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Tag Archives: Modern Warfare

Revisiting Sunny Chernobyl- One Shot, One Kill in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered

“The wind’s gettin’ a bit choppy. You can compensate for it, or you can wait it out, but he might leave before it dies down. It’s your call. Remember what I’ve taught you. Keep in mind variable humidity and wind speed along the bullet’s flight path. At this distance, you’ll also have to take the Coriolis Effect into account.” —Captain MacMillian

Camping out at the Polissya hotel, Price and MacMillian patiently wait for their mark to arrive over the course of three days while the clouds wheel overhead. Unlike the unfortunate tourists of Chernobyl Diaries, no mutants attack them during the course of their wait. When Zakhaev arrives, Price makes ready with the M82 Barrett, and with some advice from Captain MacMillian, he is prepared to place a shot at nearly nine hundred metres. After a few tense moments, Price fires, managing to blow off Zakhaev’s arm. Both Price and MacMillian are forced to flee after their position has been compromised, and they fight through Pripyat to reach the extraction point. MacMillian becomes injured by a helicopter, and Price carries him the rest of the way. When they reach the extraction point, Price and MacMillian hold out for their helicopter’s arrival and manage to escape. “One Shot, One Kill” is the second half of the Chernobyl missions, being the polar opposite of the first, being one loud, bombastic and long firefight to the extraction zone. While seemingly a return to the sort of gameplay that Call of Duty normally features, the level presents a surprise taking the form of MacMillian’s injury. Players must strategically place him down in the right spot, after which he will assist in taking out ultranationalists, and otherwise be mindful as they move towards the exfil. In its remastered incarnation, “One Shot, One Kill” is a visual treat: crumbling walls of abandoned apartment blocks, rusting playgrounds and mould-covered surfaces are rendered with contemporary techniques to really illustrate what a world without us could look like, as nature makes to reclaim areas once inhabited by man. Impressive as Modern Warfare‘s original incarnation was, the remastered version of “One Shot, One Kill” simply knocks the visuals out of the park, combining the gameplay of the original with graphics of the present age to give the level new dimensionality.

I reached “One Shot, One Kill” the day before the second midterm in my physics course, and upon seeing the statistics surrounding the shot I’m to make, my mind immediately wandered towards physics and two-dimensional kinematics. My MCAT course had also begun by this point: the MCAT is unlike other exams and requires more than a good grasp of the materials to best, demanding strategy and creative thinking. With my mind not too far from the impending physics midterm, I looked at the problem and supposed that it was to determine the amount of compensation needed to accurately hit Zakhaev from the stipulated distance given the distance and travel time. Since speed and accuracy are the name of the game in the MCAT, reading the question becomes critical: the time of flight is already given, so the horizontal distance becomes a distraction. Armed with the time alone, it is sufficient to work out how far the bullet will fall by means of the kinematic equation, d = v₀·t + (a·t²)/2 and some assumptions (e.g. the bullet has no vertical velocity when leaving the muzzle, and that acceleration is the acceleration due to gravity). The resultant answer is 5.40 meters to three significant figures, and a skilled marksman can then utilise the markers on his optics to determine the amount of compensation required, taking into account the height of the vantage point they are shooting from and any wind effects. Since the MCAT, my exam-writing style has changed somewhat, and while I’ve not done a written exam for three years now, some of those skills remain in my mind.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Close inspection of the Chernobyl nuclear plant here shows the Sarcophagus being constructed: the mission is set in 1996, but the construction of the actual Sarcophagus itself finished in October 1986, a few months after the disaster. Designed to contain the radioactive materials and prevent most of it from escaping, engineers knew that it was only a temporary measure: two years after its completion, engineers remarked the structure would last at most three decades, and so, the New Safe Confinement was planned. The dome was moved over the old structure just this year, and the project is expected to finish construction later in 2017.

  • The construction cranes should have been gone by 1996, but I am reasonably forgiving of these elements in fiction. This is the same image as the first image one featured in my original Chernobyl Diaries post, with the only difference being that it’s from Modern Warfare Remastered. The amount of detail in the environment is so much greater than the original, and there is foliage and other clutter in the area where the transaction between Zakhaev and the ultranationalists are taking place. This is contrasted with the original Modern Warfare, which feels sterile by comparison. The statistics surrounding Price’s shot have remained unchanged, and this time, I nailed my shot on first try.

  • After their presence is detected, MacMillian and Price are forced to flee as a Hind fires on the hotel, destroying the first floor. I went through this mission a second time to pick up screenshots – there was an unusual bug that caused me to spawn in with the suppressed M21 rather than the standard one, which would have resulted in some unusual screenshots. While effective in terms of stopping power and only differing in aesthetics, it would have felt out place to feature the suppressed, camouflaged M21 in “One Shot, One Kill”, which is all about going loud.

  • The number of ultranationalists filling the air with hot lead means that it is wise to heed MacMillian’s suggestion to run rather than fight: there’s too many of them, and with the timer winding down to the exfiltration, making it to the extraction point becomes important. The amount of time differs depending on the difficulty setting, and typically, on my first play-through of any Call of Duty title, I go with normal difficulty.

  • The moody grey skies and desolate concrete apartment blocks bring to mind the aesthetics surrounding Hasima Island, just 15 klicks off the coast from Nagasaki. Once a coal mining town built of large concrete buildings to withstand typhoons, the island was abandoned after the coal reserves were depleted, and today, it’s a popular tourist destination. It’s one of the most famous haikyo in Japan, and as of 2009, is one of the few haikyo that one can legally access: for three hundred yen, guided tours of the island are offered, and there is infrastructure to keep visitors safe.

  • It is only during a scripted moment that a Hind can be shot down in “One Shot, One Kill”: besides using the M82’s 50-calibre rounds to punch through the cockpit earlier, here, rounds from the M21 apparently damage the engine, causing this one to explode and crash. Elsewhere in the game, dedicated anti-air weapons must be used to deal with Hinds. The crash causes MacMillian to become injured, necessitating that players carry him to the extraction point for the remainder of the mission.

