the game's interpretation of these events is accurate or not, it's rare for a project this controversial to be revived so many years later.
Correction: the original version of this story listed Victura as developer and Highwire Games as publisher. This has been amended.