Medal of Honor's Taliban multiplayer 'surprised' Army

Military consultants on EA's hyper-realistic shooter said they never saw controversial multiplayer mode until late August.

Unlike Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's over the top, Tom-Clancy-on-steroids storyline, the new Medal of Honor is shooting for realism. Due out next week, the reboot of Electronic Arts' formerly World War II-only shooter series is based on actual events during the early days of the ongoing Afghanistan conflict.

Medal of Honor's military advisors weren't pleased by the game's playable Taliban faction.

However, Medal of Honor's authenticity was jeopardized late last week, less than two weeks before the game ships for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. On Friday, EA announced it was changing the name of the Taliban in the game's multiplayer mode to "opposing force." In a statement on the the game's official Web site, EA executive producer Greg Goodrich said the move was done out of "reverence" to fallen US soldiers.

Now, a report on gaming blog Kotaku has shed some light on how the Taliban multiplayer mode may have cost the game the support of the US Army, which it worked with closely on the single-player campaign. However, those military consultants--many of them veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars--reportedly never saw the game's multiplayer mode, in development at EA DICE in Stockholm, until late August.

That mode let players fight against US soldiers as members of the Taliban, the guerrillas currently battling a US-led coalition in Afghanistan. The fact players could shoot and kill American troops in a realistic and violent manner "surprised" US military commanders, according to Kenneth Hawes, director of the U.S. Army's Public Affairs Office, Western Region.

It also angered retired Army Captain Brian Chung, who advised on the game while recovering from wounds received in Iraq. "The whole notion of cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians...that doesn't work," he said. "This isn't in the past. If you say Taliban and U.S. troops, that is going on now; there are soldiers dying every day."

"The Army's support of the game was based on the single-player only," Chung continued. "My understanding is that they were only 80 percent done with single-player and hadn't started multiplayer development yet."

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