PDA

View Full Version : MW2 opens with something very controversial.

Pages : 1 2 3 [4]

Mordrak
11-12-2009, 10:36 AM
I really liked mono's suggestion upthread. The ESRB should have slapped it with an AO and Infinity Ward should have launched it anyway. That would have been an important first step in improving the ratings system.

-Tom

Except for the practical realities of ratings, Tom. You keep ignoring that.

It deserves an R rating and parents should learn that M basically means R.

Cubit
11-12-2009, 10:37 AM
I really liked mono's suggestion upthread. The ESRB should have slapped it with an AO and Infinity Ward should have launched it anyway. That would have been an important first step in improving the ratings system.

My guess is it would have made the game even more popular.

Mordrak
11-12-2009, 10:39 AM
My guess is it would have made the game even more popular.

On what? The PC? What was the last AO game released on the 360?

Reed
11-12-2009, 10:44 AM
That would have definitely been interesting. Would Best Buy, etc, still refuse to carry AO if it was attached to the biggest game of the year?

Of course, no publisher/developer would dare do that, but anyway...

Desslock
11-12-2009, 10:45 AM
I really liked mono's suggestion upthread. The ESRB should have slapped it with an AO and Infinity Ward should have launched it anyway. That would have been an important first step in improving the ratings system.

Exactly - the ESRB/rating system wouldn't be a discredited joke; the game would be less likely to reach the hands of underage gamers if people care about that; and retailers would be more likely to legitimize and appropriately accommodate the AO rating because otherwise they'd be deciding not to stock one of the biggest games of the year

....all of which would help the industry mature and make it less likely that the industry would consider any content verboten in the future, allowing games to mature into incorporating content that films/books routinely include.

BlueJackalope
11-12-2009, 10:52 AM
I really liked mono's suggestion upthread. The ESRB should have slapped it with an AO and Infinity Ward should have launched it anyway. That would have been an important first step in improving the ratings system.

Exactly. AO shouldn't be what it is (essentially a XXX).

As exploitative as I thought the scene was, I think IW is perfectly within their rights to present it, but it was cowardly for the ESRB not to slap it with an AO.

Mordrak
11-12-2009, 10:52 AM
Well said.

No, it's a meaningless platitude. It's harping on the sex and violence meme for a mindless go to point that every can nod their head in agreement with and grumble about puritan americans bullshit. It has nothing to do with the reality of implementing a ratings system that millions of people have to engage in.

Ratings aren't there to raise people's kids for them. If parents are buying M rated games for their 13 year olds and don't like what they see, that's not the rating's fault. The rating is clear, 17 and above. It's that simple.

If parents want to start making more nuanced distinctions between content and what they are comfortable with, guess what, they are going to have to engage with their children's hobbies instead of just throwing games at them. Boy, that's so terrible.

Now, if the Call of Duty has a history of being rated Teen and they suddenly throw out an M rated game, EA and the developers hold some responsibility for that as well, but that's fuck all to do with ratings standards and distinction.

The best ratings can do is give you really broad categories of how innocuous the material is. The more potentially troublesome material, the higher the rating, but there's also the more ways that material can be combined and interact... which makes rating that material harder if you want to start paying attention to tone rather than basically how graphic the material is. Relatively graphic sex and violence get labeled M.

That's what happened in this case. The system is working as intended.

Mordrak
11-12-2009, 10:54 AM
Exactly. AO shouldn't be what it is (essentially a XXX).

As exploitative as I thought the scene was, I think IW is perfectly within their rights to present it, but it was cowardly for the ESRB not to slap it with an AO.

You get Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony to change their certification standards then. Your inability to actually engage with a ratings system is mind boggling.

Broad ratings aren't there to make distinctions between Brutal Legend and Modern Warfare 2.

Kevin Grey
11-12-2009, 10:58 AM
On what? The PC? What was the last AO game released on the 360?

Isn't it against both Sony and MS policy not to certify games that have AO ratings? I thought that came up in the Manhunt 2 furor.

Mordrak
11-12-2009, 11:02 AM
Isn't it against both Sony and MS policy not to certify games that have AO ratings? I thought that came up in the Manhunt 2 furor.

Exactly. People saying this material should be rated AO are just masturbating in a pool of their own self righteousness and personal offense at what they find a gratuitously unnecessary scene. That's fine. Great. And the game got an M rating because of it.

ProStyle
11-12-2009, 11:04 AM
Overbearing much?

Desslock
11-12-2009, 11:04 AM
So you agree, there is no AO rating.

Cubit
11-12-2009, 11:05 AM
Exactly. People saying this material should be rated AO are just masturbating in a pool of their own self righteousness and personal offense at what they find a gratuitously unnecessary scene. That's fine. Great. And the game got an M rating because of it.

Jeez, what is your deal today? Saying Modern Warfare 2 should have gotten an AO rating is a perfectly legitimate view that you seem comfortable with tossing aside as rubbish.

Desslock
11-12-2009, 11:10 AM
Desslock: "The AO rating doesn't actually exist"
Mordrak "You masturbating self-righteous idjits don't realize that the AO rating can't be used"

You're as thick as a brick.

Brian Seiler
11-12-2009, 11:11 AM
Jeez, what is your deal today? Saying Modern Warfare 2 should have gotten an AO rating is a perfectly legitimate view that you seem comfortable with tossing aside as rubbish.

The problem is that while it should certainly have gotten an AO IN THEORY, in practice you're basically advocating censorship because that would have limited its release to a single platform. Ideally, the AO rating would not be used as a tool for what effectively amounts to censorship, but to pretend that this could ever happen in the ratings system that we have today is probably a little naive.

Maybe - maybe - the one positive that will come of this is that we'll figure out that the ESRB scale isn't particularly effective and another one could start to form to take its place. Personally, I think they should be negotiating an agreement with the MPAA to use the same scale and apply the same standards. If you think M = R, then the rating is appropriate.

Mordrak
11-12-2009, 11:14 AM
So you agree, there is no AO rating.

No there is an AO rating. It's generally consistent with the other rating systems we have in place. Adults Only has a long history of the US of basically meaning some form of porn.

There's no AO rating on consoles because unlike VCRs, consoles heavily regulate their content. They aren't content neutral playing devices... just like there's few none (?) nationwide theaters that carry NC-17 or above material. I have no problem with that.

The ESRB is consistent with other ratings standards and remaining so is how it can ultimately be of most use to parents. The societal notion of games are for kids no matter the material isn't the culprit.

The ESRB has actually really gone out of its way to be accommodating to parents and transparent compared to nonsense like the MPAA.

Mordrak
11-12-2009, 11:15 AM
Desslock: "The AO rating doesn't actually exist"
Mordrak "You masturbating self-righteous idjits don't realize that the AO rating can't be used"

You're as thick as a brick.

Fuck you to asshole.

Bahimiron
11-12-2009, 11:15 AM
If the ESRB had put an AO on MW2, it would not have resulted in them releasing it anyway and then it moving the whole industry forward. That's a really great idea, but it's not what would have happened. If the ESRB had given it an AO, the game would simply have had to've been edited. Thus the offending scene would be removed and though I'm certain Desslock would have applauded, it would still have been censorship.

ProStyle
11-12-2009, 11:16 AM
Personally, I think they should be negotiating an agreement with the MPAA to use the same scale and apply the same standards. If you think M = R, then the rating is appropriate.
Why would anything change? I'd recommend "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" for a good look at the MPAA. NC-17 is effectively a death sentence for any commercial film as well, and the minutia they use to assign these ratings is completely subjective and tends to revolve around their own cultural predispositions and what they feel is appropriate to foist upon the public. Hence the nipples/pubes reference earlier. You can kill these people but not those people, etc. It's the same arbitrary and corrupt system.

BlueJackalope
11-12-2009, 11:19 AM
Fuck you to asshole.

"too"

Drastic
11-12-2009, 11:19 AM
Historical note 2: Fuck You To Asshole was an unreleased title for the 3DO, with certain similarities to Duelin' Firemen only with fewer of its assets surviving to even unofficial release.

Mordrak
11-12-2009, 11:20 AM
"too"

Thank yoo for that. I made a tipo. I suck at writing and tipin'. You have amazing insight oby-won.

Athryn
11-12-2009, 11:20 AM
Why would anything change? I'd recommend "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" for a good look at the MPAA. NC-17 is effectively a death sentence for any commercial film as well, and the minutia they use to assign these ratings is completely subjective and tends to revolve around their own cultural predispositions and what they feel is appropriate to foist upon the public. Hence the nipples/pubes reference earlier. You can kill these people but not those people, etc. It's the same arbitrary and corrupt system.

This is very true, that's why you see the "OMG UNRATED" versions of some movies when they hit DVD.

Cubit
11-12-2009, 11:21 AM
I think Mordrak got up on the wrong side of the bed today.

RepoMan
11-12-2009, 11:23 AM
No, he means he wants the fucking to go to Desslock's asshole.

Tom Chick
11-12-2009, 11:25 AM
The problem is that while it should certainly have gotten an AO IN THEORY, in practice you're basically advocating censorship because that would have limited its release to a single platform.

And that's what makes this such a missed opportunity. MW2 was going to come out on the 360 and PS3 no matter what. If the ESRB had done their job, and if IW had held their ground (I'm convinced they're thick-headed enough), we could have seen a viable AO rating.

You guys comparing it to the MPAA are right. But the difference is that we're a relatively young industry, so some of this can still change. I'd like to think the relationships among the developers, publishers, retailers, and rating board are still malleable. This was an important moment for the ESRB and they flubbed it. We're all going to be worse off for it.

-Tom

BlueJackalope
11-12-2009, 11:25 AM
Thank yoo for that. I made a tipo. I suck at writing and tipin'. You have amazing insight oby-won.

Not so good with the funny either sandy-pants.

Here's a question, since there are no true ratings, just degrees of broad categories, where are my AAA sex simulators?

Creole Ned
11-12-2009, 11:31 AM
Here's the ESRB's ratings definitions (http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.jsp) for the curious:

MATURE
Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

Titles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.

Bahimiron
11-12-2009, 11:31 AM
I normally don't agree with much of anything Mordrak says. In fact 'God, Mordrak's a fucking idiot.' is regularly tossed around between myself and those others I speak with outside the board. That aside, he's definitely right in his response to Naeblis.

Saying that the scene in MW2 glorifies mass murder is like saying that the film Man Bites Dog glorifies rape and murder because the assassin is so likable or that Less Than Zero glorifies snuff film because the people enjoying watching it are sophisticated, well-to-do New Yorkers.

peacedog
11-12-2009, 11:41 AM
And that's what makes this such a missed opportunity. MW2 was going to come out on the 360 and PS3 no matter what. If the ESRB had done their job, and if IW had held their ground (I'm convinced they're thick-headed enough), we could have seen a viable AO rating.

You guys comparing it to the MPAA are right. But the difference is that we're a relatively young industry, so some of this can still change. I'd like to think the relationships among the developers, publishers, retailers, and rating board are still malleable. This was an important moment for the ESRB and they flubbed it. We're all going to be worse off for it.

-Tom

I agree with you, or I would like to. But what makes you think Bahimiron (and whoever else said it) is wrong, and that slapping it with an AO wouldn't have caused the offensive content to be removed so the game could get an M? The need to make the holiday rush?

Creole Ned
11-12-2009, 11:45 AM
If the ESRB had hit MW2 with an AO rating, Activision would have appealed and if they'd lost the appeal, the airport scene would have been changed somehow. They may have taken away player control, shortened it, changed camera angles, turned it into a loading screen -- something. The idea that MW2 would have shipped intact as an AO title is really just not a possibility with Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony all refusing to certify AO-rated games and major retailers like WalMart refusing to sell them. Just look at what happened with GTA: San Andreas when it got re-rated to AO.

Mike Pugliese
11-12-2009, 11:49 AM
If the ESRB had done their job, and if IW had held their ground (I'm convinced they're thick-headed enough), we could have seen a viable AO rating.

You're completely forgetting about Activision, who would have then forced IW to cut anything and everything to get that down to an M. IW may be portraying this image of independence lately with their antics, but once sales are being threatened, you can be damn sure that Kotick and his fellow fun-haters will intervene.

And what Creole Ned said between my reading of the thread and typing of this post.

steve
11-12-2009, 11:50 AM
No, the airport mission would still be a stupid stunt by an industry that after all this time refuses to grow up.
I do like how it paints an entire industry this way, yet Saw movies and their ilk don't seem to impact the movie industry the same way. How about we just go with "most blockbuster entertainment is dumb?"

I'm not sure what I'm more offended by, Modern Warfare 2 or Transformers 2's overt racism and leering at Megan Fox being sold as a kid's movie. In this case, one is rated for as appropriate for 13-year olds, the other for 17 or above.

I'm curious what other entertainment people would like to see receive AO, X, or NC-17 ratings. I'm not sure doing a terrible job at making some sort of point is reason enough to increase a rating, and I'm as easily offended as the next guy.

I don't find projecting a "why" on Infinity Ward by saying they did it for publicity or titillation---particularly when they've shown a better job at this sort of thing in the past---particularly useful. It appears they had

Tom Chick
11-12-2009, 11:52 AM
I agree with you, or I would like to. But what makes you think Bahimiron (and whoever else said it) is wrong, and that slapping it with an AO wouldn't have caused the offensive content to be removed so the game could get an M? The need to make the holiday rush?

That's a great question, Mr. Dog. As I mentioned, my guess is that IW is stubborn, tone-deaf, and successful enough that it would have stayed in the game. But it's entirely possible they would have cut the scene.

And you know what? I would have been okay with that. The scene is gratuitous and unnecessary. But if IW wanted to keep it in there, they should have been told it's on par with the stuff that got Manhunter and GTA their AO ratings. Instead, they've been told it's on par with Brutal Legend and Borderlands.

-Tom

Tom Chick
11-12-2009, 11:56 AM
You're completely forgetting about Activision, who would have then forced IW to cut anything and everything to get that down to an M. IW may be portraying this image of independence lately with their antics, but once sales are being threatened, you can be damn sure that Kotick and his fellow fun-haters will intervene.

Yeah, you and Mr. Ned are probably right. But I would have been okay with that, too. It might have led to some sort of AO director's cut DLC, sort of like DVD releases of horror movies. I'd be okay with that as well.

But I'm not okay with this being released as is with an M-rating. I maintain this is first and foremost a failure of the ESRB.

