Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating.

Content sum up: While language, devoid one use of the f-word, is rather scant and blood in gameplay is comparatively subdued to many in its genre; mix an all-out intensity of war, with its disturbing subject matter, including a skippable but still integral airport massacre, its interactive cutscenes' far more gruesome portrayal of gore, along with the fact that you're placed right in the middle of it via a first-person viewpoint and—unlike World at Warnothing can be filtered, this is, overall, the most unavoidably intense and brutal installment in the Call of Duty series yet. So, I recommend this game for ages 17+.

Blood: The blood effects spurt in light amounts when ally and enemy soldiers are shot or hit, splatters in moderate amounts onto nearby floors and walls and then gradually leaks out into a puddle after they fall. Blood does linger, heavily coats the screen in a gooey consistency when the playable character is near death and there is static blood splattered on walls and floors throughout. Bodies do linger, and there is light numbers of bloodied enemy, ally and civilian bodies (as well as bovine carcases in a few of the more rural levels) scattered about. There is no option to turn blood off.

Specific scenes of blood (& gore):

(The ESRB didn't mention that there is gore—in addition to this gore, the scenes listed below also contain some disturbing and/or intensely violent elements)

  • The opening scene shows a sum-up of its predecessor's plot through a montage overlaid on a satellite map; a couple of the last shots depict two soldiers being fired on in slow-motion, causing their blood to spurt in moderate amounts.
  • After you complete basic training, you witness a soldier helping a fellow injured soldier out of an enemy attacked vehicle; the passenger side door is wide open, showing its broken window with thick blood splatter all over the door's side.
  • As you and your commanding officer navigate an enemy building, he sneaks up on a soldier, tackles, and then stabs him in the throat (with a shff), resulting in a light spurt of blood as the man's blood leaks into a puddle onto the floor.
  • When you first put in the disc and launch the game, a message appears asking, (paraphrasing) "Content Notice: some players may find a mission disturbing or offensive. Would you like to have the option to skip the mission? You will not be penalized in terms of Achievement/Trophies or completion." You can then select "Yes, ask me later" or "No, I will not be offended." When you reach Act 1, Level 4, "No Russian," this message will be repeated, and include the fact that even if you choose to play it, you can pause it and skip it at any point. If you do choose to play this level, you will be put in the shoes of the undercover CIA agent who has infiltrated a Russian terrorist cell, and to keep his cover, must participate in a mass civilian slaughter at a Russian airport—for contextual purpose, the man running this questionable undercover mission ends up being a traitor to America and a main antagonist. (All below is gameplay from a first-person perspective) It begins as you and your four "fellow" flak-jacket, suit-wearing, fully automatic machine-gun toting terrorists exit an elevator into an unknowing line of civilians waiting for processing at the Russian airport. You proceed to nonchalantly open fire at this crowd (elderly and children are not present throughout) and security guards as people scream for their lives, run and begin to pile in bloodied heaps on the floor by the dozens, as their blood splatters in heavy amounts onto walls and floors and leaks out puddles on the ground. You'll continue this disturbingly casual jaunt through the airport, firing at everything that moves, as you see the victims try to crawl in visible pain on their bellies or knees to safety, or prop up on walls as they writhe in pain and clutch at their wounds, only for you to then finish them off. After you quicken your pace and deal with a counterattack from swat teams, your group heads for escape via a disguised ambulance—you're the last to jump in the back, but when you go to do this, their leader, Makarov (the main villain), shoots you point blank, causing you to fall back as heavy amounts of blood cover the screen; they then escape, framing America for this act—as a side note, even while playing this level, you do not have to fire on civilians.
  • As you and your team tail an enemy van in order to find the location of an arms dealer's assistant, you watch from the passenger seat as the van stops in front of a residence. Two armed men get out and approach the assistant, who quickly takes out a gun, shoots them dead (causing moderate blood splatter), and then turns on your car as you duck down; he shoots your driver in the head, resulting in heavy amounts of his blood to splatter all over the windshield and dashboard, and with your very close first-person perspective, it affords you a clear view of the thick, chunky, almost milky substance that was his blood and brain matter. After you chase the assistant down and shoot him non-lethally in the leg, two of your allies are seen preparing to interrogate this gagged, chair-bound assistant for information on his boss's whereabouts, with some help from a sparking pair of jumper cables—the sliding metal door falls before anything is witnessed.
