Ultimate Game

The story begins when Eric, Charles, and Andreas come upon the video store of their dreams, featuring a vast array of war games they’ve never even heard of (and they’ve heard of, and mastered, all of them). But there, amid the stacks of lurid boxes and scenes of cyber-carnage, is the most remarkable game of all, one pressed on them by the store’s elderly proprietor, a clever sample of computer warfare called “The Ultimate Experience.” Contained in a single diskette, without even a label, the unassuming game surpasses their wildest fantasies: the graphics are better than a movie, the simulated battlefields are historically and geologically perfect, and the action seems to put you right inside the screen. The feeling of “reality” is uncanny.But soon the three friends realize that the Game has a will of its own, and that far from being a dream, it has drawn each of them into his own personal nightmare one that they enter and exit without any control. For Charles, it means suddenly finding himself at the head of a doomed French battalion in the darkest days of World War I, forced to choose which men to send to their deaths. Eric, meanwhile, is a resistance fighter in Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, on the very day in 1937 that German bombers reduced the town and its people to ashes. And Andreas, the oldest and most troubled and most vicious of the three, must face up to his own demons, discovering that, far from being terrified of the carnage around him, he revels in it. Little by little, the Game takes over their lives, leaving Eric, Charles, and their loved ones at its mercy while an increasingly violent Andreas plunges ever deeper into its seductive and deadly power. As the final showdown looms on the stage of virtual history, the three boys are inexorably drawn toward a memorable and horrifying conclusion.

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