The Anti-Americanism of Modern Warfare 2

The Anti-Americanism of Modern Warfare 2

When you die even when you win, something strange is going on.

First of all, I want to make it clear that I love Modern Warfare 2 to the point of mild obsession. Here’s a recent conversation I had with my girlfriend:

Me: (muttering, staring into space) Pew pew! Pew! Pew!

Her: Are… are you imagining sniping everyone on this subway?

Me:

I have considered hiring somebody off of Craigslist to come to my apartment and give me Modern Warfare lessons, so I can finally overcome my crippling fear of multiplayer mode.

But I have to say, I was a little surprised by how grim the main campaign turned out to be. This is a game in which America finds itself impotent in the battlefield, despised by the rest of the world, invaded, betrayed, and generally having a miserable week. In this article, I’m going to look at the plot from a nationalistic perspective. (Pretty much ALL the Modern Warfare 2 spoilers in the world follow, so proceed with caution if you’re a gamer.)

Still here? Okay, we’re oscar mike…

Modern Warfare looks depressingly like 2003 warfare.

The first mission takes place in Afghanistan, where a group of Army Rangers is trying to train some locals, without much success. “No offense,” says the Sergeant (voiced by Keith “STOP ASKING ME TO PUT ON THE GLASSES, RODDY PIPER!!” David) to the Afghans, “but I see a lot of you guys firing from the hip and spraying bullets all over the range. You don’t end up hitting a damn thing and it makes you look like an ass.” Keep in mind that this is supposed to be 2016. I don’t know what’s more depressing—that we’re still in Afghanistan after 13 years of war, or that we still can’t get the locals to take control of their own security.

The Rangers roll into a town in a convoy of Humvees, but everything quickly goes FUBAR. Militia attack from the rooftops, and the trucks scatter in a desperate attempt to escape. At this point, nothing you do can help you. No matter how skillful you are with the minigun, your vehicle is going to get shattered by an RPG, and you’re going to have to fight your way out of the red zone on foot. This is typical of the game—even though you personally may kick ass and take names, the mission as a whole is a bloody disaster. All you can do is salvage a bad situation. This is what you fight for in Modern Warfare 2: not victory, but a chance to limit the scope of the defeat.

Stanley Milgrim, please pick up the white courtesy phone.

After you fight your way to safety in Afghanistan, you meet General Shepherd, a leathery stereotype voiced by Lance Henriksen. He’s got a special task for you, and it’s so controversial the game actually gives you the option to opt out of playing it. You probably heard about the infamous “No Russian” mission when Modern Warfare 2 came out back in November. Your character goes undercover with the notorious terrorist Makarov. You follow him and his men out of an elevator into a Moscow airport, and watch them open fire on hundreds of screaming civilians. It’s up to you whether you participate, but shooting the terrorists isn’t an option (I tried).

Some people thought this level was a cheap publicity stunt. Others thought it was a masterstroke. “It was the most powerful emotional experience any video game has ever given me,” Chris Sullentrop wrote in Slate. “I don’t know that I cried, but I was knocked off balance by emotions that I thought I had tucked away.”

Personally, I was just confused. Isn’t the whole point of embedding someone with the terrorists so that they can warn people before airport massacres? Presumably, your character has a way of contacting his superiors. “Hmm,” I imagine them saying in some Pentagon bunker. “The terrorists are planning to slaughter hundreds of people? Maybe we should prevent that. Then again, it would be a shame to blow our cover.” A cynical person might think that the Americans don’t give a damn about preventing a terrorist attack that’s not on their own soil. Shame on you, cynical person.

Wouldn't it be very easy to kill all the terrorists right now?

In any case, not only do the Americans allow the attack to take place, NOT ONLY do they allow one of their own soldiers to participate in it, but as the terrorists are making their escape, they SHOOT you, revealing that they knew you were an American all along. By leaving your body at the scene, they effectively frame the United States for the atrocity. Or so the game claims–I’m not actually sure how this was supposed to work. Did your character have a wallet with a U.S. drivers license on him?

