Poking the Hornet’s Nest

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Poking the Hornet's Nest

The controversial scene in Modern Warfare 2 isn't as controversial as everyone may believe.

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Well, as a Russian I still don't like this scene and whole plot, so I won't buy this game anyway.
Overall, plot here is really stupid. What about Americans here? Aren't they offended by this scene where an elite American soldier participate in a terrorist act?

I find it all a bit juvenile really. On both sides, I think IW shouldn't have put it in because they knew people would be offended. It isn't the 60's anymore, offending people isn't really cool anymore. The media just did the same thing they always do with games, play to the knee-jerk demographic.

It bores me, this whole thing.

I can completely understand where you come from on this subject. Unfortunately I have to ask the question of why point out something so obvious? At the end of the day MWF:2 is just another shooter, and in my experience shooters have very poorly assembled stories(its one reason why I don't play them). That's not to say there aren't exceptions out there, just that to say a shooter has got a bad plot line is like telling us that an M.Night Shamalan movie has a crappy twist at the end.

-EDIT-

Lord_Gremlin:
Well, as a Russian I still don't like this scene and whole plot, so I won't buy this game anyway.
Overall, plot here is really stupid. What about Americans here? Aren't they offended by this scene where an elite American soldier participate in a terrorist act?

You know, I've never thought about how Russians feel always being made out to be the bad guys, I guess as a U.S. citizen it was just the normal enemy to be presented to us in scenarios like MWF:2 . I kind of want to see a game now where the Russians have to fight off an unprovoked U.S. invasion.

In fairness the more popular a game is or is going to be the more it is used as a scapegoat for the problems of other games and the parts of the industry.There may be a lack of violence in MW2 but as people are lead to believe so they begin to assume that the rest of the industry is the same.I have to admit some games are unnecessarily violent however mass generalization is not the answer.

I'm not surprised to read this scene is nothing special. Its hard to combine old-fashioned James Bond action fantasy with serious moral quandaries, & not reduce the latter to a hollow attempt at appearing "serious" in an otherwise stupid setting (yes, the West waging an unprovoked war against Russian super-nationalists is stupid: a hangover from the Cold War some writers seem unwilling to acknowledge has ended because it gives them a simple Good vs Bad framework)

Shouldn't Infinity Ward at least be given credit for being the first to go there? In a couple of years, when a game comes out where the player-character is an American spy infiltrating a terrorist organization, and you spend a lot of time getting to know the villain and doing horrible things to gain his trust, all while remaining loyal and dutiful to your country, "No Russian" will have been the inspiration for it.

With that being said, I am curious as to why the Russians are still the go-to bad guys for American military fiction. Given recent real-world events, it seems that North Korea or China would be a more ready choice. Of course, game developers may want to avoid real-world situations so as to avoid real-world political ideology, so they may be falling back on old tropes not due to intellectual laziness but due to avoid having the appearance of taking sides.

It really was boring and seemingly placed in the game for the sole purpose of generating "there is controversy in this game" hype.

level250geek:
With that being said, I am curious as to why the Russians are still the go-to bad guys for American military fiction. Given recent real-world events, it seems that North Korea or China would be a more ready choice. Of course, game developers may want to avoid real-world situations so as to avoid real-world political ideology, so they may be falling back on old tropes not due to intellectual laziness but due to avoid having the appearance of taking sides.

Simple timing - We're just seeing the first groups of designers who weren't even alive when the Berlin Wall fell. This is the last few years when everyone writing the stories will have grown up with a "Russians=Bad" mentality. In Modern Warfare 2, there's some flimsy exposition (the actual scene, summing up what happened in CoD4 was great, but after that...) about how Zakiev became a martyr* for a "New Russia" that reverted to Communism, hell, the flag goes back to the Hammer and Sickle!

Also, you know you're in for some good old-fashioned right-wing commie bashing when almost every Russian soldier drops a God-damned AK-47, in a game set five years after the near future... No, no, Americans get nice, shiney ultramodern guns, but all the Russians are stuck with a gun which, in the timeline, is almost seventy years old. It makes perfect sense...

*I suspect this is to make people hate him more - all hardcore CoD4 players hate Martyrdom...

