The Ninjabot

Call of Duty Advance Warfare And Having To Press F To Pay Respects

Posted on November 17, 2014 at 11:17 pm by Victor Chaves

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I haven’t enjoyed a Call of Duty since the first Modern Warfare,and I haven’t owned one since Modern Warfare 2. Yet, because I am personally ingrained in the culture that is video gaming, the Call of Duty series (CoD for short) is something that I pay attention to. There have always been moments in the series since Modern Warfare that defined the experience for the player and gained recognition outside of just the FPS fans. Crawling through Chernobyl, the infamous “No Russian” level, and even some silly things like John F. Kennedy teaming up with Castro and Nixon to fight zombies are just a few of the many memorable moments in the series.

With the most recent CoD released this past month, Advanced Warfare, I decided to watch a friend play through the first couple hours of the game. What drew my curiosity is that the game had an interesting scenario where the main character is prompted to press a button to pay respects to a soldier. I saw a screenshot of the moment, and like everyone else felt that the game was becoming an odd parody of real life. Although the game series has always wanted to be somewhat true to life concerning war, CoD always went a bit into 24 ridiculous action territory rather than Saving Private Ryan realism. Mourning in a funeral is something that can’t be the typical “America, Fu@% Yea!” mentality the series is known for, which shows how surprised I was when the game was actually even keeled when the funeral sequence happened.

Warning: Spoilers For the First Two Levels

What the screenshot actually misses is a ton of context with some fantastic comparisons that sums up to a well-done sequence that I really respect. The person in the coffin, Will, is the best friend of the main character, Mitchell. At the end of the first mission, Mitchell witnesses Will sacrificing himself in an explosion during a heart-pulling cinematic. In the aftermath of the explosion, Mitchell is knocked down by the explosion and gets hit by flying shrapnel. While Mitchell is being dragged from the rubble, the player can see Mitchell’s arm not follow as the shrapnel mentioned earlier actually cut the arm off!

Skip To 22:13

Then follows a short cinematic of Mitchell lamenting his loss while coroners fix up Will’s body for the funeral. Now the actual funeral scene occurs and after a quick touch of the coffin by Kevin Spacey (I know that’s not the character’s name, but I’m still calling him Kevin Spacey), it’s your turn. The prompt appears and you press “F” to pay respects. Mitchell’s head drops, extends his right hand, holds it there for a few seconds, then lets go and turns around to leave. The entire sequence is pretty silent until Kevin Spacey comes in and offers Mitchell a job. It’s a bit jarring especially since he doesn’t let on any sadness for Will, who happens to be Kevin Spacey’s son. Then in true Micheal Bay fashion, you flash forward to a mission to rescue the President.

The whole funeral sequence is pretty quick, and the immediate fast talking of Kevin Spacey feels like the devs were afraid of losing whatever attention span the player has. However I feel that there is a great detail that several people seem to miss; when Mitchell is paying respects, most people don’t seem to notice the left arm that is bandaged and in a sling is serving a purpose in connecting Mitchell to Will’s death. What the game is trying to explain is that Will is a part of Mitchell, and the fact that Will died means that Mitchell lost a part of himself. The framing of the action shows both the left arm in a sling and the right arm touching the coffin in order to connect the two together. Thinking back, notice how the last time the arm was seen was when Will was killed. Mitchell was forced to leave behind Will to die and at the same time Mitchell left his arm to rot.

Knowing all this concerning the context and the connection, is the funeral sequence respectful to the terrible realities that several people experience? Yes. The knowledge that Will was your best friend, and the loss of limb that connects to the loss of said best friend is enough to give a light understanding to the sadness that many people have experienced. That said, I haven’t personally lost anyone to war, but that doesn’t mean I don’t empathize with those that have. If anything, this sequence reaffirms the existence of this tragedy, and serves to remind us that the worst thing to do is to forget those who have died for their country.

That being said, because this is the Micheal Bay of video game series, this sequence does get weakened by a few things. For one, the Mitchell and Will friendship doesn’t feel like “best friends”, if anything it feels like they just met on the way to the mission. It doesn’t help that this first mission doesn’t seem to really drive a connection between the two, as the player shoots and kills everything while the NPCs just fire into the air to act like they’re participating. Furthermore at the funeral, not ten steps away from the casket does the game panic from the lack of gun fire that it immediately throws you into a mission, almost apologizing for doing something that was subtle yet meaningful.

Then again, I’ve yet to play the game—I’ve only watched it be played for a couple of hours. Maybe between every rumble on the controller and pull on the trigger a stronger story is being created than what is being told from a visual and audio level. The point here regarding this screenshot is that even though a picture speaks a thousand words, sometimes that might not be enough to understand the language the picture is speaking.

Follow Victor on Twitter @fake_brasilian to see him get rekt m8.

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