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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is getting review bombed for rewriting a war crime

(Image credit: Activision)

As we said in our Call of Duty: Modern Warfare review, some of its missions descend into tastelessness. One such mission, the Highway of Death, has sparked considerable backlash, to the point that thousands of players have begun review-bombing the game on Metacritic

At the time of this writing, Modern Warfare's user Metacritic score is sitting at a cool 3/10 with 1,127 of 1,517 user reviews being negative. A huge chunk of these negative reviews were posted in the last two days, after players discovered a mission in-game that focuses on a Highway of Death. 

So, what is it about the Highway of Death mission that's upset so many players? Well, the fact that many of the aforementioned negative reviews mention Russia - or are indeed written in Russian - is pretty telling. See, in Modern Warfare, the Highway of Death is a stretch of road in the fictional country of Urzikstan that, to quote in-game rebel leader Farah, "the Russians bombed … killing the people trying to escape." The thing is, there's a Highway of Death that is a real thing from a real war. 

In the real world, the name "Highway of Death" belongs to a road in Iraq. In February 1991, American-led allied forces bombed retreating Iraqi forces up and down this road for roughly two days. Russian forces were distinctly absent from the attack. More to the point, this attack was heavily criticized as a display of excessive force, and it immediately preceded America's decision to call for a cessation in hostilities in Iraq. 

In other words, what we have here is a fake war crime that has distinct parallels with a real war crime which Modern Warfare attributes to a country which wasn't involved in the original incident. Granted, nobody ever said Modern Warfare would be a true-to-life recreation of wartime, but Infinity Ward repeatedly stressed that it would "reflect the world that we live in" in ostensibly authentic ways. It's a shame that this issue has clearly left a sour taste in some fans mouths. 

If you're just starting out, our Call of Duty: Modern Warfare guides should help get you up to speed in game. 

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature.