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Japan review check: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon

A recap of the most interesting games coming out soon in Japan, courtesy of the reviews section in the latest issue of Famitsu magazine. As opposed to many recent weeks, a Japan-made title finally scores higher than the big holiday-season Western hits.

- Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (9/9/10/9, 37 points out of 40): Famitsu's editors liked Black Ops 2 for most of the reason US reviewers and a few million other games do. "The graphics and sound are wonderful," one review began, "and the sense of being there on the battlefield is outstanding. In addition to the movie-like production, missions also appear one after the other during gameplay, which really helps keep your motivation going along as you play. It's exciting to see all of the near-future weaponry on display, too, from optical camouflage to multi-legged tanks."

Other reviewers brought up issues with keeping track of everything going on (a valid point, perhaps, since the Japanese-language release of Black Ops 2 is subtitles only). "The story connects with the hard-to-follow one from the previous game," one editor said, "which makes it a little hard in spots to get a full grasp of what's going on, but the way the story's told from the viewpoint of two generations is really fascinating. The zombie mode's seen a lot of progress as well, and overall it's packed with stuff to do."

- Need for Speed: Most Wanted (9/9/9/9, 36 points): Famitsu seemed to dig EA's latest for a lot of the same reasons they dug Forza Horizon: it's both flashy and approachable in equal measures.

"It's a pretty approachable game in all the good ways," said one editor, "right down to how you can find new cars on the map and just go near them to make them your own. You can ride high-class and custom vehicles right from the start, too, which helps motivate you. Even if you get caught, the only thing you lose is points, so overall they really made an an effort to make the game easier to get to grips with. I wish there were a few more cars than the 50 or so, though."

"Even among other open-world race games, this one is really well made," added another. "It's fun just to drive around town, but you also run into new cars and races, and overall the game's set up to tickle your curiosity in a lot of interesting ways. I think there's something to be said for a racing game like this which doesn't try to be so severe with you all the time."

- Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Magnagate and the Infinite Labyrinth (10/10/9/9, 38 points): The top scorer of the week is the latest in this spinoff series, the first to hit the Nintendo 3DS. "The graphics have taken a sizable leap forward," one reviewer noted, "which make the Pokemon that show up all the more charming. On the gameplay side, there are additions like multiplayer and town-building and expand the range of playability. The difficulty's low overall, making it more an introduction to the dungeon-RPG genre than anything else, but the character-raising is neat and the story's been built to try and make you cry!"

- E.X. Troopers (8/8/8/8, 32 points): On the slightly more disappointing side is Capcom's new PlayStation 3 game, a very anime-looking shooter that is based in the same universe as the Lost Planet titles. (Capcom's already said the game won't come to the U.S.)

"The 'manga demo' cutscenes, featuring a mixture of animation and manga-like panels, give the story a really nice, quick tempo," Famitsu said. "The action-oriented gameplay is simple, as are the missions, and it's something you can proceed pretty quickly along in. The maps are a little cramped, but overall, it's a good gun-action game for casual users."

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