-Tom

Creole Ned
11-12-2009, 11:58 AM
I do like how it paints an entire industry this way, yet Saw movies and their ilk don't seem to impact the movie industry the same way. How about we just go with "most blockbuster entertainment is dumb?"

I think -- and I admit I could be way off here -- that the perception is the video game industry is young and still going through its "growing pains" where every misstep or controversy is magnified, whereas film is a long-established medium that people are comfortable slotting into subcategories that can accommodate everything from arthouse films to the likes of Saw.

Think of how many people still treat video games as something "just for kids", for example.

steve
11-12-2009, 12:05 PM
We're all going to be worse off for it.
It sounds like you're penalizing Infinity Ward for sucking.

Would you be on the side of giving Natural Born Killers an X- or NC-17 rating because it flubbed its indictment of the media culture surrounding violence by actually glorifying said violence? Or did you think it was a good movie?

It just strikes me that there's no absolute metric to say, "This content is offensive and should be rated accordingly," beyond the sort of large clumps of "this is extremely violent: 17" we already have. Individual titles will always cause problems, but as soon as you bring personal taste, context, intent, and politics into the equation, it gets pretty messy.

It also means you will end up with adults being restricted in the content they can see, because there's no planet where AO, NC-17, and X ratings will become commercially viable. Even if the console manufacturers greenlight AO games, no one would accept advertising.

steve
11-12-2009, 12:10 PM
Think of how many people still treat video games as something "just for kids", for example.
The fact we're discussing the content at all shows that it isn't just kids stuff, but I'm not sure how bringing the ratings system into the discussion helps.

If anything, saying "M-17" or "R-17" isn't enough is reinforcing the idea that games are just for kids, because it's saying the rating isn't doing enough to protect kids from the content. People don't make that same argument when it comes to movies.

I'd argue that it's pretty clear it's not for kids, just as the R-rating says, "not a kids movie." I'd also argue that the bigger ratings issue is the relative ease that things get a Teen or PG-13.

Creole Ned
11-12-2009, 12:20 PM
In this specific case I agree but there may still be a perception among some non-gamers that video games in the general sense are for "them youngsters". As before, I could be wrong and maybe the general public (however you define such a group) has moved beyond the idea that video games are largely only for kids.

I also agree that ratings is ultimately a side issue to the scene itself and how people react to it. That takes us back to the larger "is it art?" question and in this case I might be inclined to say it is art, but art that tries too hard to push buttons, like attention-seeking performance art calculated to stir "controversy" that has no greater purpose to it other than said controversy.

I have not played the game, though, so my take could is only based on the videos and write-ups I've seen describing the game's story and presentation.

Telefrog
11-12-2009, 12:32 PM
If anything, saying "M-17" or "R-17" isn't enough is reinforcing the idea that games are just for kids, because it's saying the rating isn't doing enough to protect kids from the content. People don't make that same argument when it comes to movies.

People don't? When did that stop?

Brian Seiler
11-12-2009, 12:38 PM
Why would anything change?

Parents would probably be less likely to buy the game for their kids if they saw something they recognized on the box instead of something they didn't. If you take your child to an R-rated movie and he sees a superhero break some guy's arm out of his skin and your kid has nightmares for a week and you end up with therapy bills, you're not going to get much sympathy from a lot of people because, I mean, shit, it was rated R you dolt! What did you THINK was going to happen? Instead, we'll get parents who don't particularly care about video games and don't recognize the difference between T and MA and wouldn't know what in the hell an AO was if it sat on their face and shook their hand. Video game advocates would have a better defense and parents would have a better tool at their disposal.

And that's what makes this such a missed opportunity. MW2 was going to come out on the 360 and PS3 no matter what. If the ESRB had done their job, and if IW had held their ground (I'm convinced they're thick-headed enough), we could have seen a viable AO rating.

Could we have? No matter how big Modern Warfare 2 is, and I assume that it is gargantuan, Microsoft and Sony are bigger and I deeply suspect that so long as one of them didn't relent, the other would have stuck with their current standards and it would never have released for either console without changes. I think that in that case, the most likely course of events would be the terrorist sequence transforming from an interactive scene to a mostly on-rails sequence, like the execution scene from the first Modern Warfare. I'm not sure that there's anything we can do that will ever make "Adults Only" not mean "titties, screwing, and plenty of both" in the United States. It's a part of the culture, for better or worse. It seems that M means PG-13 and there is no R for video games right now, at least in the mind of the consumers that it's designed to help.

I wonder how closely this mirrors the whole sequence of events that led to the development of the PG-13 standard - I was too young at the time to remember, but what started off that whole party?

On the plus side, this complete and utter failure of the ESRB might be enough to get the industry to change.....something.

Bahimiron
11-12-2009, 12:42 PM
I wonder how closely this mirrors the whole sequence of events that led to the development of the PG-13 standard - I was too young at the time to remember, but what started off that whole party?

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins.

Moore
11-12-2009, 01:01 PM
No there is an AO rating. It's generally consistent with the other rating systems we have in place. Adults Only has a long history of the US of basically meaning some form of porn.

There's no AO rating on consoles because unlike VCRs, consoles heavily regulate their content. They aren't content neutral playing devices... just like there's few none (?) nationwide theaters that carry NC-17 or above material. I have no problem with that.

The ESRB is consistent with other ratings standards and remaining so is how it can ultimately be of most use to parents. The societal notion of games are for kids no matter the material isn't the culprit.

The ESRB has actually really gone out of its way to be accommodating to parents and transparent compared to nonsense like the MPAA.

Yeah, but M is pg 13 - AO is R. So this is like no R rated movies. Any R rated movie with a bit of fucking would be an AO game.

Desslock
11-12-2009, 01:39 PM
No, he means he wants the fucking to go to Desslock's asshole.

Yeah, I thought he was quoting a line from the 1st edition of The Witcher!

Desslock
11-12-2009, 01:43 PM
You guys comparing it to the MPAA are right. But the difference is that we're a relatively young industry, so some of this can still change.

Exactly - this could have been the "Midnight Cowboy" moment for the ESRB, which at least briefly opened the door to a more mature, meaningful movie rating system

alexlitel
11-12-2009, 02:09 PM
Now, if the Call of Duty has a history of being rated Teen and they suddenly throw out an M rated game, EA and the developers hold some responsibility for that as well, but that's fuck all to do with ratings standards and distinction.It's weird how many posters here think EA released this game. Also, EA does not. Activision? Yes.

Yeah, but M is pg 13 - AO is R. So this is like no R rated movies. Any R rated movie with a bit of fucking would be an AO game.Shit like MadWorld is PG-13 now? And no, God of War is rated M.

Dave Long
11-12-2009, 02:51 PM
prolonged scenes of intense violence
That about covers it. Should have been AO.

caesarbear
11-12-2009, 02:56 PM
In a time when glorified violence saturates television and Saving Private Ryan gets aired unedited on a broadcast network, I have a lot of difficulty putting the blame on the ESRB. I don't agree that an AO rating is the equivalent of censorship as it's still a testing of retail and manufacture policy and not one of content correction. No one is entitled to sales. Changing content to get sales does not amount to censorship. However it's pretty clear that AO is not really intended for games with excessively violent images and that the ESRB is unable to handle the elevated emotional impact that violence can have in videogames over movies and television. The ESRB's structure is based on a passive media format and cannot compensate for interactivity.

Yet it's not like this was a secret. I don't remember Tom Chick ever having issue with the ESRB before. If other people in the industry had issue with the ESRB they never really did anything about it. Faulting the ESRB now for not countering the collective thirst for more and greater levels of violence in entertainment media seems like misdirected anger.

Dave Long
11-12-2009, 03:01 PM
There have been other mistakes by the ESRB in the past. I wrote a piece about Oblivion at GamerDad noting a lot of the adult themes in the game as well as all the hellish imagery (you reach inside corpses hanging upside down on hooks for treasure) and very realistic portrayal of violence when that game shipped.

It was rated T-Teen when it first came out. No way should it have been T. They re-rated it M-Mature when someone found a boob texture on the game disc, but I still think there was more to it than that. I think the ESRB screwed up big time and found an easy way out on that one. The fact that no one at Bethesda would talk to me about it at E3 that year (and actively avoided it) pretty much convinced me of that.

NowhereDan
11-12-2009, 03:05 PM
That about covers it. Should have been AO.
I think you could describe nearly every shooter since Doom as little more than "prolonged scenes of intense violence."

Dave Long
11-12-2009, 03:10 PM
Disagree. There's a fundamental difference with what came before and that's the demand for photorealism and the verisimiltude of true human behaviour in the face of such violence.

This is very obviously a prolonged scene of intense violence. Intense is the key word there, because the way the virtual actors react is way closer to reality than a videogame.

Frankly, I'd like to hear from all the artists and scripters who created this scene. Are they comfortable with what they built? Are they that detached from humanity that they didn't feel kind of awful building this in the first place?

idrisz
11-12-2009, 03:13 PM
Frankly, I'd like to hear from all the artists and scripters who created this scene. Are they comfortable with what they built? Are they that detached from humanity that they didn't feel kind of awful building this in the first place?

I know they are damn comfortable sitting in that nice BWM they just brought with their first bonus check!

talking about prolonged scene of intense violence, my soul died a little every time I torture that poor knight in Dungeon Keeper.

wigglestick
11-12-2009, 03:23 PM
Yeah, you and Mr. Ned are probably right. But I would have been okay with that, too. It might have led to some sort of AO director's cut DLC, sort of like DVD releases of horror movies. I'd be okay with that as well.

But I'm not okay with this being released as is with an M-rating. I maintain this is first and foremost a failure of the ESRB.

-Tom

So, how old do you think that kid you wrote about was? The one excitedly running back to his grandparents' car with the game in hand?

caesarbear
11-12-2009, 03:31 PM
Frankly, I'd like to hear from all the artists and scripters who created this scene. Are they comfortable with what they built? Are they that detached from humanity that they didn't feel kind of awful building this in the first place?
Why does one have to be detached from humanity to make this? Clearly the intent was to stir upsetting emotions. Now it may have been handled like an awkward fifteen year old boy recreating the Mumbai massacres, but that's not really an indication of heartlessness, just inappropriate expression. I'd argue that we see it all over the place in today's media. Films like History of Violence or No Country For Old Men also commit awkward acts of expression. They may show slightly more emotional sensitivity overall but wouldn't you need to question the humanity of those film makers as well?

Bahimiron
11-12-2009, 03:59 PM
Jesus Christ, Dave. Detached from humanity? Here's some advice, never read any Bret Ellis novels. Or watch any of Tom's favorite movies. Seriously, if the people who made this level are detached from humanity, the people behind Irreversible must be inhumane sociopath monsters.

Kalle
11-12-2009, 04:07 PM
Frankly, I'd like to hear from all the artists and scripters who created this scene. Are they comfortable with what they built? Are they that detached from humanity that they didn't feel kind of awful building this in the first place?

If it bothers you that much I suggest you go play Mario Super Inoffensiveness and bow out of this debate.

Dave Long
11-12-2009, 04:51 PM
"Hey people. Don't get upset! I'm not, so you shouldn't be either!"

I think there are probably more people detached from reality here at Qt3 than at Infinity Ward, to be completely honest.

Bahimiron
11-12-2009, 04:58 PM
That is not at all what I said, but I honestly don't expect more intellectual honesty from the guy accusing the game makers of being sociopaths.

Kalle
11-12-2009, 04:58 PM
I think there are probably more people detached from reality here at Qt3 than at Infinity Ward, to be completely honest.

Oh, I'm in complete agreement with you there. It takes a particular kind of detachment from reality to equate the people making creative works depicting sociopathic behaviour with actual sociopaths.

NowhereDan
11-12-2009, 05:23 PM
Disagree. There's a fundamental difference with what came before and that's the demand for photorealism and the verisimiltude of true human behaviour in the face of such violence.
This is very obviously a prolonged scene of intense violence. Intense is the key word there, because the way the virtual actors react is way closer to reality than a videogame.
So for you the distinction is not whether a game depicts prolonged scenes of intense violence, but how well it renders them? That's a perfectly fair criteria on which to judge a game, but it's not what the word "intense" means.

Main Entry: in·tense
Pronunciation: \in-ˈten(t)s\
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin intensus, from past participle of intendere to stretch out
Date: 15th century
1 a : existing in an extreme degree <the excitement was intense> <intense pain> b : having or showing a characteristic in extreme degree <intense colors>
2 : marked by or expressive of great zeal, energy, determination, or concentration <intense effort>
3 a : exhibiting strong feeling or earnestness of purpose <an intense student> b : deeply felt

Sure, you could say that the violence is "deeply felt," as in definition 3, but that's pretty damn subjective. If this thread has taught us nothing else, it's that not everyone agrees that this airport scene was a big deal.

I'd argue that the violence in, say, Left 4 Dead 2, is far more intense than that in MW2 due to the gore factor. L4D2 features players blowing the limbs off of human-like creatures with shotguns, slicing their heads off with machetes, cutting them in half with chainsaws, huge fountains of blood, etc. Meanwhile MW2 simply has you shooting people, who then fall down and bleed a bit. Some crawl a little. There're no spouts of blood, no exposed organs, no (or very few) dismemberments, no bashing in of heads. If it's "intensity" we're judging by, L4D2 is the more intensely violent of the two by a mile.

Tom Chick
11-12-2009, 05:34 PM
MW2 simply has you shooting people, who then fall down and bleed a bit. Some crawl a little. There're no spouts of blood, no exposed organs, no (or very few) dismemberments, no bashing in of heads. If it's "intensity" we're judging by, L4D2 is the more intensely violent of the two by a mile.

Hey, Dan, while you've got that dictionary handy, maybe you could look up the word "context".

-Tom

quatoria
11-12-2009, 05:37 PM
Disagree. There's a fundamental difference with what came before and that's the demand for photorealism and the verisimiltude of true human behaviour in the face of such violence.

This is very obviously a prolonged scene of intense violence. Intense is the key word there, because the way the virtual actors react is way closer to reality than a videogame.

Frankly, I'd like to hear from all the artists and scripters who created this scene. Are they comfortable with what they built? Are they that detached from humanity that they didn't feel kind of awful building this in the first place?

