Modern Warfare 2 leaked footage: tasteless or refreshingly bold?

Recently footage was posted on youtube showing a bad quality playthrough of an early level of MW2. It’s gone now, which is why I can’t post it(I’ll keep looking for it), but it can be summerized as:

-A loading screen shows a soviet style red star and a series of newspaper clipping about the games bad guy and his threatened terrorist acts.

-The game fades into an elevator, which opens onto an airport terminal. The group of men you are with begin opening fire on the civilians at the airport and proceed deeper into the terminal to do whatever they came to do.

-It becomes quite clear that your character is either the bad guy or one of his group, at least for this one level. Presumably for the rest of the game you will play part of the SAS and probably some American character.

Even though it was really bad quality(someone pointing a camera at a TV while playing the level), it looked geniue and I suspect it was pulled to keep the media from getting wind of it before Nov. 11, when the game is offically released.

Considering at least one level allows you to play as a terrorist, gunning down civilians in an airport, there is no doubt going to be a media outcry as soon as the game is released(perhaps sooner if the video resurfaces and more people see it), probably using the term “Terrorist training tool” and “morally irresponsible”. And of course, the first kid who shoots someone after playing this game is going to bring down hell from the media.

While it’s very uncomfortable, I suspect that’s intentional. Infinity Ward is too smart to try to play something like this for shock value. Instead it’s probably meant to be have the same effect as the famous “Aftermath” level from Modern Warfare(wandering around in a burning city just after a nuke has gone off, slowly dying of radiation posioning/massive internal injuries). I also suspect it is meant to provide an establishment of the main villain by putting you right there in his group(It’s unclear if you are the villain, a loyal member of his group, or an infiltrator trying to bring them down from the inside from the footage in the video), and make you all the more determined to take him down.

With this information, and if these assumptions are true, do you think it’s a tasteless, insensitive ploy or a genuinely effective and refreshingly bold storytelling device?

Okay, I found it here, for now…

Linky no worky, btw.

Sounds interesting. Sounds kinda fun, actually, like a more realistic Postal.

If Hollywood gets to put us in villains’ shoes, so should the games industry. shrug The popular media sensationalizes everything because that’s how they make money, and the more they demonize everyday gaming, the more irrelevant they will become as the gamers grow up.

Besides, there’s always America’s Army for people who can’t stomach the idea of playing the bad guy (insofar as the average American gamer is likely to consider American soldiers good guys).

The link worked for me. Meh, looked like a boring level. I’m not offended.

Can’t see the video - are you actually a controllable character with weapons, or just an observer? I’m thinking back to the intro cutscene in the first game where you’re the President on the way to his execution, where you can look around but have no control otherwise. I really can’t imagine the developers creating a level where you have to kill civilians to proceed through the game.

You’re a playable character. I didn’t watch the whole thing, but I saw the guy walk around the airport shooting people in the back as they screamed and ran away.

To hell with the media. They and their ilk, along with the clueless politicians, overbearing parents, and hypocritical “family” groups do not understand the point of video games. I would love a video game that lets me shoot civilians as a terrorist; who the hell ever thought being a good guy all the time was a desirable? Terrorists can train just as easily as good guys in video games without being portrayed as such, so I’m not buying the horseshit they are spewing about how this would lead to more violence. This is a good way to tell a different story, a refreshing perspective, and about damn time.

I thank Grand Theft Auto from letting me beat up prostitutes to take back my money, and gun down civilians because sometimes damn it, that is more fun than following the rules.

Kotaku has just posted a story about this. It may be worth looking at as it contains quotes from an Activision rep. According to this article the level has a checkpoint prior to the terrorist attack giving the player the option of skipping past this section of the game without playing it.

I found this part interesting in particular…

“The game includes a plot involving a mission carried out by a Russian villain who wants to trigger a global war. In order to defeat him, the player infiltrates his inner circle.”

Does that mean the character you play as is in this section, where you’re actually shooting civilians, is supposed to be one of the “heroes”? The rep doesn’t actually say that, but it seems to be the inference.

I’ve seen much, but this is a bit too strong for my taste. Even from a game design perspective, it’s too long and drawn out. A short part of the game that does this, maybe a minute, might work, especially with the ending shown. But such a long level killing civilians… thats just brutal and pointless. And boring.

