The 80-year-old Noriega, currently serving out a prison term in Panama for human rights violations, filed suit on Tuesday in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging that Black Ops II portrays him as, “a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state.” Because this was done, “to heighten realism in its game … [which] translates directly into heightened sales,” Noriega is seeking lost profits and damages.
Noriega worked with the CIA from the late 1950s through the 1980s when their relationship soured. Broad, public criticism based on mounting evidence of his close ties to the notorious Colombian Medellin Cartel forced the U.S. government to reverse its tacit acceptance and level charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.
A substantial portion of Black Ops II is set during the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama, in which Noriega was deposed and taken into American custody for prosecution. Microcosmic of his actual collaboration and fallout with the CIA, Noriega initially aids the player in tracking antagonist Raul Menendez, but then betrays them and reveals his allegiance to Menendez all along.
This lawsuit is the latest in a string of prominent figures taking action against major game publishers for using their likenesses without permission. In June a group of college athletes reached a $40 million settlement with EA Sports for profiting from their images without compensation, due to NCAA policies that were deemed unfair. Earlier this month actress Lindsay Lohan filed suit against Rockstar Games over a character in Grand Theft Auto V that she alleges is a clear parody of her. As video games continue to grow into one of the largest and most profitable entertainment industries, it seems likely that lawsuits such as these that have plagued Hollywood for decades will only become more common.