  • While players are still equipped with the suppressed USP at the start of “One Shot, One Kill”, it is strongly recommended that one switches to any other weapon dropped by the ultranationalists so one can remain effective in close quarters: I usually go with the G3 battle rifle. Other weapons available include the AK-47, MP5, mini-Uzi, RPD and W1200 shotgun; the AK-47 and MP5 are solid choices, as well – the number of soldiers encountered means that a good automatic weapon will complement the M21 both during the spaces outdoors, as well as the narrower hallways inside the apartments.

  • A large number of ultranationalists will fast-rope from helicopters, and in Modern Warfare Remastered, there’s an achievement for shooting down a number of fast-roping soldiers before they hit the ground. “One Shot, One Kill” offers plenty of opportunity to unlock this achievement on account of the number of helicopters that appear, and the M21 is an excellent weapon for this task.

  • Moving through the apartment blocks brings to mind the level design characteristics of Half-Life 2, where the strategic placement of obstructions, whether it be piled furniture or rubble from collapsed sections of the building push players down a path. As with all of the assets in the remastered Modern Warfare, the addition of the appropriate amount of clutter to the interiors of the apartments perfectly captures the abandoned sense that improves upon the aesthetics seen in the original.

  • I’ve got no screenshots of me carrying MacMillian through the apartments following his injury; while most games become a bit of a challenge in having players survive, Modern Warfare chose to address this by having MacMillian retain his exceptional marksmanship. When a firefight is imminent, he will ask players to set him down, offer some advice (such as placing claymores strategically to down enemies) and provide support to the best of his ability.

  • After dropping by my old lab to visit and chat with another one of my friends today, who’s close to graduating, I attended a computer science convocation today, five years after posting my original Chernobyl Diaries post for “One Shot, One Kill”. My former supervisor is now the department head, and he was hosting was the first ever reception for a computer convocation. Things started out quiet, allowing me to catch up in some conversation with my supervisor about research and also partake in some of the food available (including Japanese-style fried chicken, broccoli-cheese balls and jalapeño-chicken sandwiches).

  • More people gathered to fill the room with conversation, and during the next hour-and-a-half, I caught up with friends who had graduated today. In a bit of irony, the skies darkened as the reception drew to a close, and a spirited, but ultimately short-lived thunderstorm blazed through the area in a manner reminiscent of the rainstorm that occurred during my graduation banquet four years ago and was one of the factors that contributed to the Great Flood of 2013. Coming through into the change facilities of a public pool, I am vividly reminded of the day following the second physics midterm. There had been a lecture and lab; after finishing my day’s review, I dropped into Modern Warfare and continued with my adventure. I had studied quite thoroughly for the second midterm, having botched the first one (there was a question about Yavin and the Death Star that I still vividly remember missing), although it was afternoon, and my inclination to study had waned.

  • This midterm marked a turning point in my physics course: although I had been quite ready to throw in the towel and survive (the Bachelor of Health Sciences program does not count summer courses in the GPA calculation for research scholarships or eligibility to enroll in the honours thesis course), I realised that I should put my nose down and get the most of the physics course as possible. I stand in the Azure pool here, overgrown and derelict in a beautiful sense. It’s obvious that the remastered Modern Warfare involved a great deal of effort to get the details right.

  • In my original post, I noted that Modern Warfare had taken some creative liberties with its level design and chronology: the Azure pool remained open until 1998, a full two years after the mission in 1996, and it certainly was not that close the the Pripyat amusement park (in the game, the Ferris wheel is visible right outside of the pool). Having said this, I am okay with this inaccuracy: this is not a sentiment shared by other fans, especially those of Tango-Victor-Tango.

  • The rusted out remains of the Ferris wheel and some amusement park structures are visible here, bringing to mind the abandoned Nara Dreamland, which was deserted in 2006 after forty-five years. Nara Dreamland is a favourite amongst urban explorers, but last October, the park was undergoing demolitions, as the Nara government had finally auctioned the site off to an Osaka company. By contrast, the Pripyat Amusement Park was intended to be opened in May in time for May Day festivities, but following the Chernobyl disaster, some reports state that it was opened briefly to allow children some cheer before evacuation began.

  • Before “One Shot, One Kill”‘s largest firefight begins, I will explain the post’s titles. Similar to how I’ve called the original posts Chernobyl Diaries, here, I’ve titled both of them “Revisiting Sunny Chernobyl” as a reference to Andrew Blackwell’s “Visit Sunny Chernobyl”, a fantastic book taking readers through the most polluted places in the world and enlightening readers on the sort of things man has done to the planet. My spin on the title was chosen because I’m returning to Modern Warfare‘s two best missions, playing through things again in the remastered version, and also because these missions are flat out overcast, moody, rather than sunny.

  • For the remainder of the June five years previously, I divided my time between physics and the MCAT preparation course. The end of the month drew near, and with it came the physics final. When I left the exam room that evening, I felt reasonably confident that I had done well, and I finally turned my full attention to the MCAT. The physics course ultimately helped me with the physical sciences component of the MCAT, as biochemistry proved useful for the biological sciences component, and while I did spend the entirety of my June at a desk while my friends were making the most of their summer research, the knowledge gained from this course, coupled with exam-taking skills conferred by the MCAT course, allowed me to score well on the MCAT and further left me with exam taking skills that positively impacted the remainder of my undergraduate degree.

  • One of the features I liked most about Modern Warfare Remastered was the way that some optics were rendered: zooming in on a target in games is typically rendered by lowering the field of view (FOV), and here, it’s a simple filter surrounding a circular area representing the scope to give the sense of depth-of-field while aiming down sights. Leaving the peripheries visible is a nice touch (older games black the area out), although some of the more sophisticated renderings will only change the FOV slightly, and instead, only magnify the area under the optics, leaving the rest of the screen visible.

  • The final firefight opens with Price setting MacMillian down in a covered area and then setting down some claymores. Once ultranationalists arrive, it’s non-stop combat right up until the friendly helicopter arrives. This battle is chaotic, being an intense experience, with ultranationalists sneaking in from the bumper cars, being dropped in by helicopters and otherwise rushing in from a distance. The M21 becomes incredibly useful here, and at the ranges I prefer to engage at, the G3 becomes my weapon of choice even though it shares the same ammunition pool as the M21 does.