I've still never gotten an answer for this question, Dave - why do you assume that it wasn't the precise intent of the scene in question to make the person playing it feel awful, and uncomfortable, and disturbed? There's been a tremendous amount of projection in this thread - people projecting various mercenary motives upon the creation of this scene - and very little discussion of how it made you feel to play it, and whether or not that was the intent. Assuming the intent was to make the player feel 'kind of awful' about what was happening on screen, did they succeed or fail in that respect? Is that an endeavor that should be forbidden to game developers, or limited only to titles locked away and stigmatized as hard core pornography?

Myself, I think that was pretty clearly the intent of the scene, and while I think it failed to realize its potential and failed to deliver a successful message in the context of the broader cartoonish plot, the idea that we should classify it as immoral for that failure is ludicrous to me. Similarly, it's ludicrous that the same people who are convinced that the M rating is essentially a PG-13 because parents ignore it, refuse to read the information on the back of the box, and have no interest whatsoever in educating themselves would than insist that more use of the AO rating would solve the problem, as if parents would be any more likely to get the message from that. The people who buy an M-rated title to placate their demanding child aren't going to suddenly become enlightened and refuse to buy him that same title if it has an AO on the box, folks.

Dave Long
11-12-2009, 05:38 PM
Let's read Dave Long's post again, shall we?

Frankly, I'd like to hear from all the artists and scripters who created this scene. Are they comfortable with what they built? Are they that detached from humanity that they didn't feel kind of awful building this in the first place?
Has Dave Long called the people who made the scene sociopaths? Why, no, I don't seem to see that in the above quote.

Has he asked if the people who built this scene might be too detached from the rest of us that they don't understand how vile this scene might seem to others? Yes. I think so. I think he also is wondering if they felt at all remorseful having created this scene. I think he specifically talked about the artists and scripters, people who probably wouldn't have written it into the plot, but still had to build the assets required to make it playable in the game.

Seems like a good question to me. What about all those folks who aren't a mouthpiece for Infinity Ward but had to build the game? Are they ok with this, too?

idrisz
11-12-2009, 05:44 PM
Scripter/builder are considered level designer at IW, they basically design the level in question.

Writer actually have very little to do with specific plot/event in a level other than coming up with general story direction which can change based on design feedback from the creative director/builder/scripter.

Traumahound
11-12-2009, 06:09 PM
Would you be on the side of giving Natural Born Killers an X- or NC-17 rating because it flubbed its indictment of the media culture surrounding violence by actually glorifying said violence? Or did you think it was a good movie?

Natural Born Killers was given an NC-17 until it was cut.

quatoria
11-12-2009, 06:12 PM
Let's read Dave Long's post again, shall we?

Oh, god, do we have to?

Has Dave Long called the people who made the scene sociopaths? Why, no, I don't seem to see that in the above quote.

I guess we do. Does Dave Long recognize that when you call someone 'detached from reality', you're implying that they're either a sociopath or a psychopath? Does Dave Long know that, frequently, talking to yourself in the third person is a sign of serious 'detachment from reality'?

Tom Chick
11-12-2009, 06:17 PM
Does Dave Long recognize that when you call someone 'detached from reality', you're implying that they're either a sociopath or a psychopath?

Hey, maybe you could borrow Dan Stapleton's dictionary to look up the difference between "infer" and "imply".

As extreme as Dave can get, surely you guys can find something better to jump on. He simply wondered whether the folks making the scene felt bad. I wonder the same thing. Were the guys at Infinity Ward high fiving themselves for how bold they were being? Or did they cringe making that level as much as I cringed playing it?

-Tom

Jonathan Crane
11-12-2009, 06:45 PM
Hey, maybe you could borrow Dan Stapleton's dictionary to look up the difference between "infer" and "imply".

I love picking on grammatical errors as much (well, probably more) than the next guy, but isn't Quatoria using imply correctly above? Quatoria has inferred that Dave Long implied that the makers of the game were sociopaths. Right?

For the point at hand, I don't think Dave's out of line here - I'd also be interested in how the designer's felt while working on the scene. It clearly has artistic intent in the context of the game, from the perspective of a mature adult. However, as we know from Tom's blog, there are lots of immature adolescents playing the game, and I think this is likely to be more desensitizing to them, in that lovely 13 year old playing frog baseball sort of way.

Bahimiron
11-12-2009, 06:52 PM
Hey, maybe you could borrow Dan Stapleton's dictionary to look up the difference between "infer" and "imply".

When you ask "Are they that detached from humanity that they didn't feel kind of awful building this in the first place?" you are indicating that they are detached from humanity. There's no question about that. He's not saying "Are they detached from humanity?" he is asking "Are they that detached from humanity..." which explicitly states that they already are detached from humanity, the question is just how much.

I know that you are on the same side as Dave in this debate so you want to agree with him, but there's no other way to read what he's said. He's already decided that these people are 'detached from humanity'.

Matthew Gallant
11-12-2009, 06:53 PM
He simply wondered whether the folks making the scene felt bad.
Of course they did, that's why they have this insipid and insulting backstory that you need to do it to prevent something even worse from happening, as if that makes any kind of sense. They wanted to make this "the lesser of two evils" to justify it, and ended up turning the whole thing into trashy exploitation.

DDB
11-12-2009, 07:04 PM
Just played through this a couple of days ago because I wanted to wait to see it in-game before passing judgement. The verdict: awful. It's just such a stupid, gratuitous scene that serves no purpose narratively or gameplay wise. The story leading up to it, the actual experience, and then the post-level fallout were all insipid and just plain immature. It felt like trashy, exploitative, C-Grade horseshit that some no-name publishing house would put out to get attention.

Infinity Ward may be high-fiving themselves for their wonderful single-player experience, but Uncharted 2 hit all the highs and never sunk to the dismal depths of the Modern Warfare 2 campaign.

Tom Chick
11-12-2009, 07:32 PM
When you ask "Are they that detached from humanity that they didn't feel kind of awful building this in the first place?" you are indicating that they are detached from humanity. There's no question about that. He's not saying "Are they detached from humanity?" he is asking "Are they that detached from humanity..." which explicitly states that they already are detached from humanity, the question is just how much.

When you have to go through such semantic contortions to try to make your point, Bahim, you should ask yourself if maybe the problem is with the point you're trying to make. :)

Anyway, your point is self-invalidated as soon as you look at the entirety of Dave's comment: "Are they that detached from humanity that they didn't feel kind of awful building this in the first place?" He's attached a conditional statement that you're conveniently ignoring. Assuming they felt "kind of awful", their connection to humanity is fine. So sayeth Dave. I have just pwned you with my exegesis of the Book of Dave Long.

I know that you are on the same side as Dave in this debate so you want to agree with him, but there's no other way to read what he's said.

Are you implying that I actually don't agree with Dave on this issue?

He's already decided that these people are 'detached from humanity'.

-Tom

caesarbear
11-12-2009, 10:34 PM
As extreme as Dave can get, surely you guys can find something better to jump on. He simply wondered whether the folks making the scene felt bad. I wonder the same thing. Were the guys at Infinity Ward high fiving themselves for how bold they were being? Or did they cringe making that level as much as I cringed playing it?
It's like asking if Sam Peckinpah was cringing when making Straw Dogs. Of course there is an element of ego and of "pushing the envelope" to this. But it's pretty obvious that their intent was to be "disturbing" and "edgy", not to mock the victims of terror attacks.

NowhereDan
11-12-2009, 11:35 PM
Hey, Dan, while you've got that dictionary handy, maybe you could look up the word "context".

-Tom
Hey, Tom, maybe you could stop being a condescending dick.

Context can make violence more disturbing, but it cannot make it more intense. A scene in which a baby is shaken by an au pair is fucked up, but is it more "intense" than blowing a guy's head off? Not in my book. Maybe it is in yours, but that's subjective, and thus shouldn't be quantified by some ESRB schmuck.

rei
11-12-2009, 11:41 PM
I have nothing to contribute but:

http://i38.tinypic.com/1zx0dv8.jpg

http://i38.tinypic.com/mwsj8n.jpg

quatoria
11-12-2009, 11:42 PM
When you have to go through such semantic contortions to try to make your point, Bahim, you should ask yourself if maybe the problem is with the point you're trying to make. :)

You know, from here, it doesn't seem Bahimiron is the one twisting himself up in knots. But, you know, maybe I just need to spend more time with my dictionary.

TheJare
11-13-2009, 12:01 AM
He simply wondered whether the folks making the scene felt bad. I wonder the same thing. Were the guys at Infinity Ward high fiving themselves for how bold they were being? Or did they cringe making that level as much as I cringed playing it?
He did not simply wonder that, but who cares, the rest doesn't matter.

It's totally legitimate to be concerned about the content and tone of the game one is working on. I had no trouble with the gory violence present in [Prototype], but I probably would have refused to work on Manhunt. I am very happy that a movie like Irreversible can be made, but I doubt I'd have been able to film it.

Everyone has their own line in this matter, and both content and tone are going to affect it. I'm sure some people at IW pounded their chests at how cool it was to make something so controversial, while others would be hoping that there is actually something valuable to tell and that the resulting product tells it.

I am happy that they are widening the range of content that can be part of a videogame. Maybe their particular choices or execution will ultimately not be valuable in an art-sort-of-way, but after MW2 it will be easier for someone with that kind of talent to do it.

TheJare
11-13-2009, 12:14 AM
that's subjective, and thus shouldn't be quantified by some ESRB schmuck.
The role of the ESRB (agendas, lobbying and histrionics aside) is to establish some criteria that can be reasonably accepted and understood by the average consumer. As such it will often not reflect individual views of a given product, but that's statistics for you. It only becomes a problem when a rating like AO effectively becomes a ban.

Wheelkick
11-13-2009, 01:19 AM
Of course they did, that's why they have this insipid and insulting backstory that you need to do it to prevent something even worse from happening, as if that makes any kind of sense. They wanted to make this "the lesser of two evils" to justify it, and ended up turning the whole thing into trashy exploitation.

I haven't played the game to completion, but were there ever any reason given other then to get close to whatshisname?

Tom Chick
11-13-2009, 01:53 AM
Hey, Tom, maybe you could stop being a condescending dick.

Says the guy who just whipped out a Mirriam-Webster.

Context can make violence more disturbing, but it cannot make it more intense.

In all my years on the internet, I don't think I've ever written this, but LOL WHUT?

Maybe it is in yours, but that's subjective, and thus shouldn't be quantified by some ESRB schmuck.

Man, you have no idea what you're talking about, do you?

-Tom

Tom Chick
11-13-2009, 01:55 AM
He did not simply wonder that, but who cares, the rest doesn't matter.

Well, fair enough, you got me on that word. But otherwise, I thought the Dave Long Brigade was a bit too quick on the trigger that time.

-Tom

Tom Chick
11-13-2009, 01:57 AM
I haven't played the game to completion, but were there ever any reason given other then to get close to whatshisname?

Nope.

And I'm still waiting on Matt Keil to explain to us why we should have waited until the end of the game to pass judgment. You know all you need to know shortly after the mission, when the Russian retaliate by invading America because they somehow knew the body was American.

-Tom

intruder
11-13-2009, 02:00 AM
Played it yesterday although it was not on my list for the next weeks (backlog yada yada).
I tried to avoid as much as possible the spoilering of THAT level but figured I have to play it asap to be "safe".

However even with the little background I had the level was not that shocking anymore due to my knowledge that something bad will happen.
It would be different without any prior knowledge I guess.

The level made sense to me especially since in the end you realize that you will be the reason that the US and Russia will get on each other's throat! Brilliant design in my opinion!

The only question is if an undercover agent would do this or has done similar things in real life to not blow his cover.

11-13-2009, 02:41 AM
Nope.

And I'm still waiting on Matt Keil to explain to us why we should have waited until the end of the game to pass judgment. You know all you need to know shortly after the mission, when the Russian retaliate by invading America because they somehow knew the body was American.

-Tom

I had the chance to play through the campaign today, and I'm pretty sure Matt is talking about the reveal that...

Spoiler Warning!!!!!

Shepard is the bad guy. So the undercover operation was never legitimate. He sent an American in for the purpose of being discovered as part of his plan to seize power. So while a legitimate mission might have involved stopping the attack, Pvt Allen has been duped, his hands are tied, he's led to believe (along with the player) he is doing something horrible for the greater good. But it was all a lie. All he's done is participated in an atrocity that caused a war. The fact that it seems so unseemly and questionable at the time of the mission is born out as the whole point. You are supposed to feel compromised because you have been. But the game doesn't go out of its way to tell you so. IW is content to inflict the experience on the player and allow them to infer the truth of what has transpired.

End spoiler.

Jonathan Crane
11-13-2009, 03:50 AM
I think the spoiler Brad mentions above is directly connected with the scene. While playing through it, I was thinking "Ok, democracy be damned, if I'm here to get close to Mararov, here I am. I've got a machine gun, and he's standing in front of me - let's end this! (You can't, of course)

As a player, I felt that no gain was worth the massacre. I read the intent of IW as critical of the 'end justifies the means' philosophy that we saw in the previous administration (and '24' I guess), as they show terrible consequences from following this approach.

11-13-2009, 04:12 AM
I meant to mention that exact thing. If this is about Makarov, I'm holding a loaded machine gun and he's walking a few feet in front of me. No one could stop me in that moment. Even if I die in the attempt it would seem the right thing would be to assassinate him then and there. It's the late revelations that explain why those weren't your orders. There was nothing right about what you were doing there.

And it should be said that if we want to take games seriously as an art form the interactive nature allowing designers to place players in impossible and compromising situations is going to be a big part of that. Shadow of the Colossus is a remarkable leap in that direction. It's funny how critics of violent games key in on the issue of interactivity as being transgressive in a way other mediums aren't. But if I were reading "No Russia" in a book I wouldn't be the unwilling observer or reluctant participant I am in the game, instead I would be creating the world where this is possible, I'd be putting the faces on those victims and inventing their wounds and misery. I'm willing this atrocity into existence. How is that more passive?

Jarmo
11-13-2009, 04:40 AM
It's funny how critics of violent games key in on the issue of interactivity as being transgressive in a way other mediums aren't. But if I were reading "No Russia" in a book I wouldn't be the unwilling observer or reluctant participant I am in the game, instead I would be creating the world where this is possible, I'd be putting the faces on those victims and inventing their wounds and misery. I'm willing this atrocity into existence. How is that more passive?

