Ridiculous Moments in Gaming- Call of Duty 4

6 Jun

A frustrating gaming experience I encountered over the weekend has encouraged me to start a new blog series, where I examine what I call “Ridiculous Moments in Gaming”- a broad term that encapsulates everything from overly difficult stages, inappropriateness, inane story points, or moments that are just so over the top that they’re awesome. Today I explore:

Modern Warfare’s Chernobyl Level

When the new car smell of Modern Warfare 2′s most recent map pack, the Resurgence Pack wore off after just a few days, I decided to put COD’s multiplayer component aside for a bit and replay the single player campaigns of both games. I was craving that cinematic action movie experience that only a Call of Duty campaign can deliver, and was also eager to revisit the original after so many hours spent with the sequel. I had never beaten either game on its highest difficulty setting, entitled “Veteran”; in COD4 I got as far as the “Safehouse” level, in which Captain Price and his team search a series of heavily defended cottages for the game’s secondary villain, Middle-Eastern dictator Al-Asad. That was considerably farther than I got in MW2; in the sequel I quit when I reached “The Hornet’s Nest,” the level that has player-controlled character Roach trying to singlehandedly escape a Brazilian favela teeming with bloodthirsty militia.

I’m sure there are many who have conquered the Modern Warfare games on Veteran difficulty, but I am not one of them. I don’t believe this makes me bad at videogames or any less of a hardcore gamer- I’m pretty good at the multiplayer and generally breeze through most games even on their highest difficulty setting. But Call of Duty is its own beast. Since realism is such a big part of the series, the Veteran difficulty is more or less like being in a real combat situation, only a combat situation where you’re heavily outnumbered and would most likely be cut down in real life. For me, Veteran difficulty is so impossible that it just doesn’t feel worth it to even try. Sure, I’d get 50 gamer points and feel like a kickass COD player, but I also would have wasted countless hours of my life.

So when I decided to replay the MW campaigns I decided to set the difficulty at the second-hardest setting, Hardened, because I figured Normal would be too easy and because I had already beaten both games on Hardened. It was still pretty hard going, but I was making it through fine until the stage “All Ghillied Up,” a flashback that puts you in control of Captain Price as he and a Scottish captain infiltrate Chernobyl so as to assassinate the game’s big bad, Zakhaev. I recalled that this was the hardest level in the game, but figured I wouldn’t have too much trouble with it on Hardened.

I was wrong.

I’ve played a lot of incredibly hard videogames, but “All Ghillied Up” may be the single most difficult level in the history of shooters. It’s infuriatingly hard for a variety of reasons, first and foremost because of its context. In most COD levels, you’re either part of an entire batallion, or at least a highly-trained special forces squad. In the Chernobyl level it’s just you and another dude, armed only with sniper rifles and pistols. This isn’t such a big deal in the section leading up to Zakhaev’s failed assassination, as you’re sneaking around popping unsuspecting guards. You can also opt to commit suicide and restart at the next checkpoint if you’re spotted, something I always do. But after you blow off Zakhaev’s arm, shit hits the fan.

Then it’s you and another guy armed with sniper rifles and pistols against hundreds upon hundreds of insane Ultranationalist Russian soldiers. I say insane because the AI in COD4 is not quite as refined as the truly incredible AI of MW2. The computer enemies in COD4 are still really adept at landing every single one of their bullets in your body and chucking countless grenades at you, but sometimes they act like lunatics. I’ll get into why in a moment.

Even though the odds are stacked against you, the level still doesn’t seem impossible; now instead of sneaking around to infiltrate, you’re sneaking around to escape. Then the level takes a sudden and drastic turn. Your partner gets wounded by a crashing helicopter, forcing you to carry him. That’s right, carry him. As any gamer will tell you, escort missions are some of the most excruciating and unenjoyable play types developers can create for their games. It’s especially rough in survival horror games, where you’re so preoccupied with staying alive yourself that you could care fucking less about whatever wounded jackass you’re forced to protect. Resident Evil 4 is one of the few games that I think successfully pulled off an escort mission, especially since they occasionally put you in control of the unarmed escort. COD4 also adds a twist to the format, but one that is not as fun. While you have to carry the wounded Scot, you don’t have to worry about protecting him from gunfire. He can absorb bullets like a magnetic sponge and never die. But you do have to carry him, and when you are you can’t operate your rifle. So when you encounter enemies you have to put your buddy down and clear the area before moving on. Of course the animation for picking up and putting down your friend is so brutally slow that often you’re cut down before you even have a chance to draw your gun. Not to mention that unlike Modern Warfare 2, the first game has a mechanic in which enemies constantly respawn unless you advance on their location, a staple of the original Call of Duty games. When I first played COD4 I liked this because it helped create the sense that you’re in a real battle, but once MW2 proved it could be just as difficult with enemies that didn’t respawn I changed my mind.

