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First Person Shooters (Games) Games

Combat Vets On CoD: Black Ops, Medal of Honor Taliban 93

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-as-messy-as-the-real-deal dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Thom 'SSGTRAN' Tran, seen in the Call of Duty: Black Ops live action trailer and in the game as the NVA multiplayer character, gets interviewed and talks about Medal of Honor's Taliban drama. '... to me, it's a non-issue. This is Hollywood. This is entertainment. There has to be a bad guy if there's going to be a good guy. It's that simple. Regardless of whether you call them — "Taliban" or "Op For" — you're looking at the same thing. They're the bad guys.'" Gamasutra published a related story about military simulation games from the perspective of black ops veteran and awesome-name-contest winner Wolfgang Hammersmith. "In his view, all gunfights are a series of ordered and logical decisions; when he explains it to me, I can sense him performing mental math, brain exercise, the kind that appeals to gamers and game designers. Precise skill, calculated reaction. Combat operations and pistolcraft are the man's life's work."
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Combat Vets On CoD: Black Ops, Medal of Honor Taliban

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  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @06:56AM (#34316162) Journal

    I've played through the campaigns in both MoH and Black Ops. I'm not quite sure why I did; I was pretty sure in advance that I wouldn't like them. I'm not a great fan of the "gated corridor" school of level design that the Call of Duty series has promoted and I feel like I've seen pretty much every possible variation on their big "set piece" scenes by now. Indeed, having completed both of them, it's hard to manage more than a "meh".

    MoH is a strange game, at least partially, I suspect, because of how the developers were trying to skirt around the "taste" issue. It seems to alternate between the kind of po-faced faux-seriousness that made me wonder whether I was supposed to be saluting my monitor, and "yay, quad bike level". The weird thing is that this ended up creeping me out rather more than a straightforward treatment of the same material would have.

    The game clearly has aspirations to be the kind of semi-serious treatment of contemporary conflicts that we see in some movies, but it falls short because of the fact that... well... it's an action game pitched at a fairly low common denominator in terms of its player base. It's hard to square serious reflections on war with mowing down vast waves of infinitely respawning Taliban with a big machinegun. In fact, while I generally regard MoH as too silly to be offensive, the one area in which it does skirt close to crossing a line, I felt, was in portraying the Taliban as braindead grunts who charge in their hundreds into a hail of machinegun fire. That's seriously underestimating and trivialising the task that our actual armed forces have to do in Afghanistan.

    Black Ops is a different kettle of fish entirely, in that it accepts its own ridiculousness from the outset. It's basically just a pastiche of cold war conspiracy theories and Boy's Own adventure stories which, despite some graphic content that's not for the squeamish, is unlikely to ever cross the line into actually offensive (well, apart from the whole Cuba issue, but I confess to having just found that funny). It put me in mind of the Roger Moore era James Bond movies; The Spy Who Loved Me and so on, mixed with some of the more famous scenes from Vietnam movies like The Deer Hunter and Full Metal Jacket.

    I don't think it even aims for historical accuracy. Guns show up in the campaign that shouldn't have existed until years later. In the context of some of the howlers that Black Ops throws into the mix with gleeful abandon, I don't think that a few errors in the poster are really worth noting.

    As a final note, I enjoyed Black Ops more than MoH (in so far as I enjoyed either, given how constrained the gameplay is). A cheerfully unrealistic game is always going to be more fun than a game which would like to be realistic but fails spectacularly. I think MoH presents a pretty good case that videogames aren't likely to be able to do serious treatments of current wars. But then, maybe it's just the genre? Would a suvival-horror based game, or a small-squad RTS (a la Dawn of War 2) have more luck?

    • by biryokumaru (822262) <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @07:12AM (#34316266)

      I think MoH presents a pretty good case that videogames aren't likely to be able to do serious treatments of current wars. But then, maybe it's just the genre? Would a suvival-horror based game, or a small-squad RTS (a la Dawn of War 2) have more luck?