Please, behind every good game is a big pointless controversy about anything stupid. IT's a GAME not the an all telling truth to the future.

level250geek:
the player-character is an American spy infiltrating a terrorist organization, and you spend a lot of time getting to know the villain and doing horrible things to gain his trust, all while remaining loyal and dutiful to your country,

*cough* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Splinter_cell_double_agent#Plot *cough*

OT: I don't know how to feel about the scene. On one hand it was very dull, I didn't shoot any civillians as I didn't see any need to. The game was doing it for me.
On the other hand though... nope, I've got nothing.
Oh well, great game Infinity Ward but better luck next time with the whole plot hole thing.

Good games are just as respectable and take just as much work as a good book or a good film, if people had seen this scene in a film or read it in a book no one would bat an eyelid, video games are finding themselves in the same place Rock'n'Roll found itself in the 1950's. If you look at this scene and don't feel an emotional punch then you, to put it bluntly, are a tad closed minded (or a psycho killer). It takes and open mind to feel emotion for a bunch of pixels just like it does to feel emotion for a painting or an animated movie. Obviously this doesn't apply to all situations, for example you wouldn't feel emotion for a really badly characterized person in a game, or a 'painting' which it just donkey poo smeared on a canvas.

Lord_Gremlin:
Well, as a Russian I still don't like this scene and whole plot, so I won't buy this game anyway.
Overall, plot here is really stupid. What about Americans here? Aren't they offended by this scene where an elite American soldier participate in a terrorist act?

Why does it matter where the 'bad guys' come from or the undercover agent? People are individuals no matter who's soil you're born on, secondly...

*WARNING MASSIVE SPOILER AHEAD*...*SERIOUSLY IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE STORY STOP READING*

The main bad guys are all Americans anyway (except Makarov) the only people you kill in the last couple of levels are all Americans, Russians aren't even in the last two or three levels. The only good guys left are the British and the Russian Loyalists.

KeyMaster45:
I can completely understand where you come from on this subject. Unfortunately I have to ask the question of why point out something so obvious? At the end of the day MWF:2 is just another shooter, and in my experience shooters have very poorly assembled stories(its one reason why I don't play them). That's not to say there aren't exceptions out there, just that to say a shooter has got a bad plot line is like telling us that an M.Night Shamalan movie has a crappy twist at the end.

Because one of the "exceptions" that you mentioned was Modern Warfare 1.

It had an actual storyline that was somewhat plausible in a modern world setting. A nuke falling into the hands of someone crazy enough to use it. Hasn't that been a constant worry in the media for a while?

Zackaev wasn't as empty as Makarov either...Zackhaev discussed how his motivations and hate for America and the West stems from how they had played with his people. Something thats believable when you take into account some disappointing things we did during the Cold War in South America and Afghanistan.

At the end with credits about to roll, a news anchor talks about a ship lost at sea. The same ship that SpecOps infiltrated at the start...the rest of the world was oblivious of what they had done to keep the world a little safe. Kind of like how we all are oblivious of the things that Navy Seals and the like actually do. (Cause their top secret and all)

It was all very clever and hinted at a new change in storytelling and video games. Its one of the reasons Modern Warfare 2 was so eagerly looked upon.

Now MW2 takes a million steps back and just goes for a "fun" experience...how disappointing...

I was shocked by the initial "Holy crap I just killed all those people within seconds, this kinda shit actually happens in the real world?" But totally agree there was no real depth to the villian or what you were doing after that.
I also agree with someone above who said he felt the level was thrown in there simply to bring up this controversy.

I actually watched my bloke play the level first and I said to him "So does it effect you doing that?" And he doesn't tend to get so into his games he let it bother him, as put in the article it's just "Pixels on a screen" to him.
What's more worrying is whilst I like to get into my games, I don't get into it to a point where I would go and do this in the real world whereas some people have.

Another disappointing thing is that you just know the next time something happens like this in real life - COD will be blamed - as games are usually used as scapegoats as we all know.

level250geek:
Shouldn't Infinity Ward at least be given credit for being the first to go there? In a couple of years, when a game comes out where the player-character is an American spy infiltrating a terrorist organization, and you spend a lot of time getting to know the villain and doing horrible things to gain his trust, all while remaining loyal and dutiful to your country, "No Russian" will have been the inspiration for it.

No, they shouldn't be given credit because they did it in a cheap and tasteless way. I'm all in favour of games who cross boundaries in a meaningful way, but when they throw something in to sell more copies I'm actually inclined to agree that it shouldn't be there.

Yeah the scene didn't make the impact on me that I was expecting. I was more shocked by getting shot at the end of the mission than anything I did at the start of it. Hell Makorov is such a flat villain that he gets sidelined three quarters of the way through the game.