Compared to Prototype where you consume civilians for health and during the course of the game slaughter hundreds in fairly gory fashion as you duke it out with the military this is nothing. Even *Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight *had you killing random civilians if you wanted your character to turn to the dark side.

This is just part of the blockbuster movie approach to story telling in games, and IWs aversion to cutscenes means that the player must be placed into the action in order to see that part of the plot.

My biggest pet peeve is that the buggers didn’t think of doing this in the ww2 Call of Duties, it would have been brilliant to play as a German.

But apparently playing as a German in a shooter is not politically correct, but in a simulator, tank, sub or aircraft, being German is not a problem, but no swastikas allowed.

This is pretty mild compared to some (all?) of the Grand Theft Auto games. A couple of those had missions inside airport terminals and I mowed down civilians aplenty, stole airplanes only to crash them immediately into the most populated areas I could find, and generally behaved as offensively as the game’s engine would let me.

The most recent Splinter Cell game gave you the option of becoming a terrorist. You could blow up a cruise ship (with passengers) and if I remember right try to nuke New York.

I don’t think the Modern Warfare 2 level is nearly outrageous as either of those.

I can’t comment on the leaked video specifically, since I haven’t hunted it down yet, but I wanted to jump in because of this prevailing notion that open-world games have the same moral impact as linear games with set mission goals.

In a game like Grand Theft Auto, which is made up of an entire city (or tri-county area) and boasts almost no limits whatsover on what you’re allowed to physically do to people, a player with controller in hand can enact some pretty amazing and fucked-up shit, the likes of which tend to make non-gamers cringe and wonder what on earth is wrong with developers who allow such things to happen in the game rather than… I don’t know, making an imaginary barrier appear when the player tries to run over innocent people?

Anyone seeking to make a comparison between slaughter in Call of Duty (a linear, mission-based game with an intense plotline about internation terorrism) and Grand Theft Auto (a no-rules, over the top romp in parody versions of NYC, Miami, or LA) should be aware of something pretty key:

The ESRB refuses to rate games based on what’s in the player’s head.

That is: if a player goes and, of their own free will, chases hookers around the red light district with a chainsaw, or wrecks aircraft into populated areas, or even holds off against the inevitable wave of FBI and national guard who come hunting you with all assets once you start such a rampage - those are all player choices. Fox News and grandmas worldwide can watch such things be played with mouth agape, but the person holding the controller is often pretty calm, or simply impressed by the complexity of the game for the way the world responds to the chaos being enacted.

Because no matter what GTA game you’re talking about: unless it’s in an actual mission (and I can recall very, very few missions, if any, that require you to kill innocent people), the person holding the controller is the one responsible for the outrageousness and crime on the screen: not the emergent world the developers created.

To contrast that, the purported level in Modern Warfare 2, whether it involves playing as a confederate infiltrating a terrorist cell or an actual terrorist (both involve some interesting ideas for storytelling), has a few things going for it that give it some order of magnitude more impact, both morally and politically, than any other game so far:

  1. This is a mission-based game with linear level design and clear objectives. Unlike GTA where, no matter what mission you’re on, you ultimately have the decision to fuck off and do something else if you want to have fun, any Call of Duty (and especially Modern Warfare) is a game where you play part of a special-ops squad and fight alongside your commander as he issues instructions and suggestions. When there aren’t suggestions, there are on-screen prompts telling you what to do. This, in loose terms, takes the moral choice out of players hands. If they don’t want to engage in the missions and see the story of Modern Warfare 2, they ultimately only have the choice to turn the game off. Obviously, Activision has skirted this issue somewhat by making the mission skippable, but I doubt any gamer, no matter the age, wants to say they were the one who didn’t <experience the emotional resonance of playing from the terrorists’ POV and hearing their ideas/get to shoot all those dudes in that one building>. It was still a pretty safe move politically to at least not force players to go through it.

  2. This game is played entirely in first-person. If you don’t count utterly ridiculous games like Postal or Manhunt, there’s not much at all in the retail space that puts you in the position of having “enact mass genocide” as a de facto mission objective, which you then play out from the eyes and behind the gun of the terrorist doing just that. For all the media misunderstanding about video games and cries about “murder simulators,” it is true that there’s more personal impact in playing or watching a scene in first person than there is in taking similar actions from outside a character’s body. It’s intangible and hasn’t been studied very much yet, but it is there.

