Any of those instances where you pause for a moment and contemplate the purpose of war as a young man in his prime is gunned down by enemy fire in front of you.
The ending movie of the first Call of Duty.
This troper was getting really into the Stalingrad levels, to the point of feeling immensely sad during the "Red Square" sequence and simply crouching behind the fountain in horror as all his comrades were cut down by the machinegun fire.
Call of Duty 2
Vic's death in Big Red One. If you've played this game, you'll know why.
Halfway through the Hill 400 mission, the squadmates you're with from the landing craft and have stuck closely to in missions have their invincibility removed and can succumb to the same artillery, tank fire, and enemy gunfire that mooks can.
Call of Duty 3
There's also the penultimate level for the 1st Polish Tank Division in Call of Duty 3 ("The Mace"). Facing relentless German attacks, your tank is soon disabled and you're forced to fight on foot. Then, your companions are killed one by one as the defenses collapse one after another. Finally, just when all hope seems lost, green flares pop in the sky and Canadian reinforcements arrive. What made it so tear-jerking for the troper, however, was the knowledge that all this was faithful to real history. The Poles really did give their all in that battle.
"... Why aren't there any flares?" A crystallized shard of pure horror formed in this troper's gut when the Polish CO suddenly realized and shuddered: "It's _not the Canadians_!" Followed by tears when the CO later screamed in pure delight "GREEEEEN FLAAAAAAAARES!" when the Canadians finally got there. The emotional rollercoaster of that level was awesome.
In Call of Duty 4, watching your entire squad gunned down one by one on the bridge by the Big Bad hits hard. Particularly when you realize that most of the people they've just saved will never, ever know the truth about what happened.
And then there's Sgt. Jackson's pointless death in the middle of a nuclear wasteland.
It was more like "The Old Lie" to me, showing the horrors of war (even though there is no fighting, and there's no one else around). Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori, indeed.
On the Call of Duty 4 level "Aftermath", if you go to the playground you can ghost children. It's heartbreaking if you think about it for a second, ghost noises of kids, maybe some of Jacksons own kids, whispering after you are hit by a nuke, and what makes it worse is that you're the only survivor of the crash, then you die 120 seconds in. Also, while in Prypiat you can hear kids talking and teddy bears, considering that Prypiat was evacuated because of a nuclear problem.
The whole moment happens quite suddenly, but this troper was rather moved by Pvt. Chernov's death in Call of Duty: World At War. To put things in perspective, throughout the game, Chernov was the only member of the Russian squad to show any kind of restraint in battle, loudly chastising his comrades for their brutality; his cries always fell on deaf ears. Right at the beginning of his last level, Reznov loudly scolds him for his "lack of stomach" and makes fun of him for keeping a diary. At the end, the poor guy gets deep-fried by an SS trooper with a flamethrower, and as he lies in agony, gasping for breath, Reznov seems to have a change of heart and comforts him in his last moments. He then takes his diary and remarks, "Someone should read this..."
I found it much worse when Sgt Roebuck dies. I saw him get grabbed by that soldier and just couldn't save him. I just kept thinking that "it wasn't my fault, I couldn't save him". It doesn't help that later I found out that you could let Polonsky die instead, but I don't want to play that level again.
The emotional feel of the game is ruined for This Troper if you let Roebuck live, even though he is a total badass and Polonsky is a whiny twit, although he matures when Roebuck is killed.
Polonsky: "Those fucking animals, they killed him! You're all going straight to hell, ya hear me? Straight to fucking hell!"
In the same game, the ending, when Reznov helps you up to plant the flag on the Reichstag.
I cried when Reznov helped me, but they weren't tears of sadness. They were tears of happiness, because Reznov loves Dimitri enough to brutally murder the Nazi who attacked him and help him up to claim the honor he deserves.
World At War's ending. After having fun shooting Nazis and helping the Red Army win, General Macarthur's speech pulls you out of the game's escapism to remind us of the dark reality of war; it affects us all.