Someone bad mouthed a part of MW2?

That IS poking the hornet's nest... Especially with the pedantic fanboys.

I agree.

I haven't played the game (pc gamer with rage) so i can't say for certain, but if i do play the lvl you be damn sure ill try to rack up a higher kill count than any of the terrorists. Why? because i do that in all the GTA games, I did that in Overlord, I did it in Sim City. WITHOUT CONTEXT, killing 'civilians' in a videogame is just stress relief.

Y would your moral standing be affected in anyway whether you kill 'civilians' or enemy soldiers? what the other soldiers are simply doing is what they are told, who are you to say they are 'bad' guys? The fact that your a one man army with a kill count higher than any of the Snipers of Soviet Russia from WWII doesn't bother you, but killing innocence does in a videogame? yeah brilliant logic.

IW PR department all need to be given raises! first the PC controversy now this. Awesome way to make publicity! ^-^ b

Had their been a reason for that lvl it would have been great. Some kind of achievement or consequence for Killing or not Killing would have been nice. Killing them, you dont get shot at the end, not killing them you do get shot. SOMETHING would have been nice <.<

Sean Sands:
Poking the Hornet's Nest

The controversial scene in Modern Warfare 2 isn't as controversial as everyone may believe.

Read Full Article

Thank you Sean Sands for what is probably the second article I've read that speaks the language that needs to be spoken. Besides the Gametrailers segment of Invisible Walls and a very very tiny point in the G4TV mailbag article you are the first (albeit most accurate and well constructed) argument as to why it's the actual content that needs to be criticized. While some have hinted at the terrible method used to convey what you describe, most have been apologetic towards the brand they love and just left out their critical side of the debate.

It IS ok to like the game and still criticize this portion of the product as long as one remains objective. MW2's storyline is probably the biggest and most broken part of a very well made game and the early inclusion of this ludicrous scene does a great job at showcasing that failing. It's like Die Hard without character development and between Hans Gruber and Makarov I think it's far easier to hate Gruber.

i dont think its necessary to call the scene "Bad writing" per say, but there is no doubt in my mind that its not controversial at all. Hell, the media said to Rockstar, having the title, "The Ballad of 'Gay' Tony" was controversial because it said "Gay" in it, which is bullshit. People just need to realize, this game is for people who are 17 and older. That's why its rated 'M' for 'Mature', but everyone who's touching the "controversial" topic, isn't really being 'Mature' about it because most of them are old people who have their mind set that it is "controversial". I think everyone needs to just (Not saying this author personally because he's just touching the topic, as am I) shut up about it and let the people who are 'Mature' enough to buy the game, decide for themselves. It's not even horribly bad. You kill a bunch of civilians. I mean, you can do that in Grand Theft Auto 3 if you wanted to, not that your a terrorist in GTA but you could go right ahead and pretend it. So like i said before, just let the 'Mature' buyers, buy it and decide for themselves without making such a fuss about it.

KeyMaster45:

You know, I've never thought about how Russians feel always being made out to be the bad guys, I guess as a U.S. citizen it was just the normal enemy to be presented to us in scenarios like MWF:2 . I kind of want to see a game now where the Russians have to fight off an unprovoked U.S. invasion.

Just to clarify, it isn't actually an unprovoked attack an American soil. I think it's kind of unnecessary to provide spoiler tags for this story...but

Still confused? So is the majority of people who've played this game through.

I think the scene is incredibly controversial, I myself do not get bothered by it, but I can respect how many others would

That said, I really respect Infinity Ward for having the balls to include it.

I think it is alright to include it, but if it contained achievement material or was not skippable, I would have been offended that Infinity Ward was willing to make such material mandatory.

For example a "Kill 100 bystanders" achievement would be VERY BAD. But the way Infinity Ward handled such controversial material just made me respect them more.

Unholykrumpet:

I haven't yet played the game, but I may have this one figured out.

Diga1994:

level250geek:
the player-character is an American spy infiltrating a terrorist organization, and you spend a lot of time getting to know the villain and doing horrible things to gain his trust, all while remaining loyal and dutiful to your country,

*cough* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Splinter_cell_double_agent#Plot *cough*

OT: I don't know how to feel about the scene. On one hand it was very dull, I didn't shoot any civillians as I didn't see any need to. The game was doing it for me.
On the other hand though... nope, I've got nothing.
Oh well, great game Infinity Ward but better luck next time with the whole plot hole thing.

