Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is now out and people are soldiering through its campaign.
The gritty story includes a raft of set-pieces designed to put the player in an uncomfortable situation – and even includes opportunities for player choice.
THERE MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD.
One of the campaign’s best levels – a raid on a house in Camden Town – sees the player skulking about in the dark, creeping up stairs, slowly opening doors and, hopefully, checking targets.
At one point you enter a room and startle a mother who runs over to a cot to pick up her crying baby. The game has set you up to consider every person in the house a potential enemy – this is the reality of modern warfare, we’re told, and the bad guys often look like good guys. So, do you shoot the mother?
If you shoot the mother, she dies, slumping to the floor as the baby screams. “What the fuck are you doing?” one soldier says. “Sort yourself out or I will,” Captain Price adds. The baby, still crying, is a problem, you think as you consider what to do next, as it’s loud and loud is bad when you’re trying to be quiet. One of your soldier friends slowly picks up the baby and puts it back in the cot. From there, you can move on.
Or you can shoot the baby.
If you shoot the baby it’s game over and you start again from the last checkpoint. In Modern Warfare, shooting innocents or soldiers on your side triggers game over and you see a text explanation. (I got a game over for accidentally shooting Captain Price in the face – sorry, mate!). It’s the same if you shoot the baby. You get the “children are non-combatants” message and restart from the previous checkpoint. Clearly, Infinity Ward wants you to know shooting the baby is bad. Very, very bad.
That’s that, you’d imagine. But if you keep shooting the baby, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has a special message for you, you absolute monster: “Are you serious?”
And then you’re booted to the mission map screen, Infinity Ward’s words of condemnation still ringing in your ears.
Here’s how it looks. Be warned: it’s pretty disturbing stuff.
It’s worth noting you never see the baby get shot – if you pull the trigger the game fades to black before any gore is displayed – very much a good thing, I think. But still: you pulled the trigger on an innocent, defenseless baby.
I’m not sure what the takeaway is, here. I guess there isn’t one! I suspect the Call of Duty community will end up trying lots of different ways to try to kill the baby. I’ve already seen players try to kill it with a grenade. Modders will have a field day.