Modern Warfare 2’s No Russian mission asked players to choose to take a passive or active role in an airport massacre of civilians. It caused quite a stir when it launched, but it’s been a long time. A legal battle has been fought, a new studio has been formed, and many of the designers who worked on Modern Warfare 2 at Infinity Ward are now working for Respawn Entertainment.
Call of Duty
The designer responsible for one of Call of Duty 4’s most memorable levels, All Ghillied Up, was also involved in creating Call of Duty’s most controversial moment. With the legal NDAs surrounding his link to Infinity Ward expired, he has spoken with Matthew S. Burns in Magical Wasteland about the intent behind No Russian.
“We were trying to do three things,” he explains, “sell why Russia would attack America, make the player have an emotional connection with the bad guy Makarov and do it in a memorable and engaging way.”
Alavi describes early versions of the level where the massacre takes place at the beginning of the level and it quickly turns into a shootout. He mentions that that version “felt cheap and sophisticated. It felt like we were playing something raw and emotional and then shunning us as soon as it got uncomfortable.”
“I read some reviews that said we should have shown the massacre in a movie or cast you in the role of a civilian running for his life. While I fully respect anyone’s opinion that they didn’t like me, I think any of those other options would have been a way out, “he says.” Seeing the airport massacre would not have had the same. impact such as participating (or not participating) in it. Being a civilian doesn’t offer you any other option or makes you feel anything other than the fear of dying in a video game, which is so normal that the players don’t even feel anymore.
No Russian served a pragmatic storytelling purpose. As harsh as it may sound, Alavi suggests that, from his perspective, getting a strong reaction of any kind from the players is a win. “It’s not really relevant if that makes you enjoy the entertainment experience even more because you’re being mischievous (Grand Theft Auto style) or if it immerses you more in the story and makes you resent your actions. The relevant thing is that the level made the player feel anything, ”he says.
“In the sea of endless bullets, you shoot countless enemies without a moment’s hesitation or last-minute thought, the fact that I made the player hesitate even for a fraction of a second and really consider their actions before pulling the trigger, that makes me feel accomplished. “