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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 May 2006, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Venezuelan anger at computer game
Screenshot from Mercenaries
The original Mercenaries game was released last year
Venezuelan politicians have complained about a forthcoming "shoot-em-up" computer game that simulates an invasion of the South American nation.

In production by Los Angeles-based Pandemic Studios, Mercenaries 2: World In Flames is based around the overthrow of an imaginary Venezuelan "tyrant".

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has long accused the US of planning to invade, something Washington denies.

His supporters say the game aims to drum up support for a real invasion.

'Realistic possibility'

Pandemic has insisted that the title - due to be released next year - is solely about entertainment.

I think the US government knows how to prepare campaigns of psychological terror so they can make things happen later
Venezuelan congressman Ismael Garcia

"Pandemic has no ties to the US government," Greg Richardson, the firm's vice president of commercial operations, told the Associated Press.

"Pandemic Studios is a private company, focusing solely on the development of interactive entertainment."

Yet Pandemic's publicist Chris Norris said its designers "always want to have a rip from the headlines".

He added: "Although a conflict doesn't necessarily have to be happening, it's realistic enough to believe that it could eventually happen."

However, on its website Pandemic lists a game called "Full Spectrum Warrior / Army Training", which it describes as a "squad-level, dismounted, light infantry training simulator created for use by the US Army".

Messes with oil

Mr Chavez and the US have been at daggers drawn for most of the eight years since he came to power in 1998.

In addition to repeatedly accusing Washington of seeking to overthrow him, Mr Chavez has greatly increased state control over its oil industry, the world's fourth largest, and responsible for 15% of US supplies.

In Mercenaries 2: World In Flames, gamers play soldiers sent to overthrow "a power-hungry tyrant [who] messes with Venezuela's oil supply, sparking an invasion that turns the country into a war zone".

Venezuelan congressman Ismael Garcia, a supporter of Mr Chavez, said the computer game was preparation work for a real invasion.

"I think the US government knows how to prepare campaigns of psychological terror so they can make things happen later," he said.


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