In any case, both the missions you’ve played as an American soldier have been ginormous disasters, and the second one was morally reprehensible. The U.S. Army isn’t look great. But you know who IS looking great? The British.

In between the missions you play as the American, you step into the shoes of “Roach,” part of a special forces unit called Task Force 141. It’s supposed to be a multinational group, but its three main members (Soap, Ghost, and Captain Price) are all Limeys. (Thanks to the faceless, voiceless nature of the character you play, it’s an open question what nationality Roach is.) These Brits accomplish their missions with brutal effectiveness. They infiltrate a Russian airbase to recover a downed satellite module, escaping in true James Bond fashion via snowmobile. In the wake of the airport fiasco, the 141 heads to Brazil to hunt down an associate of the terrorists. Naturally, they get their man.

Semper fries.

Meanwhile, America is going the full Red Dawn. It turns out that before the British recovered the satellite for us, the Russians used it to hack our NORAD early warning system. Now Ivan is parachuting into Northern Virginia, and the local strip mall is suddenly a war zone. You’re playing as another Army Ranger, also under the command of Keith “I Was In The Chronicles of Riddick” David. Once again, this is another mission where, no matter how well you play, it can only be perceived as an embarrassment and disaster of  epic proportions for the United States. There are MIGs bombing I-95.

Not only do the Russians manage to sneak attack us from the other side of the world, they do so with remarkable success. “The Russians are burning through our defenses and our intel,” says General Shepherd at the beginning of the next mission. The General wants you to fight your way into what was until recently a ritzy suburb, to rescue a “High Value Individual.” Given that these are American soldiers, you can guess how this mission goes. You make it to the HVI’s house, only to discover that he’s already dead. End of mission. Somehow, victory in this game doesn’t feel so victorious when you’re an American.

'Ello guvnah! Fancy a pretentious monologue before your mission, do ya? Spot on!

Meanwhile, the Brits are speeding from success to success. In Brazil, they find out that Makarov’s arch-enemy is locked up in a Russian gulag. They seize control of an oil rig, freeing some hostages in the process. Then they assault the gulag and free the mysterious prisoner… who turns out to be Captain Price, your mentor from Modern Warfare 1. So all in all, everything is going awesome for the Brits.

Cut back to the United States. You’re in a bunker that’s being absolutely pummeled. The fluorescent lights are falling off the ceiling, showering the concrete with sparks. Wounded and dying soldiers lie on cots. There’s a row of black body bags lined up along a wall. Keith David leads you up the steps and into a trench. You round a corner… and there’s the Washington Monument. You’re on the National Mall, and it’s about to be overrun with Ruskies. You fight your way into the Commerce Building and blow up a few enemy tanks with rocket launchers. But since this is Modern Warfare 2, and you’re an American, this can’t end well. Your helicopter goes down, and the mission ends with you trapped in the wreck, down to your last clip, waiting for the inevitable.

And guess who saves your godforsaken American life? Yes, those unstoppable badass Brits. Captain Price, despite having spent the past five years in a Russian gulag, turns out to be not merely battle-ready, but able to launch and control a nuclear warhead. He purposely explodes the bomb in the atmosphere, creating a giant EMP.

Help us, Keith David. You're our only hope.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, your American character is saved as every helicopter suddenly falls out of the sky, creating enough chaos for your squad to escape. Fighting your way through the office buildings, you come across a bunker with a very familiar seal on it. The other soldiers speculate this must be the President’s secret bunker. Someone pries open the door and… any guesses? Anyone? Bueller?

Everyone is burnt to a crisp. The President is dead. End of mission.

There’s only one more mission you play as an American in this game. You, Keith David, and what’s left of your unit emerge from the bunker to find yourself in front of “Whiskey Hotel,” which sounds like fun, but turns out to be the regular old White House. After fighting your way into the press room, you overhear a radio saying that D.C. is about to be leveled by the American air force, unless they see green smoke from the roof in two minutes. (I don’t think the similarities to The Rock are coincidental. Hans Zimmer, who wrote the score to that Michael Bay classic, also composed the main themes to this game.)

