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The Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Mission That Aged Poorly

With the release of every new "Call of Duty" title, it's a safe bet to assume controversy will follow closely behind. The first-person shooter franchise has always tried to push the envelope with its narratives to depict the horrors of war, but those attempts often age poorly.

The most notable example is likely "No Russian," a mission in "Modern Warfare 2" that has the player participate in the massacre of hundreds of people in an airport. Its effect on the gaming industry is still felt today, with Sony Russia initially refusing to release "Modern Warfare 2 Remastered" because of it. In "Modern Warfare 3," just two years later, there was another moment that didn't get nearly as much attention. It came in the form of a brief cutscene titled "Davis Family Vacation." This cutscene shows camcorder footage of a family enjoying their vacation in London. Not long after the footage begins, the family becomes some of the first victims of a series of coordinated bombings across Europe. The moment was met with immediate backlash in 2011, and recent events arguably paint it in an even worse light.

How the controversy began

Before "Davis Family Vacation," it was revealed in a mission that a series of vans were leaving a facility where the suspicious cargo had been delivered. After eliminating enemies from the facility, the player races to intercept one of those vans headed for London. The mission also involves a shootout in the London Underground. Once the van is intercepted, one of the characters asks about the status of the other ones. It then cuts to "Davis Family Vacation," where a man records his wife and daughter strolling through London. Suddenly, one of the vans appears right next to them and explodes, apparently killing the wife and daughter instantly.

The scene was actually leaked ahead of the game's release, so Activision was already in hot water before the game even hit shelves. One of the main points of discussion was that many people Activision was attempting to depict the 2005 London bombings for dramatic effect. On July 7, 2005, four suicide bombers launched coordinated attacks in the city, killing 52 people and injuring 700. Three of those bombs went off in the Underground. Not long after the leak, the British Board of Film Classification released a statement dismissing those comparisons and claiming the game was far removed from the events of the tragedy.

Looking at the mission now

Under the context of the present, the mission seems to hit a little too close to home. Acts of terror and mass-casualty events regularly dominate news headlines and seem to become more frequent in the United States. Additionally, the depiction of a child being killed in a bombing looks even worse now. Since the game's release, the country has witnessed countless school shootings that have resulted in the deaths of young children. If the game were released today, it's unlikely the public would get over it as quickly as it did in 2011.

After the bombing, it's revealed that it wasn't just a random act of terror, and the bombs were specifically placed to cripple defenses and make way for a Russian invasion. Given the ongoing conflict in Ukraine – which has also seen children caught in the crossfire – this plot twist is very on the nose in today's world. "Call of Duty" is often criticized for its apparent pro-US propaganda. In fact, 2019's "Modern Warfare" was even removed from the Russian Playstation Store for its portrayal of the Russian military. Those claims would be unarguable if something like that came out now.