You’ve probably seen the headlines. They’re pretty hard to miss. After all, when two of mainstream media’s favorite buzzwords – “violent videogames” and “terrorism” – cross streams, things get messy. If you’ve somehow managed to position yourself smack in the eye of the media storm, however, here’s the story: Last week, someone leaked a scene from Modern Warfare 2 in which you, the player, take up arms and gun down some people. As a terrorist. And those people? Innocent civilians who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And I’m perfectly ok with that. Why? We’ll get to that in a bit.
What I do take issue with, though, is Infinity Ward’s treatment of the whole fiasco. Moments after every videogame blog on the planet’s normal programming was interrupted to bring you this special report, Infinity Ward issued a statement. “Players have the option of skipping over the scene,” it read. “At the beginning of the game, there are two ‘checkpoints’ where the player is advised that some people may find an upcoming segment disturbing. These checkpoints can’t be disabled.”
Which is PR-speak for: “We’re afraid that the mainstream media’s going to tear us to shreds for this one, but we’ve handily built in this failsafe. You’ll never take us alive! Mwahahahaha! *Rockets into the sky using a concealed jetpack*.”
See, while stirring terrorists, innocent slaughter, and videogames into the same stew may initially leave a bad taste in people’s mouths, I think Infinity Ward’s taking a big step in the right direction. It’s a shame, then, that they’re so quickly scrambling to cover their tracks.
One step forward, two steps back. After talking up reality-based shooter Six Days in Fallujah as its next big thing – not to mention potentially opening the door for other games to actually sneak behind the lines of wars that aren’t WWII – publisher Konami came down with a case of cold feet. The publisher’s reason for the startlingly snappy about-face? Controversy.
“After seeing the reaction to the videogame in the United States and hearing opinions sent through phone calls and email, we decided several days ago not to sell it,” said a Konami rep.
“We were informed on Thursday night that Konami had decided to pull out of Six Days in Fallujah,” Atomic Games president Peter Tamte said in an official statement. “This caught us by surprise. Development of the game had been progressing very well and on schedule.”
Six Days in Fallujah has not, however, bitten the big one. As of now, it’s merely without a publisher, though finding one with the stones to take a jog through the PR minefield that this game presents probably won’t be an easy task.
Our guess: Six Days in Fallujah will end up spending a smidge more than six days in publishing purgatory. Maybe that’ll give Atomic Games some time to think about giving Fallujah a slight revamp. We can only hope.
In an understandably controversial move, Konami and Atomic Games recently demonstrated their upcoming “realistic” shooter, Six Days in Fallujah. The game – apparently supervised by the hardened eyes of soldiers who actually fought the debatably good fight – will focus primarily on the Second Battle of Fallujah. And as much as I enjoy the beautifully orchestrated, occasionally tear-jerking fictional plots of games like Call of Duty 4 and Brothers in Arms, I think Konami’s bold leap is a necessary one.
There’s just one problem, though: They’re doing it wrong.
Many publications were recently invited into the trenches of the still deep-in-development title, and – as many dejected “first impressions” articles can attest – Fallujah’s gameplay’s paradoxical lack of realism stands out like, well, Rambo in a shootout. Take this bit, for instance:
“In another clip, the player broke off from his squad, crouched up behind two insurgents who were firing on US soldiers, and took them out from a few feet away like some kind of renegade commando. I may be ignorant of this particular battle, but I've certainly never heard of any Army ninjas breaking off from their squads and capping insurgents solo. Maybe something like that has happened once or twice; either way, the videogamey nature of the moment seemed entirely out of place,” said Shacknews reporter Nick Breckon.
Continue reading to find out why Six Days in Fallujah is in such a schizophrenic state, and how we can salvage it.