Update: The video has been removed at the request of publisher Activision, citing copyright infringement. The rest of the story, however, remains unchanged.
Though Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 isn't due out until November 10, someone out there managed to get their hands on an extremely early copy of the game. And as we live in the digital age, this means off-screen shaky cam footage of in-game antics.
The footage can be found below, along with a statement from publisher Activision. Be forewarned that the video is of low quality and spoils what is easily among the game's most surprising and controversial moments, as does the statement.
Preemptively addressing the controversy bound to emerge from a sequence in which players control a terrorist gunning down innocent civilians, Activision told VG247:
The scene establishes the depth of evil and the cold bloodedness of a rogue Russian villain and his unit. By establishing that evil, it adds to the urgency of the player's mission to stop them.
Players have the option of skipping over the scene. At the beginning of the game, there are two 'checkpoints' where the player is advised that some people may find an upcoming segment disturbing. These checkpoints can't be disabled.
Modern Warfare 2 is a fantasy action game designed for intense, realistic game play that mirrors real life conflicts, much like epic, action movies. It is appropriately rated 18 for violent scenes, which means it is intended for those who are 18 and older.
It's far from the first time that the sequel has ignited controversy. A recent trailer for the game showed Washington D.C. in ruins, with the decision to axe dedicated server support from the PC edition drawing a vocal response from fans of the series.
Update 2 (Cont'd): Activision has released this statement to the press:
The leaked footage was taken from a copy of game that was obtained illegally and is not representative of the overall gameplay experience in Modern Warfare 2.
Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2 features a deep and gripping storyline in which players face off against a terrorist threat dedicated to bringing the world to the brink of collapse. The game includes a plot involving a mission carried out by a Russian villain who wants to trigger a global war. In order to defeat him, the player infiltrates his inner circle. The scene is designed to evoke the atrocities of terrorism.
At the beginning of the game, players encounter a mandatory "checkpoint" in which they are warned that an upcoming segment may contain disturbing elements and they can choose not to engage in the gameplay that involves this scene. Consistent with its content, the game has been given an "M" for Mature by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. The rating is prominently displayed on the front and back of the packaging, as well as in all advertising.
This is pretty crazy.