General Macarthur: "We are gathered here, representatives of the major warring powers, to conclude a solemn agreement, whereby peace may be restored. It is my earnest hope, and indeed the hope of all mankind, that from this solemn occassion, a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past. A world founded upon faith and understanding, of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish, of freedom, tolerance, and justice."
In World at War, The opening of "Vendetta" the first Russian mission in the game. What happens is you're laying in the Red fountain, watching as your follow comrades are being killed by Nazi soldiers. The Music doesn't help whatsoever.
In Nazi Zombies map Zombie Verrückt, on the German side there is this chair. Pressing "Action" on a certain part makes a drill sound with a man crying and screaming. Also throughout the map you'll hear people screaming and crying, Babies and woman. It makes you feel sorry for these people who where tortured and killed at the asylum. For such an awsome game mode, this map makes me wanna cry.
For this troper, one of the missions in Modern Warfare 2 had you manning the gun turret in a helicopter and killing the Russians in the World War 2 memorial made a few tears come out of his eyes. When you think about, the memorial was dedicated to the soldiers who fought and died to make sure their country and the world was safe, and it is being stained by the blood of men who successfully invaded the U.S.
This troper, a veteran of the first game, had to pause the sequence to take a deep breath and tell himself that it's just a game. For 30 minutes.
This Troper's Grandfather was a WWII vet and each time it got there I went into numbed shock and sadness
Speaking of MW 2, the moment Shepherd reveals his betrayal rather violently to Roach and Ghost is utterly heartbreaking. To put it into perspective - after a harrowing siege of a household in the Caucasus mountains while waiting for Makarov's data to copy onto the DSM, you're then force to GTFO and flee into the woods when it finishes. Just as soon as you start hearing about your evac chopper, Roach is wounded by mortar fire and is dragged by Ghost towards the landing helicopter. He then helps you to your feet as the doors open, revealing Shepherd, who steps out to meet you. As you limp along with Ghost, Shepherd approaches you and looks as though he's gonna put an arm around your shoulder and help your wounded ass inside. And then what happens? The screen flashes red and a bang sounds, indicating you've been shot, of course. Ghost cries "NO!" as Roach slowly begins to fall backwards, revealing Shepherd's drawn sidearm to be roughly leveled where Roach's abdomen would have been before he fell. Now as Roach collapses, you're treated to the sight of Ghost getting a bullet through the balaclava. The screen fades out briefly then shows you being picked up and swung like luggage into a small ditch by Shadow Company soldiers - followed by Ghost, who tumbles along just enough so his dead, masked and sunglasses-wearing face is staring right at you. The two of you are then doused in petrol by Shadow Compay while Shepherd remorselessly looks on and, when they're done, he tosses his cigar onto your body and walks away. All this is done from first-person perspective, indicating that Roach was still alive throughout all of this, cremation and all. The fact that the score of this scene is composed by Hans Zimmer does not help. At all. Hell, this scene got spoiled for this troper by an obnoxious friend and, when he looked back on it, he still got a bit teary-eyed.
And to further twist the knife as you're lying there you can hear Captain Price shouting desperately into the headset not to trust Shepherd, that you had been betrayed, knowing the warning had been only a few minutes too late. This troper had to take a break after that level.
For this troper, it was some time before, at the beginning of "Of Their Own Accord". You see all your comrades laying injured, and your commanding officer tells you to get to the front line, where it's literally hell. And then you turn the corner, and you see the Washington Monument, half-destroyed, and think "oh my fucking God". If you weren't even a little moved by that, you're playing the game wrong.
For me, it was afterwards in Whiskey Hotel, when you turn to the right, following your sergeant, and you see the White House. On fire. With bullets ripping out of it toward you, surrounded by tanks and fighting and dying American soldiers. The music just hammers the scene home. I had to stop playing for a few moments and just cry in horror at what had happened.
