Ah yes, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. What can I say that hasn't been said a thousand times before? Well, this
. As in the script, the following post contains spoilers if you're one of the three people who hasn't yet played the game.
Anyone talking about Modern Warfare 2 can't help but mention the 'No Russian' level, where you play an undercover operative being forced to take part in the killings of innocent civilians. Going past what others have said
, I'm interested in a player's response to this level when that player had no prior knowledge of it. I'd like to hear the reaction of someone who somehow missed all the pre-release footage of 'No Russian', had a wild ride on a snowmobile and suddenly found themselves witnessing and/or participating in a massacre. It's fair to say that the (intentionally?) leaked footage helped in softening everyone up to the idea, if not getting everyone interested on whatever point on the morality spectrum.
Looking at it from a narrative perspective, I find that a scene like this simply does not gel within the framework of a strictly linear story. It would have been far more effective if there was an actual element of choice involved. Players allowing the massacre to take place (regardless of participating in it) would see that their actions helped prevent a greater evil down the road. On the other hand, players who decided that the good of the many does not outweigh the senseless murdering of innocent people and turned on their associates would find their actions to have severe repercussions. But in a game like Modern Warfare 2, a strictly linear game, this does not work, simply because the game's story requires the attack to be carried out in full and pinned on an American operative. Since the result of the attack is a Russian invasion of Washington D.C., it would be a logistical nightmare to have the missions set there as optional if the player chose to stop the attack. They play too big a part in the story.
Different outcomes based on a player's actions and choices is a very precarious and difficult thing to implement, because in essence you have to create twice (or even thrice) the game for the same price, and include content that most players will not see simply because they won't play the game more than once. Games like Deus Ex or Mass Effect
allow for a wide range of player choices, but even those have only a minimal effect on the story. The overarching threads are locked down; you're always going to rebel against UNATCO or track down Saren. And you're always going to be shot in the face by Vladimir Makarov.