GTA Cinematic Director's Next Game Explores 1979 Iran Revolution

The upcoming game by cinematic director Navid Khonsari aims to explore the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

by on 11th Aug, 2011

I heard about the development of this game awhile back, and it looks like there's finally been some follow-up on the game that Navid Khonsari—the cinematic director of GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas—is working on. Based on the 1979 Iranian revolution, the game is titled simply "1979".

The game takes place in the year of the hostage crisis at the United States embassy in Tehran, during the height of the Islamic Revolution against the country's dictator, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, by a fundamentalist movement.

The game, according to its developers, will combine the sandbox, open-world elements of the Grand Theft Auto series while exploring the historic backdrop of the setting through the perspectives of several different characters.

Khonsari, who grew up in Iran during the revolution, wants to tell the moral ambiguity of the story. In an interview with CNN, he said that the "[wants] people to understand the incredible moral ambiguity of this story, that this was a country with many different ideas and beliefs."

"1979" begins with the U.S. embassy hostage crisis, allowing the player to choose three ways to enter Iran: by helicopter with the doomed U.S. special forces team, through Iraq with Saddam Hussein's army, or across the Afghanistan border with the Taliban.

The game will start off as a standard third person shooter, but move on to elements of diplomacy and stealth as you take on the role of a student protester.

"So the game changes, and now your mission is to get this small military group to Tehran, but nonviolently, clandestinely. You want the American hostages out of Iran because you want the country to focus on rebuilding itself, and you've heard all these rumors about a war with Iraq coming," said Pahlavi.

"People who might not be completely familiar with the game world look at fancy graphics and polished gameplay and say 'this is cutting edge,' " he continued. "But from what I've seen, it's still quite basic. Very much a checkers mentality -- red against black, good against evil. I'm interested in having good and evil within the same character, and for you to experience both. I think that's true to life, and I think you can design a game around that, too."

According to the developer, you'll have to make very difficult choices along the way.

In addition to the regular game, a multiplayer mode is also in the works, with 12 maps planned for release. It will offer a combination of straightforward combat and missions that also involve negotiation and decision-making.

"1979" may well be the first ever big budget title to approach a serious subject in a thoughtful manner. Khonsari hopes that it will be the first in a franchise, and he hopes to explore what happened in Panama with Manuel Noriega, and Libya with Gadhafi in later games.

Concluding his interview with CNN, Khonsari said that he wants to make people think.

"People are so quick to accept the official record of things as 'history,' without examining everything that's gone on in the last 40, 50, 60 years. It's important we remember these things, and work to keep them relevant."

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