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Checkpoint: No Russian Edition


Let’s start the new week with some Modern Warfare 2 talk. (Don’t worry, there shouldn’t be too much of it for the week.) I’m taking this opportunity to put down my thoughts on the “No Russian” chapter of Modern Warfare 2. Some people found it disturbing, some didn’t. It’s controversial and even Infinity Ward thought it was offensive enough to offer a “skip chapter” function.

I didn’t find it disturbing.

Needless to say, this post will be filled with spoilers. So if you care about Modern Warfare 2‘s story, I suggest you skip this.

The chapter opens with my character as an undercover soldier who was placed into a terrorist group. The setup wasrushed since I was just playing as this soldier not long ago. He was a Private First Class in one chapter and suddenly way deep into a terrorist organization in the next. This guy even managed to infiltrate his way into main villain’s posse. I don’t know how it happened, but let’s pretend that it took years to do all of this and move on.

I played the first half of the “No Russian” campaign without hurting a single civilian. I quickly realized that this chapter was in my full control. I wasn’t asked to mow down innocent people nor was I forced to. There were moments where I thought the terrorists may turn on me if I didn’t fire any shots, so I shot randomly at walls or in the air.

As I watched these terrorists mow down waves poorly rendered men down. I heard the screams of women, but I didn’t notice many of them. It was primarily men who were falling over. And in the world of video games, men can be equated to Goombas.

There was a significant divide in quality between the SWAT teams and these civilians. They also reacted in unison like the crowds found in sports titles. If  they wanted to convey the weight of an individual life’s, they shouldn’t have had these crowds of people fall over on cue. There was more sense individualism in Left4Dead than in this chapter — that’s right zombies were more unique than the precious life of the innocent found in Modern Warfare 2.

What were they trying to accomplish with this chapter? Were they trying to place me in the shoes of a terrorist? Because I didn’t act the part at all. Were they trying to show inexplicable acts of horror? Because they botched that thanks to their poor execution. Were trying to find some crazy reason to spark an all out war between the Russians and the Americans? Yes. And they successfully accomplished that with the final scene of the chapter.

In a game, no one likes to lose control of their character and die. Perhaps Infinity Ward should have done just that; remove control over the player’s trigger finger and have them walk through that airport. Perhaps then, we’ll have something really controversial to talk about.

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