Something Modern Warfare 2 Got Wrong About Pakistan

Pakistani reader Saad was thrilled when he heard that Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was getting a multiplayer map set in the city he calls home, Karachi. That is, until he played it.

"I, being a Pakistani, was so excited at seeing a Karachi map and then immediately so disappointed when I played the map," says the Karachi resident. The map has Arabic written all over, even though that isn't the country's language.

The country of Pakistan has two official lingos: English and Urdu. With somewhere between 60 and 80 million speakers of the standard language, Urdu has more speakers than, say, Italian, Korean or Polish.

"Infinity Ward probably thought, 'Oh hey its a Muslim country so Arabic is the language,'" says Saad.

While Arabic and Urdu use the same script, the words are completely different. For example, the noun "people" is "al-naas" in Arabic (الناس), and "log" or "loug" (لوگ) in Urdu.

"To someone who doesn't know urdu won't be able to tell the difference," Saad explains. "It's like Spanish and English, I guess. Some letters are same, some are different but the words are completely different."

There isn't a single Urdu word on the entire Karachi map and no one writes in Arabic in Pakistan.


    Not to worry Saad (cool name BTW) I’m certain this oversight will be corrected in the upcoming Medal of honor game.

      HAHAHAHA I almost fell off my seat! That comment made my day!

    But I don’t think this was just a simple error on Infinity wards part, finding professional voice talent that is fluent in Urdu is probably a hard thing to do. It’s really obvious then some guy that only has a partial understanding of the language has totally phoned in the performance. I remember the first and second levels of Hitman contracts were set in Romania. The voice acting was horrible and the lines made no literal sense when translated into the language.

      What does voice acting have to do with a single map for multiplayer only? This isn't a campaign mission.

      Since it's just a map it shouldn't be too hard to be fixed, however wouldn't be suprised if they don't bother at all because it's just a single multiplayer map :/

      It's a pretty basic error - simply by googling "Pakistan" they could have found out the language and gotten a crude translator, or they could have consulted the US military (who I imagine they were already talking to about a range of stuff, and who definitely have Urdu speakers for operations in Pakistan). But it seems clear that they didn't. Has anyone checked whether any graffiti in the Favela stage is Portuguese, and not mistakenly Spanish?

    Localisation fail

    Peh, can't win them all... it's a pretty flawless game apart from a few little details... and the 3 hour singleplayer capaign... and the lag... and the below HD jaggy resolution...


    I'd be pretty stoked if they made a Melbourne CBD map! Cept if it was a truly accurate depiction, someone would have to ask you for change every five steps...

      Yeah, like you finished the single player campaign in 3 hours. Play it on something other than recruit, recruit!

        Four and a half actually... then I played through it in veteran... three hours =3

      Bad guys going past very slowly in hijacked trams (tramjacked?), freaks you can shoot on the Flinders' St station steps for bonus exp, creepy alleyways that drain your health by being in could work.

    did we expect IW not to fail at all?

    OpFor is a team played on this make, who predominantly operate in Iraq, and speak Arabic, wouldn't it make more sense to assume they are the ones doing the writing

      and opening coffee shops too?

    I am more amazed he thought that Americans would have been more world-smart to know the difference between the languages. Not that anyone even cares?

    Did Saad comment on the physical accuracy of the map? I can understand his irrtation with the language mishap, as it'd be like writing Chinese on a Sydney map, but if the Karachi map represembles the style of buildings and structures in Pakistan, I'd be pretty happy with that.

    Also with the point above; there probably aren't many people that are fluent in Urdu and English, let alone in the games industry.

      Why wouldn't there be those fluent in both languages, especially considering the article mentions that both are official languages.

      It just shows a level of disrespect for their Pakistani players.

    Maybe getting the languages right would have made the gameplay unbalanced?

    Really though, MW2 isn't exactly a smart game to begin with. I don't think anyone should be surprised that the developers spent more time with guns than books.

    wow I didn't know this .... to be honest I dont really like karachi that much as a map feels a bit cramped ... and everywhere you go is a potential choke-point !

    I replayed it again recently. You could easily finish it on normal in 4 hours. It isn't worth trying to play on hardened or veteran because of the magic bullets that shoot you from all areas despite the fact they shouldn't be, I don't need the headache. The first game so much better.
    Oh well, at least Soap is awesomely hot.

