Russian war games play on former US aircraft carrier

Russian video game publisher 1C Company boarded a former US aircraft carrier to re-write the Cuban Missile Crisis that had super powers on the brink of nuclear war in 1962.

The tense Cold War stand-off has an apocalyptic outcome in the "Nuclear Union" computer showcased late Thursday amid vintage fighter jets on the hangar deck of the USS Hornet docked at a one-time Naval Air Station on the island city of Alameda across the bay from San Francisco.

The game is set in an alternate universe where, instead of being defused after a 13 day confrontation between Russia and the United States in October of 1962, the outcome is .

Players take on the role of a Soviet military officer from decades past who is mysteriously transported forward in time to the year 2012 to find himself in a post-apocalyptic Russia still ruled by the Communist Party.

"We tried to think of a situation in which the USSR as a country actually manages to survive," 1C spokesman Anatoly Subbotin told an AFP correspondent trying the game, which is to be released early next year.

"We have seen a lot of games devoted to the post-apocalyptic world, but never before was the ultimate power still in charge," he continued. "In this, the Communist Party still gives orders; we thought this might be fun."

Half the Earth's population is dead and most of the planet's surface contaminated by deadly radiation. In the game, the Soviet empire is rebuilt underground.

The main game character, and his female companion, are fellow time travelers working to figure out what happened and, perhaps, change things, Subbotin explained, careful not to give away too much of the game's plot.

Given that the USS Hornet was an asset in the US Navy fleet during the Cold War as well as World War II, it was deemed a fitting venue to provide a look at versions of military-themed 1C games being readied for market.

Members of the 1C team wearing green Navy coveralls shared details of a coming titles after taking time to tour the aircraft carrier that has been converted into a floating museum dedicated to its own past.

"This is a cool experience," said Subbotin. "I've never been on board a US military boat."

The Hornet was also considered a proper setting in which to play "IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad," a game designed to simulate what it was like to be a Soviet jet fighter pilot in a legendary World War II air battle.

1C began taking online pre-orders for IL-2 on Friday.

The Russian game publisher also announced plans to release by the end of the year a sequel to its "Men of War Assault Squad" military strategy game set during World War II.

The company's popular "Men of War" franchise includes a title based on the Vietnam conflict that lets people play as Russian advisors to North Vietnamese troops fighting US forces.

David Sullivan, who did two tours on a Navy cruiser off the coast of Vietnam during the war there in the late 1960s, watched from one side of the hangar deck.

Sullivan, now a volunteer at the Hornet museum, conceded that he never expected to see uniformed Russians playing war games on board a US .

"It takes a generation or so to forget some of the past," Sullivan said. "I am actually glad to see it; it is good that we are more friendly."

© 2013 AFP

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