Oh no! Not our national phallic symbol!

All your experience playing this game leads you to believe that you’ll fail to make it to the roof on time, the air force will kill you and blow up the capital, and Russians will rape cute puppies in front of your corpse. But in what counts as “winning,” you just barely avert the airstrike. The last you see of the Americans, they are looking out over their destroyed capital, talking about the inevitable counterattack on Moscow.

Let me repeat this: no matter how well you play the game, you’re still participating in the worst day in American history, in which we just barely manage to avoid fire-bombing our own capital into dust. All in all, it’s a pretty grim view of America’s military capabilities (and a pretty complimentary view of Russia’s).

But it’s not over. Not even close.

In the next mission, the British soldiers of the 141, under the command of General Shepherd, are going after Makarov at his safehouse. They want revenge on behalf of the Americans, because clearly the Americans can’t get anything done on their own. Makarov isn’t there, but the Brits collect a ton of intel and bring it back to Shepherd. And then… are you ready for this?… Shepherd shoots them, and American soldiers light them on fire. In turns out the American General was the bad guy all along, in league with the terrorists.

I was a little sketchy as to why Shepherd is doing all this, so I consulted the Modern Warfare Wiki. I guess the idea is that he feels that starting World War III is the best way to strengthen America’s military and power in the world. Certainly, it’s a good way to get your defense budget increased.

In the next mission, the game ups the ante on anti-Americanism: it actually puts Americans in your crosshairs. The surviving British commandos are being hunted down by Shepherd’s men, and they have to return fire to escape. Technically, these soldiers are “Shadow Company,” a black ops unit answerable only to Shepherd. Still, they’re Americans, and you’re a Brit killing them with a sniper rifle. Think about the arc this game puts the player through: you start as a Ranger in Afghanistan, and you end up realizing that the American military is behind all the evils of the world and must be destroyed. In the end, there’s a final showdown between you and the ultimate bad guy, who also happens to be the Supreme Commander of the American military. I won’t tell you how it ends, but let’s just say that if you’ve been paying attention to how Americans fare in this game, and how Brits fare in this game, it won’t be a surprise.

Okay, what’s going on here? How come Infinity Ward made a game in which America is portrayed as incompetent, ineffective, and finally villainous? The boring marketing answer is that video games are an international product now. MW2 sold nine million copies in the U.S., and almost 3 million in the U.K. The rest of the world, as you might have heard, currently doesn’t have the highest regard for the United States, and especially its military. Making the 141 a multinational task force gives the game a wider appeal. If you don’t believe me, just asked Paramount Pictures. When they made the movie version of G. I. Joe, they changed the team from an American group to an international one.

But the more interesting interpretation is that it’s not just Europeans who have their doubts about the United States military. Americans have seen our armed forces struggle to win two endless wars, and search in vain for Osama Bin Laden. The name of the game is Modern Warfare, and modern warfare is all about frustration–not having the right intel, resources, or geopolitical clout to get the job done. The game reflects a real fear that the military isn’t able to protect us from danger. Even though our soldiers can demolish any enemy in a one-on-one fight, they will always be too slow to stop the fight before it happens. The remarkable thing about this game is that no matter how well you play, Washington is still in rubble at the end. That’s what victory looks like in Modern Warfare 2.

23 Comments on “The Anti-Americanism of Modern Warfare 2”

  1. RiderIon #

    I have two big problem with Infinity Ward’s “No Russian” mission on two fronts. The first is the ability to skip it which is a cop out on their part. Its removal hurts the overall emotional impact of the game. It would be like skipping Aerith’s death in Final fantasy VII (it’s common knowledge by now so I feel no need to mark this as a spoiler). The second problem is that the No Russian mission can be completed by never firing a single shot. The mission ends when enough civilians are dead which the AI terrorists will do for you. It takes away the impact of the scene when you’re unwilling to stop them as opposed to a cold blooded murderer of inoncent civilians.

