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A Look Back at Modern Warfare 2's Campaign of Silliness

Like many others around the world, I am waiting impatiently for the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. However, although I will be playing the multiplayer like it is going out of style, I wait more in anticipation of the single-player campaign. But my anticipation of the campaign is not because I have a vested interest in where the story is going, but because I want to see some redemption from the atrocity that was Modern Warfare 2’s story.

I will not deny Modern Warfare 2 had some intense, heart-pounding moments. But if you take a step back, let the heart pounding stop and really think about what is going on in the story, you will find yourself amazed at the gaping holes and silliness of the story. Let’s take a walk through the campaign and I will show you what I mean.

CIA, Where Do I Sign Up?
Let’s start at the beginning with the recruitment of Private Allen into Task Force 141. Although these first couple of missions don’t stray too far from reality, the overall concept of how an Army private is inducted into the CIA based on the results of a single run through “The Pit” and a single mission working a Ranger unit through some school buildings where the private seems to be just another of the crew seems a little far-fetched. Again, this is not a glaring problem, but it is a preamble to the silliness that ensues as the story moves on.

Oh, Just Pick Us Up Anywhere on the Other Side of the Canyon
In the following mission, we are transported into the shoes of Roach, alongside good old Captain “Soap” MacTavish, in the remote freezing wastelands of Russia to retrieve a “downed ACS module”. Exactly what an ACS module is seems to be left to the definition of the player, but it seems to be a way for the Russians to crack the US’s defense grid. Regardless, the module is recovered and Roach and Soap must escape capture or death in a thrilling snowmobile chase to their extraction point…across a canyon?! What veteran special operator would pick an extraction zone across a CANYON?!

A Little Backstory
Before I move on and discuss the infamous “No Russian” level, I feel we need a little backstory understanding. Although the details are not entirely filled in on what happened between Modern Warfare and it sequel, we are told that Zakhaev has been hailed as a hero with his own memorial in Red Square. We also know, a la Commander Shepherd, that Makarov was next in line behind Zakhaev. We also know, based on the newspaper clippings we are shown from around the world, that Makarov is well known in a number of countries as one mean SOB. With that background, we are ready to discuss the biggest problem with the story: the “No Russian” level.

Russian Face Recognition is How Old?
Essentially, Private Allen has gone undercover to infiltrate Makarov’s ranks and is selected to assist in the mass murder of innocent civilians in a Russian airport. Based on the name of the mission, and the fact that Makarov instructs your team not to speak in Russian, Makarov is afraid of the attack being linked back to any Russians. This makes sense if you want to point the blame at another country. However, nobody on your team uses a mask, not even Makarov himself. Your entire group walks through the entire airport concourse with automatic weapons, Kevlar vests, but no masks. Yet, when the smoke clears they blame it on the lone American CIA agent dead on the ground? First, we should recognize that Private Allen would never have carried an ID on him saying he was American, nor would he have a piece of paper on him saying “Hi, I’m a CIA agent/spy.” Second, Makarov’s face is on a number of security cameras, very clearly. One might argue that the security footage was not clear enough to identify Makarov. My next issue will address this, but at this point, the entire motive behind the impending invasion of the America is gone.

Just Spin the Globe and Point to Where You Want to Go
Task Force 141 sees the video, they see Makarov, the go hunt down Makarov at his safe house’s/vacation homes/known hideouts…wait, no, they don’t? That’s right, they get a detailed analysis off of a bullet casing from the video with the apparently poor video quality to where the Russians can’t identify Makarov’s ugly grill, directing them after a gun runner name Rojas. First, this means the video quality was excellent to be able to identify information off of the security footage. Second, as a firearms man, a bullet casing can’t tell you crap about where a weapon came from outside of matching the firing pin strike location, but you would need the casing as well as the gun and that would only tell you the gun may have fired that bullet. The only exception to the rule: if you hand-make your ammunition. Seeing as how Rojas is a huge arms dealer, I highly doubt he is milling his own ammunition. He would either be getting reloads from the battlefield or purchasing from a vendor.

What is a “Mad-On”?
Ultimately, the unlikely mission to the favela in Rio to track down Rojas leads to the knowledge that Makarov’s worst enemy is held in a Russian gulag. This brings up another issue, if Zakhaev was a hailed Russian hero and Makarov was his right hand, why couldn’t Makarov just walk into the Russian prison and do whatever he wanted to the man he has such a “mad-on” for?

