This week we’re tackling Japan’s take on the genre that’s come to define this console generation, in the west at least: the military FPS. Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Medal of Honor: Warfighter are both out now in Japan, and we’ll be investigating their critical and commercial results. We’ll also take a glimpse at Platinum’s uncompromising attitude to working in the Japanese game industry as we listen to what the Bayonetta studio has to say about working with Kojima Productions on Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
Black Ops II outsells Animal Crossing
Published by Square Enix, Black Ops II came out in Japan last week and sold 220,000 units, the overwhelming majority of which were on PS3. Not only did it narrowly beat Modern Warfare 3’s opening week of 210,000 units, it trounced Warfighter’s 25,000, as well as Halo’s 40,000. Call of Duty has almost certainly cracked the mainstream in Japan, then, but isn’t quite the sleep-depriving, sickie-causing phenomenon that it is on western shores. To put its popularity in perspective, Black Ops II narrowly beat Animal Crossing: New Leaf this week, which sold almost 214,000 copies. The 3DS game has, however, sold 1.1 million in just three weeks since release, a figure which Black Ops II is unlikely to match during its lifetime.
While western critics maligned EA’s game and favoured Activision’s yearly effort, both Warfighter and Black Ops II were given generally favourable treatment by the Japanese press. Indeed, Famitsu reviewers scored both quite highly, with Warfighter earning a respectable 33/40 and Black Ops II earning 37/40. There isn’t much to distinguish the reviews, which are, contrary to the traditional western perception of Famitsu, very light in tone and content. Famitsu reviews are four paragraphs long, each paragraph being the equivalent of about 60 words.
Medal Of Honor Warfighter: “Fascinating”
Famitsu’s Warfighter review praises the game’s realism with might be just a little cultural curiosity, admiring Danger Close’s portrayal of the more mundane aspects of military life. “The graphics are exquisite,” said one of the four reviewers. “The gun shots and explosions sound so realistic, you feel like you’re really there. The campaign, which shows even the everyday details of a soldier’s life, is fascinating.” Horses for courses.
Possibly the only point on which east and west are agreed however, is the “Fire Team” multiplayer mechanic, which sees players paired up in the multiplayer modes, with rewards on offer for player cooperation. One Japanese reviewer brings an interesting perspective: “[This] brings a different kind of tension and sense of achievement to multiplayer, compared to playing solo.”
“I’d like to play a Need For Speed title like this!” says Impress Watch’s reviewer of Warfighter’s driving sequences. While our own Medal Of Honor: Warfighter review called the driving sequences “clunky, a chore, and overlong,” both Famitsu and Impress Watch praise the driving sections. “The car chase scenes are definitely worth a look,” says the Impress Watch critic. “The Abu Dhabi level in which you drive against the backdrop of sunset-stained skyscrapers is an incredibly complete experience for an FPS.”
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