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  2. lee OTI Staff #

    Without having played this game, I think that it may be playing off of this recent idea that the age of American Hegemony is in its twilight; i.e. that America is in decline. This has mostly been discussed in economic and political terms–the American economy is doomed by debt, the American polity is doomed by gridlock and special interest–but it’s easy to see how this feeling of insecurity can be transferred to a military/security point of view as well.

    This interpretation would probably be more viable if the Chinese were the enemies and not the Russians, though. Which I hear is the plot of the new Red Dawn movie, no?

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  3. Foxbat #

    Ya this kind of anti american sentiment is very troubling to me as well. It furthers a notion that the US is responsible for all the evil in the world.

    I remember when watching the second season of Ghost in the shell “The second gig” and when the bad guys turn out to be the americans I was like “great more american bashing”. I don’t hink any country that has beem occupied after an unconditional surrender has ever been treated as well as Japan after WWII.

    Alot of credit goes to the Japanese people as well for rebuilding their nation and comitting to peace. Not to mention their strong work ethic. But really if you want to look at the outcome of a country conquered by the “Evil” USA look no further than Japan.

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  4. spelling nazi #

    Dear Belinkie, please spell-check your article. If I can get your name right, you can get “fluorescent” and “sergeant” right. Thank you.

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  5. Bob #

    Not being a huge ‘Gamer’, I still loved this recap! When reading it, between ever paragraph, the 24 beeping was going through my head. Thank you!

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  6. Ceiling #

    @foxbat WWII isn’t exactly “modern warfare”.

    The simplistic stereotype of the USA is that it’s a big bully that doesn’t care about any other country other than itself. Taking that into consideration (and can I repeat that it is a simplistic stereotype, and not my own personal opinion) is it any surprise that sometimes people like to see the bully get what’s coming to it? Thankfully this is just a game…

    Does the USA always win in popular culture? If you expect them to, then perhaps that just reflects how insular your society is… You export so much pop culture to the world. It’s no surprise if it consistently supports your own world view.

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  7. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @Riderlon – Might have to disagree with you. There’s a BIG difference between watching a beloved character die, and playing a level that asks you to slaughter innocent people. One is merely sad. The other is DISTURBING. Like I said, I don’t love the level, but mainly because I just don’t see the point. Why do I have to play along with the terrorists instead of trying to stop them? What’s the greater good I’m doing this for?

    As for your second criticism, you’re forgetting about the second half of the level, where you take on all those SWAT guys. I don’t think you can beat THAT by just standing around, can you? I see that as the REAL mission – the part where you kill civilians is just storytelling before the action starts.

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  8. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @Spelling Nazi – You win – the errors are corrected.

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  9. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    More thoughts on “No Russian.”

    Russia attacks the United States because they THINK we’re behind the terrorist attack. The actual truth is pretty much just as bad. We KNEW about the terrorist attack, and we let it happen. We even helped. Why? Because there MIGHT be another attack directed at the United States someday, and we didn’t want to blow our cover. Honestly, we deserve to get attacked by Russia. The truth is pretty indefensible.

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  10. Dan #

    I always think of him as Keith “NO, dammit, I am NOT Ernie Hudson,” David.

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  11. Tukayyid #

    Is it heartless of me to say that I don’t really understand all the fuss about “No Russian.” I’ve known people to refuse to play the level but who have no problems running people down and murder while playing GTA3. Is it the tone in which these two games take about the whole thing that makes it okay for one?

    As far as the invasion goes: the idea of a large scale, conventional military assault on the continental US is so insane that any fictional take on it is going to be pretty strange. In Red Alert 2 the Russians managed to get a fleet of dirigibles over New York by surprise… but that series has always been pretty tongue-in-cheek I suppose.

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  12. RiderIon #

    @Belinkie I didn’t find it that disturbing. Maybe it’s all my time playing Fallout and Bioware games where I can slaughter innocents and be a colossal jerk for no reason if I want to .

