A video of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has leaked onto the internet, showing the player participating in the massacre of innocent civilians in an airport.
The video, which is poor quality but appears genuine, first appeared on YouTube yesterday but has been removed "due to a copyright claim by Activision". It can still be seen at LiveLeak (via Kotaku). GameSpot reckons it's from the same source as the first footage of the game's third-person mode.
The footage shows the fourth level in the game's first act. The level begins with the player emerging from a lift in an airport with four other men, dressed in suits and Kevlar vests and carrying machine guns. After a short pause, the men open fire, mowing down crowds of civilians and causing panic and screaming. The player joins in, and is seen shooting wounded people as they crawl for freedom.
The airport scenes are familiar from the official trailers released so far, although this is the first indication the player would take the side of the terrorists.
The pre-mission briefing (which is in French) suggests that the player is an undercover agent, infiltrating the terrorist organisation of a man called Makarov.
"Yesterday you were a solider on the front, but today the front is a thing of the past. Uniforms are too. War is everywhere, and there will be victims," says the voiceover.
"Makarov... obeys no law. He has no limits and stops at nothing: torture, human traffic, or genocide. He's guided by no ideals, respects no rights, no countries. He trades blood for money. He is our new friend."
It ends with dire warnings about how much it will cost the player to "get close to" Makarov.
The first Modern Warfare tackled some politically sensitive themes and imagery head-on, and it seems Infinity Ward is looking to top that in the sequel. It has guaranteed itself some sensationalist headlines in the process. But has it gone a step too far?