      MoH can't be a serious treatment of a current war in the same way that Hollywood can no longer produce ground breaking cinema. They're both subject to a cookie cutter creation method that stifles any innovation that isn't purely technical. I can absolutely guarantee that there are games no one has ever heard of that do a spectacular job of talking about war. The problem is, no multi billion dollar corporation will ever produce them.

      One of the many things capitalism has a vastly negative effect on is art, and if MoH is a good case for any argument, it's that one.

      • by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @07:23AM (#34316316) Homepage

        One of the many things capitalism has a vastly negative effect on is art,

        Usually.

        Art + Capitalism = a product or "brand".

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by mfh (56)

          Art + Capitalism = a product or "brand".

          The art corporations flog is not really art. It's production. Art captures something outside of the capitalist formula; something that is always edited out by corporations. Artists have a choice; sell your soul to the corporations, sell your soul to the devil, or paint flower pots (although it could be argued that painting flower pots is mark one for the devil). There hasn't been an artist to walk the Earth that chose to suffer in stride for his creation without perso

          • Art + Capitalism = a product or "brand".

            The art corporations flog is not really art. It's production. Art captures something outside of the capitalist formula; something that is always edited out by corporations. Artists have a choice; sell your soul to the corporations, sell your soul to the devil, or paint flower pots (although it could be argued that painting flower pots is mark one for the devil). There hasn't been an artist to walk the Earth that chose to suffer in stride for his creation without personal sacrifice.

            Oh please. You're talking in absolutes, in black and white, as if the world really operates that way. That's a false dilemma.

          • by Vegeta99 (219501)

            You mean to say that it is bad to ever pay for/charge for art?

            Fuck, I better get the sandpaper and pulse laser out...

      • by Skuto (171945)

        >I can absolutely guarantee that there are games no one has ever heard of that do a spectacular job of talking about war.

        And if you don't post links, they will remain unknown.

      • by Kelbear (870538)

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Days_in_Fallujah [wikipedia.org]

        Six days in Fallujah was interesting as a serious attempt to portray a current war:

        Quote:
        "In an interview with Atomic Games president, Peter Tamte, he stated that "One of the divisions in our company was developing training tools for the United States Marine Corps, and they assigned some Marines from Third Battalion First Marines to help us out."[2] However, a few months into development, Third Battalion, First Marines was deployed in Iraq and participated in

      • by sdgoat (789416)

        One of the many things capitalism has a vastly negative effect on is art

        You mean like the Renaissance artists? They didn't exactly work for free, and they didn't always get to choose the theme; "I would like a fresco of the last supper" When you do work, or a service, for a fee, and you market that service to the general public, and you are in competition with other people in the same trade...you suddenly have...capitalism! I'm not sure how capitalism has any effect on art good or bad. The good ones will always shine through. And they will still be producing art when the pay

      • I think MoH presents a pretty good case that videogames aren't likely to be able to do serious treatments of current wars. But then, maybe it's just the genre? Would a suvival-horror based game, or a small-squad RTS (a la Dawn of War 2) have more luck?

        MoH can't be a serious treatment of a current war in the same way that Hollywood can no longer produce ground breaking cinema. They're both subject to a cookie cutter creation method that stifles any innovation that isn't purely technical. I can absolutely guarantee that there are games no one has ever heard of that do a spectacular job of talking about war. The problem is, no multi billion dollar corporation will ever produce them.

        One of the many things capitalism has a vastly negative effect on is art, and if MoH is a good case for any argument, it's that one.

        1. Jarhead
        2. Metal Gear Solid

        The most popular/profitable movies/games may be the cookie-cutter crap you're complaining about, but groundbreaking cinema and video games do exist (and even ones about war!). Capitalism has nothing to do with good art or bad art. That's a cultural issue. Most war movies, just like war video games, are not art. Most people who are in the market to immerse themselves in fictional warfare aren't interested in reflecting on greater issues. But for artsy weirdos such as myself, ther

        • Just because they're not the most popular doesn't mean they don't and can't exist.

