The Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare series is one of the most highly acclaimed games of this console generation. With little over two weeks away from the release of Modern Warfare 2, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear the buzz of anticipation rising from the gaming community as we prepare ourselves to go back to war. However, among the praise comes an outcry of horror and shock.
It was recently discovered that a level would be included in the game that features the player walking in the shoes as a terrorist themselves. In this level, the player will be within a squad sent in to perform an act of terrorism within an airport. Destructoid’s testers uploaded a video of the level to allow gamers to get a glance of what to expect. As we can see, the squad enters the airport fully loaded and unleashes round after round of bullets onto the defenseless, unsuspecting civilians awaiting their flights. Clearly, your squad mates will do most of, if not all, the killing themselves giving you the option to shoot along with them or just follow along. Either way, it’s certainly bound to bring up red flags within the media.
The level itself is apart of the main story with two check points breaking up its gameplay to warn players that some “may find an upcoming segment disturbing”. The terrorist level is actually how the game begins but, of course, can be skipped though Infinity Ward seems to be encouraging players to experience it at least once.
“The scene establishes the depth of evil and the cold bloodedness of a rogue Russian villain and his unit. By establishing that evil, it adds to the urgency of the player’s mission to stop them,” Infinity Ward stated. “Modern Warfare 2 is a fantasy action game designed for intense, realistic game play that mirrors real life conflicts, much like epic, action movies. It is appropriately rated 18 for violent scenes, which means it is intended for those who are 18 and older.”
Needless to say, this is a risky step to take in this day and age. Just from watching the video, I already found myself feeling uneasy from the scenes of injured men and women trying to crawl out of the line of the gun fire. It inflicted the feeling of heartlessness that left me saying nothing more than, “Holy shit…” So congrats, Infinity Ward, you’ve done a good job and portraying emotion by including the player within the eyes of the terrorist over being a spectator watching it within a cut scene… But is this going too far…?
For those unsure of the level, I would like you take a moment to be open minded as I try to help understand and explain why this level was designed. While I do speculate the media to chew Infinity Ward out, I do feel that this maybe the first step towards raising the bar of helping games prove themselves to be a serious, respectful medium. It is clear that Infinity Ward’s reasoning is to provoke emotion over having it included for just pointless killing. An example of this would be Edmund, an indie game created for an adult gaming competition.
Edmund features the player taking over as man who beats a woman half to death and then rapes her. The player of course performs the act but has Anthony Burch from Destuctroid points out, it was a prime example of overpowering the player with a feeling of being horrible and dirty by placing them within the mind of the rapist.
There is no clear explanation as to how the game works; Anthony mentions about how the controls only specify using ‘Z’ to jump, the arrow keys to move, and then the ‘X’ button to perform an unknown action… Which after attempting to talk to the woman, he discovers the action button caused him to beat her and the only way to progress the game onward was to continue to rape her. Of course, it gave him the feeling of being disgusting by making you the villian over the hero. I would assume that this is a simpliar feeling that Infinity Ward would like to bring up with the terrorist level though I suppose we’ll have to wait to see just how it fits into the overall picture.