After Konami left the Six Days In Fallujah in 2009, it wasn’t clear whether the first-person shooter game—called “sick” at the time by an anti-war group—would ever be completed and released to the gamers. Surprise: One of the creators, Peter Tamte, appeared once again earlier this year with his own publishing company and a new variant of the game, which will be released before the end of 2021.
IGN published today the first look at Six Days In Fallujah’s gameplay, which you can check out below. Tamte told Game Informer that Six Days will “challenge outdated stereotypes about what videogames can be” earlier this year, but after watching this video, it kind of looks like a typical shooter, if you ask me.
The overall animations have a very similar Call of Duty feel, and conceptually speaking, the video is suggestive of Modern Warfare’s 2019 reveal—that “Clean House” mission in which night vision-equipped soldiers clear a house mixed with opposition combatants and civilians. The Fallujah setting here is different, obviously, but the trailer depicts a squad of US Marines fighting in the streets and then entering dark houses, ending with a scene in which the player points their gun at a civilian.
The feature which you will see in the video is procedural generation, which transforms the layouts of buildings and neighborhoods so that “just like an actual fight, you’ll never know what to anticipate.” I’m pretty sure actual homes don’t rearrange themselves, but the purpose of course is to generate the feeling that you’re a real Marine bursting into different buildings.
Six Days in Fallujah is controversial. It’s based on a real Iraq War battle which was led by US Marines in 2004. One charge is that basing a game on a recent deadly battle is tasteless in itself, but the criticism has largely been about the specific potential for the glorification of the Iraq War and the idea that Six Days will give an apologetic, pro-US point of view on this particular battle, in which hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed. For example, interviews in this trailer suggest that civilians who didn’t leave Fallujah before the battle was in general just being stubborn, but it was reported at the time that the US stopped Iraqi men aged 15 to 55 from fleeing. The US is also involved in burning civilians with white phosphorus; it didn’t admit to that but did say that it used white phosphorus as a weapon during the war.
Game developer Rami Ismail, who co-hosts a podcast called The Habibis about games and life from the perspective of “Arabs living all over the big world,” has been critical of Six Days in Fallujah since its announcement, and of depictions of Arabs and Muslims in games in general. In response to this trailer, Ismail posted a video and Twitter thread with moment-by-moment commentary.
“They have literally randomized the city of Fallujah so that ‘you never know what’s behind the door,'” he wrote. “Have to admit that heroically murdering Muslims/Arab/Middle Eastern folks but make it procedural is new. We are literally not human enough to hand-design anymore.”
“We believe the stories of this generation’s sacrifices deserve to be told by the Marines, Soldiers, and civilians who were there,” wrote the publisher, which added that 26 Iraqis civilians were interviewed in the creation of the game.
Six Days in Fallujah doesn’t have a release date, but the publisher will release it this year.