Bleats

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's 'No Russian' Level Was So Close To Being Great Instead Of Pointless

Hindsight is 20/20.

Controversy is never far from the Call of Duty series. It is a video game franchise that revolves around shooting folks in the face after all. But the series took controversy to a whole new level with the infamous ‘No Russian’ level in its 2009 blockbuster hit, Modern Warfare 2.

You play as an undercover agent among villainous terrorists and you’re tasked with partaking in a mass shooting with them at Moscow International Airport. What unfolds is a level of unbridled blood, chaos, and horror as the terrorists (and you if you choose to) fire upon crowds and innocent civilians.

If you really want to watch the ‘No Russian’ level in full, you can do it here but just be warned that viewer discretion is advised.

The opening 10 seconds of ‘No Russian’ is the only NSFW part of the entire level.

Despite Modern Warfare 2 being deemed as arguably the best Call of Duty ever, ‘No Russian’ drew intense scrutiny as many questioned the value of including such a violent level that offers up very little. With the benefit of hindsight, it remains difficult to argue against all the controversy.

Outside of the context of Modern Warfare 2‘s story and themes, ‘No Russian’ just a gratuitous level that seemingly draws upon real life mass shootings and turns people into nothing more than human bowling pins. Within the context of the game, there’s also almost no reason for the level to exist.

While Modern Warfare 2 game designer Mohammad Alavi says ‘No Russian’ exists to serve the story, the level doesn’t really further the narrative that much or offer any commentary into warfare beyond “this is sickening” and “this dude is definitely the baddie” at the expense of an entire airport of civilians.

As extra salt in the wound, your character anticlimactically dies at the end of the level anyway, rendering the entire thing almost moot and bypassing any potential moral burden players may have felt.

The Modern Warfare sub-series of Call of Duty revolves around examining warfare in a present day context and all the social and psychological impacts it has on all those involved. ‘No Russian’ misses the mark on that front but having said that, the developers weren’t far from turning the level to all-time great.

Rather than playing a mass shooter, ‘No Russian’ should’ve had you play as one of the innocent victims in the airport. Not only would Modern Warfare 2 have avoided much of the controversy by having the game’s sympathies lie in the right place, it would’ve also offered up a powerful and emotional examination into mass shootings within a modern day context given all the real life shootings that have occurred in recent years.

Instead, we end up with a needlessly violent level where you play as a quickly-forgotten character and the only lesson to be learned is anything is on the table as long as the mission is complete or an agenda is fulfilled, even if it means murdering dozens of innocents.

Hindsight is 20/20 and it’s frustrating that Call of Duty missed out on such a big opportunity to offer up a powerful statement in the otherwise brilliant Modern Warfare 2.

‘No Russian’ will forever be remembered as a watershed moment in video gaming. It’s just a shame that it is for all the wrong reasons.

Studio Attempts To Recoup The Costs Of Their Dud Game By Charging You Even More

Capitalism. Capitalism never changes.

When you’re a video game studio that’s released a dud game before subsequently pissing off your fans with false promises, you’d move mountains to get that goodwill back by fixing the game ASAP. But if you’re Bethesda and the game is Fallout 76, apparently the strategy is to piss off fans even more.

After seemingly getting back on track following Fallout 76‘s trouble-filled launch, Bethesda has blown all that recovered goodwill away (again) by announcing it will be introducing a Netflix-esque subscription service called “Fallout 1st” to the game that will give paying players access to a private server.

There’s only one response to this peculiar move from Bethesda:

It’s not like this new Fallout 76 subscription service going to be as cheap as Netflix – or similar services like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now – either as it’s apparently going to cost $12.99USD a month (about $19AUD) or $99.99USD a year (about $146AUD).

The value of money is also in question as well as membership will net you:

  • Private worlds for yourself and up to seven friends.
  • A Scrapbox with unlimited storage for crafting materials.
  • A Survival Tent that acts as a placeable fast travel point.
  • 1,650 Atoms a month for the game’s shop.
  • An exclusive Ranger Armor outfit.
  • Unique icons and emotes.

So despite Fallout 76 fans asking for things like human non-playable characters, more bug fixes and new quests for ages, Bethesda, in its infinite wisdom, thought it was a better idea to postpone those things in favour of something that charges players even more money.