This is when shit REALLY hits the fan.

Eventually you manage to carry your worthless sack of shit partner to the exfil point, but then you have to hold out against an endless horde of maniac Russians as you wait for the SLOWEST HELICOPTER EVER. Before the Ruskies show up you have about 30 seconds to plant C4 and claymores, neither of which help you too much because even if you manage to take out the initial force more and more Ultranationalists will just keep filling in their place. Then the Scot tells you to find a good spot for sniping, which of course, there isn’t one. Since the Russians deploy their own snipers, all of which are incapable of missing, sniping is essentially pointless. Even if you get a bead on a guy, you’ll probably be shot to death before you can take him down. Remembering the difficulty of this particular sequence from my last playthrough, I realized the best strategy is really to find a decent hiding spot, fire as few bullets as possible, and let your computer partner absorb ALL the enemy fire. Since he’s Neo and is impervious to bullets, this will give you a fighting chance. The problem is, there really isn’t any good place to hide. After dying several times I decided to hide behind a concrete barrier to the left of the Scot, which would protect me from the majority of the Russians but allow me to pick off idiots trying to flank him.

Even this seemingly flawless strategy got me killed countless times. It took me almost two hours to beat this one sequence, in a level I’d already beaten twice before! I generally got killed because the AI is crazy, and occasionally does things no sane human would do in that situation. When they figured out I was hiding behind the wall, they’d run around and just open fire at point blank range, which usually resulted in their deaths. This often took my attention off the flanking soldiers however, and that would get me killed. So too, would dogs. Yes, the Ultranationalist also come equipped with their own tiny army of German Shephards.

God I fucking hate you.

If you see them coming these pooches ain’t a problem, but if they get on top of you you have about a millisecond opening to click down on the right analog stick. If you time it right you snap the stupid animal’s neck. If you don’t, he rips out your throat. I can’t tell you how many times I came close to surviving the sequence only to be killed by a dog. In my opinion, there is nothing more degrading than being killed by a dog in a videogame. A FUCKING DOG.

After countless tries, I finally managed to survive until the helicopter arrived, and rushed over to grab the Scot and escape. Of course once as I picked him up several Russians appeared out of the woodwork and killed me before I could put my useless superior officer back down. There’s no checkpoints throughout the last stand, so even if you die right before getting on the helicopter you have to start all over again. By the time the helicopter airlifted me to safety I was about ready to go out and actually murder someone.

I’m all for difficulty in games. There’s nothing worse than a game that’s really easy, or a game that’s so easy you breeze through it in a matter of hours. But in my opinion, developers sometimes go too far, and COD4′s Chernobyl level is a prime example. There’s simply no reason why this level should be so hard. It’s even a flashback, an aside that isn’t really that important to the plot. And yet it’s the hardest part of the whole fucking affair. Replaying this level made me realize just how much better MW2 is. The AI’s better, the infinite respawning of enemies is gone, and the game still manages to create sequences that pit you against incredible odds without making you want to scream and weep simultaneously. There’s a very similar level near the beginning of the game, and one near the end, where a two-man sniper team infiltrates a heavily defended enemy base. They’re still hard, but you don’t die so often that the narrative flow of the experience is lost. You’re never taken out of the game, or rather, you never remember that it’s a videogame you’re playing and not an interactive movie. COD4, while still great, still had yet to breach the game/movie barrier. Things like the infinite respawining always reminded me that I was in a virtual world.

To close: a hard game can be very rewarding, but a near-impossible game is as nasty as one you can complete with your eyes closed. Thankfully all games these days have multiple difficulty settings to avoid frustration, but in my opinion the next highest setting after “Normal” should not be that much harder. Beating a level this hard is generally not rewarding, but relieving. I didn’t feel awesome for surviving Chernobyl, I was just glad the level was over so I could move on. And that’s why Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’s Chernobyl level is a Ridiculous Moment in Gaming.

