The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Highway of Death mission has come under scrutiny for retrofitting a real-life US war crime into a Russian-perpetrated one. 

Taking place during the game’s 11th mission, players are tasked with sniping Russian forces along the Highway of Death. The game describes the location as a horrific remnant of a Russian attack on the fictional country of Urkistan.

The problem? The horrific location does exist, and the attack was perpetrated by the US.

The real-life location was attacked during the Gulf War: the highway was used as a conflict hub due to the strategic placement of Highway 80 and Highway 8. These roads led from Kuwait City to Safwan, Iraq and Basara, Iraq respectively.

In the real-life version of events, American and French forces led an air and ground offensive on reportedly retreating Iraqi forces. Between the night of February 26th and February 27th, an estimated 200-1000+ soldiers were killed with 2000 captured. According to the Project on Defense Alternatives, it’s estimated that the figure rests between 800 and 1000.

Within the story of Modern Warfare 2019, this event is used as a massive set-piece to incorporate its villains. “The Russians bombed it (the Highway) during the invasion, killing the people trying to escape,” says main character Farah. Same events, altered combatants.

Despite focusing on a faux country for the majority of its storyline, Modern Warfare’s entire narrative revolves around war atrocities and where soldiers should draw the line. The horrors of war and their effects on people, economies and living situations is at the forefront of Modern Warfare’s message, making this inclusion all the more confusing.

Infinity Ward could have still used the location: US and UK soldiers do not shy away from underhanded tactics in the Modern Warfare campaign. Why then is this horrendous real-life event being twisted to make another country appear evil?

Modern Warfare is currently unavailable to purchase in Russia on PlayStation 4, and we can see why. For Russian customers, it must be very insulting.

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