True, I had forgotten about Splinter Cell; it didn't have you gunning down innocent civilians from a first-person perspective, did it? You had to blow up a cruise ship, but that's a bit less personal.

The only thing that even remotely bothered me about MW2 is the fact that you can kill dogs with a "break the dog's neck" QTE. Which sounds like the kind of thing Fox News would make up, which meant that when I saw it, I cracked up, then went "Uh...ew."

But the dogs belong to the Russian guards and/or the Brazilian militia, so I guess it's okay to kill them because they're EVIL dogs.

Uh...ew.

Am I the only one that doesn't find the plot too hard to understand? I know everything's not explained that clearly but if you listen and think surely most people should be be able to work out everything.

So basically with have this level put in that generated controversy, which in itself illustrates how two dimensional the entire plotline is, since apparently you can go through it without firing a shot, and yet not get berated by your fellow 'comrades' for being a pussyfoot. But then in the end you get shot anyway, regardless of whether you participated or spectated, and then become the sole reason for Russia invading the US. I think Infinity Ward could do better plotlines for porn movies. It's like they hired the percentage of people who never read history, so therefore don't have a clue how many times the US has done worse things to Russia and its allies and those never triggered a war.
This article basically has convinced me not to waste the sixty friggin dollars on this game barely worth twenty. Too bad, too, they really had the opportunity to break some new ground but instead we get a cheap arcade game. No wonder Dragon Age Origins seems to be more the talk of the town of a game worth playing.

MCGT:
Am I the only one that doesn't find the plot too hard to understand? I know everything's not explained that clearly but if you listen and think surely most people should be be able to work out everything.

I'm a little at a loss what you are going for here, since the major point of the article is that the plot is so easy to understand, a kindergartner could understand it. It is so thin it can be used for a window.

level250geek:
True, I had forgotten about Splinter Cell; it didn't have you gunning down innocent civilians from a first-person perspective, did it? You had to blow up a cruise ship, but that's a bit less personal.

That's fair, but if a game was made like you said, Splinter Cell would probably be given the credit for the inspiration more than "No Russian". Y'know, being that the whole game is based on that premise rather than one mission.

This bit makes me laugh.

"If you are affected by this level, it's all internal. I suppose it could be a good moral compass,"

So those who weren't affected have no moral compass? Way to generalise there.

"a gut-check to see where you stand on the "desensitized to fictionalized violence" spectrum."

I stand in the "it's a game" part of the spectrum, where really everyone SHOULD stand but alas, people are kneejerk reacting, non thinking idiots at times.

"Beyond that, the game really does nothing to make this controversial moment particularly meaningful. It's just different painted skins for polygons, and that seems like a shame to me."

This would be about the only bit I can agree on, an extension of the "it's a game" thing. They're just polygons, really the people who do get attached I would say are the ones who would much sooner become a terrorist because of this one level, rather than someone who can actually distinguish between this and reality. This is different however, those getting up in arms are doing it just for the hell of it, they may be able to differeniate between the two, but overall they're just(like I stated earlier) being kneejerk reacting, non thinking idiots:)

MCGT:
Am I the only one that doesn't find the plot too hard to understand? I know everything's not explained that clearly but if you listen and think surely most people should be be able to work out everything.

The problem with the plot is that Infinity Ward probably goes a little too far in the "Show, not Tell" department. They don't tell you what's going on, they show you things and let you figure it out for yourself.

They don't tell you the Ultra-nationlists have pretty much taken over Russia since MW but heavily imply it considering how Popular Zahkeav has become. Seriously, he has an airport in Moscow named after him and a Statue in Red Square. Do you think that the MW era government would let that happen?

Who is Raptor in "Wolverines"? It's implied to be the President(the crashed helicopter hints at this), but never said.

Who is the guy in the Safe house? Who knows. But he was killed by somehow he thought he could trust.

Whats an ACS? It's shown on the top of the screen at the beginning of "Wolverines" but you have to look for it. Apparently it controls the satillites somehow.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that, if it's not slopply storytelling on IW's part, it's more that the whole game is about Revenge and the plot and levels are a means to that end.

TheBluesader:
The only thing that even remotely bothered me about MW2 is the fact that you can kill dogs with a "break the dog's neck" QTE. Which sounds like the kind of thing Fox News would make up, which meant that when I saw it, I cracked up, then went "Uh...ew."

But the dogs belong to the Russian guards and/or the Brazilian militia, so I guess it's okay to kill them because they're EVIL dogs.