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  13. Christopher #

    @Belinkie: First off, brilliant points. I feel like many of them extend to the first game as well. It might be even worse, in fact, at least with regards to the playable characters – they’re all ostensibly American, if I remember correctly, and they all apparently die; one even gets _nuked_ and you play out his final, horrible moments – something I found much more personally disturbing than the No Russian mission, though that’s clearly just a biased personal reaction with no assessment of their objective narrative/emotional power. And, after you discover in the next game that one of the characters actually _did_ survive to fight another day, they suddenly make him British (maybe this was intended in the first game, and the more I think about it it probably was, but since I tend to slide myself into the shoes of silent protagonists – *cough* Crono *cough* – I always thought of Soap as American). Thus, again, Americans 0, Brits 1.

    Also, brief bit of storyline analysis that might be significant – I’m pretty sure that the Americans make no direct mention of knowledge of the impending airport massacre _before_ it actually occurs. Sure, they know about Makarov and his terrorist activities, and thus plant a mole in his camp, you know, as you do, but during my playthrough I felt like they didn’t see the airport thing coming at all. The way I saw it (and this added a chilling bit of intensity) was that Pvt. Allen was a mole, doing whatever it is moles do outside of cataclysmic plotline events, and one day was thrown in a car with Makarov and friends and escorted to the airport attack. Now, I suppose, in retrospect, that it would be surprising if Allen knew _nothing_ of the plans ahead of time, but since I had recently seen other stories execute terrorist plots in this exact way (24 and one Sayid episode of Lost come to mind) it wan’t that big of a leap for me.

    In other words, much in the same way that the player is suddenly thrown into the No Russian mission, I saw the character being thrown into it just as suddenly, and that added to the horror of the whole matter.

    Now, I’m not arguing for or against the appropriateness of the scene, or whether or not it should have been included (personally, I thought it heavily added to the experience, and is one of the more memorable gaming experiences I may have ever had, for good or ill), I’m just saying that, when it comes to the overall plot, it’s possible the Americans had no idea it was coming.

    Which, I suppose, does nothing to alleviate the “incompetent Americans” theme after all.

    Oh well.

    P.S. You definitely should try out the multiplayer sometime, its quite fun – and, for what its worth, there’s no penalty at all for being flat out awful (plus, you can totally mute chat). In fact, the game still rewards you by unlocking little upgrades to guns and such just for playing, simply at a slower rate than players with better stats per game. My handle is “fantasyundrfire” if you ever feel like trying it out and want someone relatively laid back to back you up.

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  14. Matthew #

    I failed No Russia at least a dozen times because I did what any sane reasonable human being would do, I failed for trying to stop the terrorists.

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  15. paperclip #

    About the ‘No Russian’ scene:
    I guess one could argue that the violence in GTA is so over-the-top that it can be easily detached from reality, but in a way MW2 seems pretty over-the-top too. ‘No Russian’ is no doubt shocking out of context, but consider the rest of the game, which has, among other things, the invasion of the US capital and a DieHard4-style villain. The CoD series have always been cinematic, and I sense that this is something they have really cranked up to eleven in this. I haven’t played MW2 (though I did play the first one, and most other COD titles), but the plot seems to me like something out of an action movie.

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  16. Bob #

    This is slightly off-topic, but concerning the moral dilemma of becoming an undercover agent, last year IDW came out with the fantastic ‘G.I. Joe: Cobra’ comic series. The series revolves around the previously joke of a Joe, Chuckles, who goes deep under cover in an unknown terrorist organization to figure out who they are and what they are doing.

    It goes into graphic detail (Well, graphic for a PG-13 comic book) into what goes through the mind of Chuckles as he realizes just how far down the rabbit hole he has to go in order to figure out what the terrorist organization is going to do. At page one, Chuckles would probably try anything to stop a bank from blowing up thinking that is his duty, but when he sets the explosions later, he thinks nothing of it as it will lead him further into the organization.

    I bring this up because this brilliant and award winning comic was the first thing I thought of when reading your synopsis of the ‘No Russian’ scene. I would give it a read if I were you guys.

