A new game is on the market that has been in the making for over two years. It's your run-of-the-mill first person shooter. There's true to life weaponry, uniforms, tactics and vehicles. There's also a multi-player component available, as any modern first person shooter worth it's salt should. This game was also designed by a military super power. If your guessing America's Army, you would be wrong. The game I'm describing is the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China developed Glorious Mission.
You may have remembered hearing about this game a couple of years ago when it was first announced. The U.S. media had a collective shit when an early announcement trailer showed what appeared to be the the PLA fighting against American soldiers in the game. I went on Youtube to find some examples, but came up empty. I couldn't find any videos of a Chinese soldier fighting against an obvious American soldier, so I guess we'll just have to take the mainstream media's word for it. How dare the Chinese make the US Army a bad guy in their games. Western developers would never put Asians in their games and make them enemies.
Except that one time. And that other time... Just forget it.
Today though, everything's cool because apparently the game has released with nary an "Americany" looking enemy in it. What's not cool is that the game now has the PLA fighting against Japanese soldiers for a chain of islands in which their sovereignty has been in dispute on and off since 1895. The Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu in China is a bit of a sore spot for both countries and since the 1970's both country's navy's have had incursions and near misses with each other on the waters surrounding the islands.
At one point in Glorious Mission, the PLA takes an amphibious assault to seize the islands from the Japanese defenders. It seems that this one level in the game may be stoking the flames of this conflict between these two nations, as the sovereignty of these islands has become a patriotic rallying call for both sides. Tensions are higher than ever since the Japanese government offered last to buy the uninhabited islands from their current private land owners and many are speculating that this level in Glorious Mission may be a direct response to that.
So the question is, is it justified for people to be upset about this game? Western developers have been using current conflicts as a backdrop for the back stories in games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield for years now. The only difference is that these western titles have been developed by companies like Activision and EA, and not the US government.
There was only one instance that I can recall that another country took offense with a western publisher on how they were portrayed and that was Mexico against Ubisoft on Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Since then, things have been relatively quite, even though games like Call of Duty and Battlefield have been using locales in Asia and the Middle East.
Mexico City suburb in Ghost Recon
In the end, I feel that the response to Glorious Mission has been overblown. The uproar has already started to cool down and I reckon that in a couple of weeks, you won't hear much about this game. Honestly, it does not even look like it's worth playing. I don't have a PC that is capable of playing this game, but from the play through videos online, the game looks to be terribly mediocre.
If anyone here at the Destructoid community has played the game, I would live to hear your thoughts. Let's hear what you got to say.