  • After infiltrating an oil rig from underwater, both you and an ally—in gameplay; your view's from first-person—each pull an enemy into the water and stab them in the throat; moderate clouds of blood spurt as their bodies slowly sink.
  • While you walk through a later makeshift clinic, you see several wounded allied soldiers with bloodied gauze bandaged on their eyes and bodies' wounds—along with a number of occupied body bags in a long row near the clinic's exit area.
  • After you crash in a helicopter, you awake as an allied soldier hands you a gun through the wreckage. As soon as you grasp the gun, this (helmeted) soldier is abruptly shot in the head by a distant enemy soldier, causing a moderate spurt of blood—this (in-game, first-person view) scene is later repeated in full.
  • (The following scene is in-game and from a first-person perspective) As you lay in exhaustion next to an evac helicopter after completing an especially difficult mission, your commanding officer, General Shepard, exits the copter, asks you for the intel you retrieved, and after receiving it, abruptly shoots you where you lay then casually does the same to your teammate without a look, resulting in a mild spurt of blood. You then continue to watch from your character's viewpoint as the General's men toss you and your team member's bodies into a ditch (his bloodied exit wounds visible on his chest). The men then proceed to dump a jug of gasoline on your bodies, as the General lights a cigar, takes a puff and flicks it onto your gasoline-soaked bodies, setting you fades to black.
  • While you man a turret on an allied vehicle, the driver is killed, resulting in the same bloody, milk chunks in the earlier scene—you're forced to take over.
  • After you rappel down a cliffside, you slowly lower yourself to an enemy below you, and then stab him in the chest, causing a light spurt of blood, as you cover his mouth and watch his surprised, soon lifeless face from the first-person.
  • (The entirety of the following scene is of gameplay and from first-person) When you awaken after plummeting down a waterfall in your speedboat, you begin to stumble and sway in a sand-swept desert with only a knife and blurred vision toward a crashed and flaming helicopter. As you proceed to slowly sway toward the downed copter, you witness one of its former occupants crawling weakly on his belly, both his legs fully dismembered from knee down, with a trail of blood smeared behind him; you kill him, resulting in mild blood splatter. As you reach the wreckage, you find an injured enemy propped on a wall, desperately trying to fire a jammed gun at you, but to no avail (you then kill him, also resulting in mild blood splatter). While this happens, you see the traitorous General running from the crash site into a vision-obscuring sandstorm. When reached, you find him leaning up against a burnt-out car as you try to strike, but he quickly grabs your arm, slams your head on the car's roof, takes out his knife, and then jams it into your chest as you fall on your back—causing moderate amounts of blood to spurt from your chest and cover the screen. As the General stands over your body with a revolver and is about to finish you off, your teammate tackles him, knocking the gun near your position. You crawl over to claim it, but too late, as the General steps on it and kicks you hard in the face—you black out. While you shift in and out of consciousness, you watch as your teammate and the General (both are bloodied and cut) fist fight—the General soon gains the advantage, as he straddles your teammate and begins to repeatedly beat him in the head. You then focus on the knife still sticking out of your chest, prompting you to grasp it with one hand and try to pull it out with a rapid press of a button, as the screen goes red, fades in/out, blood spurts from the wound, and you hear your pained breathing (and squishing sounds). After using both hands, you manage to pull it out, aim it at the General's head and fling it, sinking it into his eye—you watch in slow-motion as his head flies back, heavy blood trailing from the wound.
  • After you complete its single-player campaign, "Museum" is selectable from the Mission Select. This level is setup like a museum, with exhibits displaying each of the campaign level's themes and fully animated character models interacting on them. One room also has all of the game's weapons on display, which can be picked up and used, along with the knife, to kill the aforementioned characters, enemies and allies alike—there's even an ammo crate for unlimited destruction. When characters are shot, they will perform the same animations and spurt the same blood effects as in gameplay—after you kill these characters and re-enter a room, the downed bodies will linger under the newly spawned characters.
  • Several of the unlockable multi-player "Callsign" icons for your profile contain a decent amount of bloody imagery, like a bloodied machete, a severed hand and ears, or a sole puddle of splattered blood (roll-over for examples).

