No Russian – My very belated thoughts
It may have came out over a year ago, but I’ve only gotten around to beginning Modern Warfare 2’s single player campaign today, after I lent it from a friend. So far I’ve played the first three levels and general impressions aside, I thought I’d just offer a short opinion on the game’s most infamous level, “No Russian”. This level has you playing as a deep undercover CIA operative who is forced to take part in a terrorist attack at a Russian airport to prove his loyalty to Makarov, the criminal he is working for.
I have to say, the airport sure had a lot of places selling condoms. Do passengers get busy while going through the scanners or something? I also checked out what burgers I could buy from the airport, but I couldn’t get anything on the account of all the staff being dead. The same could be said when I went over to the gift shop and checked out the airport’s fine selection of whiskies, but by this point Makarov had grown tired of my “cowardice” and he and his buddies shot me down. For all he knows, I could have been picking out his Christmas present.
Joking aside though, I did feel slightly uneasy playing through the airport section of the level, but not to the point that I didn’t want to carry on. I was surprised, because with games such as Grand Theft Auto and the like, killing civilians isn’t a big deal. It’s just something that can happen in the game. However, here I was slowly walking through the airport gunning down people who had their hands up. Couples. Someone crying over the body of their recently deceased friend. It wasn’t too fun. I think it might have been the first person view. I don’t know if that might of made it more immersive than Grand Theft Auto, but it did seem to have more of an impact on me.
That being said, you never have to shoot anyone until you start fighting the Russian forces, maybe not even for the entire level if you let your AI friends do the job for you. Although, I think it’s more the fact that there’s nothing you can do to prevent what is happening right in front of you. Despite being in control of the character, you’re just as unable to do anything as you would when watching a film.
Does it have a lasting impact? No, because the level after it’s back to the normal Modern Warfare style and the events of No Russian are just treated like any other plot point in the story so far. Was it needed? I don’t know. The event could have been done as part of a cutscene before another level explaining the situation, but then it probably wouldn’t have any impact on the player. As long as Infinity Ward believed they were doing the right thing and weren’t just doing it to get press or controversy or to top the nuke in Call of Duty 4 then I have no problem with the level being there. Besides, you can skip it if you want to.