This year's candidate to the media shit storm is the soon to be released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a sequel to 2007's monumental hit. The game is a first-person military action shooter taking place in the modern day arena, whereby American marines and British special forces team up along with the Russian militia to eliminate a shared terrorist threat against the world. The game employs ultra-realistic visuals, tactics, and actual military ordinance to provide gamers a detailed experience of fighting in an elite anti-terrorist unit. To me, it feels more like the tv show "24" in terms of the plotting and all the attendant twists and turns that go along with the story.
The real controversy, however, surrounds one particular mission where the playable character infiltrates one of the terrorist's cells and masquerades undercover in order to get closer to the leader. The mission where he gains the leader's trust centers on an airport in Moscow, during which the player is asked to participate in a pretty horrific and brutal widescale slaughter of innocents and security personnel alike. The scene is so graphic and realistic that many are condemning the entire game as being insensitive towards families of victims of terrorists acts like 9/11 and the Madrid and London train bombings.
I, of course, say it's just a game. And it's not like the mission takes place in a train station or onboard an American airplane headed for a city skyscraper. The game is about stopping terrorists, not glorifying them. And, I'm sorry, but terrorists do bad things. It's right there in the name: "terrorist."
Anyway, to read more about the issue, check out this CTV article here. And, if you somehow want to see the mission in question yourself, I was able to find a video clip of it online. I'm only linking to it due to the controversial nature of the footage. And I must first warn you that it contains very raw and graphics scenes of innocent people being gunned down. Normally I wouldn't link to this, but I think it's important to see what the controversy is about first-hand and judge for yourself. So, if you're up to it, click on this link. The footage starts at the beginning of the mission, which is a debriefing. Eventually, however, the gameplay takes over as the player and the terrorist cell he's infiltrated arrive on the scene via an airport security elevator.
Personally, since I am an adult gamer, and seeing as how this game is already rated M for "mature," I don't see the problem. I prefer games with a mature, gritty outlook on life because let's face it: the world is a gruesome place. M-rated games are meant to be sold only to those who are 17 or older. Official chain stores like Gamestop and EBgames *always* check ID in this country nowadays. But of course there are still ways of getting around it. My point is, parents should be the ones in control of what their kids play. The game makers' only responsibility is to label the packaging accordingly and trust to the ESRB ratings board to do its job and assign it the proper age-restricted grade. After that, the onus falls on parents to make sure their under 17 kids don't go anywhere near the game.
That being said: I got the game as soon as I could! What, you thought I wouldn't? Yes, the game doesn't officially come out until next Tuesday, Nov. 10. But I have my sources, LOL! I've been sitting on the title for the past two days now, only playing the first two missions, but from what I can tell this is going to be an epic fun experience. I'll update my sidebar eventually so you can track my progress.
The funny thing is, when you first start up the game, you're greeted with the following two messages, which I took directly off the tv screen with my iPhone camera:
I think this is very responsible of the game makers, don't you? I mean, of course no kid in their right mind would skip the mission even given the opportunity, but for those gamers who actually shy away from this kind of graphic killing of innocents (and believe me, there are a surprising number of such people, as you can see by perusing some of the gaming message boards), it's nice that we're given the option to skip the mission. I won't, but that's just me.
I'm going to head back into the game now. For those waiting until next week to purchase this, or if you just want a safe, innocuous peek at the game with no moralistic baggage attached, check out the embedded video file below for the most recent official tv trailer. At the very least, you'll be able to see how amazing the graphics look, and how much good military action is packed into this game. Will it be Game of the Year? Some think so. I'm not so sure.