Modern Warfare 2 and Its Message

Talking this game is somewhat of a moot point. Everyone knows about its existence and how it was the most anticipated game of 2009 and the highest grossing game as well. And most people know of the controversial Airport scene.

I knew these things, but didn't really care. I wasn't a fan of the original, and never really saw the appeal either. I can't really find the words to describe why I disliked it. I played it for about 20 minutes before I set the controller down and said, "this game is not for me." I seemed unpolished, generic, and dull. But whatever, lots of people seem to like it.

It wasn't until a couple weekends ago at Dave's place that I actually had a chance to play Modern Warfare 2, so I figured why not. The videos that were shown at E3 made the game look beautiful. And after the first couple of minutes, Modern Warfare 2 definitely prides itself on presentation. It is one of the most beautiful looking games out there.

The beginning eased me into how to shoot things, and how to fight effectively in combat using more than just my main weapon. Switching to a handgun is faster than reloading. Using your knife is an instant kill when you're next to an enemy. Also, your weapon will always snap to a nearby target when aiming. It's easy to play, and lends itself well to different strategies when fighting many enemies. There's always another way to accomplish your task.

Essentially, Modern Warfare 2 charmed me with its graphics, and the fluid varied controls kept me playing and challenged. Last week, I received it from Gamefly and began my assault.

Airport Scene (spoilers)

For those that don't know about the "airport scene"... In the 4th chapter entitled "No Russian", you play as Private Allen. He's the recruit you played in the beginning while getting used to the controls, and then put into a battle field fighting a militia. At the end of the mission, General Shepard says he has a special mission for you. You are to stick close to Makarov as a deep cover agent. And this has brought you to a Russian airport.

The mission begins in a closet with Makarov and some other guys. You are dressed in suits, bullet proof vests, and armed with chain guns. Before Makarov opens the door he says, "Remember.. No Russian." You walk out of the closet in a crowded airport security checkpoint. Your group aims their weapons, and fire on the crowd. You continue through the airport terminal mascaraing any individuals you find. Some security guards fight back, but you can't get hurt. Your group murders everyone.

Throughout this opening scene, you can choose to kill the innocent or do nothing. If you shoot any of your group, the game quits and pulls you back to your last checkpoint. If you stand back the doorway and not move anywhere, your group will wait. The game forces you through this entire scene, and you can't prevent anything from happening, unless you want to quit the game completely.

After going through the terminal, walking over all the innocent slain, the Russian forces arrive and you fight them and make your way to the get-a-way car. Everyone hops in in front of you. Someone comments, "This will definitely send a message." As the last person in, Makarov stops you, and pierces your chest with a bullet. Makarov replies, "No, this is the message." And your dead American body responsible for this terrorist attack on Russia creates war between America and Russia.

The Ending (spoilers)

Throughout Modern Warfare 2 you go back and forth between "Ramirez" fighting Russian troops on American soil, and "Roach" part of Task Force 141 who know that Makarov is behind the terrorist attack and follow his trail throughout the world to uncover his plot. Eventually, you find out that General Shepard is the one behind the attacks, and everything comes to climax assaulting his hidden base head-on and eventually facing him.

The final battle is between you, playing "Soap" MacTavish and Captain Price versus General Shepard. The battle begins with Shepard hopping on a boat and taking off. Naturally, you and Price grab the second boat and take off after him. There's lot of rockets, helicopters, and other boats to fight and dodge as you close in Shepard's boat.

Eventually Shepard gets far enough ahead of you that he boards a helicopter. Price orders you to steady to boat as he takes a few shots and takes down the helicopter. Unfortunately, you've gone to far down the rapids and go over a waterfall.

When you wake, you pull yourself up, take out your knife, and stagger towards the smoldering crashed helicopter. You find an enemy soldier trying to get away. You slice him. You find another one next to the crash, reading his gun. He pulls the trigger, but it's empty. You slice him. A few feet forward, Shepard pops out of the wreck and staggers forward. You continue after him. He stops at a wrecked car to catch his breath. You go in for the kill... But he catches you, smacks you head on the side of the car, knocks you to the ground, and stabs you in the chest. The world goes dark.

The Message (spoilers)

You wake a couple seconds later to Shepard's voice... "5 years ago, I watched as 30,000 of my men were slaughtered. All of them died for their country as America sat back and watched. Tomorrow, thousands will line up to volunteer in this war. It doesn't matter who started it." "The Victors write history," he says as he points his revolver in your face.

It doesn't end there. Price jumps Shepard as he pulls the trigger, and saves your life. As Price and Shepard out of your vision, you see the revolver and struggle over to it hitting RT and LT to move. Shepard gets the upper hand, kicks the gun away, and knocks you out. You fade in and out of consciousness as they fight. Shepard gets the upper hand again, but you notice the knife in your chest.

Here's where Modern Warfare 2 takes a fantastic gameplay cue from Metal Gear Solid 4. To pull the knife out of your chest, you must bang away at the X button. You need to HURRY though! Price is getting his ass kicked. It takes a lot out of you (the player) to bang away at the button to make the game continue. It attempts to convey the physicality of what your character is going through. Through this scene I'm thinking to myself, "C'mon!! You can make it, C'mon! C'mon!"

After railing that X button for about 20 seconds the knife is out and you chuck it into Shepard's eyeball. Success!

Digesting the Message

So, the whole reason this [fictional] war was started was to get America off its fat, lazy, ignorant ass and do something for their country. There's definitely something to that.

I think this message gives the Airport Scene relevance by putting you in the shoes of a murderer. Yeah, there are people out there that do this. And yeah, this is what happens when you sit by and do nothing. There are consequences to your inactions.

One of the quotes presented throughout the game really emphasizes this point:

"A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy but won't cross the street to vote in a national election" - Bill Vaughn

Hopefully the tens of millions of gamers playing Modern Warfare 2 take something from this message and, at the very least, not make the problems in America worse.


Also, I just beat Modern Warfare 2's campaign on Veteran. Is this mode supposed to be hard?