          I'm, um, glad we agree?

      • MoH can't be a serious treatment of a current war in the same way that Hollywood can no longer produce ground breaking cinema. They're both subject to a cookie cutter creation method that stifles any innovation that isn't purely technical.

        I'm not a film expert, but "Inception" seemed both ground breaking and Hollywood.

        I'm not a videogame expert (and didn't play MoH), but I think there are a number of innovations those "cookie cutter" created games you're talking about came up with. When playing through modern warfare 1 and 2, and black ops, I was impressed with the storytelling going on there. I don't think people who make FPS games have come up with a really good way of telling the story, most are shooting interspersed with movies. I've

        • Halflife was made by Valve, a very different company than EA. It's indie versus Hollywood there, and you picked them out as prime examples yourself.

          As for Fallout, try the first two, or Planescape Torment. Those are ground breaking storytelling. I haven't played Medal of Honor either, but there is absolutely no way it could possibly compare. None.

          I haven't seen Inception, in fact I've seen no new movies in the theater since my son was born, so my negative talk against Hollywood may be a bit stale, it's poss

          • Valve is hardly indie. If Valve is indie, then who does that leave? EA and Activision as the only two companies who don't count as indie?

            The first two fallouts were not FPS.

            I haven't seen Inception, in fact I've seen no new movies in the theater since my son was born, so my negative talk against Hollywood may be a bit stale, it's possible. But not likely.

            That sounds a little illogical there, don't you think? You say Hollywood can't make fresh movies these days, I bring up a recent fresh movie, and you say you don't watch movies anymore but you're probably still right?

        • by Gizzmonic (412910)

          I'm not a film expert, but "Inception" seemed both ground breaking and Hollywood.

          In what way was Inception 'groundbreaking'? It was navel-gazing dreck with zero memorable characters. The dreamworlds weren't even that nice to look at; in fact, one of them may as well have been someone playing Call of Duty. In fact, I would have rather watched someone play Call of Duty than watch cardboard characters get shot and 'die' within a dream within a dream within a dream...or did they? Ooh man, that's like, soooo

      • by sznupi (719324)

        Hollywood can no longer produce ground breaking cinema

        A lot of people will be saying very similar thing when comparing present Hollywood movies (or games) to what they will have in few decades.

        There was always lots of crap. It's just not remembered because it was...crap. And there's quite a few good things made, enough for "old times were better".

    • by Skuto (171945)

      >I felt, was in portraying the Taliban as braindead grunts who charge in their hundreds into a hail of machinegun fire. That's seriously underestimating and
      >trivialising the task that our actual armed forces have to do in Afghanistan.

      Having played it, I wouldn't say that MoH is "trivialising the task". More like the contrary, the US gets its ass kicked.

      And the American politicians get an even worse treatment in MoH, but then again, maybe that is the realism and the *real* reason they're outraged at th

    • by vegiVamp (518171)

      > the one area in which it does skirt close to crossing a line, I felt, was in portraying the Taliban as braindead grunts who charge in their hundreds into a hail of machinegun fire. That's seriously underestimating and trivialising the task that our actual armed forces have to do in Afghanistan.

      I find it interesting how you take that as a possible insult on the US forces, instead of a severe underestimation and misrepresentation of an opponent that has kept the US forces busy for a decade now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by js3 (319268)

      I played the campaign because I like to sit in my couch and shoot stuff. That's why we buy video games, nothing more, nothing less.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Xest (935314)

      "It's hard to square serious reflections on war with mowing down vast waves of infinitely respawning Taliban with a big machinegun."

      This is true, but on the same note, one of the things that ruined Black Ops for me was the fact that even in as a comical portrayal of the cold war the AI was just so bad it wasn't even fun- not only did it have the infinitely respawning hoardes mechanic, but your AI and their AI would just run right past each other literally bumping into each other without so much as flinching

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      I have been reading Slashdot for many years now and this is the most insightful and on-topic first post I have ever seen. It's well-balanced and expresses your opinion thoughtfully and clearly.