When you just read and imagine it, it activates much fewer areas of your brain than when you see it, hear it and actively use your fingers to control the game character. There's also the reading of the enemy actions and responding to them, thinking about your strategy and tactics for the level and implementing them on the fly. The more active your brain is, the more of an effect the fiction has on you.

Reading or just passively watching a movie really has nothing on the level of physical and mental engagement games bring on in you. Our brain is a massively parallel information processing organ and the more inputs you feed it and the more output you need from it, the more its state keeps changing.

Cubit
11-13-2009, 06:04 AM
Tom Bissell's critique:

http://www.crispygamer.com/features/2009-11-13/its-a-massacre-the-appalling-failure-of-modern-warfare-2s-no-russian-mission.aspx

Kevin Grey
11-13-2009, 06:21 AM
As a player, I felt that no gain was worth the massacre. I read the intent of IW as critical of the 'end justifies the means' philosophy that we saw in the previous administration (and '24' I guess), as they show terrible consequences from following this approach.

More Spoilers.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Well, the good guys use it too (though in a much more limited manner). How many US soldiers died when Price set off the EMP to stop the Russian assault? I thought it was interesting that IW decided to show the viewpoint of that scene through the person probably least effected by what was occuring- an astronaut on the ISS.
.
.
.
.
.
End Spoiler

ProStyle
11-13-2009, 06:28 AM
Very nice piece there, thanks for the link Cubit.

Tracy Baker
11-13-2009, 06:46 AM
Reading or just passively watching a movie really has nothing on the level of physical and mental engagement games bring on in you. Our brain is a massively parallel information processing organ and the more inputs you feed it and the more output you need from it, the more its state keeps changing.

I disagree with this. I've played thousands of games, and none of them has engaged me as completely as the best books I've read. No matter what the game you're butting up against the limitations of the engine all the time and breaking immersion constantly. A good book -- even a good movie -- keeps you submerged the entire time.

Bahimiron
11-13-2009, 06:53 AM
A book will allow you to leave a lot more to the imagination, as well. Reading American Psycho was a far, far more affecting experience than watching it.

And yet any child could go into a Borders and buy a copy. Someone should do something.

ProStyle
11-13-2009, 07:15 AM
And yet any child could go into a Borders and buy a copy. Someone should do something.
Exactly, how realistic is that? After playing XBL against the age of children who are highly impressionable and should not be playing MW2, you soon realize they are already illiterate emotional retards.

I understand your original counterpoint though, and I don't mean to make these assessments in the name of censorship. I don't think the ESRB and the AO rating should exist in the gray area that they currently reside, considering the context of the publisher and retail relationships it is a functional form of censorship that no company can afford to entertain.

MSUSteve
11-13-2009, 09:22 AM
As a player, I felt that no gain was worth the massacre. I read the intent of IW as critical of the 'end justifies the means' philosophy that we saw in the previous administration (and '24' I guess), as they show terrible consequences from following this approach.
My thoughts exactly. While the scene itself was gratuitous and ham handed, I thought there was an actual point to it, as Mr. Crane describes above.

Matthew Gallant
11-13-2009, 09:31 AM
Tom Bissell's critique:

http://www.crispygamer.com/features/2009-11-13/its-a-massacre-the-appalling-failure-of-modern-warfare-2s-no-russian-mission.aspx
This just keeps getting worse and worse.

The undercover terrorist is a Private First Class?

Please say that's the author of the article screwing up.

MSUSteve
11-13-2009, 09:33 AM
This just keeps getting worse and worse.

The undercover terrorist is a Private First Class?

Please say that's the author of the article screwing up.
He's designated as a PFC in the initial training mission to my recollection.

Bahimiron
11-13-2009, 09:37 AM
I wish Matt would stop pussyfooting around and just tell us what he thinks about the game!

Brakara
11-13-2009, 09:38 AM
He's designated as a PFC in the initial training mission to my recollection.

Yeah, he was a private before being recruited as an undercover agent. And since he's green (and trained to take orders without questioning), that makes it easier to convince him it's for the greater good. It also makes him expendable (unlike an experienced agent).

Matthew Gallant
11-13-2009, 10:56 AM
I wish Matt would stop pussyfooting around and just tell us what he thinks about the game!
I'm sure the game is fine, but the writing seems like it's almost meant to be some kind of Tim and Eric Awesome Show alternative comedy.

"You know what would be funny? If we write the game like it was written by a 12 year-old who likes war movies."

NowhereDan
11-13-2009, 11:36 AM
Says the guy who just whipped out a Mirriam-Webster.
I know, don't you just hate it when a person makes a statement about why they disagree with what you're saying and then backs it up with an authoritative source rather than expecting you to take their word for it? That's so condescending.

Tom Chick
11-13-2009, 11:56 AM
I know, don't you just hate it when a person makes a statement about why they disagree with what you're saying and then backs it up with an authoritative source rather than expecting you to take their word for it? That's so condescending.

Dan, I'll bet you dollars to donuts Dave Long already knew the meaning of the word "intense". You whipping out a dictionary to laboriously detail the definition is indeed "so condescending". It's also classic Internet dickery.

Originally Posted by Merriam-Webster.com/dictionary/dickery
Main Entry: dick·ery
Pronunciation: \dik-ˈery\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin dickus, from past participle of dickere to present the penis
Date: 15th century
1 a : the act of resembling a penis <his dickery was intense> <hickory dickery dock> b : having or showing a characteristic of a penis <dickery behaviour>
2 : being a total jerk instead of trying to have a conversation <internet dickery>
3 a : exhibiting strong assholishness or earnestness of purpose without regard for polite discourse <the poster's dickery in whipping out a dictionary definition was clearly established in the MW2 thread> b : jerkwaddery

-Tom

MattKeil
11-13-2009, 01:09 PM
This just keeps getting worse and worse.

The undercover terrorist is a Private First Class?

Please say that's the author of the article screwing up.

No, it's actually part of the plot and explaining why it matters is a major spoiler if you haven't finished the game.

The story is over the top and pretty ridiculous, as all "epic" military thrillers are, especially the Bruckheimer-style ones like Modern Warfare 2, but the terrorist scene is not a "for the greater good" scene. It's absolutely nothing of the kind, in fact.

Considering how many people are deriding the story so heavily (all around, not specifically here), it's amazing how few of them seem to actually have understood what happened in it.

Kevin Grey
11-13-2009, 01:17 PM
Yeah, I kind of thought his rank was key- he was an 18 or 19 year old kid who got starstruck and never thought to question his orders.

MattKeil
11-13-2009, 01:23 PM
Yeah, I kind of thought his rank was key- he was an 18 or 19 year old kid who got starstruck and never thought to question his orders.

ENDGAME SPOILERS

Oh, I think maybe he did, but it was too late and he was doomed anyway. If you're undercover, you have to keep your cover secure, no matter what. The idea is that you're being monitored and if your superiors don't want you involved in whatever's going to happen, they'll pull you out. In the case of MW2's undercover private, this doesn't happen because nobody knows he's there except Shepherd, who handpicked him to be the guy Makarov leaves for dead at the end of the attack on the airport. The entire thing is a setup from the beginning. There's no CIA involvement, that's just the story Shepherd feeds the poor kid.

Kevin Grey
11-13-2009, 01:30 PM
ENDGAME SPOILERS

Oh, I think maybe he did, but it was too late and he was doomed anyway. If you're undercover, you have to keep your cover secure, no matter what. The idea is that you're being monitored and if your superiors don't want you involved in whatever's going to happen, they'll pull you out. In the case of MW2's undercover private, this doesn't happen because nobody knows he's there except Shepherd, who handpicked him to be the guy Makarov leaves for dead at the end of the attack on the airport. The entire thing is a setup from the beginning. There's no CIA involvement, that's just the story Shepherd feeds the poor kid.

I actually think there is a relatively huge plothole here.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
The PFC had to have been identified in the media- that's the only way to prove that it was an American who shot up the airport. There are going to be plenty of witnesses who know that he was serving in Afganistan until Shephard picked him for some other assignment, even if they don't know that he went to the CIA.

I half expect there is going to be some plot twist in the third game to indicate that Foley was a part of Shephard's conspiracy and was complicit in feeding Shephard recruits that meet his needs.
.
.
.
.
.
.
END SPOILER

Tom Chick
11-13-2009, 01:50 PM
ENDGAME SPOILERS

Oh, I think maybe he did, but it was too late and he was doomed anyway. If you're undercover, you have to keep your cover secure, no matter what. The idea is that you're being monitored and if your superiors don't want you involved in whatever's going to happen, they'll pull you out. In the case of MW2's undercover private, this doesn't happen because nobody knows he's there except Shepherd, who handpicked him to be the guy Makarov leaves for dead at the end of the attack on the airport. The entire thing is a setup from the beginning. There's no CIA involvement, that's just the story Shepherd feeds the poor kid.

Matt and Brad, thanks for clarifying this. I'm not buying that it in any way justifies the airport scene or even makes much sense, but I appreciate hearing your perspectives. If this was indeed what the game intended, I wish it had been made clearer. Unlike COD4, the narrative in MW2 is so slapdash and interstitial. Reminds me a bit of Halo...

-Tom

MattKeil
11-13-2009, 02:02 PM
Matt and Brad, thanks for clarifying this. I'm not buying that it in any way justifies the airport scene or even makes much sense, but I appreciate hearing your perspectives. If this was indeed what the game intended, I wish it had been made clearer. Unlike COD4, the narrative in MW2 is so slapdash and interstitial. Reminds me a bit of Halo...

MORE SPOILERS

The story fits together well enough for what it is, it's just hard to pick up on some of it because bits of important info are buried in radio chatter and such. It wasn't until the second playthrough that I heard Price say a couple things that really put a solid timeframe on Shepherd's involvement that had been swallowed up by stuff exploding the first time I played. I enjoyed the story overall, but while I think MW2's campaign levels are better than COD4's, COD4 has a more coherent plot. Or at least it reminds me less of Halo and trying to piece together just what the hell the Gravemind was.

Of course, as you say, the question of whether or not the airport scene was effectively handled is completely separate from whether or not it makes sense as part of the story.

Tom Chick
11-13-2009, 02:27 PM
SPOILERS, BUT C'MON, IT'S A FIVE HOUR GAME AND SURELY YOU'VE FINISHED IT BY NOW

Matt, can you (or anyone, for that matter) further spoilerize for me two things? 1) Why did Price launch the nuke? What was he trying to do? 2) Was Sheperd in cahoots with Makarov? Or did they each have independent overlapping goals? Obviously Makarov wanted to whip up anti-American sentiment to the point that an invasion of the US was mounted, and Sheperd wanted...uh...for the US to be...uh...decimated so he could...uh...get more...military funding...? Also, when is this stuff explained? In the Sheperd monologuing when he "kills" you or in the interstitials?

-Tom

Kevin Grey
11-13-2009, 02:44 PM
SPOILERS, BUT C'MON, IT'S A FIVE HOUR GAME AND SURELY YOU'VE FINISHED IT BY NOW

Matt, can you (or anyone, for that matter) further spoilerize for me two things? 1) Why did Price launch the nuke? What was he trying to do? 2) Was Sheperd in cahoots with Makarov? Or did they each have independent overlapping goals? Obviously Makarov wanted to whip up anti-American sentiment to the point that an invasion of the US was mounted, and Sheperd wanted...uh...for the US to be...uh...decimated so he could...uh...get more...military funding...? Also, when is this stuff explained? In the Sheperd monologuing when he "kills" you or in the interstitials?

-Tom

More Spoilers:
.
'.
.
.
Price launched the nuke to take out the Russian front. By that point DC was pretty much lost so while the EMP took out some American military hardware it took out even more of the Russian stuff, including their air support. That effectively halted the Russians in their tracks, giving America time to regroup. It also bought Task Force 141 some time to hopefully bring Markov out in the open and maybe put an end to the whole mess by revealing his involvement in the airport massacre.

Yes, Shephard was in cahoots with Markov. Or at least, I don't see it happening any other way. Both Shephard and Markov want the US invastion to happen. Shephard was pissed at the outcome of CoD4- a nuke goes off in the middle east taking out 30,000 US forces and while the direct perpetrators are brought to some form of justice, the world governments stop short of following up and wiping out the rest of Zhakaev's forces, allowing his faction to take control of Russia and portray Zhakaev as a martyr and national hero.

So Shephard manipulates the Russians into invading the US, hoping to recreate a wave of 9/11-style patriotic sentiment, knowing that this will force the US's hand into extreme retaliation against the Russian Ultranationalists. I'm sure they are intending some kind of parallels here between Desert Storm and the current Iraqi Invasion and the idea of finding a thin pretext to "finish what we started".

He probably tells Markov his motive are more mercenary though. Markov goes along with it for reasons that are unclear though clearly he is also happy with any incident that would give him an excuse for the US invasion.

Once the invasion starts it isn't in either of their best interests to cooperate anymore. So Shephard uses his own personal blackops group, Task Force 141, to hunt down Markov, destroying any evidence of Shephard's complicity, and then he tries to arrange for 141 to disappear so there aren't any more loose ends.

Tankero
11-13-2009, 02:46 PM
SPOILERS!
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Was it ever explained why Markarov hates Price? Why did the team go to rescue him?

Kevin Grey
11-13-2009, 02:53 PM
SPOILERS!
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Was it ever explained why Markarov hates Price? Why did the team go to rescue him?

Spoiler.
.
.
.
.
.
No. This seems like a major loose end. Considering Markarov is still running around at the end, I think he will be a focus of MW3 and we will probably get a Price flashback missing. I wish someone would teach game developers how to properly handle cliffhangers. Epic did the same thing in Gears 2- introduce mysteries halfway through the game that the gamer naturally expects to be resolved in that game but instead they just never address them again.

If I had to guess, I would say that Markarov holds Price personally responsible for the death of his mentor, Zhakaev and got his hands on Price because of that. I saw some speculation that Price's capture may have occurred at the end of CoD4- when MacTavish is rescued by the Russian forces he doesn't know if Price is dead or alive so the Russians could have sent MacTavish home and told the SAS that Price didn't make it.

As for why they rescued him- the Brazilian arms dealer told them there was someone out there that Markarov hated even more than the US and that, while he didn't have any details, he knew he was being held in that gulag.

MattKeil
11-13-2009, 02:56 PM
SPOILERS!
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Was it ever explained why Markarov hates Price? Why did the team go to rescue him?

