Modern Warfare 2 censored in Russia?

[UPDATE] Online reports indicate latest Call of Duty was recalled in Eastern European country; Activision says PC version was released minus airport massacre scene.

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SPOILER WARNING: Details of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's plot are discussed below. Those who have not played through the single-player campaign of the game should stop reading now.

Source: See below.

What we heard: Anyone who has played the single-player campaign of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 knows it doesn't exactly shine a positive light on Russia. The game begins with machinations by a villain from the Eastern European country leading to a full-blown Russo-American war. That bloody conflict sees both a Russian invasion of the US and extensive American Special Forces operations inside Russia's eastern-most regions--not to mention a very limited nuclear exchange.

In Russia, Modern Warfare 2 censors you!
In Russia, Modern Warfare 2 censors you!

It's not surprising, then, that reports have surfaced, which indicate Modern Warfare 2 may have been censored--and temporarily banned--in Russia. A post on the Russian-language site Gotps3.ru claims that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game were recalled from stores on Friday. The PC version was released, but only after it had the game's most controversial level removed. In it, players participate in a terrorist massacre at a Moscow airport named after Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare's antagonist, the ultranationalist militia leader Imran Zakhaev. According to Gotps3.ru, console editions of Modern Warfare 2 will likely be rereleased in the next 10 to 20 days with the airport level excised.

The official story: Activision had not responded to requests for comment about the Russian release of Modern Warfare 2.

Bogus or not bogus?: Though it sounds not bogus, there isn't any hard evidence. Most mainstream reports on the matter--including pieces in the Silicon Valley blog VentureBeat and the British tabloid The Daily Mirror--link to Web sites that link to the Gotps3.ru story. With that the only source, the ban is far from officially confirmed.

[UPDATE] Activision now claims that Modern Warfare 2 was released as planned in Russia--but only on PC. An Activision spokesperson told GameSpot "Reports that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has been banned in Russia are erroneous. Activision only released a PC version of the game in Russia which went on sale on Tuesday, November 10."

However, as was reported, the game does not have the controversial Moscow airport massacre sequence. "Other countries have formal ratings boards that we regularly work with. However, Russia does not have a formal ratings entity," the rep said. "As a result, we chose to block the scene after seeking the advice of local counsel."

As of press time, Activision reps declined to answer questions about release plans for the console versions of Modern Warfare 2 in Russia.

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