The author of the mission “Not a Word in Russian” from Call of Duty spoke about its creation – the task was considered offensive Editorial articles

2023-10-24 20:01:43

And some testers simply refused to take it.

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The mission “Not a Word in Russian” from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is considered one of the most memorable in the Activision shooter series. It gained notoriety because in it players need to carry out a terrorist attack at a Moscow airport by taking part in the mass shooting of civilians. The mission begins with the words “Remember, no russian” (“Remember, not a word in Russian”).

IGN Edition talked with game designer Mohammad Alavi about how this mission was developed and tested. We chose the main thing.

The idea to create the mission “Not a Word in Russian” belonged to Steve Fukuda, one of the four development leaders of Modern Warfare 2. Initially, he planned that its action would unfold in a shopping center, and terrorists led by Vladimir Makarov would emerge from an armored personnel carrier.

Ultimately, the events moved to the airport, but the essence remained the same. The developers initially wanted to create one of the most brutal and memorable missions in the Call of Duty series. According to Alavi, this moment should not only become a catalyst for the plot of Modern Warfare 2, but also be etched in people’s memories for many years.

I’ve often been asked if we wanted to create something controversial? No. I didn’t really want this. I wanted to do something memorable.

Mohammad Alavi, game designer

The mission begins without prior briefing. The developers did this on purpose to surprise or even shock the still unsuspecting player. According to Alavi, the worst thing happens after the opening seconds, when terrorists shoot the crowd in line. Next, players need to slowly move through the airport and methodically shoot civilians.

The first version of this level began with an attack on a control point, and then quickly turned into a typical Call of Duty action mission, Alavi said. Some developers on the team didn’t like this because they felt there was some understatement. Then Call of Duty franchise director Jason West asked Alavi and the team to “think bigger.” It was he who suggested that the entire mission at the airport should take place in the same vein as the introduction.

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In order to further enhance the experience, Alavi forbade players from running during the mission “Not a Word in Russian.” This gave the task a frighteningly casual tone.

I’m about to say something terrible, but this level was not about gameplay or puzzle solving. It’s not about learning new weapons, mechanics or anything like that. It was about selling this moment, living this moment.

Mohammad Alavi, game designer

Alavi recalled that even during the development of the mission there were many contradictions associated with it. So, during one of the stages of testing with random players, half of them did not shoot people during the passage. They only pretended to take part in the attack, but did not kill anyone, shooting at the ceiling or over the heads of civilians.

Moreover, some players completely refused to complete the game because they did not want to participate in the mass shooting of civilians.

The testing involved a military veteran who came to play. He reached this level, opened the doors and immediately realized that all the civilians were standing in front of him. Then he simply put down the controller and left the room, saying that he would not play this level. It amazed me.

Mohammad Alavi, game designer

This negative reaction was felt not only by testers, but also by some employees of the Infinity Ward studio.

There were people in the company who objected to this mission. At the time I thought they were overreacting, but they were 100% right. I remember one person telling me that this level was offensive and that he wouldn’t play it.

Mohammad Alavi, game designer

The developers believed that the mission “Not a Word in Russian” should remain in the game. However, concerns from other players raised doubts about whether it should be made mandatory for everyone. Then Jason West decided to add the ability to skip this mission to Modern Warfare 2. Alavi admitted that he didn’t want to do it at the time, but now he understands that West was right.

According to Alavi, with this mission he also wanted to make people think, not to pull the trigger right away, but just to hesitate for a moment. “I don’t care if they pull the trigger later, but if I make them stop for just a second and wonder, ‘What am I doing?’ then I feel like I’ve accomplished something,” the game designer said.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was released in 2009. The “Not a Word in Russian” level was widely criticized, including in Russia, where this mission was disabled in the PC edition.

Walkthrough of the mission “Not a word in Russian” in the Modern Warfare 2 remaster

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