HOORAY IT'S A SPOILER THREAD NOW

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Price is the one who took down Zakhaev (or however you spell it), both at Chernobyl and in COD4. Makarov is initially loyal to Zakhaev until Shepherd hires him. In "The Enemy of My Enemy..." Price comments that Makarov loves money more than any cause. Shepherd wants Russia to pay for the deaths of his soldiers in COD4, so he hires Makarov to pull the airport attack, handpicks a green soldier to be his "undercover" operative, tells Makarov about it and instructs him to leave the kid for dead at the scene of the crime. At the same time, Shepherd intentionally sends Soap and Roach into the Russian base too late to stop the Russians from decrypting the satellite data that later allows Russia to slip past our ACS defenses.

It's not explained why Price is in the gulag or how he got there, but I'd bet it's through the machinations of Shepherd. Price launches the nuke because, as Kevin excellently summed up, he knew that the EMP blast would cripple the Russian forces and allow the US ground teams to retake key points and signal the US air strike to back off and not level the city. Also note that Price is suspicious even before he discovers Shepherd is operating on his own agenda, because when Shepherd sends you in to search Makarov's safehouse and the airplane boneyard, Price comments "Didn't we win this war yesterday?" At the end of the safehouse level, right as Shepherd guns down Roach and Ghost, Price screams over the radio "Don't trust Shepherd, he's been behind it from the beginning!" or something similar, which I didn't hear until my second playthrough.

Tankero
11-13-2009, 02:59 PM
But why did the team go?

Kevin Grey
11-13-2009, 03:07 PM
But why did the team go?

Spoilers
.
.
.
.
To get Price? Because they were directed there by the arms dealer from Brazil. They didn't know who was being held but they planned to use him to leverage Markarov to come out into the open.

Markarov is portrayed as Bin Laden-like in his ability to hide so Shephard is desperate to do anything he can to find him or, at the least, destroy any evidence of his complicity in the airport massacre. Once he gets the data from Markarov's safehouse, Shephard feels confident that he can't be blackmailed anymore (who would trust Markarov's word without some kind of other proof) so he then eliminates 141 to close out the loose ends.

MattKeil
11-13-2009, 03:21 PM
Spoilers
.
.
.
.
Once he gets the data from Markarov's safehouse, Shephard feels confident that he can't be blackmailed anymore (who would trust Markarov's word without some kind of other proof) so he then eliminates 141 to close out the loose ends.

I think it's actually that once he gets the data from the safehouse he can track Makarov to any of his lairs. Shepherd is attempting to eliminate Makarov as well, which is why his forces are fighting Makarov's in the airplane boneyard.

Tom Chick
11-13-2009, 03:25 PM
Kevin, thanks for explaining some of this, but I'm astonished you managed to glean all this from one play-through. I confess I'd pretty much lost interest by the time it was over, so let me ask you another question:

How is it that launching a captured Russian nuke at Washington DC results in an EMP burst and not a devastating nuclear explosion? Are we supposed to assume that Price just reprogrammed it or something? And how did Price know everything that was going on when he'd been imprisoned until recently? Is the game supposed to fake you out into thinking Price is trying to take out the capital? Why doesn't he clue you in?

-Tom

MattKeil
11-13-2009, 03:30 PM
How is it that launching a captured Russian nuke at Washington DC results in an EMP burst and not a devastating nuclear explosion? Are we supposed to assume that Price just reprogrammed it or something?

He sets it to detonate in the ionosphere, which would limit the damage on the ground (but leaves the blast wave free to travel through space and cream the ISS...well, I guess the level is called "Desperate Measures," after all), but the EMP burst that all nuclear explosions cause still travels to the ground and blacks out a third of the US. Price is apparently very well versed in Russian nuclear sub armament tech for a recently-freed gulag prisoner.

And how did Price know everything that was going on when he'd been imprisoned until recently? Is the game supposed to fake you out into thinking Price is trying to take out the capital? Why doesn't he clue you in?

Narratively, I think it's because Price told Shepherd he wanted to do it before the mission and Shepherd shot him down (because ending the invasion early is not in Shepherd's best interests). So Price goes rogue and does it anyway, and doesn't tell anyone else in case they try to stop him, thinking he's gone nuts, as Shepherd says, having been in the gulag too long. At that point nobody suspects Shepherd doesn't have Task Force 141 and the US's best interests at heart, so Price would probably not win that particular debate.

Pragmatically, I'd say it's because it's more "OMG OSSUM" if the player thinks Price just nuked Washington.

Kevin Grey
11-13-2009, 03:35 PM
Kevin, thanks for explaining some of this, but I'm astonished you managed to glean all this from one play-through. I confess I'd pretty much lost interest by the time it was over, so let me ask you another question:

How is it that launching a captured Russian nuke at Washington DC results in an EMP burst and not a devastating nuclear explosion? Are we supposed to assume that Price just reprogrammed it or something? And how did Price know everything that was going on when he'd been imprisoned until recently? Is the game supposed to fake you out into thinking Price is trying to take out the capital? Why doesn't he clue you in?

-Tom

Bad storytelling, I think. I totally didn't get what happened there until I read it from someone else online. Which is the problem with MW2's story- on paper it doesn't come off too bad though it's much more Bruckheimer/Bay than MW1's early Tom Clancy. But they just didn't put enough "connective tissue" into the game to make it work. So you spend most of the game not understanding what is happening while it is happening but if you think back on it a bit you can see what they are going for (and a second playthrough does help). I kind of dig this sort of puzzle aspect to storytelling (which is probably why I love Metal Gear Solid) but that's not to defend it as an effective way to deliver the story.

So, yeah, we are supposed to think that Price is able to storm a sub by himself (I actually don't have a problem with that- I'm a former submariner and a spec ops guy like Price would have made mincemeat of us), program the launch location, reprogram to detonate in the atmosphere to create the EMP, and actually launch the missile. Over the course of about 3 minutes.

Tom Chick
11-13-2009, 03:48 PM
I kind of dig this sort of puzzle aspect to storytelling (which is probably why I love Metal Gear Solid)

Well put. I confess I have to really like a game for me to put up with storytelling puzzles (e.g. audio diaries in Irrational's games).

-Tom

11-13-2009, 03:50 PM
The EMP part is easy. You just set it to explode at a much higher altitude. I'm sure an EMP targeting mode is a standard feature for Russian ICBMs.

I agree the Price situation is really the weakest element of the narrative. All they know is Markarov doesn't like this anonymous individual, but how could he not notice this massive assault on the Gulag and suspect someone wants to draw him out?

Jonathan Crane
11-13-2009, 04:16 PM
I've been thinking about Modern Warfare 2 a little bit, and it struck me that this is opera. Melodramatic, locked into a series of formalities of structure that don't make sense to outsiders, and yet, for those who are into it, absolutely compelling.

As for the overall plot, I'm a bit surprised that some major elements went past folks who I would assume are usually paying close attention to the games they play. I wonder if the massacre, by being such an unpleasant scene, runs the risk of putting people into "Fuck. This. Game." mode, in which you're just playing through to get it over with, rather than paying much attention. Which is a bit sad, since those are the folks who would be more likely to groove on the overall minimalist storytelling. Perhaps it was a mistake to try subtle storytelling in what is, essentially, opera.

I'm also wondering if the minimalist storytelling was influenced by Half Life 2 - there is an article on the wall of a certain someone's hideout that goes into some detail about the consequences of an earlier scene. I was interested in reading it, but since there were all these guys shooting at me...

Jonathan Crane
11-13-2009, 04:19 PM
The EMP part is easy. You just set it to explode at a much higher altitude. I'm sure an EMP targeting mode is a standard feature for Russian ICBMs.

I agree the Price situation is really the weakest element of the narrative. All they know is Markarov doesn't like this anonymous individual, but how could he not notice this massive assault on the Gulag and suspect someone wants to draw him out?

There's an alternative reason for getting Price, though, as he turns out to be a key element in the next major plot point. If you imagine that Makarov is plugged in enough to know about what went down on the soviet sub, that would be plenty of reason to rescue Price.

Tom Chick
11-13-2009, 07:50 PM
I've been thinking about Modern Warfare 2 a little bit, and it struck me that this is opera. Melodramatic, locked into a series of formalities of structure that don't make sense to outsiders, and yet, for those who are into it, absolutely compelling.

I like what you're trying to do here, but as a huge fan of opera, I have to disagree. I'm really into first person shooters, and particularly ones that attempt a smart narrative. Yet I didn't find MW2 compelling at all.

But more importantly, the opera comparison falls apart for me because opera is always about intense human emotions. Every aria is essentially an internal monologue about how a specific character feels. And even when an opera transcends mere humanity to explore stuff about the gods, it's still about emotions. Wagner's Ring cycle is about Mimi's greed, Siegfried's pride, Brunnhilde's love, and so forth.

But MW2 scores a bit fat zero in this regard. Price, McTavish, Sheperd, Makarov, Soap et al are entirely undeveloped as characters. They show no motivation beyond the basics of "save the world" or "destroy the world". Their emotions never come into play beyond the usual action movie emotion of getting to the chopper.

It's one of the reasons MW2 fails so spectacularly as a story. Even COD4 had that great bit of backstory with the flashback mission that developed the relationship between Price and Zakarev. Zakarev loses his arm and his son to Price over the course of the game. I loved that bit and how it paid off in the end. That was cool stuff. I can't think of anything like that in MW2.

-Tom

Matthew Gallant
11-13-2009, 09:28 PM
So General Shepherd, commander of a task force, a battalion-sized element normally commanded by a lieutenant colonel, picks out a guy who has been in the army less than two years (otherwise, he'd be a Spec-4). Said guy has spent at least half of that time at the Defense Language Institute learning Russian (it's a year of training), to "infiltrate" the organization of terrorist mastermind Makarov.

That's just to fool the PFC though, because Shepherd has been able to spend enough time under the noses of his staff and the Joint Chiefs and the NSA to become compatriots with an infamous terrorist, recruit a scapegoat, and develop a plan in which PFC Reliable Scapegoat, infamous terrorist, and two other guys shoot up an airport. Makarov, as leader of a terrorist network, personally leads a four-man terrorist attack because of-- some reason.

Shepherd picks this guy, because as a PFC with no combat experience, he's a rock-solid lock to follow the orders of a foreign terrorist and help kill hundreds of civilians and get dumped as planted evidence, because there's no chance of him having any second thoughts in the face of such a task and putting two in the back of Makarov's head, no chance of one of the other three actual Russians getting shot, and no chance of him compromising operational security by virtue of being a fucking PFC, not to mention having loads of DLI classmates who know him.

Do I understand the general "idea" behind the story now?

Tom Chick
11-13-2009, 09:51 PM
So General Shepherd, commander of a task force, a battalion-sized element normally commanded by a lieutenant colonel, picks out a guy who has been in the army less than two years (otherwise, he'd be a Spec-4). Said guy has spent at least half of that time at the Defense Language Institute learning Russian (it's a year of training), to "infiltrate" the organization of terrorist mastermind Makarov.

That's just to fool the PFC though, because Shepherd has been able to spend enough time under the noses of his staff and the Joint Chiefs and the NSA to become compatriots with an infamous terrorist, recruit a scapegoat, and develop a plan in which PFC Reliable Scapegoat, infamous terrorist, and two other guys shoot up an airport. Makarov, as leader of a terrorist network, personally leads a four-man terrorist attack because of-- some reason.

Shepherd picks this guy, because as a PFC with no combat experience, he's a rock-solid lock to follow the orders of a foreign terrorist and help kill hundreds of civilians and get dumped as planted evidence, because there's no chance of him having any second thoughts in the face of such a task and putting two in the back of Makarov's head, no chance of one of the other three actual Russians getting shot, and no chance of him compromising operational security by virtue of being a fucking PFC, not to mention having loads of DLI classmates who know him.

Do I understand the general "idea" behind the story now?

Perfectly.

-Tom

11-13-2009, 09:54 PM
Pvt Allen has combat experience. He's who you are playing in the second mission. It's conceivable Allen has Russian language knowledge and experience that predates his enlistment. Shepard hand picked him for this role, after all, so he'd want someone with the right skill set, who is pliable and who could be put in play whilst arousing little suspicion.

MattKeil
11-13-2009, 09:54 PM
So General Shepherd, commander of a task force, a battalion-sized element normally commanded by a lieutenant colonel,

The Task Force is his personal black ops crew. It is not implied it's the only thing under his command. Foley and the other Rangers are not part of Task Force 141.

picks out a guy who has been in the army less than two years (otherwise, he'd be a Spec-4). Said guy has spent at least half of that time at the Defense Language Institute learning Russian (it's a year of training), to "infiltrate" the organization of terrorist mastermind Makarov.

Yes. Relying on the inexperience of the PFC to make the preparation faster and less likely to be questioned.

That's just to fool the PFC though, because Shepherd has been able to spend enough time under the noses of his staff and the Joint Chiefs and the NSA to become compatriots with an infamous terrorist, recruit a scapegoat, and develop a plan in which PFC Reliable Scapegoat, infamous terrorist, and two other guys shoot up an airport. Makarov, as leader of a terrorist network, personally leads a four-man terrorist attack because of-- some reason.

Because he's paid to do so. Extremely well, one must imagine. Shepherd clearly operates with a striking level of autonomy, most likely because he was the one in charge of the op that ended with the nuking of 30,000 American soldiers and is considered a loyal and reliable asset. He is, by definition, above suspicion.

Shepherd picks this guy, because as a PFC with no combat experience, he's a rock-solid lock to follow the orders of a foreign terrorist and help kill hundreds of civilians and get dumped as planted evidence, because there's no chance of him having any second thoughts in the face of such a task and putting two in the back of Makarov's head, no chance of one of the other three actual Russians getting shot, and no chance of him compromising operational security by virtue of being a fucking PFC, not to mention having loads of DLI classmates who know him.

DLI? This guy was prepped in isolation or by Shepherd's own inner circle. Certainly everyone involved in the airport attack is appropriately outfitted to pass as an American should they be wounded or killed. At no point is it implied that the outrage is because the dead guy left behind was an undercover CIA operative, it's simply assumed it's some kind of American military op. Makarov shoots you in the face, presumably to render you difficult to recognize.

As for everything else that could go wrong...sure, it could have. But it didn't. Shepherd's plan isn't airtight, as evidenced by the fact that you beat him in the end.

Do I understand the general "idea" behind the story now?

