Hot Take: ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’ creates a photorealistic depiction of war and terror

Photo Courtesy of IMDb.

By Kyle McCulloch | Contributor

Chemical warfare, terrorist attacks and mass genocide are included, among other war crimes, in this year’s soft reboot of Infinity Ward’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.” Is the campaign’s emphasis on violence necessary to provide players with a memorable experience?

Modern Warfare’s controversial campaign is a true return to form for the franchise, unapologetically provoking its players to reflect on the subject of modern warfare. The campaign depicts an unpredictable and escalating cold war between NATO and a ruthlessly violent anarchist regime.

War has changed since the events of 9/11. The battlefield is not bound to any specific place, and our enemies have the ability to blend in with civilian populations before they strike. Modern Warfare’s campaign acknowledges all of this and displays the intricacies of war and terror to the player in excruciating detail. This was not the change I expected for the franchise, but I welcome it wholeheartedly.

Some gaming consumers (and parents) may be furious about the exposure that the game’s campaign presents to players. However, upon opening the campaign menu, each player is met with the game’s mature content notice:

“Player discretion is advised. Some scenes include graphic or intense content including violence. Please consult the game’s ratings.”

Infinity Ward uses this same disclaimer in more works than any other studio. They understand how the subject matter might affect the player, given that they are old enough to play an M-rated game. While I have been thoroughly exposed to the game’s subject matter in the past, I still wish I had taken the game’s mature content notice more seriously.

For too long, the trend of military first-person shooters has been for a studio to create fine lines between good and evil, create bombastic set pieces for its audiences to mow through at their leisure, generating so much chaos and unintelligent violence that the player quickly becomes numb to the experience.

Players should expect this new campaign experience to be more intimate and intense than its predecessors. The pacing is also slower as a result, as the story makes the player assume the roles of victims as well as soldiers.

Infinity Ward studios abandoned the grandiose nature of its past blockbusters to build a gritty and surreal depiction of the modern war against terrorism. Modern Warfare’s campaign has made me rethink my entire perspective on war and terror. Players should be aware of this before diving into the campaign. Its displays of the subject matter are nothing short of honest and accurate, and they demand reaction and reflection from its audience.