  • At long last, helicopters ready to extract MacMillian and Price arrive, bringing this fantastic level to a close. There is one thing that I’ve not noted up until now: since Modern Warfare Remastered was made well after Modern Warfare 3, there’s an achievement for killing Makarov (Zakhaev’s driver). There’s a very specific way of doing this — players must shoot out Zakhaev first and then locate the vehicle Makarov is sitting in. As soon as Zakhaev is down, one should unload on Makarov’s vehicle, making certain not to take out Yuri, who is sitting in the backseat. Once this is done, the achievement will unlock, and the mission proceeds normally.

With these memories enduring even after a half-decade, for me, “One Shot, One Kill” and “All Ghillied Up” are more than just exceptional missions in a Call of Duty game that set the standard for modern military shooters; they represent a trip down memory lane and were the form of escapism that contributed to my making it through that summer, allowing me to blow off steam even when staring down numerous exams. The cinematic, immersive experience offered by Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare proved to be exactly what a busy mind needed, and since then, I’ve been a fan of Call of Duty‘s campaigns and set-pieces. These memories ultimately are the reason why I would consider Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare‘s Legacy Edition to be a worthwhile purchase; I am, in effect, buying back a re-imagined, remastered look back at the events of the summer five years ago. Although it may appear that I am recalling this summer through rose-coloured glasses, I note that vividly remember of all of the tribulations and effort it took to survive both physics and the MCAT. That Call of Duty offered the occasional break from these challenges simply affords it a favourable impression in my books, and with these recollections drawing to a close, I will be returning to my regular programming: in the near future, I will be writing about Infinite Warfare, which I’d finished shortly after returning from my vacation.

Revisiting Sunny Chernobyl- All Ghillied Up in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered

“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.” —Captain MacMillian

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s “All Ghillied Up” mission remains one of the most iconic missions in the history of first person shooters, offering a change of pace from the high-paced missions up until that point. Even now, it stands alongside the first Flood mission in Halo: Combat Evolved as being one of the most innovative and entertaining missions – players accompany Captain MacMillian on an assassination mission, sneaking through the dreary fields outside of Pripyat on an overcast day to reach a sniper’s perch. Long the way, they cautiously duck between convoys of heavily armed ultranationalists, engage lone guards and climb through the ruins of Pripyat, deserted and uninhabited since the Chernobyl accident. The unique combination of being very linear mission that offered a considerable amount of leeway for deviation from the script, fantastic moments conferred by close encounters with ultranationalist forces, a beautifully constructed level and atmospherics come together to create a very distinct aesthetic for “All Ghillied Up” that allowed its original incarnation to be counted as one of the most memorable missions even amongst modern shooters. However, in the remastered version of Modern Warfare, “All Ghillied Up” takes on a new life – the skies are a moody grey, overcast, and assets on the ground have been given a total overhaul. Grasses and trees are much richer in details than before, as are the buildings, whose walls exhibit aging and exposure to the elements far more sharply than the original. Upgraded volumetric lighting, particle effects and water reflections further bring this level to life, bringing “All Ghillied Up” into the present day. The mission loses none of its charm, and with its fresh coat of paint, conveys the atmospherics and tenour of “All Ghillied Up” even more profoundly than its original incarnation.

When I wrote the original “All Ghillied Up” post five years ago, I was well into my Newtonian Physics course and had just began my MCAT course. The film, Chernobyl Diaries, had also just been released, having premièred in theatres a few days earlier, on May 25. I had seen some trailers for the film and was intrigued by the premise: the film depicts a group of travellers doing an “extreme” tour of Pripyat before finding themselves stranded, at the mercy of an unknown force that relentlessly pursues them (which turn out to be escaped medical patients mutated by the radiation in-story). I was wondering if I should watch the film, and settled in playing through the Call of Duty missions owing to time constraints introduced by physics and the MCAT, recounting my own adventures through Chernobyl (in a manner of speaking). Five years since, I’ve had the opportunity to watch Chernobyl Diaries, and my impressions are that the film was largely unremarkable, delivering a thin plot and frequent jump scares that dampen the horror aspect of the film. While the film is nothing noteworthy in execution, one aspect I did enjoy was the presentation of Pripyat and its locations, especially when the travellers enter one of the old apartment blocks and later, the different facilities around Pripyat. In Modern Warfare, there are no hostile forces quite like those of Chernobyl Diaries, and the area is desolated save the ultranationalist soldiers. It’s decidedly less frightening and more melancholy, providing the perfect atmosphere that parallels what it felt like to be studying for Newtonian physics and an MCAT while my peers were enjoying summer weather and their research projects.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In the remaster of Modern Warfare, the clouds in the sky and lighting are far more vivid in detail. Grasses and vegetation are much more realistic, and a bit of volumetric lighting can be seen in the image’s right hand side to the upper right, by the trees. Upon Modern Warfare Remastered‘s first announcement, my immediate thoughts were “what would a fully modernised ‘All Ghillied Up’ look like?” Here, we have our answer, and already, I am impressed.

  • Upgraded graphics confers upon “All Ghillied Up” in Modern Warfare Remastered a sense of immersion far surpassing the visuals of the original mission, and even though every moment is identical, down to the scripting, a fresh coat of paint makes the game feel like a whole new title. I spent far more time admiring the visuals than I should have, right down to the reflections in the M21’s optics. However, there’s not too much time to dawdle: there’s a mission to complete, after all!

  • Supposing the recollections from my first “Chernobyl Diaries” discussion to be correct, it was a bit of an overcast day when I wrote the original post similar to the skies seen around the church (ostensibly, I was supposed to be working on a physics assignment on equilibrium and forces). The remastered Modern Warfare depicts this area as having much darker skies, and while waiting for the Ultranationalist convoy to pass later on, lightning can be seen illuminating the clouds. It’s subtle and it’s easily missed, but it is a very nice touch: whenever the clouds get this dark where I live, a thunderstorm or some form of precipitation is imminent.