Uh...ew.

Considering the dogs are trying to rip your throat out, yeah, I'll kill dogs. In fact, I hear a bark in a COD game, I shift my fire to the first thing on a 4 legs I see.

And killing dogs is possibly the least disturbing thing in the game.

I think MW2 is a great shooting game, but the story is utterly ridiculous from start to finish. I never cared about what I was doing, a lot of the time I didn't even know why I was doing it.

The part of the game that struck me as most ridiculous was the mournful orchestral music when you find yourself fighting on American soil. The tone is triumphant and bombastic when you're blowing up brown-skinned people in shacks but now I'm meant to cry because there's flames and gunfire in Virgina suburbs? Give me a break.

The airport scene for me is more about story then gameplay. It's pretty much supposed to be Russia's 9/11, with hundreds of dead civies at the feet of an american agent. The fact they put you there next to markov is so you can see the carnage from a first person persepctive and see just how bloody it is, just how many are being brutually murdered.

Now imagine how the Russians feel. The new-new russians who think Zahkeav was a great guy(you don't name an airport in your capital for somehow you hate), and apparently hate the US/Britian for killing him in MW.

The invasion of the US wasn't rational. It was bloodlust given license. Much like the feelings many Americans had on 9/12 about muslims without cooler heads in charge. The russians lash out and invade DC. And no doubt, they were planning it, considering they were ready with the ACS.

By the end of "Whiskey Hotel", the Americans feel the same way. MW2 is a revenge tale.

Let me be honest with you:

There is no real issue here unless people choose to create one. This is simply morality by the numbers. Sacrifice a few, to save a lot. Anyone who has an issue with this needs to examine their priorities when dealing with the big picture.

No it's not a nice, or GOOD thing, that's the entire point. The entire situation is very gray. The big question is "would you kill a bunch of innocent civilians to maintain or establish a cover so you could save millions". There is only one answer to that question and it is "yes". If you answer no, then basically you fail and take society down with you.

The fact that it's an ambigious thing is what makes such a question, and it's proper answer, such a powerful act of storytelling in MW2.

I also can't help but wonder if Infinity Ward bought this contreversy, because honestly I expect more of article writers on The Escapist. Let's be honest, this is not carnage on any kind of unprecedented scale, nor is it anything paticularly shocking to target civilians. With the amount of time "Grand Theft Auto" has been around, I expect better from anyone who is an expert on gaming. In MW2 you at least have a reason for what your doing, and it's for the greater good. In Grand Theft Auto, or Saint's Row, your motivation pretty much comes down to "your a murderous, criminal, psychopath". Trust me, Saint's Row 2 was a LOT worse when your mass murdering homeless people so you can move into their squat on the morality O' meter.

I wrote another long message on the subject, but let's also consider that with MW2 the fourth wall is intact. There is no confusion with this being real, it's all 100% fantasy and hypothetical. Compare that to say rap music where there really isn't much of a fourth wall given what is said before and after songs during concerts, and the whole "keeping it real" thing where the performers try and sell the lifestyle and flaunt their criminal activities, convictions, and jail time as examples of how real it all is. When you see artists feuding about whether or not one of them REALLY killed anyone or did jail time, hustled drugs, or who was on whose turf... well you've got issues. Truthfully people DO criticize this, but if you want to pick at where a lot of violence comes from, that and other industries where there is no "fourth wall" are the place to start. At least with MW2 even the worst of it is for the greater good, there is no real way you can make some of the things rap performers have done and use to promote themselves benevolent, even in a big picture.

... Now excuse me, I guess I'll go rev up Prototype and run over several hundred civilians in a tank while still having the pretensions of being the good guy. Maybe I'll pause at some point to reflect on how nobody has slaughtered civilians before Modern Warfare 2, and how obviously a fantasy about an undercover CIA guy doing bad things for the right reasons is a much worse fantasy compared to being a vengeful totally sociopathic supervirus who eats people.

-

Also let me be honest, the guy at Slashgamer dropped the ball on Fox News, and I think it was set up, but understand Fox News gets criticism for showing both sides of a story, even when it's not politically correct. It's early in the game but I expect them to come down more in favor of video games and such than against. Really it's the left wingers from CNN and such you have to watch out for because they are the ones with "their" politicians in power who are also on a censorship kick.

You can't really knock Fox without knocking other networks here, and honestly at the end of the day I half expect them to come down on the free speech side. I could be wrong, but as I said it's relatively early.

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