Possibly, although I'm not sure you understand the general idea behind military thriller fiction. ProTip: Hunt for Red October doesn't make any fucking sense if you boil it down to nitpicking, either, and that's actually supposed to take place in reality.

nothings
11-13-2009, 10:41 PM
It's not nitpicking to criticize a story for having characters act in totally implausible ways, for example having villains concoct plans which no actual person would ever expect would work when viewed as a plan (even if they do happen to work in the story).

The scenario Matthew describes isn't so bad as, say, the plot of 24 described at http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/XanatosRoulette but it puts me in that mind.

(And if bad storytelling is the norm for military thriller fiction, it's still bad.)

XPav
11-13-2009, 11:05 PM
I twigged to the fact very early in the game that Shepard was eeevvvilll and wanted power. I think it was the "I'm a General and I Have A Top Secret Unit And You Will Infiltrate These Terrorists Hand-Waving" that set off my bullshit alarms, because, as stated above, that's so ridiculous of a plot point that sane writers wouldn't do it if they had any other way.

The good plot-related moments in the game:
1) Finding Price
2) The desperate "WTF ARE YOU DOING" voiceovers as Price launched the missiles

I'm not very enthused with the way they did the battle in DC, other than the "watch the landmarks blow up" part, most of the set-pieces seemed to be for useless reasons. What was the deal with the guy in the panic room again? Why was I protecting the burger joint? Here's was a prime opportunity to do a "war comes home to the US" scene and yet, there were no civilians in DC!

Perhaps even the possibility of killing American civilians was anathema to Infinity Ward. Russians? Whatever!.

Kevin Grey
11-13-2009, 11:35 PM
I'm not very enthused with the way they did the battle in DC, other than the "watch the landmarks blow up" part, most of the set-pieces seemed to be for useless reasons. What was the deal with the guy in the panic room again? Why was I protecting the burger joint?

The panic room guy is a gigantic loose end. I'm guessing he was part of the conspiracy.

The burger joint was because you were protecting a high value government official when their helicopter was shot down- presumably the President or VP.

Jon Rowe
11-13-2009, 11:38 PM
But MW2 scores a bit fat zero in this regard. Price, McTavish, Sheperd, Makarov, Soap et al are entirely undeveloped as characters. They show no motivation beyond the basics of "save the world" or "destroy the world". Their emotions never come into play beyond the usual action movie emotion of getting to the chopper.

But... they can't be developed as characters. Do you want Soap's girlfriend calling to him and checking in on him after every mission (MGS II)? Or, does Price have kids back at home that are caught up doing drugs and he is stuck in the Gulag unable to be the father he should be. The Ghost has a crippling addiction to Oxycontin, but his squad can never find out!

It would change the game entirely. I can't think of many shooters that try to do anything with their characters in any deep sense. Kayne and Lynch comes to mind, it doesn't even do a very good job. But it attempted to give some depth to the characters. I actually really felt bad for Kayne's family in the game.

Half-Life 2 comes to mind, but even that game doesn't do very much to create deep character stories. There is no real exposition, and sure the characters are all likable enough, but with a mute protagonist it is hard to do much.

Actually, I just thought of a game while typing this. Max Payne did a pretty good job making a deep character.

I guess it comes down to cutscenes. It is really hard to do much plot development without cutscenes, which MW2 lacks. It has some between mission dialogue but it is all focused on the task at hand.

I actually really like the fact that the MW2 story has no character development. They are soldiers and they leave their hang-ups on the door when they are on duty. It is an action extravaganza, and trying to tack on some depth of character would just seem forced and misguided.

jeffb
11-14-2009, 12:24 AM
I guess it comes down to cutscenes. It is really hard to do much plot development without cutscenes, which MW2 lacks. It has some between mission dialogue but it is all focused on the task at hand.
Would it be that hard to have the ai squad mates saying something intelligent rather than constantly screaming HOORAH? I can think of some great FPSes that have told their story ingame without cutscenes.

They are soldiers and they leave their hang-ups on the door when they are on duty.
You really believe that?

Craig O
11-14-2009, 01:11 AM
I guess it comes down to cutscenes. It is really hard to do much plot development without cutscenes, which MW2 lacks. It has some between mission dialogue but it is all focused on the task at hand.
I played through Men of Valor recently, and you know what the best part of that game was? Tossing around a football with another soldier—with the same controls you use to fire a weapon.

There are ways to deliver context and develop characters without cut scenes, but most games don't even try.

Brakara
11-14-2009, 01:50 AM
Here's was a prime opportunity to do a "war comes home to the US" scene and yet, there were no civilians in DC!

Perhaps even the possibility of killing American civilians was anathema to Infinity Ward. Russians? Whatever!.

There were no civilians when the US Army invaded a Middle East country in MW. In fact, there has never been any civilians during battlefield levels in IW's Call of Duty games. The only times we encounter civilians in MW2 are during undercover missions.

alexlitel
11-14-2009, 02:02 AM
Perhaps even the possibility of killing American civilians was anathema to Infinity Ward. Russians? Whatever!.They aren't a risk-taking developer.

Also, why is this story so fucking convoluted?

Tom Chick
11-14-2009, 03:21 AM
But... they can't be developed as characters.

If you'll read the actual exchange to which you're replying, I wasn't saying I wanted more character development. I was explaining why I took issue with Jonathan Crane's cool hypothesis that MW2 is like opera.

Context, like math, is hard. :)

-Tom

Tom Chick
11-14-2009, 03:23 AM
I played through Men of Valor recently, and you know what the best part of that game was? Tossing around a football with another soldier—with the same controls you use to fire a weapon.

I presume I'm not the only one hoping I was going to be able to get in on the one-on-one basketball game in the MW2 training level. After getting to kick the soccer ball to the kids in Uncharted 2, I want to shoot some hoops with those dudes on the base.

-Tom

mtkafka
11-14-2009, 03:50 AM
I guess IW has turned into the Michael Bay of video games... which isn't as bad as the Uwe Boll of Hollywood I suppose.

So much talent though... because I really like the feel of the Quake engine in this game, which has a definite feel compared to Unreal engine games.

MattKeil
11-14-2009, 12:12 PM
There were no civilians when the US Army invaded a Middle East country in MW. In fact, there has never been any civilians during battlefield levels in IW's Call of Duty games. The only times we encounter civilians in MW2 are during undercover missions.

I was actually somewhat surprised that you never encountered any armed American civilians fighting back against the Russians in the US invasion levels.

MattKeil
11-14-2009, 12:20 PM
If you'll read the actual exchange to which you're replying, I wasn't saying I wanted more character development. I was explaining why I took issue with Jonathan Crane's cool hypothesis that MW2 is like opera.

Context, like math, is hard. :)

See, I took Crane's comparison less literally. I didn't think he meant that MW2 is literally opera, I took it to mean that, similar to opera, it follows certain contrivances and conventions that must be accepted in order to "get" it. I may just have been trying to make it fit more smoothly, as it is quite a cool idea. I've been referring to it as comparable to a myth in the sense that larger than life men ("gods" and heroes) dictate the course of history and the lives of the unimportant mortals (hence the utter lack of civilians except when their death is important to the actions of the gods).

mrmolecule88
11-14-2009, 12:24 PM
I was actually somewhat surprised that you never encountered any armed American civilians fighting back against the Russians in the US invasion levels.

See, in that case, I would assume that's a pointed comment on Obama's anti-gun madness. Look what those guns could have prevented!

Bahimiron
11-14-2009, 12:33 PM
Giant Bomb released a special MW2 podcast for game spoilers. At first I was glad to hear that they actually enjoyed the story. Even thoguh I think the story is absulutely bonkers nonsense, I'd say the same about Glee, and I still enjoy that. Unfortunately, as the podcast went on it became increasingly obvious that they missed or misunderstood numerous key plot points. The only one who seemed to've understood the plot was Vinny (who was told several times by Jeff and Ryan that he was wrong) and he was the only one who had serious plausibility issues with various aspects of the plot. He did mention one thing that totally flew past me. Why the hell invade the east coast?

I was glad to hear them call out two scenes as being more disturbing/intense than the airport massacre. Without being TOO spoilery, that kill from above? Insane.

Rob_Merritt
11-14-2009, 12:36 PM
Would it be that hard to have the ai squad mates saying something intelligent rather than constantly screaming HOORAH?

The army just does that. It was the most realistic part of the game.

Jon Rowe
11-14-2009, 12:40 PM
If you'll read the actual exchange to which you're replying, I wasn't saying I wanted more character development. I was explaining why I took issue with Jonathan Crane's cool hypothesis that MW2 is like opera.

Context, like math, is hard. :)

-Tom

Well, you are implying that I don't agree with you, I was just moving on to another point, maybe I should have re-worded my response, but I was trying to make the point that this game would be bad if it were any different. People would be complaining about how the story was even more unfocused.

If there is anything wrong with the story in the game it is that they don't explain enough to you.

You really believe that?
Yeah, I do. We are talking about a group of super-soldiers hand selected for their talents. One of which is probably being able to focus on their duty and job. And the other group you play as are defending an invaded america... I doubt anyone is thinking of anything else while trying to recapture the white house. I am not saying that is the case in real life, but in this game, with these characters... I can believe it.

But, I will agree that COD4 had a much more coherent and quasi believeable story.

Cause... Russia invading the US after a terrorist attack is totally believable. If history proves anything, Russia would first attack small parts of the U.S. and then invade neighboring Canada to kill their dictator for harboring americans.

mtkafka
11-14-2009, 01:03 PM
If there is anything wrong with the story in the game it is that they don't explain enough to you.

I think IW knows well enough that it isn't the story so much as the emotional impact that makes the game. I'll admit that the airport level and suburban level and the end of russian mansion level... they did make me actually feel some remorse... but i know its manipulative as Saving Private Ryan was when Tom Hanks says 'earn it'.

I don't mind IW not having real characters or even a believable story in MW2.. just be credible in its outlook. And when I think a bit on the games themes.. I do think there is a hefty bit of skepticism in the game.. ie... the overall plot of a turncoating american terrorist. Sheperd, I think for IW, is there way of having a healthy dose of X-File, tin hat, skeptcisim of those in power. Which I think, ultimately is good... to not completely trust those you believe would do 'good' or 'justice'. ahhh.. such cliches.

anyhow, this is better than a michael bay film i guess...

Tom Chick
11-14-2009, 01:32 PM
See, I took Crane's comparison less literally. I didn't think he meant that MW2 is literally opera, I took it to mean that, similar to opera, it follows certain contrivances and conventions that must be accepted in order to "get" it.

That's hardly unique to opera, much less to MW2. I defy you to name one videogame that doesn't "follow certain contrivances and conventions that you have to accept". :)

Jonathan also lead with the term "melodramatic", which is a hallmark of opera and exactly what I'm talking about: an exaggerated presentation of human emotion. Modern Warfare 2 definitely isn't that. It is certainly bombastic, but I wouldn't call it melodramatic at all.

-Tom

Pogo
11-14-2009, 01:52 PM
Unsurprising "analysis" of this game on FOX & Friends (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pE-nOCy7FfE)

Possibly already linked in this thread or in another, but there it is if you haven't seen it.

"There's nothing stopping an 8 year old from becoming a terrorist and killing people."

