As anyone that grew up playing Sensible Softwares "Cannon Fodder" will tell you, war has never been so much fun. Although that was back in 1993 and it would seem that may not be the case any more. A little while back I noticed that modern military shooters, in particular, Medal of Honor Warfighter, seemed to be taking some flak. The bigger picture was actually the ethical concerns surrounding the portrayal of the combat within this genre of games in general; so how come it was warfighter in peoples sights?
Going back to Cannon Fodder as an example, that is a GAME based on WAR. It depicts the act of killing people and turns it into a fun computer game, designed for entertainment. Killing, death and misery as a bases for entertainment. Yet no one seemed to really care and everyone enjoyed it? Admittedly this was a while back when games werent quite at the forefront of entertainment or in the lime light as they are today. However, I dont think this is the reason that people are complaining today. See Cannon Fodder may have been a game about war, but its moral compass was still relatively intact. You started with a handful of green recruits and that number could increase, should you successfully complete missions without losing too many men in the process. Should "Stoo" or one of your other soldiers meet their demise by catching a stray round or getting impaled on a hidden spike trap, they were dead. At the end of the mission an obituary rolls, listing your fallen comrades and tomb stones are added to the monument hill, featured at the games pre-mission screen. It manages to balance the act of creating a game that has the goal of being fun to play and yet doesnt neglect to hit home the more serious aspects of warfare. All the time, it never sold itself as anything other than a game.
I think this last point is the crux of the reason that these negative articles surrounding combat portrayal in modern games have zerod in on Medal of Honor warfighter. If you take a look at how the game sells itself, in the few lines of text listing the products key features, youll start to see a pattern; "Authentic Action" "real world events" "this years most authentic war experience".
When you offset those quotes against what you actually see in the game itself, you start to understand the complaint. This is a game where your AI buddies can only be killed during the scripted sequences when the game wants them to be killed. During the actual gameplay they can soak up endless rounds and shrapnel as if death holds no meaning for them. The character you play as may not be afforded quite the same luxury, but still isnt overly phased by being shot. You can also soak up rounds with alarming ease, returning fire whilst taking multiple hits, only to regenerate health a few seconds later. Although taking enough hits will eventually "kill" you, the penalty of death is simply a quick respawn to the last checkpoint. Does that sound like an "authentic war experience" to you?
When the executive producer was called out on the games lack of realism, the response was "we're not a realistic game.... its authentic , its absolutely authentic". If words are weapons, then that response is paramount to bringing a knife to a gun fight! Holding your hands up and saying "Hey, we never said it was realistic, we said it was authentic" is less than weak, its retarded. Now my personal opinion is that as games themselves are virtual reality and thus dont need to conform to realism (more on that here), so you dont need to defend them when they are not......unless it happens to be a major part of your sales strategy for said game. I dont care if you make a game where you play as flying super soldier that can fire lazer beams from his eyes and rockets out his arse. Just dont try to tell me its an "authetic war experience"
With Medal of honor warfighter they are clearly pushing the realism and authenticity angle to sell it, but they are selling lies. They are tugging on the heart strings, telling you the campaign is based on real soldiers stories, asking you to step into that soldiers boots and feel his plight. They are trying to use it as a platform to differentiate it from other shooters on the market, when the reality is, its just another generic action shooter that intentionally sacrifices realism and authenticity to make it a more commercially viable product.
My point here, in short, is do what you gotta do, but dont f*cking lie about it!