не русский

  ***WARNING: Major Modern Warfare 2 Spoilers***

Starting up the Modern Warfare 2 campaign, I was confronted with the warning that parts of the game might offend me. I think I'm a pretty level-headed guy, so I pressed forward unafraid. I was just too interested to to find out what could happen in the game that I might find unbearable.

As the lights came up on the No Russian scene, I admit I was a bit slow on the uptake. By that point in the game I was already accustomed to shooting people, so I was ready for more, especially if I got to use a really big gun. After realizing that I was gunning down unarmed civilians, I played the rest of the scene just going through the motions: shooting at the floor or stone columns, trying not to clue in the terrorists that I didn't want to participate anymore.

No Russian is unquestionably one of the major setpieces of Modern Warfare 2, but I'm still not quite sure what the scene ultimately accomplishes. It's emotional, but I don't think that it changes anyone's mind as to how they feel about terrorism and mass murder. The scene's flaw is that it's wide open to metagaming: when the player knows he can get through the airport terminal regardless of their actions (as long as they don't shoot their comrades) then those actions become trivial. Some people do like I did and avoid shooting, and I've heard that some of the game testers shot everybody in sight because at the core it's just a game. In the end, how you play No Russian says more about how you feel about video games than how you feel about war.

No Russian didn't even come close to what I had predicted would be worthy of a precautionary opt-out message. When I tried to think of what was the most distasteful thing I might be asked to do in MW2, something that I might feel strongly about and would be relevant to current world conflicts, I was sure that it would be a scene about torture. When moral choices are a hot topic for game designers, the choice whether or not to torture a prisoner would have fit perfectly within the fiction of Modern Warfare 2, and would have truly pushed gamers to show where they stand. Instead, the game takes an all-too-brief glance at torture as Soap closes a door just as one of your teammates is brandishing a set of hot jumper cables in front of a prisoner. There's already plenty of shocking imagery in MW2, but I wonder where Infinity Ward could have gone if they had chosen to present something truly controversial.

What I'm Playing:

  • Main Campaign: Modern Warfare 2 (online), Valkyria Chronicles
  • Side Quest: Forza Motorsport 3