If you thought the controversy surrounding Edge’s review of Bayonetta (10) or Final Fantasy XIII (5) was overwrought, look away now: Famitsu’s 40/40 review of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has lit up the internet like a solid fuel rocket.
It seems Famitsu and Metal Gear have a relationship that could hardly be described as impartial.
Firstly, the game features a litany of branded content, from Mountain Dew to Walkman, but the fact that Famitsu is one of the real-world products that makes an appearance doesn’t sit too easily with the score.
Of course, Edge has also appeared in games - most notably Grand Theft Auto - but as a knowing joke on the part of the designers, not a paid for contract.
Secondly, Hirokazu Hamamura (former Famitsu editor-in-chief, and current president of Enterbrain, Famitsu’s publisher) appears in the ad campaign for the game. He is present on everything from two-page magazine spreads to the game’s website.
Thirdly, the review apparently makes no mention of these relationships. As our Japanese is somewhat rusty, we're not in a position to confirm this, but other multilingual clever clogs have noted the absence.
Given that the mag hasn’t yet gone on sale, though, we’re going to give it the benefit of the doubt, and hope that some sort of disclosure will exist elsewhere.
As has been posited by sources close to the magazine, though, this furore may just be lost in translation. ‘Fairy Godmilf’ writes on the SelectButton forum:
“Famitsu makes more money off the back cover advertisement than off all the newsstand sales combined. [The magazine] is straightforward (if not entirely honest) PR in a pretty, meaty, high-quality bundle. It's an advertisement feast. If the western concepts of "journalistic integrity" are distorted and twisted within its pages, they're done so very lovingly.”
Of course, this is simply opinion, and it’s just possible that the game could actually be an astonishing addition to the Metal Gear series, fully deserving of joining the 13 other games that have achieved a perfect score during the magazine's 24 year life.
But the promotional entanglement raises justifiable suspicion, and, to western eyes at least, sullies the review’s legitimacy.Kotaku