Bangladeshis are having a great time killing Pakistanis – virtually.
That’s all thanks to a slick video game called ‘Heroes of 71: Retaliation’, the backdrop of which is the Bangladesh Liberation War. This game and its precursor ‘Heroes of 71’ have been downloaded a little over 40 lakh times with more than 25 lakh of those downloads from out of Bangladesh, the country’s The Daily Star newspaper reported last week. It’s a bonafide hit.
How could it not be? A classic ‘good vs. evil’, ‘underdog vs. bully’ narrative with a massive dose of feel-good patriotism – and the chance to blow up some enemies – okay, Pakistanis – along the way.
Of course, at the time of the real war, they were called “West Pakistanis” and “East Pakistanis”- the latter went on to win the war and became Bangladeshis – at great odds and with a little help from a friend, India.
Make no mistake though, the game is bloody, very bloody – as bloody as the real war in 1971 when Pakistanis killed between two to three million people – Bangladesh claims the latter number is closer to the true figure.
The game’s object is simple: The more enemies you kill – that translates to the more Pakistanis you kill – the higher your score soars. As you’re playing, a counter keeps track on the top centre of the screen.
Five unsuspecting enemy combatants stroll out from behind a thatch hut and you have two freedom fighters ready to pick them off one by one. Rat-a-tat-a-tat, Rat-a-tat-a-tat and three more and you’re five points up. On occasion, the game will even point you to the odd grenade you can use if you’re quick enough to grab and lob it.
War under an inky sky with a femme fatale ::
Portbliss, the developers of the game, told TOI in January last year that “a gameplay cannot portray a liberation war properly”. Yet, the developers visited the National Liberation War Museum in Dhaka and drew on their research to shape both the storyline and the assets of their game. The stories are drawn from real narratives of those who fought in 1971 and the developers made 3-D models from sketches of everything – from uniforms to weapons
‘Heroes of 71: Retaliation’ definitely shows this attention to detail. The video game showcases the odds simply yet stunningly. Under an inky sky, you see the might of the enemy just in the way they are clothed and armed – they have uniforms, boots, binoculars and guns that look pretty state-of-the-art for 1971. By comparison, the Bangladeshi, or rather, the East Pakistani, freedom fighters are barefoot, have only their bare naked eyes and what almost amount to country weapons. Yet, they pick off the enemy, one by painful one, systematically and methodically, and most of all, patiently.
The game has the obligatory dark-eyed mysterious female guerrilla fighter, or as The Daily Star describes the character Anila, “a mysterious, deadly yet beautiful woman. ” The sari-clad Anila is an ace with a gun and frees a group of women held hostage by Pakistanis. All of them then end up in a bloody battle to the finish.
A year ago Portbliss games told TOI they were pretty confident their video game will boost “patriotism among Bengalis”. They’ve been proven right and then some.
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