The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Pripyat

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.

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.

Chernobyl Diaries- All Ghillied Up

“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…