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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".

  • by mfh (56) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @08:00AM (#34316500) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by js3 (319268) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @08:51AM (#34316818)

    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.

  • 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 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.

  • by tophermeyer (1573841) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:24AM (#34318810)

    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.

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