Bold strategy

It’s not impossible to rescue a dud game as Hello Games has impressively done with its slew of free post-launch updates to the initially-panned No Man’s Sky.

However, it’s another to shamelessly charge players even more money for content no one asked for and to lock away requested things behind a paywall. While this subscription service model isn’t new for gaming – Minecraft has done it with great success – introducing it to Fallout 76, a game that’s spent most of its post-launch time trying to fix its problems rather than improving and expanding its player base, is premature to say the least.

Look, it’s understandable to want to make money considering the amount of resources that goes into a game like Fallout 76 these days, but the way Bethesda is going about it feels pretty shady. It’s almost like the studio is going out of its way to piss off fans for the sake of a few extra dollars.

Whether this will work in the short term remains up in the air but it’ll almost certainly cost Bethesda more than just money in the long run as this move has all but eradicated whatever fan goodwill the studio had left.

At this point, it’s almost better if Bethesda shifted its attention to make sure Fallout 5 is a masterpiece rather than rescuing Fallout 76 because it’s winning back fans is going to be an uphill task.

Hey Ninja, Begging Lady Gaga To Stream Fortnite With You Is A Bit Hypocritical Isn't It?

Or do you only make exceptions for those with a bigger profile than you?

Lady Gaga caused a bit of a stir when she innocently tweeted out “What’s fortnight,” which made the entire Fortnite fandom to sit up and take notice. The most well-known name in the community, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, took this random opportunity to shoot his shot by asking if she wanted to steam a little Fortnite with him.

This would normally be win-win for video gaming and for Lady Gaga as this sort of cross-pollination will undoubtedly benefit both fanbases, but the whole situation is tainted somewhat given Ninja’s controversial stance on streaming with women.

The Fortnite streamer previously said (via Polygon) he chooses not to stream with female gamers out of respect for his wife, Jessica, and to minimise any potential drama or unsavoury rumours that may arise should he stream with a woman.

Ninja’s response unsurprisingly drew a polarised response among the gaming and streaming communities. Some supported his decision and argued it was reflective of how toxic the gaming community can be rather than any sexist views (which is a good point).

Others thought it was a misuse of the massive influence he wields and refusing to stream with female gamers not only does a disservice to women in the industry but also highlights sexism within the community as while he doesn’t have to stream with women, him essentially saying “it’s not worth it” simply adds to the ridiculous idea that men and women can’t have non-sexual relationships (which is also a good point).

So having stood firm on his “no streaming with women” stance, his begging of Lady Gaga to stream Fortnite with him brings up one big question: why the sudden change of heart, Ninja?

Not wanting to stream with female gamers as a way to reduce harassment is perfectly valid. Gamers can be awful and no one needs that sort of treatment in their life, especially if you’re as big as Ninja.

But you can’t help but smell the hypocrisy when you see him go from “I refuse to stream with women” to “please play Fortnite with me Lady Gaga” without any hesitation or thought about any rumours that particular team-up might cause, especially since she’s apparently single and ready to mingle.

After being called out for flip-flopping on his rules, Ninja hit back by claiming he’s played Fortnite multiple women since he made his “I don’t stream with women” stance.

To be fair, he has streamed with women since then. There was that time he played Fortnite with Ellen DeGeneres and, uh, that’s basically it actually. Fine, he’s streamed with a woman but that’s still more than none.

Now this might be a coincidence but it seems like Ninja’s streaming partners of choice are those who have far larger followings than he does and gender becomes a non-issue.

Now I’m not saying that Ninja is more than willing to make an exception if the woman he’s streaming with has a bigger following than he does but there’s a pretty massive disparity between Lady Gaga’s followers (79.8 million on Twitter alone) and Ellen’s followers (78.8 million on Twitter alone) compared to his “mere” 5.2 million Twitter. Throw in other big names like Drake and Trevor Noah and the massive following disparity soon becomes hard to ignore.

As for Lady Gaga’s response to Ninja’s Fortnite stream invitation? Well I’ll let her tweet speak for itself:

It’s still up in the air whether Lady Gaga decides to read up on who Ninja is and whether she wants to stream with him, but this whole saga has been more about the most popular video game streamer revealing how willing he is to bend his own rules.

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