      Quite obviously it is the end of days, for this is surely one of the signs of the apocalypse.

    • by Samfer (1944748)
      lol no kidding. This guy should really check out Operation Reality [operationreality.org] if he wants to review a proper military simulator and not some ridiculous arcade shooter with way too many cut scenes and hollywood special effects!
  • by naz404 (1282810) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @07:08AM (#34316248) Homepage
    Summary doesn't mention that 3rd TFA says that Hammersmith just wrote a book about his experiences and is looking at gamers as a target audience and that the other article link is about a young gamer middle east veteran who was involved in the COD: Black Ops game production.

    What a one-sided post. :-/
  • Say it with me now:

    It's. A. Video. Game.

    The moment the line blurs for someone between reality and video game is when we need to start worrying. I wonder...why is it that people who don't play them can't seem to tell the difference? /strawman

    • I wonder if these people ever pitched a fit when you got to play nazi's in return to castle wolfenstein in multiplayer, or Playing is Viet Cong in Battlefield Vietnam, or terrorists planting bombs and taking hostages in counter-strike? Well, actually, now thinking about it, wolfenstein was banned in germany (tell me if I'm wrong). If I was the MoH guys, I wouldn't have changed a damn thing. The people complaining aren't the ones even buying the game anyway and freedom of speech/expression might actually app
      • by klingens (147173)

        Return to Castle Wolfenstein was not banned. Wolfenstein 3D was banned for showing swastikas. Playing as Nazi is fine, mowing down people is fine (as long as they have green blood), swastikas and other national-socialist signs and symbols are not.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        It was banned because of the Nazi symbols, which are prohibited in German law, which was instituted by the Allied occupant [www.ena.lu] forces right after WWII.

        In Wolfenstein:ET you could play German soldiers but it wasn't banned, because they use a different flag (although there were mods to put the Nazi flag instead).

        • Which is ridiculous that some people [still] get their panties in a knot over a _virtual_ image.

          Why are textbooks allowed to factually have historical accurate flags, yet a different medium is somehow "offensive" ??

          Political Censorship ^H^H^H Correctnes is for pansies.

          • The point was to prevent revivalist groups. Nazi ideology is not dead in Europe, not by a long shot.
            It probably revived some cruel memories too in survivors of the holocaust.

            You may not agree with the ban, but claiming it's just "political correctness" is ignorant and insensitive. This wasn't a ban because it conflicted with an outdated and misogynist moral code, it's a symbol of an extremely recent event which killed over 60 million people.

  • Wherein the coroner announces "C.O.D.: B.O."
  • by Nichotin (794369) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @07:45AM (#34316424)

    This is Hollywood. This is entertainment. There has to be a bad guy if there's going to be a good guy. It's that simple.

    Is it? I just saw the Chan-wook Park movie Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. It is a South Korean thriller movie. The main person are a deaf guy and his sister, who abducts a child who later dies in their custody. A lot of the movie is about the father, who seeks a very gruesome revenge. The main characters are certainly not good guys, and the way the father seeks revenge does not make him one either. This was very different from the good guy-bad guy-movies that I have seen from Hollywood, and is one of the few movies that have managed to stir up some strong feelings inside me while watching. All in all a very different movie (seen from a western perspective, I come from Norway). This is a movie, not a videogame, but I think the same could apply to a video game. The whole good guy-bad guy-thing should not be written in stone, and perhaps many game developers should think of new dynamics instead of having a very clearly defined good guy (often played by you) and clearly defined bad guys.

    • In your example, you talk about all being bad guys, but the rule is "There has to be a bad guy if there's going to be a good guy." Know any example of everybody being good guys?
      I guess it is bit difficult to find such example, because then it would just be a film about normal people.

      • by Skuto (171945)

        >In your example, you talk about all being bad guys, but the rule is "There has to be a bad guy if there's going to be a good guy." Know any example of
        >everybody being good guys?
        >I guess it is bit difficult to find such example, because then it would just be a film about normal people.