15 Responses to “Ridiculous Moments in Gaming- Call of Duty 4

  1. Neil David MacLennan 20. Jun, 2010 at 4:33 pm #

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have tried to complete every level in these games but I have had to skip some of the levels in both games because you do not stand a chance. One of those levels for me was the last one in cod4 where there is a time limit and you just can’t kill those buggers and meet the time requirement. I did however manage to complete cod5 on veteran every level some took longer than others and i found that you have to take out the soldiers at a distance. and on cod4 safe house you have to rush the first building and beeline for the basement then wait for the first dog and kill it before moving on because if you don’t the bugger jumps you from behind if you are k=lucky you will hear it yelp while waiting meaning one of your buddies killed it. anywho i feel your pain i really do, remember though it does say “you will not survive” at the veteran choice. One good thing though is that you don’t have to complete a level before going on to another level at a higher difficulty. Have a great day

  2. grrr 29. Sep, 2010 at 2:04 am #

    Yes. This level is just stupid. I want the last 2 hours of my life back please. It was annoying on “normal” difficulty, but the next hardest setting… why bother. It’s just not worth it. I want to break this fucking game in half. I always thought I liked German Shepards. Fuck you, modern warfare. Fuck you soo, so bad.

  3. mikechap1234 28. Oct, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    sweet butt what about the rest of the levels

  4. mikechap1234 28. Oct, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    like game over

  5. mikechap1234 28. Oct, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    look out for mikechap1234
    my rank is captin
    sniper so look out for me

  6. mikechap1234 28. Oct, 2010 at 9:50 am #


  7. mikechap1234 28. Oct, 2010 at 9:51 am #

    cod 4 ruls exsept for one shot one kill

  8. mikechap1234 28. Oct, 2010 at 9:51 am #

    respond pleas

  9. TheHil 28. Oct, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

    I gotcha, buddy. Excited for “Black Ops?”

  10. James 24. Nov, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    Fucking whiner man! Just do the shit, be done with it and move on. I just spent 2 minutes of my life wasted reading your whiny hebrew shit. Can I have those back?

    Fuck German Shepards?…You would never say that to a man and his loyal GS you fucking pussy, cause if you did?…haha, GS have a taste for whiny blood, especially J whiny blood ;) .

  11. TheHil 24. Nov, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    I was going to delete this, because, well, I can and I love being able to remove comments written by idiots at will, but this comment is so mind-numbingly idiotic/racist that I feel compelled to keep it up there so that normal people can marvel at its abysmal stupidity. For one thing, I’m not sure “James,” if that is your real name, realizes I was talking about digital German Shepherds in a videogame, not actual German Shepherds. Also, for someone who seems to love German Shepherds so much, “James” didn’t realize that they’re spelled Shepherd, not Shepard, which is, as far as I can tell, only a surname. To top if all off, “James,” or you know what- let’s stop calling him that, let’s just call him Big Racist Asshole, or BRA for short, somehow comes to the conclusion that I am Jewish, which despite the fact that I have curly hair, live in New York, and went to a high school that was 50% Jewish, is not true. I myself, have not a drop of “Hebrew” blood in my veins. I have to assume that because BRA is clearly such a simpleton, he must have assumed that Hilhorst, which is actually Dutch for “castle on a hill,” was a Jewish name. Such is the cesspool that is the internet, I suppose.

    Oh, and no, you can’t have your precious two minutes back, you fucking idiot. They already passed. Dumbass.

  12. kyuss 09. Feb, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

    This game was hard?? I beat it on veteran etc..use ur skills, claymores etc..ninja gaiden..play that no not a dumbed downed black version for xbox..but i beat both of them too..u can’t beat a level? I think veteran in black ops with flame throwers will pi$$ u off too..not cool..man up son..beat a game and win with pride lose at a game dont write a b.s. no guts no glory article..ice up son..ull be ok..

  13. Lieutenant Price 12. Jun, 2014 at 6:22 am #

    I completed it on Veteran (All MW’s) and One Shot One Kill is verrrry annoying. I love the setting and atmosphere but ot the difficulty. However, this is nothing compared to the last secret mission Mile High Club. That is insane..

  14. B-ri 10. Jun, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

    5 years later and I randomly stumbled upon this post reading about Chernobyl. Still this post is so accurate and funny that I could not help but comment. Every thing that you said was spot on. This level so difficult that I almost stopped playing call of duty as a whole. Words cannot describe how epic the fight to get out of that town was.

  15. Mike 29. Oct, 2015 at 5:48 am #

    I have given up playing this game just because of the dogs. What sort of a fuckwit makes a game where you can single handedly take on 50 highly trained soldiers but make it so you cant kill a fucking dog.


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