In fact, one of the reasons Modern Warfare 2 interests me even more now than it did a few days ago is that the developers, Infinity Ward, have already proven themselves masters at getting across some pretty poignant stories about the reality and impact of war through that first-person medium. That, if no other reason, is why this game deserves to be looked at with some weight and not just quantified as a set of features: “This game lets you shoot panicking office workers in the back!” “This game lets you beat grandmothers to death with a double-ended dildo!”

  1. Hi Jack Thompson!

The usual clueless suspects will ban it. Germany and Australia for sure.

The rest of us will enjoy a movie style block buster game like we always do and then move on with our lives.
Oh… wait, there’s no stand alone servers in MW2? WHAT THE @&*$%!

Missions require you to kill tons of cops in GTA, they’re not guilty of anything. There are some kidnappings of innocent people. You beat down innocent shopholders a few times and I’m pretty sure there’s a time or two when you do have to kill innocent civilians as well. Looking online I see there’s a mission in San Andreas where you have to kill a valet to get his uniform, he’s just a valet, not a criminal. So that’s at least one civilian and I have a feeling there are more though I could be mistaken.

Yeah, I’ve always wondered about that too. For that matter, there are precious few war flicks that show the German or Japanese side of WW2. I suppose that what it boils down to re. games is that when you torpedo a freighter or blow up a tank, you just destroyed a machine, but that G.I. you just shot in the face was somebody’s grandad, or something.

Of course, nobody cares about German and Japanese grandsons :dubious:.

Neither. It’s a fucking video game; to care either way is to place far too much importance upon it.

The people who freak out about this sort of thing need to be put through a variant of the Scared Straight program. First, they hang out with a bunch of gamer geek teens, and see the sort of things they do in their downtime (hint: they play video games). Then, they need to be brought to a maximum security state penitentiary, and get face-to-face with some actual violent criminals. While there, be sure to ask them if they got their ideas from Grand Theft Auto 3. At the end, have a little powwow where the participants compare and contrast the two groups, taking note of the similarities and differences. Dollars to donuts that experience will wake their imbecilic asses up.

Of course, I’m a member of the first generation who grew up with video games, so as a de facto axe-murdering pimp mafioso, my opinion probably doesn’t count.

I get what you saying, but on the other hand I remember, back in the early nineties, I was kinda shocked and mildly (I mean, really mildly) shocked that some US company would release a game about Desert Storm while the war was still going on (can’t remember what the game was - some gung ho FPS IIRC). And in the middle of monologuing in my head about them tasteless American bastards who’d turn killing people into fun, I realized… I had been doing just that for years of wargaming, both on computer and on cardboard.
So, sure, nobody’s harmed for realz… but there’s still some low level emotional connection in there, somewhere. I guess you have to be a really detached and analytical kind of person to think “I’m shooting a pixel mass that looks like a man” instead of “I’m shooting some dude”, you know ? Kind of like it takes a special kind of person to watch a Star Wars movie and think “oh look, the actor is swinging a prop rotoscoped to look like a laser sword” rather than “Luke and his lightsaber !”.

I’m rambling, aren’t I ?

I don’t know, I recall seeing a movie scene (Boyz in the Hood, I think) where the young gangstas™ were playing Duck Hunt on a Nintendo. Now young gangs of criminals have decimated the mallard population.

If someone goes of the deep end after playing a game they also watched tv ate lunch and woke up that morning.

I just got the game today, and played most of the way through that airport slaughter section. Its about as ugly as you can imagine – you control your player, you can shoot civilians; at first you don’t have to, but you’re obviously expected to. Instead I just followed the other three guys around as they mowed down what must have been a couple hundred unarmed people. Eventually the SWAT teams and the army and so forth show up, and you must fight them or die. If at any point you try to shoot the Really Really Bad Guy whose group you’ve infiltrated, the other members immediately take you out.

When I got to the part where the SWAT shows up and you’re supposed to lob grenades at them, I just turned the console off. I don’t know that I’ll play any more of the campaign. That was disturbing as hell. It was also stupid as hell; if this guy is so eeevil, why doesn’t the operative just wait for a quiet moment and shoot him, before this slaughter begins? I’m sure there’s some back story I haven’t yet seen that he’s got the Nuclear Codes you must retrieve or some crap, but really, who the fuck cares?

As someone who has spent countless hours trying to find creative ways to kill hookers in the various Grand Theft Auto games, I just don’t see what the fuss is about.