A scene featuring a derailed train from Call of Duty: MW3

Call of Duty's scenes of violence on London Underground are approved by censors

Censors have approved a new computer game containing scenes of widespread carnage on the London Underground, where users have the option to kill civilian passengers, despite the release receiving vilification earlier this year for its similarity to the 2005 terror attacks on the capital.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has given Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (MW3), which hits high street shelves tomorrow, an "18" certificate, partly because of its bloody battles set in familiar London settings, but has refrained from restricting any of its content.

However, the BBFC states that the game – which involves chasing armed mercenaries through London Underground Tube carriages – establishes a context which may be "unsettling" and "upsetting". When news of the game's content leaked earlier this year, it was panned by Mediawatch UK for being in "incredibly poor taste".

The Modern Warfare gaming series has a history of controversy and British political and religious leaders criticised the previous installment in 2009.

But BBFC director, David Cooke, said they would not be restricting the game's London scenes. "The board's decision to restrict the game to adults primarily reflects some moments of strong violence, but also takes account of these contextual elements," he said.

Bloggers have already reacted against a teaser trailer released late last week by the game's creators, which include gaming publisher Activision, stating it is "heavy-handed" and "gratuitous".

The short film shows a parked truck full of explosives vapourising next to a mother and child.

"It's a somewhat heavy-handed approach to get some shock value out of the game's story," said Pete Davison, contributing editor at gaming website GamePro.com

Although the organisation says the game's storyline is far removed from real events, one level is set in London in which soldiers chase Russian mercenaries through the Underground. At one stage it is possible for civilian passengers to be shot.

A spokeswoman for the game said it was a “fictional action game”, adding that “players are warned some content could be considered disturbing”.

Censored games

Manhunt 2: Achieved the dubious distinction of being the only game to be banned outright in the UK, on grounds of excessive violence. A modified version was released in 2008.

Command and Conquer: Generals Banned in mainland China. The game depicts a Chinese army that uses nuclear weapons liberally and bombs the Three Gorges Dam.

Mortal Kombat In 1992 Nintendo forced the game's creators to replace its notoriously gratuitous gore with more sanitised scenes; animations of red "blood" became grey "sweat".