Drug reference: In multi-player, you can unlock "Callsigns" for completing certain in- game challenges, by disposing of rival players with specific techniques. Two of these unlockable titles are "Joint Ops" And "Blunt Trauma," both of which have backdrops of cannabis leaves (marijuana) with light smoke coming from said leaves—an unlockable Emblem is also made up of a sole cannabis leaf. These (roll-over for example) can be set as tags, which are then displayed as profile icons in multi-player.

Use of tobacco: (The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating) Patrolling enemies are seen smoking cigars/cigarettes throughout stealth-oriented levels; Soap MacTavish, a commanding officer, is seen puffing on a cigar before flinging it away to climb a cliff; at the start of an early level, cigarette butts are strewn across your car's floor; and in a later scene, a villain puffs on a cigar before flicking it onto gasoline.

Mild suggestive themes: (The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating, although it is mild) Several of the later unlockable Title Callsigns in multi-player show scantily clad women in pin-up style. One in particular is more than moderately revealing, with only stars covering a sunbathing woman's private areas (roll-over for example; the last is blurred for decency—the original has small white star censors). And in a single-player level titled, "Loose Ends," an enemy cabin contains an undetailed, female blow up doll (large pasties cover—or substitute—its "nipples"; its "genital" area sealed and blank) lying on its back in an obscure upstairs bathroom's bathtub.

Intense violence: Set five years after the first, follower of the last antagonist, Imran Zakhaev, a Russian man by the name of Vladimir Makarov, has been committing acts of terrorism across Europe. Trying to stop Makarov's activities, U.S. General Shepard recruits a highly trained Army Ranger, Joseph Allen, as an undercover CIA operative, in order to infiltrate Makarov's cell under the guise of fictional fellow Russian, "Alexei Borodin." To fully prove himself to Makarov and fellow terrorists, Allen participates in a bloody massacre of civilians at a Russian airport; during their escape, Makarov kills Allen, revealing the fact that he knew Allen's true identity all along. With Allen's body (American body) lying at the airport, Makarov uses this as "proof" to blame his act on America; taking this as true, Russia invades Virginia with a surprise assault. With U.S. soil, specifically the country's capital on assault, Private James Ramirez and his fellow Army Rangers will have to try and protect it, as Sergeant Soap MacTavish—one of the last game's several protagonists—his wingman "Roach" and their men try to track this problem down to its source: terrorist Vladimir Makarov...

After finishing a brief military training course, and then being killed by Makarov while undercover as CIA operative, John Allen, you will set out to stop the Russian invasion of America, as it switches your perspective between the two main teams heading this task. And the base gameplay consists of navigating levels while disposing of incoming enemy waves and completing specific objectives, which range from collecting intel to clearing out and holding areas; pursuing certain targets; destroying emplaced Anti-Air artillery and tanks with explosive charges and remote, manually-controlled airstrikes; providing sniper cover fire; and infiltrating enemy strongholds with stealth, breaching rooms then saving hostages—upon completing the objective, you'll make your way to evac as you combat enemies trying to impede your progress. You will also participate in several set-piece action sequences, like ice-climbing steep, snowy mountain crags, using vehicle-mounted turrets to suppress enemy pursuers, and driving a snowmobile (later, a speedboat) while shooting down enemy riders.

Your enemies are predominantly Russian soldiers, along with Brazilian mercenaries in a couple of early areas, and you'll be combating them with a variety of Assault Rifles, Sub Machine Guns, Light Machine Guns, Sniper Rifles, Machine Pistols, Handguns (the one-shot 44 Magnum and Desert Eagle included), Shotguns, Launchers (RPG, grenade, stinger missile, etc.), grenades (frag, flashbang, smoke and timed, Sentex sticky—as well as Claymores and C4), along with a Riot Shield (that can block all direct fire and ricochet bullets), attachments (Thermal sights, Hearbeat Sensor, etc.), and the ability to duel wield certain weapons. The combat system is intensely hectic, and consists of using the above arsenal—and in several instances, turrets—to shoot away at enemies (including through thin walls—on a side note, allies can be hit, but friendly-fire is not tolerated; you'll be sent to the last checkpoint if tried) and your surroundings (bullets rip through and imbed in walls); explosive weapons and objects (like cars) to take out all nearby enemies—as they, clouds of dust and random objects fly; and your knife to plunge into enemy chests or slash at their throats in close quarters.