They're called parents, you dumb motherf#$%er. Jonathan Crane 11-14-2009, 05:23 PM But more importantly, the opera comparison falls apart for me because opera is always about intense human emotions. Every aria is essentially an internal monologue about how a specific character feels. And even when an opera transcends mere humanity to explore stuff about the gods, it's still about emotions. Wagner's Ring cycle is about Mimi's greed, Siegfried's pride, Brunnhilde's love, and so forth. But MW2 scores a bit fat zero in this regard. Price, McTavish, Sheperd, Makarov, Soap et al are entirely undeveloped as characters. They show no motivation beyond the basics of "save the world" or "destroy the world". Their emotions never come into play beyond the usual action movie emotion of getting to the chopper. The opera analogy breaks if you push it too far, but bear with me for a bit. Opera is, at its heart, about intense emotions, just as you say. How something like MW2 differs is that the emotion isn't about something the characters are experiencing (which is how opera gets you - the music, the presentation, and there's this beautiful human voice) but rather about what the player is experiencing. The player is both subject and object, the singer and the audience. In MW2, I'm storming Whiskey Hotel, not Private Ramirez, and what matters is not what he might be thinking, but what I'm feeling in that moment. This is why any cutscenes with Ramirez's girlfriend won't help - since I'm the first person in the FPS, giving me more background on Ramirez doesn't help further my experience. MW2 also neatly gets around Gordon Freeman aphasia by keeping you in situations where nods and grunts are all that you need. Jonathan Crane 11-14-2009, 05:25 PM See, I took Crane's comparison less literally. I didn't think he meant that MW2 is literally opera, I took it to mean that, similar to opera, it follows certain contrivances and conventions that must be accepted in order to "get" it. I may just have been trying to make it fit more smoothly, as it is quite a cool idea. I've been referring to it as comparable to a myth in the sense that larger than life men ("gods" and heroes) dictate the course of history and the lives of the unimportant mortals (hence the utter lack of civilians except when their death is important to the actions of the gods). You're putting this more eloquently than I did, but that's exactly the thematic part I was trying to convey. Lum 11-14-2009, 05:42 PM Do I understand the general "idea" behind the story now? SPOILERS OMG SPOILERS (ps - the US wins Red Dawn, too) You forgot the landing of a Russian airborne corps on Northern Virginia/DC which eventually seizes and razes the Federal District, the first foreign invasion of American soil since 1812, as apparently not enough reason to give the military "a blank check", but one nuclear weapon exploding in near space is. It's like an action movie - thinking too hard/any is a good way to not enjoy yourself. I don't plan to dissect the probability of "2012"'s disasters either! Lum 11-14-2009, 05:47 PM The burger joint was because you were protecting a high value government official when their helicopter was shot down- presumably the President or VP. Joe Biden often eats at Burger Shot. It's worth noting that a large-ish plane (C-141?) crashed right in front of the house with the "panic room" - which doesn't explain anything at all other than, I guess, crap falling from the sky all over the place. Jonathan Crane 11-14-2009, 05:51 PM That's hardly unique to opera, much less to MW2. I defy you to name one videogame that doesn't "follow certain contrivances and conventions that you have to accept". :) Jonathan also lead with the term "melodramatic", which is a hallmark of opera and exactly what I'm talking about: an exaggerated presentation of human emotion. Modern Warfare 2 definitely isn't that. It is certainly bombastic, but I wouldn't call it melodramatic at all. Chess has certain contrivances, but no real emotional payload. Opera has tremendous artifice that is in service to provoking a profound emotional response in the audience. As Matt makes clear above, that artifice requires you to buy into the contrivances to get the payoff (cf La Boheme 'OMG, she's got TB, people with TB can't sing like that, this is so stupid.'). If you don't buy into it, the whole thing just seems silly. Melodrama is exactly what MW2 seems to me. You've got absolute black and white characters, and more or less zero ambiguity in the action (with the exception of No Russian perhaps, but that's a different issue). Along with absolute characterizations, you have a Hans Zimmer score hammering away at the emotions of the player. Apocalypse Now makes the connection between opera and war movie explicit. In MW2 you have Whiskey Hotel, which leverages the player's patriotism with a not exactly subtle orchestration to really provoke an intense passage (again, if you're into it, which I was). Tom Chick 11-14-2009, 06:27 PM Melodrama is exactly what MW2 seems to me. You've got absolute black and white characters, and more or less zero ambiguity in the action (with the exception of No Russian perhaps, but that's a different issue). Along with absolute characterizations, you have a Hans Zimmer score hammering away at the emotions of the player. I don't think melodrama means what you think it means. I really think the word you're looking for is "bombastic". :) But I hear you. I do see what you're getting at, but once you have to explain it the way you're explaining it, you can sub in any game that a player feels deeply invested in. By that rationale, I could say that Flower, Brutal Legend, and RE5 are all like opera. I think some of the confusion might be that the word "operatic" has come to mean something epic and exaggerated. Larger than life. To me, that's very different than saying something is "like opera". But like I said earlier, I'm just weighing in because I'm a pretty hard-core opera nerd. -Tom caesarbear 11-14-2009, 08:44 PM I've never understood melodrama to require any real depth from it's characters. It aims for high emotion in it's action, but it can still be the actions of emotionless characters. An Aristotelian Tragedy would require empathy for a character but melodramas rely on the random twists of fate rather than any psychological motivation. Tom Chick 11-14-2009, 09:14 PM Melodrama generally has to do with characters expressing how they feel, not necessarily their depth. Anyway, as far as calling it "opera" or "melodrama" or "requiring you to follow certain contrivances and conventions", I still don't see how MW2 is any different from other action games. But like I said, if "get to the chopper!" is an emotion, then, yeah, MW2 certainly pegs it. -Tom caesarbear 11-14-2009, 10:48 PM The typical melodrama will have lots of emotional outburst because they want to get their money's worth from the actors. Emotional outburt isn't necessary though. Something like primitive fables or bad action comics can tell stories where the characters are nearly anonymous. What's more important to the form is that fate and outside forces keep intervening and sweeping the characters along. I'm not sure I quite get the Opera analogy myself. I see it in almost a pejorative sense. An Opera is a contrasting hybridization that needs to compromise acting in order to perform music, or compromise it's music in order to further the actors' scene. The analogy is that MW2 needs to compromise a narrative tone that isn't conducive to console action shooters in order to deliver the expected shooty shooty bang bang glitz. It ends up about as effective as a Broadway musical about global terrorism can be. Alex Pirani 11-15-2009, 01:25 AM After actually playing it, I'll say... CoD isn't Six Days in Fallujah and IW fucking knows it. If that's the angle they were going for there (and I don't believe it was) then they sure fucked that up. I haven't seen anyone (I've seen several) go through that scene of the game yet for the first time and not think it was fun. alexlitel 11-16-2009, 01:00 AM I think I'll wait for Charlie Kaufman's Call of Duty: Postmodern Warfare. Wheelkick 11-16-2009, 01:44 AM I wish Matt would stop pussyfooting around and just tell us what he thinks about the game! MW2 is this months Borderlands John Merva 11-17-2009, 03:07 AM Whilst I didn't necessarily find the mission that offensive, I did think it was very badly implemented in a number of ways. Whilst obviously the option was given to not shoot any civilians, from a story point of view, would the other terrorists not notice you not firing? Also, a lot of talk about killing the civilians, but no-one seems to focus on the police that you have to wade your way through. I must admit I found that part somewhat distasteful, especially as there seemed to be no way not to shoot at police in the same way you could not shoot the civilians. I even tried just shooting them in the legs, hoping that maybe the game would let me get away without murdering half the Russian police force. Whilst I can see how the scene was used to set up the invasion by the Russians according to the narrative, I'm not entirely sure the whole Makarov subplot was really necessary. It seemed like a lot of setup for a villain that was then almost hardly used. He appears in that mission and then on a radio communication with Price when he's betrayed by Shepherd. I understand that Makarov is the focus of the Task Force 141 missions, but did the Ultranationalists' leader really need to be so 'developed'? They are supposed to be a radical faction that has already shown its willingness to detonate nuclear weapons, could they not have orchestrated an invasion of the US (I believe they are supposed to have taken power in Russia following the events of the first game)? All that would have been needed would have been a few lines about ongoing hatred of the US following the events of the first game and something about a shadowy leader - certainly Makarov played no real part in the game following the airport. Obviously the controversy did help bring the game further publicity (which I'm not sure it really needed), but I can't help but feel it was handled somewhat clumsily and didn't necessarily stay consistent to an internal logic even throughout the scene. Had it been handled slightly better, then it could have been part of an interesting debate about how computer games are coming into their own as a mature medium. As it is though, I think it simply missed the mark. One other scene in the game which I think actually did hit the right tone, and had me gasping, was the knifing of the guard from above. Not a lot of games have the courage to show the very last breaths of someone (up to the eyes rolling up) and that part, I felt, managed to convey the horror of what these people do. If only the airport shooting scene could have come up to that level. Brakara 11-17-2009, 04:17 AM Whilst obviously the option was given to not shoot any civilians, from a story point of view, would the other terrorists not notice you not firing? Sure, but they were going to kill you anyway. And you could fire without hitting any civilians (that's what I did on my first playthrough). John Merva 11-17-2009, 04:34 AM Sure, but they were going to kill you anyway. And you could fire without hitting any civilians (that's what I did on my first playthrough). A fair point. dermot 11-17-2009, 05:17 AM Sure, but they were going to kill you anyway. And you could fire without hitting any civilians (that's what I did on my first playthrough). You only know that if you've played or watched that level previously. If you haven't then as far as you you know, the terrorists have no reason to suspect unless, of course, you don't open fire on the civilians. Brakara 11-17-2009, 05:28 AM Yeah, but shooting or holding your fire is not important (storywise). If you don't fire, I guess the terrorist would've suspected you and kill you. But it doesn't matter, because if you do fire, they'll kill you anyway. If you weren't aleady setup to die, then, yes, it would be some missing plot point if you didn't fire and went on with your undercover work. John Merva 11-17-2009, 05:50 AM Yeah, but shooting or holding your fire is not important (storywise). If you don't fire, I guess the terrorist would've suspected you and kill you. But it doesn't matter, because if you do fire, they'll kill you anyway. If you weren't aleady setup to die, then, yes, it would be some missing plot point if you didn't fire and went on with your undercover work. Putting that to one side for the moment, I still really don't understand the shootout with the police at the end. I realise that there had to be an action sequence as it is an action game, but would it not have all been more shocking if the airport sequence had ended with being shot just prior to exiting the building, meaning that you had been forced to shoot (or not) unarmed civilians, something which really does not happen much in games and it was then left there. I did feel the battle with the police turned the whole thing into Kane & Lynch or Heat, rather than an actual commentary of any sort. Bahimiron 11-17-2009, 07:55 AM Also, a lot of talk about killing the civilians, but no-one seems to focus on the police that you have to wade your way through. I must admit I found that part somewhat distasteful, especially as there seemed to be no way not to shoot at police in the same way you could not shoot the civilians. Why would anyone care about shooting police? We've been shooting police in games for years. Four Leaf Clover in GTA4 required you blast your way through an army of Liberty City's finest. Hell, there's a level in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas where you have to sneak onto a national guard compound and murder American soldiers while trying to steal weapons. Yes, it is a terrorism simulator that lets you gun down American heroes! Hell, Duke Nukem 3D allowed you to shoot and kill almost photorealistic recreations of Massachusetts State Troopers over a decade ago. datter 11-17-2009, 08:21 AM I thought I'd be offended by this until I played it, when I found myself walking around the airport looking for more people to murder. That said, whenever I take a cab in GTA4 I generally get out of the taxi, then murder the cab driver to get my$30 back. Sometimes, if the money falls too far from where I'm standing when I shot him... I don't even bother picking it up. It's a video game.

How is the offensive bit in MW2 any worse than half of the things people do without thinking twice about it in GTA4?

John Merva
11-17-2009, 11:10 AM
Why would anyone care about shooting police? We've been shooting police in games for years. Four Leaf Clover in GTA4 required you blast your way through an army of Liberty City's finest. Hell, there's a level in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas where you have to sneak onto a national guard compound and murder American soldiers while trying to steal weapons. Yes, it is a terrorism simulator that lets you gun down American heroes!

Hell, Duke Nukem 3D allowed you to shoot and kill almost photorealistic recreations of Massachusetts State Troopers over a decade ago.

I thought I'd be offended by this until I played it, when I found myself walking around the airport looking for more people to murder. That said, whenever I take a cab in GTA4 I generally get out of the taxi, then murder the cab driver to get my \$30 back. Sometimes, if the money falls too far from where I'm standing when I shot him... I don't even bother picking it up. It's a video game.

How is the offensive bit in MW2 any worse than half of the things people do without thinking twice about it in GTA4?

Both extremely valid points. The difference, I suppose, is that MW2 tried to make you think of the killing of the civilians as an atrocity. It is portrayed as a terrorist act that is intended to make you hate the orchestrator. It then follows that and, I think, trivialises it, by making you engage in an extended shootout with police, who are also innocents, albeit of a different calibre. The rest of the game then emphasizes that the people you are killing in following missions are the baddies in the scenario and there is even a Specops mission that makes you very careful of shooting civilians.

Compare that to the GTA series, where your character is supposed to be nothing more than a cold-blooded gangster (apologies, I've only played as far as Liberty City - characterisation may be different in the other games). You are encouraged to see everyone in the game as nothing more than someone that you can kill with impunity and then take their property. The scripted crawling civilians are clearly supposed to make an emotional connection with you, something which is entirely missing in GTA.

I think what I'm driving at is the context. How can you try to make a point about killing innocents in one breath and then ask the player not to care about killing police in the next? This is largely why in my opinion, whilst I wasn't necessarily over-offended by the airport shootings in the game, it seemed somewhat out of place and a very long way from making any useful point.

Rock8man
11-19-2009, 08:19 AM
Not sure if this was posted yet, since the article went up last week:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the Citizen Kane of repeatedly shooting people in the face. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/nov/09/modern-warfare-2-game-review)

Lh'owon
11-19-2009, 05:01 PM
I think it's worth bumping this for Kieron's analysis (http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/11/19/wot-i-think-about-that-level/) of the level.

He makes a convincing argument I think. The issue seems to come down to simply a lack of context - the level is never justified (I mean really justified, a reason why it's part of the plot isn't the same thing) and surely you must justify something like that?

Matthew Gallant
11-19-2009, 07:27 PM
Well, the thing is, they can't justify it, not the way they would like. You would pretty much have to say, "In this level you are a terrorist, so go be a terrorist".

Another way this could have played out and remained plausible is that you're in the back of a van, riding around. The van stops and you get shot in the head. Blackout. Then you find out later that the body of Captain Allen was placed at the scene of a terror attack to implicate America, the NSA puts two and two together, Shephard is extradited to Russia and executed, and the USSOCOM commander is relieved of duty for letting this happen under his nose.

But instead you get what you get, which is what happens when you let plot points and set pieces drive narrative instead of characters.

caesarbear
11-19-2009, 08:23 PM
Alright, here I go. I'll be the douchebag. Not that I really want to defend MW2 as art, but I have some objections to some of the arguments being leveled against it. I agree on all points about the faulty inconsistent tone of the game, but the charges of exploitation and lack of realism I find just as faulty and inconsistent.

The Road is about to hit theaters, and I'm sure it will be a successful harrowing emotional journey, but guessing from the director's previous film, The Proposition, I have no doubt that it will not shy away from some grisly scenes of roasted baby and other assorted McCarthy violence. I don't know how people will logically defend one piece of work's use of gratuitous violence but then label another as pointless, unless it's one of 'games don't deserve to be considered on the same footing as film, etc.' It's fair to call the use poorly done, but how is it fair to call the use "unearned?" The argument that Kieron gives that MW2 isn't realistic enough is even more slippery than the pointless one when in juxtaposition to McCarthy's works. If someone is depicting murder in their game, I should hope it would not be an as accurate as possible simulation, otherwise it really would be a "murder simulator." Realism is not the true goal in depicting scenes of gratuitous violence in fiction.

The whole point of gratuitous violence is exploitation. The Romans knew it and used it to great effect to manipulate a populace. There's no intellectual stimulus for storytelling to turn to gore. It's purely an emotional one. It's an exploitation of the audience's emotions, a play on their fears, which are high in a post 9/11 consciousness. It's extremely inconsistent to visit the intentions of Infinity Ward, but not those of the makers of works such as The Road. It's perfectly valid to slam MW2 as an artistic failure, but to be angry at their suspected artistic cowardice or lack of clear intentions? That's a charge that suddenly falls silent on works that are more socially respected, that aren't videogames. It seems like Kieron's trying to deny MW2 as a work with artistic value. I don't think it's good art, but the very fact that it gets castigated so fiercely by a thoughtful veteran of gaming tells me that it deserves to be considered as such. It may be awkwardly, mistakenly done by IW, but it has disturbed.

Lh'owon
11-19-2009, 10:39 PM
I don't know how people will logically defend one piece of work's use of gratuitous violence but then label another as pointless, unless it's one of 'games don't deserve to be considered on the same footing as film, etc.'

I don't think it's helpful drawing other mediums into this discussion, whether or not you have a point. Games should be be criticised on their own terms, not because they don't deserve the same level as movies but because they aren't movies. They are fundamentally different.

I don't know enough about the films you're referring to but it seems odd that people would defend "gratuitous violence". If it's gratuitous then it isn't justified, by definition. So I'm not sure what defence you could come up with!

