When I booted up Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's campaign last week and was immediately asked to confirm that "I understand" some scenes include "graphic or intense content" before playing, I got a little nervous. The first time I can recall digitally consenting to be traumatized by a videogame was the original 2009 Modern Warfare 2, remembered best for the headlines its infamous mass shooting mission, No Russian (opens in new tab), made across the world when it launched.
No Russian drew criticism at the time for being empty, unnecessary shock value, but our modern climate of constant fear of gun violence in the United States makes the original level especially difficult to watch. Infinity Ward's new Modern Warfare reboots are totally different stories than the late 2000s originals, but considering that the first reboot reimagined characters and events from Call of Duty 4 for its campaign, I opted into Modern Warfare 2's notice dreading a potential No Russian 2.
It never came, thankfully, but the campaign does eventually depict its own No Russian moment in the form of a post-credits scene that's really easy to miss. Go no further if you haven't finished the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 campaign, because we're diving into the spoiler zone.
Modern Warfare 2 ends with Captain Price and his posse of less-iconic bros preventing the destruction of the White House by disarming a missile from a Chicago highrise. The story, which travels to Amsterdam, Spain, the Middle East, and settles mostly in a fictional city in Mexico, has almost nothing to do with 2009's Modern Warfare. The main parallels are that Shepherd, the general that betrays Team Price and eventually catches a throwing knife to the face, does eventually betray Team Price again, but for different reasons (and without killing anyone).
It's not until the very last cutscene of the campaign that CIA handler Laswell sics Price on his next bounty, Vladimir Makarov, the villain of the original MW2 and perpetrator of the No Russian event. Then, cut to credits. If you resist skipping the long credits sequence (or like me, just go back to the Cinematics section of the campaign menu), you're greeted with a post-credits scene. A faceless figure on a plane begins assembling a pistol out of parts hidden on his body and 3D-printed plastic.
We see a text from an "M" (probably Makarov) that says "Ready?" followed by "No Russian." The terrorist gets up, walks away with the gun drawn, and the scene ends.
So it seems like Infinity Ward is interested in revisiting Makarov as a villain, perhaps he'll even be a central figure in next year's rumored story expansions for Modern Warfare 2. I couldn't care less about Makarov or whatever plan for western domination he's cooking up, but I am glad that we weren't subjected to more playable civilian massacres. Modern Warfare 2 is, however, not without its cringey moments (opens in new tab) of military enthusiasm.