Footage leaked from "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" reveals that players of the upcoming video game can shoot innocent civilians in an airport in a realistic rendering of a terrorist attack.
The game, which has an "M" rating for mature audiences, comes out next month in what its publisher hopes may be the most lucrative launch in the history of entertainment, not just for games but counting music and movies too.
In a statement, game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. said Wednesday the footage was taken illegally and is not representative of the game's overall experience. Instead, the game is designed to evoke the "atrocities of terrorism," Activision's public-relations agency said in an e-mailed statement.
The game follows players as they "face off against a terrorist threat dedicated to bringing the world to the brink of collapse," the company said. This includes a plot line in which the player infiltrates a Russian villain's inner circle to defeat him. Presumably the airport attack is one of the scenes in which the player acts as part of the villain's group.
Gamers are warned that the scene may be disturbing, and they can choose not to play through the part. It's unlikely, though, that most gamers will heed the warning, since it means skipping part of the game's intricate story.
Infinity Ward, the game's developer, hasn't shied away from disturbing imagery in the past. "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" begins with a character being driven through an occupied city, dragged out of the car, tied to a pole and then executed — all from the victim's point of view.
But what's different in the upcoming game is that people can play from a terrorist's perspective, just as they can play criminal in the "Grand Theft Auto" titles.