Modern Warfare 2 is no longer available in Russia for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners, it seems, despite the game hitting store shelves as scheduled early last week. Noticed by fan site Hellforge on Friday, Russian game site GotPS3 claims Russian officials had threatened to ban the game, prompting retailers to yank copies from store shelves and distributors to shut down the outflow of new stock.
Apparently the thematic content of the controversial "No Russian" level in which players must choose whether to fire on innocent civilians in a Moscow airport managed to escape broad public notice before launch. It's not clear whether the threatened governmental ban came about because of the level's play mechanics (the compulsion to shoot and terrorize innocent civilians) or the fact that you play a CIA agent pretending to be a Russian ultranationalist pretending to be an American terrorist. Presumably someone's decided Russia comes off looking badly, and that America comes off looking nobler-than-thou (albeit, per the level in question, pretty single-minded about it).
GotPS3 writes that the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions will be recalled and replaced by Infinity Ward/Activision with a version that doesn't contain the airport level in "10-20 days," and that both the retail and digitally distributed (read: Steam-only) PC version has been patched to remove the level entirely, thus allowing the game's continued sales.
I've dropped Activision a note requesting clarification on the issue.
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