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Japan review check: Halo 4, Assassin's Creed 3, Summon Night 4

A recap of the most interesting games coming out soon in Japan, courtesy of the reviews section in the latest issue of Famitsu magazine.

This week's top titles in Japan are, for a change, the same as the top games in the US: Halo 4 and Assassin's Creed 3. The interesting story here, though, is that despite the high scores given to both titles, Famitsu's editors seemed quite a lot more excited about Ubisoft's AC3 instead of the latest in the Halo saga.

"Halo 4 is a completely standard and approachable FPS," one editor put it. "It's pretty simple, but it's something you can just keep on playing, so you get a lot out of it that way. Assassin's Creed 3, meanwhile, is different. The setting's switched to America, it's trying all kinds of new things, and you really get a sense of freshness."

More details:

- Halo 4 (9/9/9/9, 36 out of 40 points): "The event scenes in Campaign combine real filming with CG for a very impressive experience," one review began. "The multiplayer, including the Spartan Ops system that sends out new episodes to you each week, is also very fleshed out, and you've just got a ton of volume here. I like all of the vehicles you can commandeer here, but they're all a little hard to control."

"The controls and gameplay are simple and refined, making play a breeze to get into," another reviewer added. "There are a lot of new enemies that take advantage of teleporting, which really gives you a charge when you defeat them. Multiplayer features a lot of fleshed-out modes, as well as missions that go along with the main story, and you can really play this for a while."

- Assassin's Creed 3 (10/10/9/9, 38 points): "The new game engine adds a lot of refinement to character moves," one Famitsu editor began. "With the mountainous maps, the hunting, and the sea battles, it feels like there's a lot that's new or changed with this title. The rush you get when piloting a ship, in particular, is awesome. There are a couple small points I could bring up, but this is still a really charming game."

"They tried a lot of new things with this game," chimed in another reviewer, "from jumping between trees amidst all of this nature to hunting and selling your catches. The maps are huge, there are these large-scale battles, and overall things seem a lot more active and open to the player. There's a ton of substory to explore, too, and the volume here is pretty expansive. Overall, I'm really satisfied."

- Assassin's Creed 3: Liberation (9/9/9/9): The Ubisoft praise extended all the way to the PS Vita companion title, which is called Assassin's Creed 3: Lady Liberty in Japan only for some reason. "It's not just a quick spinoff," one writer declared. "It features gameplay that's really been reworked for the portable, which I'm very glad to see. While still retaining the exhilaration of free-running, the heroine can also change how she acts via her disguises, which really changes gameplay and adds strategy to the mix. The setting and story are also well made, really putting you into the era."

- Summon Night 4 (8/8/7/8, 31 points): The only really interesting made-in-Japan release this week is a PSP port of a PS2 strategy role-playing game from 2006 that also mixes in some dating sim-type conversational gameplay. "Largely it's the same as the Summon Night 3 PSP game they released last month," Famitsu wrote. "There's nothing fresh here, though I appreciate how quickly they're releasing the sequel. The strategy-RPG parts of the game are challenging as always and definitely meant for advanced players. The difficulty settings compensate for this somewhat, but I think it would have been a lot better if you could switch between Normal and Easy difficulty any time you wanted to."

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