Footage from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 leaked onto the Internet yesterday, and if you thought the lack of dedicated PC servers were the big controversy in regards to this game, you're in for a huge surprise. The leaked gameplay footage reveals that you'll be able to play part of the game as a terrorist.
Update: The footage has been pulled from CNN's iReport site as well.
Heavy spoilers ahead, obviously. The footage has since been pulled from YouTube,
but part of it is still up on CNN's iReport site. In the level (reportedly the beginning of the game), the player is with a group of men who murder innocent civilians in an airport. The level seems to consist primarily of capping innocent people, including the clearly injured who are trying in vain to hobble away as you shoot them in the back. This is where CNN's video ends. Based on other internet reports, after the airport killing spree, the group then exit to the tarmac where they pass a pile of dead bodies, and shoot some cops. Eventually, the main terrorist, Makarov, murders the player with a shot to the head. It's strong stuff.
When asked if the footage would be in the game, Activision released a statement to the press, saying:
“Yes it is. The scene establishes the depth of evil and the cold bloodedness of a rogue Russian villain and his unit. By establishing that evil, it adds to the urgency of the player’s mission to stop them.
“Players have the option of skipping over the scene. At the beginning of the game, there are two ‘checkpoints’ where the player is advised that some people may find an upcoming segment disturbing. These checkpoints can’t be disabled.
“Modern Warfare 2 is a fantasy action game designed for intense, realistic game play that mirrors real life conflicts, much like epic, action movies. It is appropriately rated 18 for violent scenes, which means it is intended for those who are 18 and older.”
I predict an uproar from certain members of the excitable media. I predict semi-accurate headlines will proclaim: "New Game Has Players Take The Role of Terrorists!" while ignoring the fact that this is, essentially, a cut-scene where you control a character, and the scene itself doesn't glamorize terrorism: After all, you are betrayed by your own leader, who is so evil, he shoots his own men.
We don't really know the context of the level either: Perhaps the player is infiltrating the terrorist group and has to participate or blow his cover. Maybe the main character is under the influence of mind-altering drugs. Maybe it's a dream sequence. But no matter what utility it might serve in Modern Warfare 2's plot, it's a disturbing thing to watch; I can't imagine how disturbing it would be to play. While I'm all for artistic freedom in games, even I gotta shake my head a little at how far this goes.
Although Modern Warfare 2 is scheduled for a November 10th release, You have to wonder whether this particular level will end up in the finished game. I give it a 50/50 shot, honestly, depending upon the intensity of the controversy surrounding this leaked footage.