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Jack Gardner

Feature: The Four Best Games to Play on the 4th of July

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Across the United States, today represents for many a time during which people celebrate unity and freedom. The 4th of July commemorates the United States' independence from Great Britain. For many across the US, the day presents an opportunity for celebration and relaxation (or a futile attempt to comfort pets scared of fireworks). With celebration inevitably comes games - so what gaming activities are ideal for the holiday?

 

Four seems like an apt number given the day, so here are the best games to play during the 4th of July festivities. 

 

4. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2

 

 

Look, nothing brings people together quite like the prospect of the Soviet Union invading the United States. The classic real-time strategy game Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 does just that in an alternate timeline where dirigibles soar the skies and science can produce magic-like effects. The Soviet forces come equipped with destructive blimps that darken the skies, destructive missiles, and terrifying, mind-controlling powers. The Americans, however, learn how to harness the power of nature, deploy elite jet pack commandos, and even manipulate time itself. 

 

While the subject matter might seem serious, the live-action cutscenes that propel the story forward stand out as a real joy. Immediately recognizable television actors take on pivotal roles like Ray Wise as President Michael Dugan, Udo Kier as the conniving and unnerving Yuri, and Barry Corbin the gruff and boisterous General Ben Carville.     

 

It has all the charm of a B-movie mixed with some of the best RTS gameplay Westwood ever produced in their time creating strategy titles. There are few better ways to spend the 4th of July than by kicking back, relaxing, and fending off evil, mind-controlling blimps. 

 

3. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

 

 

The Metal Gear Solid series has always been fascinated with the United States, featuring senators, special agents, and secret super-weapons. All of that comes to a head in the best of the series, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The game serves as a prequel, putting players into the role of series antagonist Big Boss before he earned that name. Snake Eater stars Big Boss, then known as Naked Snake, tracking down his mentor and thwarting her plans which include unleashing a mobile nuclear weapon to kick start World War 3.  

 

Metal Gear Solid 3 features an incredible amount of intrigue, espionage, and morally ambiguous decisions. It works as a reminder that the path to war is full of difficult decisions where on side is rarely 100% in the right. It's the perfect game to play on a day like today, inviting healthy skepticism while also celebrating the tenacity and ability of American soldiers. Plus, if you are feeling the need to make it as patriotic as possible, the game gives players the ability to paint Snake's face with an American flag. Metal Gear Solid is extra like that. 

 

You also get to experience the longest and most memorable ladder climbing sequence in video game history. It's glorious. It has nothing to do with the 4th of July, but it's glorious nonetheless. 

 

2. Liberty or Death

 

 

Liberty or Death is one of those rare games from the 90s that holds up remarkably well. Released for Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and MS-DOS, the game tasks players to engage in the strategy and history of The Revolutionary War. Praised for its historical accuracy and educational merit, the game puts players either in the boots of commanders in either side of the conflict. The goal of both the British and the Americans are to be the last force with troops in the thirteen colonies. Choosing the British means players will have to move fast to capitalize on their starting advantage while the Americans will need to build up their forces and strike wisely in order to prevail.

 

Behind all of this turn-based strategy ticks a remarkably deep relationship system connecting the armies to both the local population. Depending on external factors and how well the player has maneuvered their armies, the political situation evolves along with the war. More approval translates into more money to spend on armies, which automatically makes it one of the most important aspects to keep an eye on. However, if civilian approval drops too low, the citizenry might demand the player step down as commander-in-chief, resulting in a game over. 

 

Liberty or Death was designed to provide an incredibly deep experience that many in 1994 weren't ready to experience, with full playthroughs of one game taking sometimes over 100 hours. However, that length isn't seen as a daunting prospect in today's gaming climate. On top of that, it supports a two-player mode, so you can grab a friend and have a great time trying to outmaneuver one another in the name of freedom while learning a bit of history.  

 

1. Cornhole

 

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The game of kings and commoners alike, Cornhole's origins have been attributed to 1300s Germany by some historians, though other sources trace the creation of the game to Cincinnati, the Kentucky foothills, and the Blackhawk tribe of Native Americans located in the Illinois area. However it entered the world, Cornhole has become an incredibly popular recreational sport across the United States.

 

The game itself is incredibly simple. Players take turns throwing bags filled with corn toward a rectangular platform with a hole carved into the far end. Bags that go through the hole are worth three points, while those that land on the platform, but do not go into the hole are worth one point. The first player or team to reach 21 points takes home victory.

 

The laid back nature of the game provides plenty of time to talk, making it a great game for those causally catching up on life. Of course, things can get a bit competitive, but the inherently silly and non-confrontational nature of the game prevents things from becoming overly physical. Due to the downtime afforded between turns, players are free to mingle with other celebrants while getting some cool beverages in the summer heat. That element has made the game a great hit at bars and family-oriented community events across the country. 

 

What games would your recommend for the 4th of July?

 

 

Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!


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