  • There’s a cache of Stinger missiles inside the church that can be used to shoot out the Russian Hind, although I’ve never actually tried to do so for myself as of now. Some folks have tried “All Ghillied Up” without adhering to the stealth components, and there’s a trick to besting the Hind; one needs to get off two shots in quick succession. The first shot will always miss, since the Hind will deploy flares, and retaliation is swift as it unleashes a barrage of rockets, leveling the church. If players can evade this and get a second shot off, the Hind will be destroyed, prompting MacMillian to remark that Price is now showing off.

  • Depending on one’s perspective, five years can be a lot of time, or it can be a little time. When I played through Modern Warfare for the first time, the game had been out for five years, and was showing its age slightly against period titles, such as Battlefield 3. However, in atmospherics, it was unparalleled, and looking through my old archives, I was so engrossed in Modern Warfare that I beat the game in just over a week.

  • I’m actually not too sure how I developed an interest in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but it might have stemmed from seeing trailers for Chernobyl Diaries on television, subsequently looking up ghost stories surrounding Chernobyl and Pripyat and then coming across an article about ghostly voices of children in Modern Warfare at Tango-Victor-Tango. Closer inspection led me to learn more about the Pripyat missions, and once I found some YouTube footage, I felt that this was something I could enjoy playing. This would have been April, during which term was still on, and I was watching Angel Beats! while trying to do my best to stay afloat in biochemistry.

  • This is probably the tensest part of the mission, and I’ve died here more times than I’ve cared to keep track of because one of the ultranationalist soldiers stepped on me while I was still in the grass. MacMillian suggests anticipating their paths and keeping movement to a minimum, and with enough experience, it is possible to remember where the soldiers will go. While I love this mission, I’ve not yet memorised the soldiers’ scripted paths, so I usually make for the left and hide behind a tree until everyone’s gone.

  • What caught my eye in the trailer were shots of Pripyat covered in a fog, as well as the interiors of apartments and other buildings in Pripyat. While I had been interested in checking out the movie, a physics course and cold reception to the movie upon its release meant that my interest in the film waned. However, this year, I decided to give Chernobyl Diaries a spin just to see if the film was as poor as reception had presented it to be. Overall, I found that the narrative was a bit generic and the movie counting solely on jump scares to convey its horror moments meant that the fear soon gave way to wondering how the characters would react when they ran into trouble next. The fact that the source of the horror game from mutants also lessens the impact of each scare.

  • Having said that, there were some things the movie did reasonably well: the initial tour of Pripyat with Yuri and the initial fear conveyed by uncertainty as to what the cause of frights would be meant the film’s initial build-up was fun to watch. In particular, the moment with a fog covering Pripyat conveyed a perfect sense of suspense. By comparison, the best (and only other) horror movie I’ve seen was Dark Water, which scared me to no end because of both how the build-up was so well done, the fact that the specter’s physical appearance was quite unsettling and the implications the film imparts about human selfishness and cruelty long after the denouement was presented.

  • Even today, I’m still too much of a wuss to go back and re-watch Dark Water. By comparison, Chernobyl Diaries certainly is not scary, and perhaps if the mutants were in the open a bit more, in conjunction with at least a handful of survivors as opposed to total casualties, the film might be considered an adventure or survival film instead. Most of the deaths in Chernobyl Diaries were not too gruesome, minus Yuri’s: his abdominal cavity was torn open and mutilated by the mutants. Similarly, the presence of mutants rather than other supernatural entities meant that in theory, a good set of weapons could be sufficient to confer survival. Back in “All Ghillied Up”, I’ve reached the point where I must crawl under some parked vehicles. It’s a thrilling point in the mission, as suspenseful as waiting for the ultranationalist convoy to pass.

  • With this in mind, I contend that Chernobyl Diaries is not an equivalent experience to playing through Modern Warfare. Barring actually travelling to Pripyat, the remastered version of Modern Warfare is the most immersive experience of exploring Pripyat possible, and here, I’ve finally cleared all of the convoys and points in the game where there are large numbers of soldiers. There’s a lone sniper on the stairwell, but he can be dealt with quickly. Returning to my old post on “All Ghillied Up” will find a screenshot taken at the same location: the differences are dramatic.

  • In my original post, I only had ten images and focused predominantly on events after clearing the convoy. That post was written well before this blog became my preferred place to write: in 2012, I still maintained a website at Webs.com, where my reviews lived. By 2013, it became clear that the limitations of Webs.com (mainly with respect to maximum number of visitors possible and a difficult-to-use web interface) meant that I would slowly migrate here. After trying my hand at lengthier posts with Vividred Operation, I became accustomed to WordPress and have used it since.

  • Hence, readers who do choose to explore this site’s archive will find blog posts from 2011 and 2012 that deviate greatly from the way I currently do things. Posts take a considerably more substantial effort to write now, as opposed to being put together within the space of half an hour, and I often plan an outline for each post in my mind a few days or even weeks before putting fingers to keyboard.

  • Without the prospect of being shot at, “All Ghillied Up” takes on a different feel as Price and MacMillian wander through the deserted apartment blocks of Pripyat. Unlike Chernobyl Diaries, there are no mutants or large animals: players only encounter a wild dog that’s best left alone (killing it will result in a pack of dogs showing up, although it is possible and somewhat entertaining to extricate oneself from the situation). The absence of unknown enemies means that this short walk through Pripyat is a melancholic, moody one that brings to mind the dangers of knowledge and their consequences.

  • In my original post, I mention haikyo, a Japanese term for “ruins”. Having put some years between the present and when I last counted myself as a student, I can finally confess that I was never much of a student in my undergraduate studies until my fourth year, and one of the things I did instead of applying for summer scholarships or studying D vs L configuration of acyclic monosaccharides was browsing through old ruins in Japan. Since then, I’ve also found websites showcasing ruins of Russia, and more recently, Taiwan. The images are hauntingly beautiful, and there’s a strange appeal about derelict human constructs.

  • Here, I step into an abandoned room that appears to have once held a cafeteria; the remaster makes fantastic use of volumetric lighting and particles to give a dusty sense, while the peeling paint and detrius on the floors mirror the lack of a human presence. There are many hazards associated with exploring old ruins that images alone cannot capture: broken glass, asbestos, mold, crumbling infrastructure and feral animals, plus the ever-present risk of being detected and held for trespassing are very real threats that hang over the heads of urban explorers. Urban explorer Alexander Synaptic remarks that his preferred way of exploring haikyo is to start from the roof and work his way down, minimising the risk of detection.