It's fair to call the use poorly done, but how is it fair to call the use "unearned?" The argument that Kieron gives that MW2 isn't realistic enough is even more slippery than the pointless one when in juxtaposition to McCarthy's works. If someone is depicting murder in their game, I should hope it would not be an as accurate as possible simulation, otherwise it really would be a "murder simulator." Realism is not the true goal in depicting scenes of gratuitous violence in fiction.

I take "unearned" to mean IW haven't done the groundwork (a convincing non-ridiculous plot, characterisation, that sort of thing) to justify the level's inclusion. It would be like a frivolous action movie suddenly showing a disturbing torture scene which only loosely ties into the plot - why is it there? Why are we seeing this? Why should a film with 30 bad guys dying improbably every minute include this? (Rhetorical questions! Movies are fair game as analogies.)

Kieron's point about realism is that it's a scene which, if it is to have some deeper point, should be convincing, yet it fails even at this. It doesn't have the believability that would allow us to connect with what's happening on a human level, because it couldn't take place the way it's portrayed. All we are left with is the sense of revulsion, and before you say it that's not good enough.

The whole point of gratuitous violence is exploitation. The Romans knew it and used it to great effect to manipulate a populace. There's no intellectual stimulus for storytelling to turn to gore. It's purely an emotional one. It's an exploitation of the audience's emotions, a play on their fears, which are high in a post 9/11 consciousness.

Good analysis... but you're saying this as if it's a good thing?

It's extremely inconsistent to visit the intentions of Infinity Ward, but not those of the makers of works such as The Road. It's perfectly valid to slam MW2 as an artistic failure, but to be angry at their suspected artistic cowardice or lack of clear intentions? That's a charge that suddenly falls silent on works that are more socially respected, that aren't videogames. It seems like Kieron's trying to deny MW2 as a work with artistic value. I don't think it's good art, but the very fact that it gets castigated so fiercely by a thoughtful veteran of gaming tells me that it deserves to be considered as such. It may be awkwardly, mistakenly done by IW, but it has disturbed.

Again it's absurd to say "well defend this then!" when you aren't even talking about something in the same medium. You have no idea what Kieron thinks about The Road, he might hate it for all you know, but it doesn't matter - it's not a useful comparison.

You seem to be missing the entire point here. You say something can be considered art purely because it disturbs. Kieron's whole point is that it isn't worthwhile for exactly the same reason - the only thing it succeeds at is being disturbing and that is not a justification for its inclusion. You might as well say graphic war footage is a kind of art because it elicits that sort of response. What it is is War Porn, or in MW2's case Terrorist Porn.

caesarbear
11-19-2009, 11:50 PM
I don't think it's helpful drawing other mediums into this discussion, whether or not you have a point. Games should be be criticised on their own terms, not because they don't deserve the same level as movies but because they aren't movies. They are fundamentally different.
Quite so, but I was attempting to point out a double standard when considering entertainment media more generally. The criticisms leveled are not about gameplay but the more filmic elements. Plus MW2 is a game that tries very hard to be a movie, so I think it's fair to draw the comparisons.

I don't know enough about the films you're referring to but it seems odd that people would defend "gratuitous violence". If it's gratuitous then it isn't justified, by definition. So I'm not sure what defence you could come up with!
Gratuitous in the sense that it's more than the basic plot requires. In the sense that it's there for emotional reasons outside the bare story, attempting to discomfort the audience. Justified, reasonable, warranted, aren't effective descriptors when evaluating how much violence is too much in art and entertainment, as the question itself might not be reasonable.

I take "unearned" to mean IW haven't done the groundwork (a convincing non-ridiculous plot, characterisation, that sort of thing) to justify the level's inclusion. It would be like a frivolous action movie suddenly showing a disturbing torture scene which only loosely ties into the plot - why is it there? Why are we seeing this? Why should a film with 30 bad guys dying improbably every minute include this? (Rhetorical questions! Movies are fair game as analogies.)
Ok, but then these unearned acts are commited by entertainment extremely often, some by respected works. Why can't IW forgo the groundwork and go for the gut? Why must they earn it, and other media not?

Kieron's point about realism is that it's a scene which, if it is to have some deeper point, should be convincing, yet it fails even at this. It doesn't have the believability that would allow us to connect with what's happening on a human level, because it couldn't take place the way it's portrayed. All we are left with is the sense of revulsion, and before you say it that's not good enough.
I'll say it anyway, why isn't that good enough? Why does IW need to have a deeper point, but Quentin Tarantino films don't? Being a convincing scene helps make for better art and have a greater emotional impact, but convincing realism, believability is never the point of art, it's just one of the means to convey it.

Good analysis... but you're saying this as if it's a good thing?
I'm not saying one way or the other. I'm just saying it has an impact on our current media.

Again it's absurd to say "well defend this then!" when you aren't even talking about something in the same medium. You have no idea what Kieron thinks about The Road, he might hate it for all you know, but it doesn't matter - it's not a useful comparison.
Well I'm not really directly engaging with Kieron, rather the point he published, that many have agreed with, that MW2 is being exploitative and shouldn't be. He may consider The Road just as unjustly exploitative, I don't know. I'm just picking that film because it's sure to have popular appeal like MW2 (although maybe not the same level) but will likely not face the same controversy over it's use of violence.

You seem to be missing the entire point here. You say something can be considered art purely because it disturbs. Kieron's whole point is that it isn't worthwhile for exactly the same reason - the only thing it succeeds at is being disturbing and that is not a justification for its inclusion. You might as well say graphic war footage is a kind of art because it elicits that sort of response. What it is is War Porn, or in MW2's case Terrorist Porn.
What was the opening of Saving Private Ryan? That's the movie that got IW started after all. The plot and characters in Ryan were completely conventional. Unrealistic and outdated in fact. But it's a monument of a movie because of it's action and special effects. It went straight for the gut and basically fumbled for a justification afterwards. It's "War Porn." Oscar winning War Porn.

Lh'owon
11-20-2009, 12:36 AM
Regarding all your comments about how some media gets a free pass or whatever, I think that's a straw man argument (even if it's correct) for two reasons:

- You don't know what I or anyone else commenting on this think about any particular movie, so you're positing a contradiction that doesn't necessarily exist. And sure you can point out examples from the "wider media" but then I don't think you are being relevant.

- You assume these movies are purely gratuitous in their portrayal of violence. I'm no film critic but I think a good argument could be made for the violence in, say, Tarantino's films being justified in one way or another. I don't want to have that argument because we wouldn't be talking about games then, and I still don't think anyone should have to justify media as a whole to criticise a game.

If you can't make a good argument for why No Russian should be in the game without referring to other mediums, then you probably don't have an argument at all. The game stands or falls as a game, not because some movie or other "got a free pass".

I'm not saying one way or the other. I'm just saying it has an impact on our current media.

And I'm saying that's a huge cop-out! You can't just imply that because it has an "impact" it's justified without backing that claim up.

What was the opening of Saving Private Ryan? That's the movie that got IW started after all. The plot and characters in Ryan were completely conventional. Unrealistic and outdated in fact. But it's a monument of a movie because of it's action and special effects. It went straight for the gut and basically fumbled for a justification afterwards. It's "War Porn." Oscar winning War Porn.

The start of Saving Private Ryan was a re-creation of an historical event to show what it was like for the people who experienced D-Day, and attempted to capture the sheer horror and suffering that was endured to secure the beaches. It is there to make us feel empathy for those who went through that, and for us to consider the price paid for freedom in Europe. That's more than enough justification considering D-Day actually happened.

What is No Russian for? You tell me.

caesarbear
11-20-2009, 12:48 AM
You assume these movies are purely gratuitous in their portrayal of violence.
I've done nothing of the sort. I have only refused to assume that MW2's inclusion of No Russian was "purely gratuitous."

The start of Saving Private Ryan was a re-creation of an historical event to show what it was like for the people who experienced D-Day, and attempted to capture the sheer horror and suffering that was endured to secure the beaches. It is there to make us feel empathy for those who went through that, and for us to consider the price paid for freedom in Europe. That's more than enough justification considering D-Day actually happened.

What is No Russian for? You tell me.
The Mumbai attacks "actually happened" as well.

Lh'owon
11-20-2009, 02:02 AM
I've done nothing of the sort. I have only refused to assume that MW2's inclusion of No Russian was "purely gratuitous."

Neither have Kieron or Tom, which is why they have written at length about it. Looks like we're back to square one :)

The Mumbai attacks "actually happened" as well.

I can't believe you'd be so insensitive as to see no problem with having the player take part in a re-creation of Mumbai in a game where the actual plot has basically no similarities with the circumstances surrounding that event, so I'll assume you don't mean that.

Hey I know, let's make a run'n'gun WW2 shooter, but at the start have a level where you play as a member of the Einsatzgruppen taking part in the execution of some Jews. Don't worry, you can totally skip the level, and you don't have to fire a shot! It's guaranteed to have a big emotional impact on the players, which means it's totally cool.

Wheelkick
11-20-2009, 02:53 AM
Hey I know, let's make a run'n'gun WW2 shooter, but at the start have a level where you play as a member of the Einsatzgruppen taking part in the execution of some Jews. Don't worry, you can totally skip the level, and you don't have to fire a shot! It's guaranteed to have a big emotional impact on the players, which means it's totally cool.

Aren't we going of a bit too far here?
There is a plot reason for the "No russian" mission. You might think that they fail to justify its inclusion due to it being more crap then quality, but it doesn't come totaly out of left field.

The first combat mission have you manning a minigun during a very chaotic sequence in a middle east city. Care to guess the expected number of civilian casualties when you were firing that gun full stop while going at max speed through the alleys? Collateral damage? Bet you one or two of those bullets missed their intended target.

So it wasn't all James Bond up until that mission.

Wheelkick
11-20-2009, 04:08 AM
"Every single person in testing opened fire on the crowd, which is human nature."
- Jesse Stern (Modern Warfare 2 scriptwriter)

11-20-2009, 04:13 AM
"You see, douche-bags are the best at breaking games, which is why we hire them in the first place."

caesarbear
11-20-2009, 07:42 AM
Neither have Kieron or Tom, which is why they have written at length about it. Looks like we're back to square one :)
How's that? Why is it that IW's awkwardness is worth more ire than pure gratuitousness?

I can't believe you'd be so insensitive as to see no problem with having the player take part in a re-creation of Mumbai in a game where the actual plot has basically no similarities with the circumstances surrounding that event, so I'll assume you don't mean that.

It's not a re-creation of Mumbai. It's a work of fiction derived from those events. Why is it insensitive to point out the obvious inspiration for that level? If that's insensitive, then why is it ok for gamers to participate in a virtual glorified D-Day?

Lh'owon
11-20-2009, 02:09 PM
How's that? Why is it that IW's awkwardness is worth more ire than pure gratuitousness?

You aren't arguing with anyone here!

It's not a re-creation of Mumbai. It's a work of fiction derived from those events. Why is it insensitive to point out the obvious inspiration for that level? If that's insensitive, then why is it ok for gamers to participate in a virtual glorified D-Day?

I dunno man, it might be something to do with mowing down unarmed civilians instead of armed soldiers?

caesarbear
11-20-2009, 02:53 PM
You aren't arguing with anyone here!

So wait, you're saying all games with intense violence are bullshit? Kieron is saying MW2 is bullshit but Super Columbine isn't. That's what I'm arguing with. I don't understand what is bullshit in your view.

Lh'owon
11-20-2009, 07:21 PM
So wait, you're saying all games with intense violence are bullshit? Kieron is saying MW2 is bullshit but Super Columbine isn't. That's what I'm arguing with. I don't understand what is bullshit in your view.

Well I've said why I think it's bullshit, but you keep bringing up other things I've never seen / played and demanding I explain why I (or others?) don't also say they're bullshit. I don't know, because I don't know what you're talking about.

I have no idea what Kieron's argument for Super Columbine is as I haven't read that article.

quatoria
11-23-2009, 09:49 AM
The Task Force is his personal black ops crew. It is not implied it's the only thing under his command. Foley and the other Rangers are not part of Task Force 141.

One of two, actually. Apparently vastly superior to the other one, though, considering how the last mission shakes out. Nice call on the visible red lasers, guys! You pay extra for those?

Alistair
11-24-2009, 04:44 PM
...as a huge fan of opera, I have to disagree. I'm really into first person shooters...
Have you read The Time-Traveller's Wife?

'Wagner fans are the green berets of opera lovers...'

OchoaCromwell
06-13-2010, 12:00 PM
Simply become a member in a few minutes. Want to send you fellas a nice howdy!Happy being here along with you!!

armand v
06-13-2010, 12:04 PM
Oh, hello.

I thought this thread was being bumpered because COD Black Ops begins with your character as a child soldier or something.

MrCoffee
06-13-2010, 12:05 PM
Simply become a member in a few minutes. Want to send you fellas a nice howdy!Happy being here along with you!!

REPORTED.

HatcherMcdonnell
08-24-2010, 07:24 PM
I'm new here on the forum, found it by exploring google.I count on chatting about numerous matters with all of you.

Anti-Bunny
08-24-2010, 07:30 PM
I'm new here on the forum, found it by exploring google.I count on chatting about numerous matters with all of you.

Drastic
08-24-2010, 07:35 PM
REPORTED

Every fashionable spambot knows iPhone threads are old and busted. MW threads are the new hotness.

mrmolecule88
08-25-2010, 12:10 AM
I don't know, you guys...they seem legit. Tell us, good sirs, what do you think about murdering innocent civilians in a virtual world?

Alan Au
08-25-2010, 01:07 AM
I don't know, you guys...they seem legit. Tell us, good sirs, what do you think about murdering innocent civilians in a virtual world?
Legit? Sure, if you consider payday loans to be "legit."

- Alan

Bill
08-25-2010, 06:26 AM
Give them credit, Hatcher Mcdonnell and Ochoa Cromwell are pretty badass names.

Drastic
08-25-2010, 06:32 AM
That they are. I can definitely imagine portentuous voiceovers explaining that Soap's on a deep-acronym mission to kill and/or extract them both.

Kael
08-25-2010, 06:41 AM
If only MW2 had opened with a scene where you run around and shoot defenseless spambots in the head.

mrmolecule88
08-25-2010, 01:31 PM
Today, Alan Au loses his innocence among the blood and mangled corpses of spambots. He'll cry whenever he remembers this day...when gave up a part of himself to save the world.

I was kidding, dude.