The Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer is creepy because it de-creepifies something that's creepy.
If you’ve never played Call of Duty 4 (COD4), it’s well worth the money, not only for it’s single player but also it’s multiplayer. I have spoken favourably on it a couple of times. One of the aspects of this game which I liked (in common with Yahtzee, and let’s never mention him again) is that despite the fact that you play as the allies, neither side is given a particularly favourable treatment. In particular, there’s a chilling moment where you play in one of the gunships, taking out targets with night-vision from far above the earth.
The level itself is quite simple. The freaky thing about it is that the look and feel of the level is very similar to this video where a gunship and it’s crew casually murder a bunch of people. It’s a video which represents not only the horrors of war, but the detachment that modern technology brings.
So what’s the problem with Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) multiplayer? Well, MW Multiplayer had a couple of rewards for when you killed a bunch of people without dying — first radar, then an airstrike, then a heli. In MW2, not only do you get to choose a variety of upgrades, as well as the order in which they will arrive, but one of the upgrades appears to be the gunship, which you will then control to kill off your enemies.
On the one hand, I can see the rationale: they want to do even more, and go even further with MW2 than they did with MW, but I see this particularly as a problem. Where once you saw your player’s actions as deplorable, perhaps even condemned them, you now do the exact same thing for entertainment — it’s a fun game tactic, not a throwback to a real video where you’re not sure whether the people you’re shooting are civilians or terrorists. Instead of making that imagery more powerful, it instead dilutes it. Instead of making war horrifying, it glorifies it.
I certainly hope the team at Infinity Ward get this right.