Modern Warfare: The story so far

Nikolai is a long-time friend of Captain Price and a valuable informant embedded in the Russian ultranationalist movement. He provides intel about a cargo ship carrying a nuclear device to Price at the beginning of the game. As a result, Nikolai is captured and tortured, but Price and Soap rescue him with the help of a Russian loyalist group. After Al-Asad detonates a nuclear weapon in his own capital city, Nikolai provides further intel on the location of Al-Asad’s Azerbaijani safehouse.

Why it matters: Nikolai reprises his role as a support character in MW2, though little mention is made of his connection to Soap.

The deposed president of the unnamed middle eastern nation in question, who is executed on live TV by Al-Asad at the beginning of the game. You never see Al-Fulani, but do “play” as him for the brief period before his execution.

Leader of the coup against Al-Fulani. As the US Marines close in, he detonates a nuclear device in his own capital city and slips away. He’s later apprehended at his safehouse in Azerbaijan and is summarily executed by Captain Price.

Zakhaev is the leader of a violent ultranationalist group in Russia. Zakhaev’s bent on wreaking vengeance on the West for destroying his country’s dignity and prosperity. To this end, he backs Al-Asad’s coup and provides him with a nuclear weapon. After the death of his son, he literally goes ballistic and launches two nuclear missiles at the United States. Ultimately, Price and Soap deactivate the missiles mid-flight and kill Zakhaev in the game’s closing scene.

Zakhaev and Price have some additional history together; one of Price’s first missions in the SAS was to assassinate Zakhaev (as told in a series of flashback missions in Act II of the game). Price’s sniper shot was slightly off, and took Zakhaev’s arm but not his life.

Why it matters: Zakhaev’s death sets the stage for Makarov to seize control of the ultranationalists in MW2; Makarov does not appear in CoD4.

Price and Soap track down Zakhaev’s son Victor as a lead, but he kills himself rather than be captured and tortured for information. This enrages Zakhaev, who retaliates by kicking his “nuke America” plan into high gear.

You play as Sgt. Jackson through several missions, only to be killed in dramatic fashion when Al-Asad detonates his nuke. The visceral first-person presentation of Sgt. Jackson’s final moments wowed critics and fans alike.

Why it matters: Certain members of the US military use the body count from Al-Asad’s nuclear blast to rationalize their villainous deeds in MW2.

Nov 10, 2009

Modern Warfare makes a heroic return. Read our definitive review

Has Infinity Ward outdone everyone…again?