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Nine Games Based On True Stories

by Ben Reeves on Jul 09, 2016 at 10:14 AM

A lot of people struggle to stay awake during history class, but you don’t have to sit through a lecture to learn more about your world. Here are a few games that are actually based on real-world events.

Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30

We could write a whole article about games based on World War II. Series like Call of Duty, Company of Heroes, and Medal of Honor all have games set around real WWII battles, but the Brothers in Arms series went to an extreme length to achieve historical accuracy. Road to Hill 30 was the first entry in the series and was based on the true story of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the famed 101st Airborne Division who dropped behind German lines on D-Day.

Velvet Assassin

This stealth action game from Replay Studios revolved around the life of Violette Summer, a British spy operating deep behind enemy lines during WWII who worked to undermine the Nazi war machine. The game was inspired by the life of an actual saboteur named Violette Szabo. Unfortunately, the real Violette was captured by the German army, tortured, and eventually deported to the Ravensbrück concentration camp where she died.

Assassin’s Creed III
The Assassin’s Creed series has always been based on real historical events – featuring iconic personalities like Leonardo da Vinci, Pope Alexander VI, and the pirate Black Beard. However, the third main entry in the series sprinkled in so many real historical events surrounding the founding of the U.S. that it almost became a joke. Throughout the game, burgeoning assassin Connor participates in the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere's Ride, and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

1979 Revolution: Black Friday
In this interactive adventure game from Ink Stories, players take on the role of Reza Shirazi, an aspiring photojournalist who has returned to his home country of Iran in the middle of the Iranian Revolution. As players take photographs of the war, they are presented with the historical background of actual events as well as a few personal accounts from people who lived through the revolution. (Listen to our interview with Ink Stories director Navid Khonsari on a recent episode of the GI Show.)

L.A. Noire
This neo-noir detective simulation appears on a lot of history lists thanks to Team Bondi’s painstaking attempt to recreate Los Angeles as it appeared back in the 1940s and 1950s using actual photos and city planning documents from the era. The story revolves around detective Cole Phelps, a World War II veteran who returns home and solves a series of crimes based on actual news headlines.

That Dragon Cancer
Unlike most of the other entries on this list, which revolve around epic wars and other global events that reshaped our world map, That Dragon Cancer is a heartbreaking autobiographical game based on Ryan and Amy Green’s experience losing a child to cancer. When Joel was only twelve-months-old he was diagnosed with an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor and given less than four months to live. That Dragon Cancer aims to deliver the sense of hopelessness and grieving that the Green’s felt during this ordeal.

The Saboteur

This open world third person shooter from defunct Pandemic Studios is yet another game based on actual events of World War II. (What can we say, WWII was an eventful time.) Set in German-occupied France, players controller Sean Devlin, a hard drinking Irish racecar mechanic who helps the resistance’s effort to sabotage the Nazis. Pandemic based Devlin on the real life of William Grover-Williams – a half English/half French grand prix champion who fled France when the war started. Grover-Williams was later recruited by the British SOE and airdropped back into France as a spy. Sadly, this hero ended up dying for his country.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Sick of World War II? Let’s jump back into the first World War. The less explored Great War was the backdrop for Ubisoft’s heartfelt adventure game Valiant Hearts: The Great War. Beginning in 1914, when Germany declared war on Russia and France began deporting German citizens, players take on the roles of four heroes: a Frenchman named Emile, his German son-in-law Karl, an American soldier named Freddie, and a Belgian nurse named Anna. Many of the accounts are based on real stories from the war, and all of the battles represented in the game are real conflicts. Valiant Hearts even features several encyclopedic accounts from the war accompanied by actual war photos.

Dynasty Warriors 2

Omega Force’s action series is one of the most serialized franchises in gaming history and has spawned entries based on the anime Gundam, The Legend of Zelda, and Dragon Quest. However, the first few Dynasty Warriors were actually based on a 14th century historical Chinese novel called Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which detailed events in China between the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. as several warring tribes fought to unify China.

For more games set against a historical backdrop check out our list of the best games to help you relive the 20th century.