For this troper, that made his Roaring Rampage of Revenge all the stronger. As he and his group ran through the Oval Office, steadily making our way to the roof, I was repeatedly screaming "GET OUT OF HERE!" to the Russians. When they got into the Oval Office, though, this troper had an Oh Crap moment when he heard the radio somewhere nearby of the headquarters of wherever the U.S. had set up saying "...deploy green flares on the rooftop to indicate that building is secure! Repeat, to all U.S. Army forces, make your way up to the rooftops! T-minus three minutes to release. Hammerdown in effect, repeat! ''Hammerdown in effect!"
It's worse if you live in DC or have seen the landmarks before you play the game. Hey, It's That Place!...on fire...surrounded by VDV...
"No Russian." At the very least the player can go through the first section and let the NPCs murder innocent civilians in an airport. But then at the end Makrov reveals he knew the player character was an American spy, shooting him as he is about to get in the getaway vehicle, effectively pinning the whole previous massacre on the US and inciting the events of the game.
Call of Duty: Black Ops has the death of Dimitri Petrenko in Project Nova. Long story short, the antagonist, Soviet General Dragovich, decides to test his newly acquired Nova 6 gas on his own men. Unlike the aforementioned Shepherd, he doesn't even have the excuse of tying up loose ends - he just does it because he has something against Reznov. It's not even a quick death - you watch him suffocate and vomit as his skin burns, while he's banging uselessly on the glass door between your cells. The fact that the usually hamtastic Reznov is recounting this in a completely downbeat, despairing tone does not help. Indeed, Dimitri - 'You should have died in Berlin.'
Looks like death doesn't like to be cheated.
The ending of Vorkuta makes this troper, a veteran of World At War, start sobbing every. Single. Time.
One of the sadder moments of the game comes in a bombed-out garage in the Hue City level. It's not even a cinematic, but if you glance around at the dead Vietnamese, you'll see a man kneeling by one of the corpses, attempting to perform CPR. After about ten seconds of this, he sits up and sobs hopelessly into his hands before trying desperately to revive his dead friend once more. And you can't even comfort the poor guy.
Black Ops seems to end in a high note. Mason shrugs off the brainwashing, the attack on America was stopped, and the bad guys are all punished. Then you read the unlocked intel pages, only to find that Mason never fully recovered, and because of that he was finally considered a threat to national security by the CIA and marked for termination, along with Hudson and Weaver. They escape to South Africa, and the last thing we know is that joint operation between the CIA and MI6 is being prepared in order to assasinate the three heroes that saved America. This is extra sad considering Reznov's words on being betrayed by your own. This is made even worse by the fact that one of the "betrayers" might be Captain Price or MacMillan, two of the most popular characters from the Modern Warfare series. Talk about your conflicts of interest.
Although, in Black Ops 2, assuming you didn't shoot Mason (disguised as Menendez with a bag over his head) in the head, he survives to the age of 93, and even goes to the Vault to meet up with his old friend Woods. A dose of Crowning Moment of Heartwarming comes when the two even start bantering like old times.
Payback and Rebirth always get me. The last one also doubles as Nightmare Fuel in the first half.
The "Blood Brothers" mission from Modern Warfare 3 is a Wham Episode combined with a massive Tear Jerker. First, Makarov reveals he had Kamarov in his pocket, and knows you're there, then tries to kill Soap, Price and Yuri by blowing up a few bombs. They all make it, but Soap's bleeding out. When they finally get Soap to safety, he tells Price that Makarov knows Yuri before dying. Price's anguished screams are heartbreaking enough, but it's when Price sets down the pistol Soap returned to him that the tears really start coming.
Price: I'm sorry.
In case you had any doubt about the Undying Loyalty the two had for each other, the very next scene is Price punching Yuri down a flight of stairs, following by holding a gun to his head. You can tell he's just barely holding himself back from pulling the trigger.
Price: Soap trusted you! I thought I could, too! So why, in the Bloody Hell,DOES MAKAROV KNOW YOU?!
The background music doesn't help. It's slow tempo after you put Soap on table then becomes really slow after Soap dies.
"Objective: Stop the Massacre." The massacre in question? The "No Russian" airport massacre.