  • Synaptic’s travels are largely focused in Taiwan, and while he does visit other locations, there are a host of excellent haikyo sites out there. Japan is where my interests were first piqued: I found an anime magazine showcasing the derelict roller coasters of Nara Dreamland, and since then, I’ve been drawn to reading about urban exploration.

  • Hearing ghostly voices of children’s shouts here is the only out-of-the-ordinary experience in “All Ghillied Up”, and it is here that Captain MacMillian’s quote is made, capturing the other-worldly feel surrounding the Chernobyl disaster. After the meltdown in 1986, liquidators stepped in to clean up and contain the spread of radioactive particles, while Pripyat’s citizens were given orders to evacuate. They were told only to bring necessities, as they would be coming back in a few days, but that never happened, hence the remnants of personal items in Pripyat.

  • A tragedy in every sense of the word, there have also been some rumours surrounding the Chernobyl disaster, ranging from the conspiracy theories to the downright supernatural. One of the most interesting is the “black bird” of Chernobyl, which was alleged to have been spotted in the days leading up to the disaster. Inducing horrific nightmares in those who’d spotted it, as well as causing said individuals to be the recipients of threatening phone calls, this “black bird” was seen hovering in the radioactive smoke after the disaster and was never seen again. Similar to the Mothman of Point Pleasant, this makes for a fantastic story until one realises that “black bird” sightings were only reported conveniently after things had concluded. My inner skeptic says that the myth was transplanted over to Pripyat as a derivative story, albeit a rather intriguing one.

  • Returning to the 1024 by 768 screenshots in my original “All Ghillied Up” post (and even the 1920 by 1080 screenshots from last year), the differences between the original Modern Warfare and its remastered incarnation are dramatic. I noted that this mission would be more enjoyable than watching Chernobyl Diaries, and after five years, I’ve vindicated that particular claim.

It is quite evident that experiencing Pripyat through Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, although eclipsed by visiting Pripyat, is much more comprehensive and exciting an experience than watching Chernobyl Diaries. While the film is a linear adventure, players have more freedom in Modern Warfare – they can elect to follow MacMillian’s orders, which is the most efficient way to complete the mission, but should they be compromised or feel particularly adventurous, can go weapons loud. The game will uncharacteristically not punish the player; instead, MacMillian will either comment on the player’s inability to comprehend the definition of “stealth” or even remark that they’re showing off, should they succeed in using the M21 to fend off numerically superior enemies. It stands in stark contrast with the hand-holding seen in other missions. Already a fantastic mission in its original form, playing through “All Ghillied Up” in Modern Warfare Remastered is akin to playing a completely different game: grasses get pushed aside as players crawl through it, and cracks in the peeling paint are visible in the new version. It is an experience that very nearly commands the price of Modern Warfare Remastered (itself only available in the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition), being quite worth it for the fact that I could experience this wonderful mission again with a completely revitalised and renewed feeling.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3: A Reflection

“I’m going to do my best not to try and compare this game with Battlefield 3, not at all.” —TheRadBrad

I’ve completed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3‘s campaign now, wrapping up the story that began with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The campaign winds up feeling less like a game and more like an interactive movie: clocking in at around six hours, it’s a relatively straightforward continuation of the events of Modern Warfare 2, and to drive home the point that war is pointless, instigated by the madness of individuals, Modern Warfare sees the deaths of several major characters. The notion of “the will of a single man” and “stand[ing] alone” are central themes to this game; Makarov’s drive towards restoring the USSR’s glory and subsequent actions lead to the deaths of millions, and consequently, when Price finally defeats him at the end of Modern Warfare 3, the victory feels empty. Granted, extremists were bested and won’t be shaping the discourse of history, but their impacts nonetheless remain. This is a subtle reminder that events with far-reaching consequences can be instigated by a small group, and in contemporary society, the presence of highly efficient information dissemination systems (social networks in particular) means that seemingly trivial disagreements can erupt into full-fledged conflicts, with the opposing sides resorting to extreme means towards an end. When the conflict settles, one might be forced to ask themselves if the cost of “winning” was truly worth it: in Modern Warfare 3, stopping a fanatic extremist makes sense, but in real life, there are some battles, the so-called “good fights” that are meaningless to fight.

One of the key topics for discussion whenever Modern Warfare 3 is mentioned is how the game compares to its competitor, Battlefield 3. My experiences are quite consistent with the discussions that conclude both games can be enjoyed equally: Modern Warfare 3 is the more cinematic experience, featuring a superior campaign with familiar characters and incredible set-pieces. The campaign makes use of its atmospherics to present a bombastic, explosive story that is certainly eye-grabbing, even if it’s not the deepest story in the world. Moreover, there is the option of playing single-player survival and spec-ops games. These elements mean that Modern Warfare 3 can be highly entertaining even in the absence of other players, and vastly improves the game’s replay value. Being able to play against bots is something few games do these days, but it is sometimes fun to simply start up a survival game and see how long one can last. This aspect is particularly positive, since there are days where one might wish for a multiplayer experience without other human players (and E3 revealed that Star Wars Battlefront will indeed have such a mode). On the other hand, Battlefield 3 is superior with respect to responsiveness, handling, graphics and multiplayer experience. Modern Warfare handles a lot more sluggishly, and I found myself dying because of slower movement responses. It’s clear that the engine is a bit dated compared to Frostbite 2, and ultimately, the gameplay is smoother in Battlefield 3. This is more important in multiplayer, where being able to react and respond quickly is important.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Modern Warfare 3 picks up right after the events of Modern Warfare 2, with Soap being injured. After the prologue and first two missions, the story returns to Soap and Yuri. Soap is stabilised from his wounds, but Makarov’s forces show up, forcing Yuri and the others to blast their way out.

  • One of the things I loved most about the first Modern Warfare was the maps set in forested regions Azerbaijan and the Altai Mountains. The terrain in Eastern Europe and Asian Russia has been of interest to me; there’s a pull about these regions that I can’t quite explain, although I don’t imagine I’ll be visiting these places for myself in the foreseeable future. Consequently, Modern Warfare is probably the closest it’s going to get.