        They (=woman) call it a "romantic movie".

        This being /. it's not surprising the concept is unheard of.

        • They (=woman) call it a "romantic movie".

          Point almost taken. But still, these movies have non-nice persons. For example in Bridget Jones's Diary one of the main characters is clearly an ass. In Pretty Woman, the good guy has its moments of being an ass.

          I am not saying it is not possible, it is just much more simple. To be "good" there have to be something to be "good" against. One can be good compared with other characters (good guy, bad guy). Or good against circumstances. But those are rare things.

          .

      • by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @09:37AM (#34317316)
        In your example, you talk about all being bad guys, but the rule is "There has to be a bad guy if there's going to be a good guy." Know any example of everybody being good guys?

        Most porn movies. Many medical dramas. Survival drama : shipwreck (eg Cast Away, Perfect Storm), space wreck (Apollo 13). Rom-com (Sleepless in Seattle -- continuing the Tom Hanks theme). Biopics of explorers, artists, musicians, teachers, nuns ... I could go on.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tophermeyer (1573841)

          There are always antagonists. These aren't always people, but there is always something that the protagonists are set against. That's what makes a compelling narrative. i.e. Tom Hanks vs. abandonment, isolation, and loneliness (respectively).

          A narrative can exist without a "bad guy" embodied by a person. But stories need an antagonist. Otherwise there is action and thus no story to tell. Biopics and adult films fill separate niches that happen to use the same medium.

          • by 1u3hr (530656)
            A narrative can exist without a "bad guy" embodied by a person. But stories need an antagonist.

            Your point is exactly the same as mine, only I gave examples, you generalities. All we need now is a car analogy to wrap it up.

          • by melikamp (631205)
            Who or what is the antagonist in The Big Lebowski? The dude does not hate anyone, takes life for what it is, goes with the flow. And since he is a likable character and many viewers are able to relate to him (cough, cough), he is definitely a "good guy". So where is the "bad guy"? There are many stories like that, some quite old; many of them are of episodic, comical, or satirical character. Parables (Jewish, Christian, Taoist, Buddhist, you name it) are extremely compelling narratives, but they often choos
        • by BitZtream (692029)

          Castaway, perfect storm and Apollo 13 all had 'bad guys', that just weren't made out that bad.

          Castaway just had 'bad people' at the end. Apollo 13 had gross negligence shown in several places on the ground, but these are both arguable and probably just based on my particular viewpoint. Both of them shared mechanical failure as 'the bad guy'

          Perfect Storm on the other hand had a very clear bad guy, the boat owner who drove them to go back out and fish more. Of course, you could always say 'the storm' was t

          • by 1u3hr (530656)
            Castaway, perfect storm and Apollo 13 all had 'bad guys', that just weren't made out that bad.

            They weren't "bad" , so they weren't "bad guys".

            You're saying if someone made a mistake, that makes them a "bad guy"??? I guess if you are determined to force every movie into your mold, then you have to make silly definitions like that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by grumbel (592662)

        Know any example of everybody being good guys?

        The movie '1968 Tunnel Rats' was pretty good in that aspect, portraying both sides of the war, without having either one as the bad guys. Just normal people killing each other.

    • Different mediums *and* different settings. In a movie or book you are an observer, in a game you are a participant and those each have a different set of rules as to what makes them fun or enjoyable.

      I suspect that a video game where you can play either the Serbs or Croats in the Bosnian conflict wouldn't be very fun or comfortable to play - there is no "bad guy" so why would I want to go shoot the other side? It may very well (and if done well certainly would) make an interesting passive form of entertainm

    • by McDozer (1460341)
      Excellent film! That film is actually part of a trilogy and they are all great films.
    • by rakuen (1230808)
      It's actually a problem of audience expectations. We actually have media with this dynamic a lot, they use anti-heroes. You know, protagonists who are morally questionable. The problem is we want to see the hero, regardless of his actions, and so we rationalize it in our heads that what he's doing is okay. Oftentimes, the anti-hero's actions can be brutal, occasionally moreso than the antagonist.

