This article has been very a elusive topic for me to peg down. For the past couple of weeks, I have been preparing to move to Hong Kong. While the delay of this post can partially be reasoned away by this excuse, the truth is I have had a very difficult time deciding how to write this article.
Two weeks ago, I completed the campaign of Activision’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, a very popular military first person shooter in which the player character has access to vast array of the world’s most powerful and technologically-advanced weaponry and must fight terrorists and militants across the world. I went into COD4 expecting a few laughs. After all, Call of Duty is a series notorious for attracting the type of frat-boy gamer, which most other gamers look down upon for being low-class.
I was taken by surprise. For the sake of my sanity and for finally getting this piece out the door, I’ve decided to list my thoughts in bullet points. If one word describes COD4, it is this: conflicted.
- When you die in COD4, the player is presented with a quote related to war. Strangely, the quotes conflict with each in curious ways. For example:
“In war, truth is the first casualty” -Aeschylus
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” -Albert Einstein
“The more marines I have around, the better I like it.” -General Clark, U.S. Army
“If at first you don’t succeed, call an air strike.” -Unknown
“We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us.” -George Orwell
- The enemy has a very good reason to attack the U.S. and its allies, but those reasons are only touched upon in passing. The campaign overviews indicate that the groups that want to attack the U.S. are doing so because of aggressive actions taken by the U.S. and for destroying foreign cultures. This is obviously lifted directly from the headlines with America’s involvement in the Muslim world. Even though the game explains why the bad guys are bad , none of the characters seem to care about the antagonists’ motivations. They are bad and that is all they need to care about. Perhaps that is a commentary on a soldier’s responsibility in a conflict, but it seemed odd that the game would go out of its way to discuss the antagonists and then forget about their motivations soon after.
- This game plays like an action m0vie. It does not represent war very well, at least compared to film.