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Modern Warfare: Controversial


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Junior Supervisor

Junior Supervisor

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Controversies

Inclusion of white phosphorus

The game has been criticized for its inclusion of white phosphorus strikes as a game play mechanic in the multiplayer. Use of white phosphorus as an incendiary agent is regulated by international law: the provisions of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, specifically the Protocol on Incendiary Weapons, prohibit the use of incendiary weapons against or near civilian areas.

In a statement to IGN, former U.S. Marine John Phipps criticized the game for failing to realistically portray the effects of the substance, saying "I find Modern Warfare's use as a killstreak reward a nearsighted glorification of what myself and others consider to be a violation of the laws of armed conflict. Contrary to their overall goals towards realism in its campaign, the multiplayer mode in CoD doesn't depict the effect White Phosphorus (WP) has on the human body in any kind of realistic way. I don't object to things like WP being examined in games, so long as we depict them as they truly are". In her review of the game, Kallie Plagge of GameSpot made note of the inclusion of white phosphorus as a killstreak reward in multiplayer and included it in her list of the game's negative aspects, adding that it "goes against everything the campaign stands for".

Depiction of Russians

The game's user score on Metacritic became the subject of review bombing by those who were angered by the campaign's depiction of the Russian military and accused developers Infinity Ward of being Russophobic. The user score for the PlayStation 4 version dropped to 3.0/10, while the user score for the Windows version dropped to 2.4/10. Sony Interactive Entertainment decided not to sell the game on the PlayStation Store in Russia.

Primary criticism by the users focused on a certain level in the single-player campaign, in which it is revealed that Russian forces previously carried out an attack on an area dubbed the "highway of death", killing many civilians who had been departing a town that was under siege. The real-life Highway of Death is a highway located between Kuwait and Iraq that suffered devastation as a result of an attack led by American forces during the Gulf War in 1991. Consequently, many users felt that Infinity Ward were attempting to rewrite historical events by shifting blame for the attack to Russia. Infinity Ward had previously stated that Modern Warfare's campaign was a work of fiction. In addition, they related it to how in the game's cooperative Special Ops mode, which acts as a sequel to the campaign's story, the playable character and their group eventually ally with Russian forces for one of the missions.

Additional complaints targeted a flashback level in the campaign which saw Farah Karim, one of the protagonists, inspired by female Kurdish fighters who battled Islamic State in northern Syria, have her home invaded by a Russian soldier when she was a child, with her subsequently disarming and killing the soldier. The level's display at E3 2019 drew particular criticism from Polygon's Charlie Hall, who retrospectively labelled the Russian killed as a "grotesque caricature". Infinity Ward studio art director Joel Emslie took blame for the character's appearance, stating that "what I was going for artistically was [...] we’re always trying to work for a cinematic experience. I'm trying to create something really memorable. And I kept thinking, metaphorically, these children are being chased by a monster in a maze, and I kept thinking a Minotaur. It’s ridiculous — but he's almost robotic".

After playing the game a bit, not yet finishing I thought the game was definitely Russophobic.

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Operative

Operative

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It seemed to be a blatant smear against Russia whilst dodging any real controversial topics in the heads of American and Chinese consumers. There are quite a few very well done video essays covering the topic on YouTube. I recently watched one that discussed how the marketing of this game "manufactured controversy."

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Junior Supervisor

Junior Supervisor

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19 hours ago, Gregor Adrik said:

It seemed to be a blatant smear against Russia whilst dodging any real controversial topics in the heads of American and Chinese consumers. There are quite a few very well done video essays covering the topic on YouTube. I recently watched one that discussed how the marketing of this game "manufactured controversy."

Do you think that was the direction they wanted to go. If it is on purpose or simply perceived that way because of how good the story telling was? Most Call of Duty games are very Russophobic but I think it would be elaborate if a FPS studio in Russia released an very anti-american game. 

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Operative

Operative

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13 hours ago, Shawn4Japan said:

Do you think that was the direction they wanted to go. If it is on purpose or simply perceived that way because of how good the story telling was? Most Call of Duty games are very Russophobic but I think it would be elaborate if a FPS studio in Russia released an very anti-american game. 

I'm unsure if they wanted to smear Russia when planning the story out. They needed a realistic feeling "bad guy" and Russia was the easiest and most palatable to demonize. 

 

I do think the historical revisionism was what crossed the line for them though. I heard that it was the first game in the series to be banned in the country. No doubt because of the real American war-crimes depicted in the game as being their fault.

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  • 5 months later...
Operative

Operative

  • [1] JUNIOR ENLISTED
(edited)

It would be interesting to see a Call of Duty from the perspective of a non-allied nation. Take for example a Serbian or even a African force, where we’re pressed into action, and have a choice of staying with the army or society that we “grew up in” or leave it to for the “land of opportunity”. The possibilities and the opportunity it’s if developing a broader perspective of ones geopolitical perspective can have vast impacts, both in terms of the individual and of broader society as itself. Just a thought.

- Shandy

Edited by Shandykidinkent
Grammatical error
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Senior Operative

Senior Operative

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(edited)

The depiction of General Barkhov was an over the top depiction of Putin's interests in 'Greater Russia' and 'stability in the former USSR' both are ex Soviet military men. Barkhov being a soldier instead of KGB. Both wish to see stability in the middle east Barkhov going to the extreme of defying Russian doctrine to commit war crimes that as gregor stated are really depictions of our mistakes. Such as the use of white phosphorous. Having beaten the campaign on realism and enjoying it for what its worth it does show the Rusian federation as actively assisting in detaining Barkhovs associates as well as helping deal with Al-Quatala leaders such as the butcher. It shows two Russia's the real one helping with localized conflicts and the older red menace via Barkhov. Personally i feel if the Russian administration looked deeper it would see this and possibly recognize the duality America sees them as. Yeagor and nikolai, FSB assisting SAS and USA/MC special forces in counter terror operations in Russia both despise Barkhovs actions and wish to bring all his crimes to light. The multiplayer operator Bale is also anti-Barkhov and ex Spetznaz turned Coalition/Allegiance operator under Sergeant Kamarov a "good russian" from the old game, he served in both Chechyan wars, under Barkhov, and saw his crimes in those wars. The game certainly is not spec ops the line. But it shot high for stirring the pot, falling short of the lines depictions of war crimes. The games definitely the right direction for COD. The next title rumor has it is Black Ops 2020 and will follow the same formula. The return to COD's gritty roots and great original stories may see the fall of Battlefield, the largest console competitor. Going forwards COD plans to "draw the line where they need it" for controversy. I wouldn't call it russophobic anymore so than say MW2 but it definetly was looking for reactions. I just saw this discussion and am glad to gave been able to give input.

Edited by Jason L Lewis
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