  • Some missions in Modern Warfare 3 appear to be modeled after the missions from Modern Warfare, following similar patterns of gameplay. Here, I’m equipped with a suppressed semi-automatic marksman rifle and a suppressed pistol; the mission is to find a cargo container Makarov is transporting. While the first sections of the level are stealthy, the latter half gives way to firefights.

  • In contrast with Battlefield 3Modern Warfare 3 has a far wider variety of locations in the campaign. London, Paris, Hamburg, Berlin, Siberia and New York are part of the campaign, whereas in the former, much of the game is set in Iran.

  • The tactical knife is one of the weapon attachments that allows for quicker melee combat with the knife. Not available in Battlefield, this attachment enables for a more fast-paced play-style at close quarters. In the campaign, this setup is primarily a last-resort for close quarters engagements, although one cannot deny that it looks cool.

  • This segment of Mind the Gap reminds me of the airport mission in Enter the Matrix: fighting through the London Underground was another exhilarating experience. Compared to Battlefield, the Call of Duty franchise emphases more diversity in its settings within the campaign. The downside is that individual missions are rather short and linear, which limits the possibility of exploring further.

  • While Modern Warfare introduces the idea of hiding enemy intel (appearing as laptops) throughout maps of the campaign to encourage exploration, they distinctly feel like an after-thought more than anything. After fighting through the London Underground, the player exits near the Palace of Westminster, with an iconic telephone booth and double-decker bus appearing, as well.

  • The Hamburg mission opens off with Black Hawks and an armada of hovercraft converging on a beach, reminiscent of the Charlie Don’t Surf mission from Modern Warfare. Frost starts with an M4A1 (ACOG sight) and an SMAW, but accompanying tanks will engage and destroy enemy armour.

  • Similar to the campaign in Battlefield 3 and Bad Company 2, it is quite unnecessary to switch to weapons that the enemies make use of, since the starting weapons come with a plentiful supply of ammunition and usually have balanced stats. For a little variety, though, sometimes, I will switch to the other weapons for sheer amusement.

  • One of the things that Modern Warfare 3 does, that is absent in Battlefield 3, is the traversal of the Paris Catacombs. The catacombs are part of the Mines of Paris that once supplied stone to the city, and the vast expanse of subterranean tunnels, but by the 18th century, necessity led a portion of these tunnels to be used as an ossurary. These tunnels are supposedly haunted by paranormal beings, although it’s difficult to feel intimidated with a good rifle in hand.

  • The darkness of the Paris Catacombs soon give way to daylight again, and while it is possible to perform modestly well with the starting loadout the entire way through a mission, I find that sometimes, marksman rifles and semi-automatic sniper rifles can make it far easier to pick off enemies in the campaign.

  • The cinematics in Modern Warfare 3 are undeniably large scale, and despite the older game engine, appears impressive nonetheless: here, sustained airstrikes brings the iconic Eiffel Tower down. Javelins haven’t changed since Modern Warfare, and are used here to blow some enemy armour away. When I first played through Modern Warfare, one of the things I immediately noticed was how vulnerable my character was to tanks. Prior to that, I was predominantly a Halo 2: Vista player, where I had access to a powerful rocket launcher that could take down tanks in a one shot and even lock onto airborne vehicles. Modern Warfare and Battlefield in general reinforces the idea that armour is difficult to dispatch while on foot, and experiencing this for the first time contributed to the immersion in the original Modern Warfare.

  • A variation of the hybrid sight appears in Eye of the Storm: a red dot sight is attached to the RSASS rifle in conjunction with a standard rifle scope, making the weapon useful at moderate to long ranges. This approach resembles the canted iron sights of Battlefield 4, and as with the hybrid sights, were quite fun to use.

  • While the shooting mechanics in Modern Warfare 3 are reasonably smooth, the movement system is quite stiff, and there were numerous points in the campaign where I died to grenades or enemy fire from getting stuck in the ground or because I was colliding with my squad-mates.

  • This mission to Karlstejn Castle, set just outside of Prague, is to learn the location of Makarov. The castle is inspired by its real-world equivalent of the same name, which was founded in 1348 and presently houses the Czech crown jewels. This mission is a far cry from the castles in Wolfenstein, and although the mission begins with a stealth element, Yuri and Price eventually shoot their way out as the mission draws to a close.

  • The M14 EBR is a semi-automatic rifle that Frost starts with in the Scorched Earth mission, and finds usefulness a short ways into the mission. One of those things about modern military shooters that can be somewhat irksome is the fact that enemies blend in with the environment, and I’ve had several cases where I died because I missed the last guy still standing.

  • The multiple storylines of Modern Warfare begin converging near the end, as Task Force 141 and Metal work together to rescue the Russian President’s daughter, who was kidnapped by Makarov’s forces as a bargaining chip such that Makarov could gain access to the Russian launch codes. This penultimate mission is set in a Siberian diamond mine, and most of the sections are set deep underground.

  • While it’s been one of my wishes to play a shooter set in Siberia (especially in the Kolyma area), the vast expanse of barren wilderness understandably would lead to some monotonous gameplay. This is about as close as it gets in Modern Warfare 3, as Metal and Task Force 141’s fight takes them to the pit-mining section, culminating in an elevator ride deep into the mine.

  • The final mission involves donning a suit of Juggernaut Armour and making use of the PKP LMG to storm an Arabian hotel in the hunt for Makarov. It’s, in the words of TheRadBrad, the most badass mission in the campaign: the small arms that Makarov’s guards wield are pitiful and can be shrugged off quite easily.

  • Once Price and Yuri reach the hotel’s top floors, Modern Warfare 3 turns into a long quick-time event. Compared to Battlefield 3, quick-time events are mercifully fewer in Modern Warfare 3. Thus, when everything is said and done, though Battlefield 3 has better gameplay and mechanics (especially in multiplayer), Modern Warfare 3‘s campaign is better, and the game also comes with better single-player extras. With that being said, I’m on neither side of the debate: I’ve played through both games and enjoy them both for their different merits.

