Modern Warfare 2 Benefits From NCIS Writer
One of the writers behind TV’s top series, NCIS, is also part of the creative team responsible for what’s expected to be the year’s biggest video game.
Out next week for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PCs, action game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Rated R18 $149.99) could set first-day and first-week sales records for the industry. Game developer Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty 2 helped launch Xbox 360 in 2005, and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the first of the series not based in World War II, earned numerous Game of the Year awards and has sold more than 14 million copies.Â
When NCIS writer and executive producer Jesse Stern first met with the studio’s creative crew nearly three years ago, they impressed him with an animation of a nuclear explosion that became a major plot twist in Modern Warfare, then under development and Stern’s first foray into games.
“That was the first thing that really grabbed my attention. OK, this is the scale we are working with,” says Stern, who helped fine-tune the near-future tale of international combat and political intrigue. “A lot of the contribution I think they expect from me, and I hope to give to the game, is making those moments have an emotional punch to them.”
Stern, says Infinity Ward CEO Vince Zampella, “helps us craft the story and mold the characters.”
More jaw-dropping developments are on the way in Modern Warfare 2. The game drew flak in the media for allowing player participation in a terrorist attack on civilians, an element of the secretive plot revealed in a video clip leaked last week.
That footage doesn’t provide full context for the scene, Stern says. “It is upsetting and disturbing, but it’s not what you think it is. You are meant to bear as close a witness as possible to a pretty revolting atrocity. That is the intent of the level, to put you in a situation like that. … It is the shape of modern warfare these days, violence against citizens.”
Other footage shows U.S. troops battling for control of the nation’s capital. “We didn’t want to feel like any part of the world was off limits. Bringing the battle home is something everybody can relate to,” Stern says. “If it’s a true conflict, it involves us, and there is no way it could involve us more directly than the scenario we chose to play out here.”
Despite the success of Modern Warfare, a sequel was not a given. But during several brainstorming sessions, one idea began to resonate. “What if we come back and (the ending in the first game) was actually a loss?” Stern says. “That was the jumping-off point. What if we didn’t win?”
What they came up with is a game that will “blow a lot of people’s minds,” Stern says. “The levels are much bigger. Some of these worlds that they have created are just massive and pretty amazing to look at, and a hell of a lot of fun to play.” [usatoday]