Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II might nail its core gunplay and function some standout characters throughout the board, however it additionally options among the collection’ most questionably terrible depictions of violence and navy energy but. One stage particularly during which tensions rise between civilians and regulation enforcement stands out as profoundly tone deaf, and has been broadly shared on-line for instance of the Call of Duty collection at its most appalling and absurd.
In the extent “Borderline,” you tackle the position of Mexican navy particular forces following the path of cartel members who’re wrapped up in a broader escalating narrative about terrorism. The stage barely stops for air earlier than encouraging you to shoot at and kill folks climbing the border wall into the United States. You then transfer by way of a residential space in Texas the place armed residents aren’t too thrilled to see you working by way of their yards and homes. The sport asks you to “de-escalate civilians” along with your purpose button, and positive sufficient, urgent it ends in you pointing your gun at them. There’s no distinctive animation or line of dialogue right here. You don’t pull out a badge and say “please go inside.” You merely purpose a weapon at their faces.
These scenes have develop into a subject of dialog and critique throughout the web. Just a few days in the past, fashionable political streamer Hasan Piker literally paused the game after “de-escalating” to touch upon how remarkably terrible this situation is. As famous by Polygon, video essayist Jacob Geller additionally tweeted a video of the primary de-escalation, which presently sits at one million views. This is much from an ignored second in a broader narrative.
“Borderline” asks you to do that 3 times. On the third, regardless of your efforts to (ahem) “de-escalate,” it appears the sport provides you no different to violence. Standing in some random Texas citizen’s lounge, the civilians draw weapons of their very own and begin firing at you. This results in a quick encounter with native police exterior the place the next dialogue is shouted at you by cops with weapons drawn.
“Drop your fucking weapons proper now! Do precisely what I say or I’ll fucking shoot you. Understand? Step ahead to me! I wish to see empty fingers above your head!”
Just as Mexican particular forces colonel Alejandro Vargas (the individual main your operation) is about to get cuffed, a cop steps out to cease the arrest saying it’s “onerous to let you know boys other than the cartel.” You’re then ambushed and must battle off just a few precise cartel members who’re dressed nothing like your characters. They have little-to-no tactical gear on, no navy insignia, and are arguably utilizing noticeably totally different weaponry. So, it appears the cops can’t inform them aside as a result of…why now?
This is mainly your complete stage. Half of it’s spent aiming weapons at and killing folks in non-public properties, you then’re viciously threatened by regulation enforcement and racially profiled earlier than lastly moving into just a few skirmishes with the sport’s “unhealthy guys.”
I just lately had a dialog about this sport with a buddy who served within the navy. In specific we talked about one other deeply uncomfortable second of violence within the sport, this one within the second stage, the place you gun down an individual fleeing for his or her life and cowering in a toilet. As he illustrated, terrible issues like this occur in battle. But the depiction of this materials, be that gunning down maimed or harmless folks in a warzone or aiming weapons at civilians to “de-escalate” a state of affairs, is a alternative the builders made. And in circumstances like “Kill or Capture” or “Borderline,” there’s no clear different to those actions. This is just not a recreation of a historic occasion, and whereas ranges like Borderline echo modern occasions and wider conversations about how police work together with residents, it’s value asking what is suitable for a sport like this? Why have been these the selections made when designing these ranges? What notions about how police or troopers ought to act are legitimized and bolstered when offered the best way they’re right here?
Questions of realism are inappropriate. There are a exceptional variety of unrealistic issues in Modern Warfare II. As Polygon studies, no searchable police documentation recommends aiming a weapon at somebody to de-escalate a state of affairs. So it’s not as in the event that they utilized practical requirements to this fictional situation.
And bear in mind, within the stage’s third de-escalation encounter, the folks you’re aiming at not solely do have weapons, however draw them on you, indicating not solely that you just have been proper to deal with civilians as hostile threats, however that as regulation enforcement, you’re in fixed hazard. Meanwhile, in actual life, it’s fairly often the cops who’re a menace to civilians, as , police shoot unarmed folks, disproportionately folks of colour, at an alarmingly excessive fee within the United States. However, those that constructed and designed this sport selected to run with this because the stuff you play out in a online game, in some circumstances with no different however to straight threaten the lives of harmless folks. And these are the protagonists you’re enjoying as. There are values and messages embedded in that, whether or not the sport’s creators supposed there to be or not.
It is each of questionable style and based mostly on no written requirements of observe for regulation enforcement.