      For two really good examples of this, take a look at the anime Death Note and Code Geass. Both place the
    • A great movie that is very similar to this is called "Payback" which stars Mel Gibson. I HIGHLY recommend it. Not a good person in the entire movie.
    • Go back and re-read the sentence you quoted. "There has to be a bad guy if there's going to be a good guy." I agree with that, and you haven't disproven it. You disproved "There has to be a good guy if there's going to be a bad guy," which is NOT what he said.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @07:57AM (#34316484)

    Creating a series of games where you star as a member of an invading army in a war of dubious legality mowing down hordes of brown people is not offensive to anyone.

    Having a level in said game that allows you to play as aforementioned brown person is however completely indefensible.

    That's the story according to our "free and unbiased" media. This level of adherance to state/miliary propaganda doctrine is normally only achievable through extreme violence. Seriously, the media coverage on this "controversy" is stuff that pravda would have been proud of.

  • I am deeply surprised that EA caved in to the hollering that their game contained Taliban fighters. So fucking what? In a multiplayer match game, some people have to play the enemy. That's the case regardless of the game being set in WWII, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq or wherever. They should have stuck to their guns and left things the way they were. Or mocked the whole thing by including unlockable enemy skins - marshmallow men, hippies, Nazis etc. to highlight how ridiculous the "controversy" was.
    • The problem is that the controversy was getting so bad that some retailers were considering taking it off the shelves. If the game can't be sold, it's time to cave to controversy.

      • Unfortunately you are right. And I find it somewhat disappointing that this is so true for video games but less true for other mediums.

        Controversial books see sales boosted because of their controversy. Same with films to some extent. Games lack that level of protection that we offer to mediums we consider "art", and are forced to buckle to criticism like this. Maybe it's because the industry is driven by the retailers, I don't really know. I expect that we will not see games progress as a storytelling

    • by grumbel (592662)

      That's the case regardless of the game being set in WWII, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq or wherever.

      You can have both sides play the good guys, but each of them seeing the other side as the bad guys. Americans Army did that or so I heard, I haven't played it myself.

      They should have stuck to their guns and left things the way they were.

      That whole thing looked like a publicity stunt from the start. Controversy and their "resolution" puts you in the news, thats plenty of good payoff for changing a handful of letters in your game.

      • by DrXym (126579)
        You can have both sides play the good guys, but each of them seeing the other side as the bad guys. Americans Army did that or so I heard, I haven't played it myself.

        That might be possible if both sides were identically equipped on symmetric style maps. It doesn't make much sense if you want to deck out one side with different weaponry than the other. E.g. Battlefield Vietnam has different weapons and vehicles depending on the side you're on.

        Really, if they don't want to risk offending anyone they shoul

  • by defaria (741527)
    I click on the link and all I get is 404. Ever think about caching this shit! Geeze.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @09:20AM (#34317110)

    Any simulator that wants to account for what real military life needs to include hour after hour of punishing boredom and tedium at some shithole base, living in 100 degree weather with no showers and nothing to do--broken up occasionally by several minutes of intense fear, where your life is at stake--then followed by several more days of mind-numbing boredom in a hellish environment.

    • by inerlogic (695302)
      amen
    • ... to include hour after hour of punishing boredom and tedium at some shithole base, .

      You seem to have mistakenly posted in the combat sim story. The wow/simms online story is over there...

    • by tibman (623933)

      Don't forget the never ending rumble of generators.. like being surrounded by lawnmowers running 24/7.

  • Would be nice to get a real Rainbow 6 game again, none of this Vegas crap. Good old fashioned Rogue Spear type game. The map is prepopulated with enemies, you can approach your objective any way you want, and your team can get themselves killed and taken out of future missions at any time. Too bad devs cater to the ADD-riddled Xbox generation these days

Real Programmers think better when playing Adventure or Rogue.

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