The Call of Duty franchise is no stranger to controversy, but this time around the accusations are a lot more serious, revision of history and propaganda.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is so far being praised by critics, but the user scores tell a different tale. Russian gamers and media are unhappy with the cliche of Russians always being the bad guys, and are calling Modern Warfare blatant propaganda and a rewriting of history.
The center of this controversy is the mission ‘Highway of Death’. The mission itself has you using a sniper rifle to take out enemies on a destroyed highway, but the problem is what you’re told before the mission starts.
Farah, one of the main characters explains, “The Russians bombed it during the invasions, killing the people trying to escape.” This on its own might not be too bad, if it weren’t for the fact that this actually happened. Highway of Death is the name of a highway that US forces bombed near the end of the First Gulf War.
The exact number of casualties is unknown, there are questions about the presence of civilians, and the entire incident dances very closely on the edge of a war crime. The bombing was so horrific that US media refused to publish photos of the destroyed highway.
The fact that a real-life situation was used as inspiration for the mission, but the blame was put on Russia, without even mentioning the involvement of the US, makes it very clear why there is an uproar right now.
Some users are defending it by saying that it’s obviously fiction and that claims of rewriting history, and of propaganda are ridiculous. Although, a Reddit user did point out that every mission in the campaign of Modern Warfare takes inspiration from real-life events and that it’s unacceptable to twist the story in such a way.
The campaign was announced as a string of tough choices, the hard reality of modern conflict, a story that is shades of gray. Instead, it plays out rather black and white, a ‘we are the good guys, they are the bad guys’ type of thing.
I guess the developers weren’t wrong when they said that it will be the most controversial Call of Duty yet.