Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2‘s infamous No Russian level has been discussed by its designer, almost 3 years after it caused such a fuss.
Mohammad Alavi, the designer responsible for the sequel’s level, couldn’t speak about No Russian due to the trial between Activision and former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella. With that being settled out of court, Alavi has discussed why the level was created.
For that level we were trying to do three things: sell why Russia would attack the US, make the player have an emotional connection to the bad guy Makarov, and do that in a memorable and engaging way. In a first person shooter where you never leave the eyes of the hero, it’s really hard to build up the villain and get the player invested in why he’s bad.
The first iteration of the level only had the massacre at just outside the elevator door. Beyond the first set of escalators, the combat would begin. It felt cheap and gimmicky. It felt like we were touching on something raw and emotional and then shying away from it just as soon as it became uncomfortable. That would have been a cop-out.
He continued to explain that the level managed to make the player feel something, referring to hesitation as an example of why he believes the level made him feel “very accomplished.”
What’s relevant is that the level managed to make the player feel anything at all. In the sea of endless bullets you fire off at countless enemies without a moment’s hesitation or afterthought, the fact that I got the player to hesitate even for a split second and actually consider his actions before he pulled that trigger – that makes me feel very accomplished.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, the next installation in Activision’s behemoth franchise, launches worldwide on November 13th, 2012.