26
Nov
09

“No Russian” and CoD4 MW2’s story

Okay, so there’s lots of controversy (or perhaps there was lots of controversy) about the “No Russian” terrorist level of Modern Warfare 2. Some say it’s the most shocking thing games have ever done, others say it’s no big deal. I played through the whole game before writing this, and let me say I’m glad I did, because it completely changed my stance on the thing.

Because “No Russian” actually makes MORE sense out of context.

In case you don’t know, this level is early on in the game, where you play as a CIA infiltrator in a Russian terrorist cell, and you need to at the very least witness (and at the very most participate in) a group of terrorists shooting up an airport full of innocent people. Oh yeah, spoilers.

If you play just the one or two missions leading up to this one, No Russian is shocking, but effective. The great graphics and excellent sound design that I mentioned in the last post about this game heightens the effect to a pretty damn visceral level. It should have more credibility than something like the Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, or Postal games, because the game makes no qualms about the fact that it’s putting you near bad people and that it will take part of your character’s soul, and it is ostensibly something that is being done for the greater good, whether you believe that’s okay or not.

The most shocking part, for me, was the ending, where the terrorist leader is about to make his triumphant escape and he spins around and unexpectedly shoots you, the player character, and leaves you bleeding to death at the scene. The level is called “No Russian” because they hide their nationality to frame the Americans for this attack. This single event drives the rest of the game, plus it makes the player character’s initial quest completely futile. What a great way to set up one of the game’s villains and kick off the story.

The rest of the game is damn goofy by comparison though.

Just a few levels later, you run through a bombed out Washington DC, complete with busted up White House and the Washington Monument missing large chunks. It becomes so ridiculous that it completely undermines the earlier terrorist level, making you feel like it was indeed just for shock value.

The game is short, and because of that, it feels like it’s stretching believability even more, with all the set pieces so close together. There is another double cross later in the game that more or less repeats the first one, and makes little to no sense by comparison.

“No Russian” should be a topic of discussion, but it shouldn’t be banned or anything of the sort. The game has no concept of how to handle it, but it does show us that games could be intellectually challenging if they knew how to handle themselves. Call of Duty 4 – Modern Warfare 2 is still worth playing though, just for the quick ride that it is.

But just expect a ride.

 

Loving the Craft : A short HP Lovecraft Review – “The Music Of Erich Zann”. FUCK YES this story rules. It’s very short, so I don’t want to spoil it much at all. The lightning fast plot pitch is this: a student goes to a weird apartment building, and his upstairs neighbor plays the strangest music that sounds like it’s almost not of this earth. This tale doesn’t fit into any set of stories, in fact, it can be read completely separately from all of Lovecraft’s other works, and that is one of its strengths. It’s one of my favorite stories of his, and I recommend it to all. Enjoy!

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