Chernobyl Diaries- All Ghillied Up
June 2, 2012
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“Look at this place… fifty thousand people used to live in this city. Now it’s a ghost town… I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The movie Chernobyl Diaries was released a week ago on May 25, concerning the events that befall a group of travellers who venture into Pripyat, a town abandoned almost overnight following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. While the movie failed to deliver on the horror side of things, there is another way to experience the eeriness surrounding Pripyat. This is through Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 4’s mission, All Ghilled Up, where the player assumes control of Lieutenant Price and follows Captain MacMillan to Hotel Polissia Terrace on a mission to assassinate Imran Zakhaev, who was selling nuclear material to ultranationalist extremists.
- The mission opens to a grey, gloomy day in Pripyat, Ukraine, with the distinct cooling tower of the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the distance. Then notice as a bit of the shrubbery to the left begins to move and is in fact, Captain MacMillan. The overall atmosphere evoked within All Ghilled Up remains one of my favourite of all time: it is remote and depressing, reflective of the local weather right now.
- The stealth aspect of this mission is reinforced by the fact that both weapons in the starting loadout are suppressed. Various, decidedly less stealthy weapons do exist on the map, although their usage is definitely not recommended, as it would draw unnecessary attention to both Price and MacMillan. A cache of Stinger missile launchers can be found within this church; they can be used for shooting down the helicopter, although it is significantly easier to simply crouch and hide from it.
- After crawling through a field of ultra-nationalists and their armour, then doing some running, and then more crawling under trucks, you’ll arrive in the outskirts of Pripyat. These sequences are more suspenseful than are depicted in words or images: consider that you and MacMillan can run at a convoy of trucks, surrounded by two dozen armed soldiers, for the sole purpose of sneaking under the vehicles.
- For one reason or another, I am quite interested in abandoned areas. I cannot quite explain why this is, but there is a story behind it. I was reading a magazine and came across an article on Japanese ruins, known as ‘haikyo’. Translating to modern ruins, they are the result of structures and even entire towns outliving their purpose. They serve no useful purpose anymore, but are too costly to demolish, so they remain standing.
- Some haikyo are still relatively intact in the sense that the former occupant’s possessions are still present. Some more poignant examples include the brain-in-a-jar found at a doctor’s office (I think it’s been removed now by an unknown party) and the various day-to-day items found in abandoned mining villages. I keep saying to myself that I’ll one day post some of those things here: for the time being, a virtual haikyo will have to suffice.
- Locations from Pripyat itself were used to design the buildings’ interiors. These shots are from the area near the main town square itself. It is one thing to be watching anime inspired by real locations, but it’s quite another to be walking through what was once a bustling city of 50000 people. This interactive element sets walking through Pripyat apart from watching Yui et al. getting lost in Kyoto.
- If you listen carefully, the ghostly sounds of children playing can be heard as they move through an abandoned cafeteria. The echoes of a distant “help!” can be heard: while it’s in English rather than Russian or Ukrainian, it is nonetheless chilling. This is about as haunted as the level gets, and can only be heard by those seeking it, as it comes and goes rather quickly.
- The goal is to get to that hotel in the distance over there. Once you clear the trucks, the mission becomes relatively straightforward. The only real impediment is the lone feral dog encountered: if you can avoid angering it, the rest of the mission is more or less a lightning tour of Pripyat.
This mission represents a departure from the previous missions, which are oriented around more traditional squad-based objectives. In the absence of ghosts and supernatural beings for the most part, the goal is to stealthily make one’s way to Pripyat without drawing the attention of the ultra-nationalist forces. Thus, when playing this mission, any false moves will lead to one being detected; players are equipped with the M21 rifle and USP .45 side arm, both of which are suppressed for the sake of stealth. These are insufficient for taking out large groups of hostiles and armoured vehicles, making stealth a necessity. In order to avoid being detected, one should follow Captain MacMillan’s lead. For me, the best aspect of this mission is the immersion the stealth-driven gameplay gives; at one point, I found myself cautiously looking around and wishing the ultra-nationalist convoy would leave more quickly. This mission is interactive and can be suspenseful at times, making it perhaps, a more suitable way of seeing some of the sights near and around Pripyat without going to the theatres and watching Chernobyl Diaries…