      Veteran on MW2's a joke compared to WaW and some parts of MW, most notably the ferris wheel mission with waves and waves on enemies I resorted to hiding in the small cabin and ducking as countless grenades fragmented my surrondings; and on WaW it's basically take one step forward and die, it's horrid.

        Yeah, Veteran is pretty pathetic on MW2... it's not hard, it's just goes out of its way to frustrate you, it takes cheap measures to kill you over and over, but once you've died you can go back and do it easily... it's like trial and error, which is shit... and enemies can hit you if you've got so much as a toe out of cover... never bothered with MW1 or WaW on vet because I was at least mildly challenged by normal/hardened...

          Veteran levels on all CoD games aren't that hard if you just aim for the checkpoints. Check you're radar, get to that gold checkpoint marker and the story advances...

          You'll be amazed how you waltz right through sections that had you pinned down on the first run, ememies ahead that just seem to retreat or dissapear, or taken out by you're squadmates.

          Sure, some parts are absolute bitches, and you'll need to be sharp and at the top of your game, but using this method really helps. You dont have to kill all enemies, and if you can stay low, use cover wisely and bolt to the checkpoint, you've usually satisfied the game engine, and the story continues...

    If it wasn't for this article, I and most, wouldn't have known it was set in Pakistan and that Arabic isn't a major language spoken in their nation.

    Fair enough a local being a bit disappointed about that hiccup, but this is a Western-made game. Not only that, does it really affect ones experience of a game? It does look kinda stupid on IW's behalf cause it was a simple Wiki-search to find out the languages spoken, but its all for show and to fill the gaps.

    well its kinda bad since generally

    arabic -> terrorist in america

    id go with they done it intentionally since theres enough arabic terrorist movies that they figured people might notice similar combinations

    im more interested in do the arabic words actually read sumthing legible anyways or are they words for the sake of words

    Interesting that IW got this one wrong - they seem to do their research on most things. I'd say it's simply a case of "near enough is good enough" - it's the same script, and given the fact that
    a) it's a multiplayer map, so if you get time to look at the writing, the other team is doing it wrong, and
    b) most of the people buying the game would have no idea it was wrong,
    IW just settled with the arabic text. Could be a genuine mistake, but seeing as its impact on the game is miniscule, it won't be getting fixed.

    Joshua is right though, I'd be interested in hearing about the accuracy of the map itself - I'd love to see some photo comparisons.

      Yeah, but I wonder if it's actually based on a real-life location in Karachi? I'd say it isn't, for legal rights and such. But yeah, photos would be good to compare the structure and design of buildings in the real-life Karachi as compared to IW's multiplayer map version.

      I've seen a few videos of Brazilian favelas near O Cristo Redentor (the staue of Jesus) and they look strikingly similar to the MP map.

    Mr Spoon is somewhat worried by the lessons our young people are learning about the world when playing these video games. Mr Spoon observes that there have been stories of South Koreans concerned by a Street Fighter stage, and a Pakistani concerned by a Modern Warfare map. Mr Spoon grew up in New Zealand, and has grave concerns as to the lessons people have learned from the classic Taito game, The New Zealand Story. Mr Spoon would like to clear up the following factual errors from this title:

    1. Whilst the Kiwi is the national bird of NZ, it is not bright yellow.
    2. Kiwis do not have the dexterity to use bows and arrows, bombs, lasers or any other weaponry.
    3. Kiwis are strictly flightless birds. They do not have access to hot air balloons.
    4. Kiwis are not in danger of being kidnapped by evil walruses. Indeed, walruses are not inherently evil, evilness being more of an aquired trait via upbringing.

      From this moment on, the spoon is now my favourite utensil. This comment is gold!

      The New Zealand Story is one of my favourite games ever - to this day I can still remember every bit of the music. I'm very disappointed to hear that the game does not resemble NZ though. I was keen to come over and see Kiwis flying in hot air balloons and using snorkels.

      Also, as for the walruses: that's what they want you to think.

      With #3 - you aren't JUST referring to the birds correct? You also imply that the citizens of NZ, also known as Kiwi's, don't have the dexterity to use bows and arrows, bombs, lasers or any other weaponry?

      Thought so.

      Oh well. At least we can continue assuming all those stories about sheep are true.

        While I smiled at Mr Spoon, I broken into a grin when I got to this - nice comeback.

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