When shot, enemies will shake, contort and fly back, landing in awkward positions, as some then crawl on their belly, turn over and try to fire off several weak, sometimes effective shots before death, or if slashed/stabbed with the knife, choke and gurgle as they slump to the ground—on a related note, attack dogs will whine pathetically when hit; even flapping caged chickens can be shot in a couple of levels. The situations you are put through accurately convey a tense, war-torn feel, with a constant, unrelenting amount of chaos, from the non-stop hail of bullets (which tear through walls; kick up clouds of thick, vision-obscuring dust; shatter then sparking lights; splinter and break glass; shred random objects and send them flying; and set nearby cars aflame) to the airstrikes and adjoining explosions left/right. This is even furthered by settings, much of which hit close to home, literally, as you fight in an abandoned, ruined, once quaint Virginia suburb, shopping strips with jarringly common burger joints and gas-stations, and a D.C. war-zone, with trenches etched into the lawn of the flaming, ruined Capital building and full view of the equally devastated iconic monuments.

The enemy attacks in constant, onslaughting waves from every direction as they flank and surround you from all sides, slinging grenades to lure you out, firing on you from the open, behind cover, windows, second stories and rooftops with snipers, RPGs and high-powered turrets, or repeatedly bash away with the butt of their weapons in close quarters, all the while more appear by pulling up in turret-equipped trucks, helicopter zip-lines and even parachutes (and in a few instances, their snarling attack dogs rush, tackle you to the ground then try to rip out your throat, forcing you to nab their head and twist, breaking their necks with a *snap*)—your odds are always insurmountable at best. The more "set-piece" sequences are filled with a heavy sense of urgency and suspenseful action throughout, from nearly plummeting off an icy mountain before an ally grasps your hand and pulls you up in the nick of time, to pursuing targets on-foot through the streets and (later rooftops) of Rio de Janeiro, as civilians run and scream for their lives while you try to lone-wolf it through dozens of gun-toting enemies that try everything in their power to block your way to their boss.

It just goes on, as you try to avoid a deadly APC tank blocking the way while enemies fire in droves from a diner you need to clear; penetrate an oil rig, breach rooms and rescue hostages tied to explosive barrels stuck with C4, by firing on multiple enemies in slow-motion before they can execute said hostages—some are held close by a gun to their heads; you'll be pinned in a two-story locker room with laser-pointer weapon armed enemies that fire from either side's balcony as others simultaneously rush you with bulletproof swat-shields from the ground; watch from the perspective of a space station as a nuclear missile detonates over the U.S., creating an EMP blast that wipes out said station and all electronic devices nearby, as you then navigate the darkened streets as a soldier in the aftermath while helicopters plummet from the sky, and you are forced to fight with no weapon sights; dodge landmines and rush through blinding smoke clouds laced with ambushing enemies as you then try to hold a house from the incoming hundreds; fire from a truck's turret while using a free hand to steer it into a nearly airborne plane's ramp...the peril is virtually endless.

And when you're hit (it's never a matter of if), the screen will begin to fill with heavy, vision-obscuring blood splatter, as you hear your increasing heart beat and agonized, heavy breathing—your ears will ring from nearby explosions and you'll temporarily go blind from flashbang grenades—all the while attempting to avoid the ceaseless enemy fire, soon to explode cars, and grenades that need to be flung back before detonating in your face—you'll find yourself at or near death at a constant rate. As for age, while language (devoid a single use of the f-word) is relatively scant and blood in gameplay is comparatively subdued to most in its genre; mix an all-out intensity of war, with its disturbing subject matter, including a skippable but still integral airport massacre, the interactive cutscenes' far more gruesome portrayal of gore, along with the fact you're placed right in the middle via a first-person viewpoint and that (unlike World at War) nothing can be filtered, this is the most unavoidably intense and brutal installment of the series yet—it's simply more suited to older teens and adults.

Language: There are over two dozen uses of hell, under a dozen uses of sh*t, d*mn and a**, and one use of b*tch and the f-word. Other than the main script, at one point an ally soldier asks another, "Did HQ just go tell us to 'eff' ourselves?"; while you hold a rooftop, a leading Sergeant repeatedly warns you to, "Get the 'f-word' off the roof!" (the offending word is silenced); ally soldiers will infrequently utter d*mn and hell as they fight; Russian enemies will frequently curse—the f-word equivalent included—but solely in that language; and one multi-player Callsign title is "FNG," short for, "f**kin' new guy" in military slang. There is no option to turn language off.

Content review posted: 11/18/09

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