I almost forgot, the intro for the next level is also very sad:
Price:There's a clocktower in Hereford where the names of the dead are inscribed. We try to honor their deeds even as their faces fade from our memory. Those memories are all that's left, when the bastards have taken everything else.
Baseplate: What happened?
Price: He killed Soap. He's gone, Mac.
Baseplate: Is there anything I could do for you, son?
In case anyone was wondering, Baseplate is really Captain Macmillan, and Price sounds like he's tearing up when he says that line. What doesn't help is the song that plays when Soap dies is also playing in the background.
Said (former) captain is a major general at that point.
Speaking of the intro, here's the opening. (well, the first 1:30 are the opening)
Plus, Price's bitterness at Yuri throughout the mission. The first thing he says to you as the mission starts is to keep up, because he won't come back to help you. And if you're caught by the patrolling guards at the beginning, he says than next time, he won't help you. To him, Yuri's just dead weight, and if he dies… well, at least Soap will rest a bit easier.
The most tear-jerking mission in the game is "Davis Family Vacation". If you can watch the titular family die from an exploding truck without being the slightest bit horrified or saddened, you're a braver person then this troper.
That moment served as this England-based troper's motivation for the rest of the game
MW3 just seems to churn out these kinds of moments one right after another post-"Blood Brothers". The next one comes at the end of "Down the Rabbit Hole"; after undertaking great pains to infiltrate the Siberian diamond mine and rescue President Vorshevsky and his daughter, the joint TF141-Delta Force unit finds itself pinned down by a huge contingent of enemy forces just as their rescue chopper arrives. The mine has become unstable, and it becomes clear that if they don't get the hell out of there now, no one will make it...so, Sandman, Truck, and Grinch decide to stay behind and hold off the enemy while Price, Yuri, and the others escape. Yuri, injured, can only watch helplessly as he's dragged back to the helo, while they gradually run out of ammo, taking glancing hits and striking back with their sidearms and knives as Makarov's men slowly overtake them. Finally, the helicopter takes off, and an anguished Price screams Sandman's name into his radio as they fly away, having just watched one of his last living friends die mere hours after they reunited.
Sandman: Price! You gotta go! Make sure the president gets out! Price: Don't even think about it, mate! We're in this together!
What was particularly tearjerking was the sheer matter-of-fact despair in the voice of your helicopter pilot as you leave Team Metal behind, while Price, who is normally The Stoic, is completely losing his shit.
Price:NOOO!Get us back down there! Hammer 1-6: It's too hot! I stay here, we all die.
Dust to Dust. Pretty much half the reason they storm the damn place is revenge for Soap, as well as going after Makarov. Then Yuri pulls a Heroic Sacrifice and Makarov KILLS him in two shots. Just as Price (and the player) were beginning to trust him again.
Still it DOES save Price's life and lets you beat the snot out of Makarov.
The fate of the Czech people in MW3. Think about it; they overcame decades of Soviet oppression, including the Warsaw Pact invasion in '68, and barely managed to come out okay in the end. Then, long after the fall of the USSR, Makarov comes along and launches his invasion of Europe, which manages to brutalise the Czechs worse in a few days than the whole damn Soviet occupation did the first time around. It's not hard to imagine being an older citizen and breaking down in tears at the sight of a Russian banner◊ once again flying over Prague. This, coupled with the more obvious sights of the Ultranationalists brutally murdering civilians left and right in the Prague missions, really makes you feel for the Resistance.
The ending credits theme of Modern Warfare 3. It really does feel like a farewell song. Farewell to Soap, Yuri, Sandman, Truck, Grinch, and all those brave heroic soldiers who have died in the entire Modern Warfare trilogy.
The first mission, in which you're fighting through the streets of New York, is a Tear Jerker for this troper, partly because the school he actually attends is very, very close to the Stock Exchange, and was likely destroyed in the battle.
