Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Modern Warfare 2: Bad Story Ruins Games

If you are not buying Modern Warfare and want to know about its crazy plot then read on?


If you are curious as to why, for me, I just can't get my head around it then read on.

The Story (Spoilers!)

Basically a Russian dissident goes to Moscow Airport and murders everyone inside. You play a CIA agent in his gang and witness/take part in the killing (I chose not to shoot anyone). The event takes place in a graphic scene, which is cruel and brutal. In the right context it would have been challenging and interesting; however In MW2 it is just unnecessary (it is skip-able) and violent for the sake of a weak plot device.

At the end of this massacre, the villain shoots you to make it look like the CIA walked into Moscow airport and killed everyone - a ludicrous conceit. You are supposed to believe that the Russians would not know that the CIA had infiltrated the gang, or that the gang are all Russians anyway. The fact that four terrorists take on and kill 200 Russian SWAT is even more daft.

The following day Russia stages a full scale invasion of the USA and large land battles take place in a suburban town (for no real reason - or explanation) and on Capitol Hill/The White House. We are supposed to believe the Russians were so mad, they were able to stage a full scale assault on the US in retaliation. Where are China and Europe in all this? The Russians barely had enough troops to invade Georgia in 2008. What about the global condemnation that would follow. Would the rest of the world just stand by? How did all these 10,000s of paratroopers & tanks, and aircraft cross European airspace?

To solve the problem a special ops team kidnap a terrorist in Sao Paulo (not sure why), rescue a prisoner from a Russian Gulag, steal a Russian nuclear sub and launch its nuke into space. The ICBM is detonated over the US east coast to cause a EMP wave that causes all planes and helicopters to crash, as well as destroy the International Space Station.

With me so far?

The special ops team then hunt down the dissident to kill him. Some how doing this will end the full scale conflict that has taken over the world?


It is all completely implausible.

I don't buy the argument it is just a game. IW have gone out of their way to set it in a contemporary setting. If it was a Fallout style twisted reality I would let it ride, but they set it up as a "what if".

The "what if" is based on the worst kind of soviet-era/communist aggressor tripe and lacking any historical context from the last 20 years. Worse, it is based on an enemy, and nation, who has never had the capability to do what they suggest. The major premise that a single out of context terrorist incident could cause a conflict on this scale is a leap even "24" writers would have trouble with. The single player plot is fictional garbage and neo-con scaremongering of the worst kind. The fact the plot is almost impossible to follow doesn't help either.

What MW2's story is, is a string of set pieces in locations the developers wanted to exploit for shock value. They often have no relationship to the story and lack any kind of logical cohesion. It is fiction, but it is ludicrous fiction. At least Tom Clancy based his tech-war writings on genuine facts and plausible events.

I am not the only one who finds it completely silly, I've read several reviews saying pretty much the same thing (see Charlie Brooker's and Eurogamer's reviews).

As for the scene in Moscow Airport, it is certainly one of the most violent things even done in a game. It doesn't offend me, but I did find it unnecessary and over-the-top (people crawling away bleeding to death and then being shot). As a plot device, it completely failed.

I do like many of the levels, taken in isolation, and I get that it is an action movie. However, the makers have gone out of their way to make it a "what if" story, and it deserves to be critiqued as such.

I'm sure the co-op and multiplayer will provide hours of entertainment, but the solo story in MW2 is a massive misstep, in my opinion, and belittles a lot of the ground breaking immersion that IW created in Call of Duty 1 and 2. Personally I found the story to be laughably preposterous and, at times, baffling, bloodthirsty and misjudged.