    For your linking pleasure http://www.amazon.com/G-I-Joe-COBRA-Graphic-Novels/dp/1600105351/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1270488199&sr=8-17 – make sure you use the overthinking it link!

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  17. Joo #

    I thought Soap spoke in mw2 and he was Scottish or did I make that up? Anyway he was in the first one in the SAS so of course he’s British. I get that there is a lot of anti-America in the game but to be honest it can be refreshing at times. America has hardly been promoting fair depictions of history in its games/films. I recall a certain film where it was claimed America captured the enigma machine in WWII…..
    As a Brit I enjoyed playing the SAS/Task missions more anyway just because I personally feel more connection with people with familiar accents.
    I can see why America gets a raw deal but the Brits (who are basically the sas) are completely different to the American army as a whole so really can’t be compared. I would expect any special forces unit to have more success in everything they do than the army as a whole. Plus the sas is pretty much the most badass unit in the world.

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  18. Jonathan #

    Oh Matthew, I miss this website!! Great points, hilarious writing, and it really made me……THINK! ;P

    I just wanted to tell you that when my wife and I are driving through town and I see those service ladders for fast food restaurants or small businesses, she’ll look at me as I stare at the ladder and she’ll say: “you’re imagining sniping from that roof, aren’t you?” Hah! What a wonderful woman ;) To top that, she adds, “All I think is how I could make the building look better in Sims.”

    Video Games are awesome.

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  19. jhwh303 #

    Interesting arguments. I am in no way anti-American, and I have the greatest respect for our military. Served in the infantry myself, and I’d like to add that this game gives me the best adrenaline rush I’ve had since that time. However, I’d like to add some points here, as I don’t agree that this game is “anti-American” in any way.

    You completely fail to mention that these Brits aren’t just your average regular army guys, they’re SAS. (In Modern Warfare 1, these guys were all SAS, so I’m assuming that Task Force 141 is made up primarily of SAS). The British SAS is the elite special ops task force that pretty much invented and mastered modern day counter-terrorism tactics. They are still considered among the most elite fighters in the entire world, and even trained most western (including US) special forces on how to use tactics which today have become standard in counter-terrorism and special ops campaigns. The SAS, and SBS are often the first guys to drop in behind enemy lines, including Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq. Making a comparison between SAS operations in enemy territory, and US Army Rangers fighting in a conventional combat zone is not really a fair comparison, they’re two entirely different types of warfare.

    My point is: Nothing in this game suggests that if Russia had invaded the UK, London’s fate would be much brighter than Washington DC’s. Nothing in this game suggests that British Royal Marines are any better (or worse) fighters than U.S. Marines.

    As for “Americans in your crosshairs”, honestly, how many games have you played where Americans were the good guys, and everyone else were the bad guys? Pretty much every game I can recall. The fact that infinity ward comes out with ONE game where ONE guy from the Pentagon is ONE of the villains.. Is anti-American? I personally don’t believe the American military is responsible for all evil in the world, but let’s be realistic, the CIA has a lot of shit in its tracks. Countless democracies have been overthrown by the CIA and replaced with brutal dictators, and not to mention Operation Northwoods – A planned false flag operation back in the 1960s, where the US military planned to commit terrorist attacks on US soil and use Cuba as a scapegoat to legitimate an invasion.. strikingly similar to “No Russian” I’d say. This notion that everything should be all black and white, where Americans follow the traditional role of the good guys, and the Russians, Arabs, Africans, Chinese, South Americans and what have you should always follow the role as the bad guys is to me very played out, and no more realistic than a 1980’s Sylvester Stallone movie.

    Nevertheless, i’d argue that throughout most of the game, when playing as PFC Allen in the beginning, and Ramirez throughout the middle, you’re playing as the “good guys”. The fact that Shepherd turns out to be a thug, well, what’s wrong with a twist here and there? Shepherd is a power hungry SOB, nothing (as far as I understand the plot) suggests that Shepherd, when shooting Ghost and Roach, is acting on orders of the U.S. government.

