Activision and Infinity Ward's highly anticipated first-person shooter, "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" has sparked controversy over its depiction of Russians in its single-player campaign. The first-person shooter has been hit with a flurry of bad reviews and accused of rewriting history as well as promoting anti-Russian propaganda.
"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" is set in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Urzikstan, which is an obvious stand-in for Syria, to build a plot in which British and American forces team up to take down Russian bad guys. The portrayal of Russians as murderous villains led by a rogue general in the video game doesn't seem to have gone down too well in Russia.
The game came under criticism from Russia well before its release, but one mission, in particular, has added more fuel to the fire. In that mission, players found themselves nestled in a sniper's nest overlooking a valley full of burnt-out vehicles. A cutscene reveals that the valley is called the "Highway of Death" after Russians bombed it during an invasion of the fictional country, killing those who tried to flee.
Turns out, the "Highway of Death" is an actual real-life massacre that dates back to the First Gulf War and American-led forces were responsible for it. In February 1991, US-led coalition bombed Iraqi forces as they retreated up Highway 80, which connects Iraq to Kuwait. The death toll remains unknown, but according to Project on Defense Alternatives, the attack claimed 500 to 600 lives.
Accusing developers of rewriting history to glorify Americans, "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" received a flood of negative user reviews on Metacritic, reducing its user score to 3.4. While many of the reviewers pointed out the historical inaccuracies in the game, the Russian critics are not happy with the way their soldiers in Syria are depicted as sadistic monsters in a game that claimed it wasn't political.
"Modern Warfare" has also come under criticism from the Russian media. A local news station also ran a four-minute report condemning the video game, according to BBC News. Many users have also taken to social media to express their anger over the game's revision of history to present US forces as the good guys.