October 31, 2009

Activision lies about skipping scenes in CoD:MW2

My FPS loving friends and I usually like the Call of Duty series, and Modern Warfare 2 has been on our radar, although we're not getting all hyped up.  We just like games where we can shoot at each other, CoD is one of them.  Laser tag is another, though it's a bit more physical and you can't do it at home as easily.

Then this controversial clip from the game play came out that included the player in the campaign mode being a terrorist and shooting down tons of innocent civilians. I would love to show you the footage I saw but the best I can do is upload the Hard News episode from Screw Attack that had that footage. Activision has been trying their best to take all footage that has leaked out down.

Quite easy to see how this footage is disturbing, and how the video game community did a complete double take. A very vocal group of people were pretty offended that this gameplay was available.

Activision then says "Don't worry guys the scenes are skippable" except in much more diplomatic terms. Okay, so you don't have to mow down civilians. Fantastic, players have options like they should. Hooray!

"Skipping" is apparently a very loose term to Activision. It turns out the ESRB noted that players could choose to either shoot civilians or not in this scene. Never did it say anything about skipping the scene entirely.

Let me get this straight: I get to "skip" being a horrible human being, the same choice I have in day to day life, but I can't "skip" seeing tons of (albeit fictional) innocent people get shot in the open without being able to defend themselves as my compatriots in the story go around shooting anyone standing.

I'm sorry, but come on! I understand if the developers want people to know who they're fighting against in the game, but this is too much! I as a player don't need to see any dramatization of an airport shooting! It makes my skin crawl and is in general very uncomfortable. I'm someone who was raised around the times of the Columbine shooting, the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11. Just tell me in story what this terrorist group did, and I think I'll be fine killing them off later in game.

Of course, those are personal feelings. But I think that a lot of people feel the same way. No matter how you initially react to it, the scene hits so close to home that you just want to avoid it entirely, which means not playing the campaign mode.

Also, what is fun about that situation anyway? There is no real challenge when it comes to shooting people who can't defend themselves. You want some what of an even match in a game like Call of Duty, where you are proud of yourself when you pick the right gun and you position yourself just right to get a head shot on your enemy. Or hit him square in the nuts if you are hanging out with my friends.

Maybe Call of Duty is trying to set themselves up for a story about moral choices, but to be perfectly honest that is not why I play Call of Duty. I play it so I can pretend to be some awesome guy out on the field killing a bunch of baddies. Or to play the multiplayer with friends and see how long I can last. (Which in reality isn't that long). Call of Duty has never come to mind as a game about moral dilemmas or decisions based on ethics. There are plenty of other games I would play for that experience, like Mass Effect.

All in all, I don't appreciate a company like Activision being a liar about the "skipping" part. Unless the ESRB missed the "skip" button (and I doubt they would've missed it) Call of Duty is definitely going to lose out on sales where players don't want to be the bad guys we worry about in real life. And I'm one of them.

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