Screenshot of the game. The player has JFK in sight.
|Designer(s)||Kirk Ewing (Marketing Director)|
|Release||November 22, 2004|
JFK Reloaded is a historical simulation video game, designed to recreate the John F. Kennedy assassination. It is noted for its controversial subject matter, and was released November 22, 2004 (the 41st anniversary of the event) by Scotland-based Traffic Games. The game's developers insisted their intentions were to "bring history to life", and help prove the Warren Commission's findings.
JFK Reloaded puts the player in the role of Lee Harvey Oswald, who was found by five U.S. government investigations to have been Kennedy's assassin. The player is then scored on how closely their version of the assassination matches the report of the Warren Commission (first shot missed, second hit JFK and Governor Connally and third hits JFK's head and kills him). According to the company, the primary aim of the game was "to establish the most likely facts of what happened on 1963-11-22 by running the world's first mass-participation forensic construction", the theory being that a player could help prove that Lee Harvey Oswald had the "means and the opportunity to commit the crime", and thus help prove the Warren Commission's findings.
Players were able to submit scores, rating how close their version of events were to the Warren Commission's, for a competition that ended on February 22, 2005. The competition promised winnings of "up to" $100,000, but the final prize was just $10,712. Afterwards, the competition option was disabled and the cost of the simulator was reduced to $4.99. It was later offered for free download before the official website closed in August 2005.
The game starts just before JFK's limousine comes into view—about 28 seconds before the first shot was fired according to Warren et al. The player aims and fires with the mouse, and is free to fire immediately, but points are only given for the first three shots; all others subtract points. Ammunition is limited to 39 rounds. Oswald's rifle only contained four live rounds – three were fired and the fourth was in the chamber ready to fire. Three empty brass cartridges were found near the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository.
The game ends when the limo disappears into the tunnel or a certain amount of time has passed from the beginning of the game. The player can also end the simulation at any by pressing the spacebar.
Replay and ballistics
The characters of the game are called "actors". After the first shots that hit someone are fired, Secret Service agent Clint Hill runs behind the limo, which then slows down. If the player is able to fire the third shot and hit Kennedy in the head, Jackie Kennedy climbs onto the trunk and then goes back in. The limo speeds up either after Hill jumps on the running board or four seconds pass since slowing down. The original game software had severely unrealistic ballistics which caused bullet drop in the game to be exaggerated compared to the actual ballistics of 6.5 x 52 mm ammo fired through a Carcano Model 91/38 rifle, which was used to kill JFK. A modified version of the game allows correction for this mistake in the original program and also adds shooter positions at the "grassy knoll" and the Dal-Tex building in Dealey Plaza. Players can then view a replay of their attempts from additional angles. There are twelve different angles for the camera, including "bullet-camera" and freely moved camera. After that, ballistics of the shots fired at the limo are shown, including their flypaths. Statistics of the game can be stored. A maximum of 1000 points can be scored. In the competition, the final highest registered score was 782 out of 1000.
JFK Reloaded was condemned by the late Senator Ted Kennedy, the late President Kennedy's brother, as "despicable"; and by Sen. Joseph Lieberman who "was sickened by the game." Children NOW, an organization that promotes safer media for children, dismissed Traffic Media's claims that JFK Reloaded has educational merit. Director Christy Glaubke commented "I would think the only [lesson it teaches] is how to be an assassin." The game, however, is explicitly not intended for children.
On Metacritic, the game achieved a score of 69/100, with some critics noting that "the simulation, viewed on its own, is quite compelling", but that this was impeded by the lack of "taste" in approaching the subject matter, while others said the matter was taken "seriously", and others praising the accuracy of the simulation and the enjoyability of the gameplay detatched from the subject matter.
Kirk Ewing, Traffic Software's Managing Director, said "We genuinely believe that, if we get enough people participating, we'll be able to disprove, once and for all, any notion that someone else was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy."
In popular culture
In "Raw", a 2005 episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, "BlitzkriegKids.com", the website of a teenage neo-Nazi, has a link to the game. This catches the eye of Detective Munch, a devoted Kennedy admirer who believes many of the conspiracy theories surrounding his assassination. He asks, "What the hell is 'JFK Reloaded'?", at which point Fin assures his partner that it is not something he wants to see.
- "Competition Results". Archived from the original on 2005-03-28.
- "JFK shooting game 'despicable'". theguardian.com. November 23, 2004. Archived from the original on 2016-06-30. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
- These were investigations by: the Federal Bureau of Investigation (1963), the Warren Commission (1964), the House Select Committee on Assassinations (1979), the Secret Service, and the Dallas Police Department.
- "JFK Reloaded". Giant Bomb.
- "JFK:Reloaded Competition High Scores". Archived from the original on 2005-04-03.
- Tuohey, Jason (November 24, 2004). "JFK Reloaded Game Causes Controversy". PC World. Archived from the original on 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
- "JFK Reloaded (official website)". Archived from the original on 2004-12-09.
JFK Reloaded contains mature content not intended for children.
- "JFK Reloaded". Metacritic. Retrieved 2019-11-02.
- "Four Fat Chicks -- JFK Reloaded Review". www.tap-repeatedly.com. Retrieved 2019-11-02.
- Official site at the Wayback Machine (archived 28 March 2005)
- JFK Reloaded at archive.org
- "JFK Reloaded: Revisited in 2006 - Review and Download". Web archive. 2006. Archived from the original on June 27, 2006.