With Modern Warfare 3 under my belt, the journey I began in 2012 comes to an end. What began as a curiosity in the Pripyat missions eventually became full-fledged interest in Modern Warfare, and while the games definitely don’t feel as smooth as contemporary shooters, the atmospherics and cinematics have aged more gracefully. For me, Modern Warfare 3 is a trip down memory lane, when I spent most of my days studying under summer skies and wondering what it would be like to experience Modern Warfare 3 for myself. I’m unlikely to touch the multiplayer, given that word of cheaters, quick-scopers and the infamous twelve-year-olds have reached my ears, but for what its worth, a campaign with memorable set-pieces and solo-play elements like survival mean that there is still something about this title to enjoy even in this day and age.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3- Opening impressions and reminiscence

“Time moves in one direction, memory in another.” —William Gibson

The reader with an keen memory will recall that three years ago, I wrote about my experiences with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s most memorable mission. Contrasting the other missions in the campaign, “All Ghillied Up” was a stealth-driven one, where the objective was to carefully reach a vantage position to assassinate a terrorist planning to buy nuclear material. It’s one of the best moments in the history of video games; this mission exchanges the frantic-paced shooting of earlier missions for an intensely suspenseful trek through the fields of Pripyat, and under Captain MacMillan’s eye, the idea is to move about while drawing little attention to oneself. This may seem counterintuitive in a shooter, but out-gunned and out-numbered, one really appreciates the efficacy of the ghillie suit and a bit of patience: as per MacMillan’s words, it’s easier to let them pass. After evading Ultra-nationalist forces in one of the more tense moments of the mission, the player and MacMillan reach Pripyat. The older graphics don’t stop Modern Warfare from presenting a very convincing ghost town- the abandoned apartment blocks and playgrounds were one of the most eerie places in any game I’ve played. I’d been itching to try it out for myself, and as luck would have it, one of my friends went on vacation; this was back when idling still worked in Team Fortress 2, and I agreed to help him out. While idling, I noticed that he had a copy of Modern Warfare, and decided to try it out, resulting in the posts about the two missions in Pripyat. At the time, I was looking at YouTube play-throughs of All Ghillied Up, and stumbled across TheRadBrad’s videos while taking a break from studying for a biochemistry course: while there were no Modern Warfare videos, there were plenty of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 videos.

  • Three years since I wrote the MCAT and watched TheRadBrad’s videos of Modern Warfare 3, I’ve finally had the opportunity to try out the first mission of Modern Warfare 3 for myself, which I found cinematic, well-choreographed and linear; the latter is viewed as a fault in gaming, but the campaign of most military shooters are designed to feel more similar to a movie with a weaker storyline and very strong visual impact, rather than a game, especially if said title features a large multiplayer component.

  • The starting weapon is the M4A1 with a hybrid sight: such a feature would not make it into Battlefield until Battlefield 4, and I personally loved having sights that could be adapted for closer range and medium range firefights. Playing as Frost, players also start out with the XM25 grenade launcher (again, a weapon that would appear in Battlefield 4, two years later).

  • I best recall early June of summer 2012 for having played my way through Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and the day I reached the Pripyat mission, we’d just finished a dinner of fried chicken when a grass fire broke out in a nearby city park. My physics course was going full force at this point in time, and I spent most of the week keeping up with the materials; by Thursday, I finished the campaign, and published a talk about the second part to the Pripyat mission.

  • This is the jamming tower: after clearing the rooftops of all hostiles, it’s a simple matter of following the waypoints and pressing a button to plant the thermite. After the tower is destroyed, radio communications are restored, allowing US forces to regroup and coordinate a counterattack on the Russian forces. The story at this point in time is that, following the events of Modern Warfare 2, the Russians have invaded America in retaliation.

  • After taking down the jamming tower, Frost is tasked with manning a mini-gun and shooting down Russian Hinds. The events of Modern Warfare 3 start with American forces doing everything they can to repel the Russians, and the destruction of the jamming unit in New York allows them to regain air superiority. I picked Modern Warfare 3 up during a sale, and while there was also the option of picking up GhostsBlack Ops or Black Ops II for a similar price, Modern Warfare 3 was a no-brainer.

  • Hunter Killer is one of the shorter, but more boldly-executed missions in Modern Warfare 3: the objective is to infiltrate a Russian Oscar II submarine and use its cruise missile payload against its own fleet. When I saw the New York cityscape under siege for the first time, I was amazed at the amount of activity occurring all at once: this entire scene was surreal and was definitely impressive from a visual perspective.

  • There’s no time to take in the battle happening outside, as Frost is sent inside the submarine to reach the bridge; here the PP-90M1 and Striker Shotgun become quite useful. The former’s high rate of fire and the latter’s damage at close quarters mean both weapons are highly effective within the confines of the submarine. The reason why I chose Modern Warfare 3 was because of nostalgic factors; while studying for the MCAT, I frequently watched YouTube play-throughs of the campaign’s missions.

  • The Striker, alternatively known as the DAO-12 in Battlefield 3, is the only semi-automatic shotgun in Modern Warfare 3: with a relatively high rate of fire and large magazine capacity, it’s capable of taking out juggernauts in the survival mode. The careful observer will note that the screenshots’ dates as being taken after this post: this was because of a minor issue with the screenshot’s quality that required rectification.

  • Once the grid coordinates are set, and the cruise missiles are prepared for launch, it’s time to get out. The exfil is one of the most well-done I’ve seen: explosions all around, and spray obscuring the screen. Intrigued by the music playing here, I picked up a copy of the soundtrack roughly at the time Anime North 2012 was occurring. I had just finished studying and decided to listen to the Modern Warfare 3 main theme, and found a slow but powerful song that conveys the sense of determination amongst members of Metal and Task Force 141 to stop the destruction Makarov is sowing upon the world.

  • For me, the Modern Warfare 3 main theme reminds me of the spring days I spent at my desk, endlessly reviewing physical sciences, biological sciences, verbal reasoning and the writing samples for the MCAT. I’m still modestly surprised that first practise exam scored a 22S, and after three solid months of effort (and sacrifices: I missed the 100th Stampede fireworks), my score was consistently a 33T. One of my friends felt this to be depressing, to be spending summer in this fashion, although in the end, the experience conferred smarter strategies for exam-taking.

