Call of Duty: Black Ops II is a surprisingly much different and more engaging game than we were expecting.
That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s bulletproof. Here’s a look at some of what they got right… and some of what they got wrong.
What They Got Right
Yes, he’s in the game, as the Secretary of Defense under not-Hillary Clinton as President. And, yes, that is spectacularly bad timing considering he’s resigned in disgrace. But believe it or not, the idea itself is at least credible. CIA heads tend to become Secretaries of Defense (like our current one, Leon Panetta) because the jobs are fairly similar, and you usually want somebody who has handled large amounts of foreign intelligence and made hard decisions based on that intelligence.
The main problem is that Petraeus would likely be Secretary of Defense well before 2025, and thus out of the job by then.
While you’ve probably seen some herp-derp on the Internet about a woman President, actually by 2025 it’ll be pretty likely: America just sent twenty women to the Senate, a record. In fact, many are already plumping for Hillary in 2016. So a female President is pretty credible. Hey, nobody thought we’d elect a Black guy at the start of the century, and look what happened there.
South American And African Adventurism
One of the game’s more credible moments, actually, is the fact that American soldiers are the douchebags in Panama, because, quite honestly, our 1980′s South American adventures were not our finest moment as a country. There’s a not-terribly-subtle connection the game makes between Afghanistan and the buddying around we did with Osama Bin Laden back then, manifested in a highly-entertaining but utterly ridiculous horse-back rocket launcher party, and how Menendez starts hating America. And it’s valid: twenty years later, Panama, El Salvador, and other countries have not forgotten what happened, and what terrorist groups we backed, in the 1980s.
Part of the reason so many were outraged about Oliver North being involved in Black Ops II’s ad campaign was the fact that he helped facilitate some incredibly awful things. Like, you know, innocent civilians getting murdered in Panama by Americans who weren’t supposed to be there.
Similarly, our involvement in Angola, while perhaps not presented in the most balanced light, is also accurate in the broad strokes.
Chinese Military Supremacy Or Lack Thereof
A nice touch is that by and large, you’re fighting co-opted American tech instead of Chinese tech. This would actually be the only way to make such an attack work: Chinese military technology is twenty years behind the US, by China’s own admission, and hauling their own crap across the Pacific for an invasion secretly is impossible now, forget a decade and change later.
What They Got Wrong
Before I start ripping on the game’s future war, I should make clear here that they knew all this stuff and chose deliberately to ignore it. Otherwise, well, there’s no game.
Doesn’t mean we can’t nitpick! And there are two points in particular we want to make:
Menendez’s Hacking Stunts Would Never, Ever Happen
The Chinese are, as you may have heard, pretty good at hacking. Math is free and processors are everywhere. While a lot of hacking attempts you hear about are not directly sponsored by the Chinese government, the government is not shoddy in this respect. So they’d probably notice an attempt to destabilize their stock market.
Nor is the US a bunch of pikers, what with the Air Force fighting cyberterrorists and considerable private resources dedicated to protecting financial markets. It’s hard to see how in 2025, any of this would have changed. Keep in mind that while the US and China are relatively frosty towards each other, they still have diplomatic relations and are on the UN Security Council together, so if something like this was attempted, both sides would probably handle it diplomatically. What Menendez basically tried to do was take a dump in your neighbor’s driveway and blame you for it, in broad daylight, on a busy street.
Similarly, the US military’s first concern about robots is their being hacked. The military throws a hell of a lot of money at making their robots secure, although there are some embarrassing errors and viruses can get into military robots fairly easily.
There’s no such thing as a hackproof system: If there’s a way in, somebody can figure out how to abuse it. That said, the en masse conversion of military robots to enemy fighters is almost as likely as Treyarch developing the next Medal of Honor game.
China And America Will Not Enter Into A Cold War, Because We Owe Each Other Too Much Money
China and America have a complicated relationship politically, diplomatically, and culturally. Economically, though, it’s pretty simple: American companies (among other countries) employ their citizens and take in a staggering amount of exports, and they buy a lot of our debt in return. China actually has a direct line to buy Treasury bonds whenever it wants. We’re that cuddly, financially speaking.
So essentially, either side starting a Cold War would be like two neighbors attacking each other, this time by ripping off chunks of their own houses and beating each other with it.
Seriously, the economic consequences alone are staggering. The Treasury market would temporarily destabilize, which is basically the equivalent of financial armageddon. Threatening the US Treasury means China would be threatening most of the world’s economy and flushing $1 trillion of its own money down the drain, to say nothing of the fact that it might trigger World War III.
Overall, though, it’s worth noting: Treyarch did their homework with this one, and got more right than they did wrong. This is a trend we’d like to encourage.