    I realize that many Americans believe we can fight two front wars, and still be unbeatable at home, but remember that as recent as a couple of years ago, 40% of troops in Iraq weren’t even regular army or marines, but Army Reserves and National Guard. We’re the strongest military force in the world, but this notion that we are somehow unbeatable is false. We’re relying on NATO allies in many parts of Afghanistan, we rely on our allies in many parts of Iraq. Russia probably would not be able to get as far as they did in this game without Moscow and DC being completely obliterated by mutual nuclear strikes, but remember two things here, 1. DC is located on the East Coast, note coast. In this game they were pretty much stopped on the coast, again, note coast. They did not make it to the midwest or even West Virginia. And 2. If you want to play a game where the Russians are stopped before they even reach the East Coast, I suggest you get a flight combat game, or some naval combat game.

    I’d just like to add at the end to your statement “no matter how well you play, Washington still lies in rubble”, that even if you were Arnold, Sylvester Stallone or Stephen Segal, one soldier’s skill would never be able to stop a full-on invasion anyway.

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  20. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @jhwh303 – First of all, thank you for your service!

    Okay, I think the phrase “anti-Americanism” in my title was a little link-baity. It makes it sound like I think Modern Warfare 2 is somehow wrong and disrespectful. But really, I meant the post to be more of an observation, not a condemnation. I have no problem with the plot of Modern Warfare 2. Actually, I LIKE the plot of MW2, precisely because it wasn’t afraid to get dark. The first Modern Warfare 1 was PRETTY dark (a lot of soldiers are killed by a nuclear bomb) but America itself is saved from a nuclear attack just in the nick of time. Modern Warfare 1 plays out like a traditional Hollywood action movie – good guys save the day. Modern Warfare 2 shows our national defense grid going down completely. There’s a big difference there, and it’s definitely worth overthinking. But once again, I didn’t mean that I was ANGRY Modern Warfare 2 would go there.

    My point was that I was SURPRISED at the tone of the game, which seems to go out of its way to show America floundering. Things go from bad to worse for us, and the ending of the game isn’t so much a victory for the Stars and Stripes as living to fight another day. At the conclusion of the article, I say that a lot of AMERICANS feel that America is floundering, so the game feels like its tapped into some real anxieties. That’s what the best pop culture does.

    I can’t speak for the rest of the Overthinkers but I tend to nitpick the things I love, so what comes off as criticism is actually an appreciation of something I think is interesting.

    So let me think up an alternate title for this piece. Hmm, okay. To play off of something that Mark suggested: “The End of American Hegemony and Modern Warfare 2”. That would be fairer.

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  21. Lavanya #

    I remembered this article and cited it in a discussion of the Modern Warfare series, but it got 2real4me when I read this bit:

    >>Keep in mind that this is supposed to be 2016. I don’t know what’s more depressing—that we’re still in Afghanistan after 13 years of war, or that we still can’t get the locals to take control of their own security.

    Ooof.

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  22. Christopher #

    Shepherd was not collaborating with Makarov he was trying to assassinate him with the aid of Private Allen. Makarov simply out maneuvered him at every turn. And Price was legitimately a terrorist for trying to nuke America and destroying the ISS. So him and task force 141 therefore had to be put down for risk of anymore mass harm happening.

    Modern Warfare 2’s story falls apart very fast after all of these realizations are made. I’m not entirely sure why IW decided to have this kind of poor story just so Captain Price and Soap could have the spotlight. So thanks IW you forced us to play as terrorists just so you could make a sequel where Captain Price takes all of the glory.

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  23. JG #

    Old Post, but in General Shepherd’s actions, you are completely wrong. He killed Ghost and Roach and took the Intel because he wanted to deal with Makarov himself, as Makarov was responsible for the Nuke that killed all those Marines in COD4. Said Marines were under SHEPHERDS Command, so in the end it was a case of a good man gone astray. Wanting to take the credit for himself.

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