Modern Warfare 3 had been released just a half-year ago at that point, and as I watched the first two missions, I found myself enthralled by the set pieces, and the spectacle of fighting in New York in the midst of a Russian invasion. These first two missions were something I revisited on occasion, well into the summer of 2012 when the MCAT was bearing down on me: while Modern Warfare 3 is similar to its predecessors in that missions are heavily scripted and highly linear, there was a certain charm in watching Metal company take out a jamming array on top of the New York Stock Exchange before moving to the harbour to steal an Oscar II submarine and turn its ordinance against the Russian fleet. This was a flashy, cinematic start to the Modern Warfare 3 campaign, and as I watched through segments of said campaign, I wondered what it would be like to try things out for myself. Some three years later, a well-timed sale on Steam saw Modern Warfare 3 go for half off, and while that still wasn’t exactly the greatest deal of all time, it was sufficient for me to purchase it. I’ve now beaten most of the game, and a full reflection is in the works. However, it is the first week of June, and having played through Modern Warfare 3, what do I think of “Black Tuesday” and “Hunter Killer”? They are as vivid as I recall from the videos, and more immersive, given that this time, it’s me who’s trekking through New York to restore communications and then regain control of the city. These two missions are fantastic set pieces that set the mood for the remainder of the game, and more than anything, evokes memories of an older time, during a summer characterised by intense studying, and a wistfulness for something else as the days grew longer with summer’s approach.

Chernobyl Diaries- One Shot, One Kill

“The wind’s gettin’ a bit choppy. You can compensate for it, or you can wait it out, but he might leave before it dies down. It’s your call. Remember what I’ve taught you. Keep in mind variable humidity and wind speed along the bullet’s flight path. At this distance you’ll also have to take the Coriolis Effect into account.”

Captain MacMillan and Lieutenant Price will spend three days at the roof of the Hotel Polissia Terrace, awaiting Imran Zakhaev’s arrival. The second of the Chernobyl missions will focus on the blotched assassination attempt on Zakhaev and the subsequent rush to the extraction point through Pripyat. Contrasting All Ghillied Up, the mission is spent entirely within Pripyat. Moreover, the Ultranationalists are alerted to the players’ presence, so this mission makes a return to more traditional FPS elements. There aren’t any ghosts in this level, and the sheer number of Ultranationalist forces will make the town a combat region rather than merely an eerie abandoned area.

  • This is my personal favourite line from the level; regardless of where one aims, Zakhaev’s arm is the only part of him that gets taken out. From the statistics yielded on-screen, the bullet has a speed of 854 m/s (3074.4 km/h), which is similar to the speed of the real world equivalent. Moreover, in the 1.05 seconds it takes the bullet to travel the 896.7 metres, the bullet should drop 5.40 metres; this was done in one episode of MythBusters, although quite honestly, I find this unnecessary. The fundamental kinematics equations will find that a bullet will take the same time to drop a constant distance regardless of its initial horizontal velocity, given that both a bullet dropped and one fired from a gun will have an initial vertical velocity of zero and thus, only accelerate due to gravity.

  • When one thinks about it, MacMillan and Price spent 3 days in Pripyat waiting for Zakhaev to show up, and they remained just fine, sharply contrasting the events that befall unfortunate tourists in Chernobyl Diaries.

  • One must duck into an old apartment in an attempt to lose the Ultranationalist forces: it is not possible to fight all of them: after this point, it is advisable to exchange the USP for another weapon for shorter range engagements.

  • The mission changes gears once more: MacMillan is injured by a damaged chopper, requiring that Price carry him throughout the remainder of the mission. Fortunately, this is no ordinary escort mission: MacMillan is more or less a stationary turret: while he may fire slowly, he’ll never miss: any shot he takes, kills. There’s nothing quite like getting rescued from certain death (resulting from an empty magazine) by a flawless headshot to a sprinting target across the full length of the LZ square.

  • Once Price reaches this point of the map, players will begin to realise that this area resembles the locker room of their local recreation centre. This building is none other than the Azure Swimming Pool, a facility built for the citizens’ recreation, and is, in fact, modelled very nearly down to the brick on the ground.

  • That said, there are a handful of creative liberties that were taken within the level design. The mission was stated to have taken place in 1996: in the game, the pool is shown to be completely dilapidated, but in fact, these facilities were still used up until 1998 (some 12 years after the accident) by plant workers, scientists and other people who were still working in the Chernobyl region. Furthermore, the infamous Ferris wheel is not that close to the pool, but this can be forgiven, as opportunities to explore Pripyat are doubtlessly rare.

  • The Pripyat amusement park was to be opened on May 1, 1986 in time for the May Day celebrations (decorations for this event are still in place today) but it was opened for a couple of hours on 27 April to keep the city people entertained before the announcement to evacuate the city was made. Today, the park, and in particular the ferris wheel are a symbol of the Chernobyl disaster. The amusement park itself is located behind the Palace of Culture in the center of the city.

  • Once Price and MacMillan reach the Ferris Wheel, MacMillan can be set down to provide sniper fire while they wait for extraction. Wave after wave of Ultranationalist forces will show up: follow MacMillan’s advice about placing Claymores at the points of entry early on, and find a good spot to snipe. At this point in the mission, the trusty M21 should still be in the player’s possession. The choice of secondary weapon at this point is largely irrelevant. The only goal now is to hold off the Ultranationalists long enough for the chopper to show up.

Altogether, both All Ghillied Up and One Shot, One Kill make up two of the most interesting missions in Call of Duty 4. The degree of realism found in the level design make the missions worth playing through just to experience the atmosphere evoked by a ghost town. The mission concept itself is almost a textbook perfect example of the classic “sneak into an area, neutralise a high-value target and get out as fast as possible” paradigm in the sense that stealth is a necessity for the first half of the mission. Once compromised, the priority switches to survival and reaching an extraction point, returning gameplay to the run-and-gun styles found in other parts of the game. The exposition that these missions bring to the game, coupled with the unique setting and atmosphere, make these two missions among the most awesome I’ve seen in any FPS.