Let’s Blow Up Some SEALs
The next couple of missions is fairly standard and represents few plot issues, but they do set up a plot problem in the next mission. Task Force 141 and the Navy SEALs silently infiltrate oil rigs with hostages to secure the SAM sites on the rigs and save human life, all of which makes sense. However, when Task Force 141 reaches the Russian gulag, the US Navy is so hopped up on blowing s*** up that they do not mind harming Task Force 141 or the Navy SEALs. Given the comradery of the military, I find this highly unlikely. Almost as unlikely as the identity of the prisoner: Captain Price. Based on the conversation between Price and Soap, as well as the handing over of the gun that killed Zakhaev, we are left to assume the last time they saw one another was on the bridge at the end of Modern Warfare. So…how did the two get separated and why is Soap not behind bars with Price? Some might point to the fan made film, stating that Price was captured while searching for Makarov. If that is the case, why is Soap just now handing Price’s 1911 back to him?

Quick, Grab That Plot Twist!
During this whole issue, Sgt. Foley’s Ranger team is trying to hold off the Russian invasion in Virginia, and is directed to assist a high value subject in the area who is under attack. After working your way through the suburbs, you finally come across your target home, only to find the asset dead, and some odd soldiers with markings and missing documents. It’s awesome, it is intrigue, it is black ops type work, it…is a plot that gets dropped as quickly as it gets started? Yep, they start a great plot movement and stop it the second it begins. If it connects with another plot line like Shadow Company, we are never told, nor is the answer even implied. You might as well have sent the unit to the 7-11 to pick up some Slushies, it would have taken the same amount of time, advanced the plot just as far, but have tasted a lot better than the bile in your mouth after you realize you just wasted a lot of time for nothing.

Like the Trench Run Without Vader
Sgt. Foley’s team works their way into D.C. and the principal push against the Russians and their forces. Just when you think you’ll be crawling through the dirt and moving quickly from cover to cover, you find trenches dug out for you. How are there trenches in front of the capital building with the amount of firepower the Russians are pressing from the buildings?! Did the Army grow some bullet-proof backhoes from somewhere? If so, why not charge the buildings in those, you’d take less casualties. But we’ll let that though mull over in your heads and move back to our fearless Task Force 141.

Oh, He Kids, He Won’t Fire Those
At the opening of the next mission, Price brings up the schematics on a Russian nuclear submarine, showing the nukes themselves, implying his intent to launch. Shepherd calls him nuts, but Soap just sits back and is ok with it. However, hours later, when the rockets are firing, suddenly Soap has a problem with the nuke being fired. Make up your dang mind! But this isn’t the worst of it, the concept of the nukes being fired is the problem.

Mutually Assured What-Now?
First, nuclear weapons have safety measures, coded and physical. Nukes require launch codes that are generally known by national leaders and confirmed by commanders. Once the codes are entered, two keys are required to launch a nuclear weapon. Based on the mission and the amount of time spent in the sub, it seems like Price just walked in and pressed the red “F*** America” button and launched a nuclear weapon. Second, how did Price program the nuke to detonate above the atmosphere? I doubt the Russians keep a nuclear weapon pre-programmed to do that sort of thing. Third, we live under a concept called the theory of mutually assured destruction. Jimmy Carter said it best when he said:

“To continue to deter in an era of strategic nuclear equivalence, it is necessary to have nuclear (as well as conventional) forces such that in considering aggression against our interests any adversary would recognize that no plausible outcome would represent a victory or any plausible definition of victory.”
 
If a nuclear weapon was heading in our direction, I promise you no leader would be asking an astronaut to adjust his vision to see the missile coming around the planet, he would be entering the launch codes to return fire, no questions asked.

Army or Marine, Make Up Your Mind
Finally, after all of this, you get to go after Makarov’s safe houses, the places you should have been at after the “No Russian” mission. However, you find yourself betrayed by an American General, who started the whole thing with Makarov. Wait, did I just say he helped start the invasion? Why, yes, I did. But why would an Army General want to start a war with another nuclear country? In his own words, Commander Shepherd started it because:

“Five years ago, I lost 30,000 men in the blink of an eye... and the world just f***in' watched. Tomorrow, there will be no shortage of volunteers, no shortage of patriots.”

 It all makes sense now…or does it? Since when does an ARMY General lead MARINE forces into battle? The way I remember the first Modern Warfare, the Marines meant to walk in, get rid of Al Ahsad and walk right back out, but it got complicated. But the Army never got involved until now. So, now not only is the invasion of America without motive, the motive behind pushing that now no longer makes sense.

I enjoyed Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer, but the single-player story made me feel like the writer’s just wanted to dazzle me so much that they could insult my intelligence with a poorly molded story. I put this out here as a challenge to Activision and Infinity Ward to save the Modern Warfare story that started so strong, and fizzled out so badly. Please save it with the next installment. And, to my fellow single-player story fans, let us rise up against garbage stories like this and pray to the Call of Duty Gods that this shambles is cleaned up next week.

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