Farid executing Harper to maintain his cover as a CIA agent. Made worse by Harper screaming at him to "do his job" while Farid holds a gun to his head, and then even more so when - even when Section arrives seconds too late and tells Farid that it's okay, that he did what he had to do - the camera shows Farid broken and in a state of shock at having killed Harper.
Farid is screwed either way. He can kill one of his best friends, or he can try to shoot Menendez. In the latter option, Menendez dodges the gun, shoots farid in the stomach, rants for a bit, and then executes him. Poor guy...
Farid dies in most of the endings, either by failing to kill Menendez, or trying to stop Salazar from shooting Karma/Chloe.
When I played through the game the first time, I told myself I was going to get the best possible ending, no matter what. No hesitations, no doubts. But when it came to this, I hesitated. I liked Harper, almost loved him, and the game forced me to put a bullet in his head because of my vow. I had to pause for a little bit, and remind myself of the promise. In the end, I decided to shoot him. But before Farid did so, I whispered 'I'm sorry', and looked away. That night, I didn't sleep well.
When Woods is ordered to shoot an assassination target, only to find out he was tricked into shooting Alex Mason. Then we see young David Mason's reaction when he sees his father lying in a pool of his own blood, presumably dead. The music that plays as you run up to Mason's body perfectly captures Woods' Oh Crap moment as he realizes what he just did.
Also Hudson sacrificing himself to save David and Woods. As Menendez is counting down to when he blows David away, Hudson is madly and tearfully begging Menendez to kill him instead and dies a horrible death as a result
Menendez failing to rescue his sister, and then seeing the grenade explode in her room.
Everything about Josefina counts, if only to remind you that Raul Menendez loved his sister more than anything in the world. The masks on the wall always stand out, as if he wanted to protect her from her ugliness. And the terrified, desperate wailing she makes when she's dragged out of bed? Borders on Nightmare Fuel...
Wood's death if Karma is dead and Menendez is spared. Menendez infiltrates the Vault, kills Woods with Josefina's locket, and lays him down gently on his bed. Very slightly dulled, considering Woods is currently 95, and doesn't seem too phased by Menendez appearing in his room.
Salazar's betrayal and subsequent death, if Harper is alive. The guy's been with you in all of the 2025 missions, and is actually a decently coded teammate that helps you push forward on his own if left alone. And he turns out to be in league with Menendez, and through his actions, allows the US Army's drones loose on China and America, causing countless deaths. But unlike your typical traitor in the genre, Slazar allows himself to be arrested and is willing to receive the punishment for his actions from his friends
Mendendez's suicide in the "worst" ending is a twisted example. After escaping from prison and killing Woods, he goes to his sister's grave, digs her up, smashes open her coffin and calmly pours gasoline over himself. Then, while looking at her remains... he lights a match. It's a poignant yet chilling way to depict a character that was so utterly consumed with vengeance that once he achieved it, he had nothing else to live for. So he decides to end his own life, and be with his sister.
In the same token that it's a heartwarming moment, Mason having to tell his son he's duty-bound to save Woods is a sad moment as well. Alex really doesn't want to break the promise he made to his son that he put his military life behind him and David is also disgusted that his father is going back on his word. It's not a comfortable moment for either party.
Admiral Briggs' death and the subsequent destruction of the Obama. Made worse by the fact that he's killed by Menendez...except you're controlling him at that moment, meaning it's entirely your fault.
The ending once you view the after credit stinger, sadistically subverting what was supposed to be a happy ending. Despite shooting Gabriel Rorke in the chest and leaving him to drown in a lake, he rises from the waters, kicks Hesh Walker in the guts and gloats about how he's going to turn Logan against his brother and the Ghosts, dragging him off while Hesh screams desperately, utterly helpless to stop the madman. The last shot is of the player trapped in a pit in the Amazon being tortured into becoming loyal to the federation
The fan-made Extinction album by Benn Down is either this, Nightmare Fuel, or both. The first song, Unstoppable, is a very upbeat song from the perspective of the humans, saying that they'll be able to win against the alien horde, and stuff. By the end, though...just listen to the last song...