China’s First-Person Military Shooter Has A Terrible Message

China’s First-Person Military Shooter Has A Terrible Message
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At first, I was intrigued by the idea of a game about the Chinese military, the People’s Liberation Army. But now after spending a weekend with the Glorious Mission Online’ s public release, the novelty has worn off.

Originally slated to be a People’s Liberation Army training game akin to America’s Army, Glorious Mission Online is now available to the masses. Recently, the game is back in the news for offering a controversial new map that allows players to fight the Japanese military in a stage that takes place in a contested territory that both China and Japan claim as their own.

Keep in mind that this is first official public release of the game. Glorious Mission Online was originally released for the Chinese armed forces. This public “test” officially launched on August 1, the 86th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army.

As a whole, Glorious Mission Online seems like every other first person shooter before it. It takes elements from other shooters like Counter Strike and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and merges them into one game.

Like in Modern Warfare, there are the kill streaks as well as the role-playing game elements. Players, for example, can customise the look of their character, buy guns and upgrades through earned in-game currency or via micro-transactions. This is a “freemium” game. Unlike, say, Modern Warfare, there really isn’t any “rescue” or revive mode available in this game; if you’re getting shot at and you’re dying, you die.

Mechanics and gameplay-wise, it is like every other first person shooter. It isn’t a far departure from the mainstays of the genre.

Graphically, the game is kind of odd. For some reason, the game wouldn’t run on my PC with a dedicated 1 GB graphics card, nor would it run on my MacBook pro with BootCamp. It would, however, run on at an internet cafe PC. Due to the variations between cafes, I can’t really say how good the graphics are. They’re not great, but they’re not bad. Also, in-game objects aren’t destructible, so there’s that.

In terms of game modes, Glorious Mission Online offers three: Player vs. Player in death match, Player vs. Enemy in team death match, and single player training mode. At first glance, the first two modes don’t really need a detailed rundown, and Player vs. Enemy is where things get interesting. However, there is one part of Player vs. Player that is really cool.

Buried beneath the other game modes in Player vs. Enemy, there is a “team search and rescue” mode. In this mode, players aren’t out to kill each other, but instead, they’re rescuing earthquake victims, which is something that the real PLA also does. The player holds what looks like a GPS/Sonar device that directs them to the location of someone needing help. Every now and then, there are aftershocks that shift where the victims are and or kill the player depending on where they are standing. This game play mode was very cool, the only downside was the voice acting. It sounded like ghouls shrieking, “Help me, help me.” It was very unsettling.

Originally touted as a way for Chinese players to play as PLA soldiers instead of Western ones, Glorious Mission Online is super political. It’s not as informative as other communist propaganda games out there. For example, it doesn’t bother explaining anything about the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute. In this game, the islands belongs to China. End of story.

Glorious Mission Online‘s latest update isn’t just about the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, but instead it is about China and Japan — whether those are events in the past, possible events in the future, or pure fantasy.

There’s an in-game battle is called “Return Dream of Shanghai”. This is basically a confrontation between the Chinese soldiers and the Japanese soldiers based in a small section of 1940’s Shanghai. The funny thing is…the Chinese soldiers are modern soldiers with modern weaponry while the Japanese soldiers look like they just stepped out of World War II. To add insult to injury, the very first line shouted at the beginning of the battle is a voice over that says, “The devils are here, kill them all!” The very last thing you hear is “Good job, the devils are dead.” Oh.

Now to be perfectly clear, some will argue that they don’t say Japanese at all in the voice overs. In Mandarin, the voice shouts “gui zi (鬼子), which could mean any foreign devil, but here, “gui zi” is used to refer to the Japanese.

What was most unsettling to me was that if you were to stand over a downed Japanese soldier, the player’s gun starts emptying it’s clip on the dead soldier. It’s messed up, and I could not confirm that this was by design or a glitch.

The next part of player versus enemy is the battle of the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. Here, the player is defending the islands from a Japanese invasion. This time around, the Japanese look more “modern.” They’re given today’s weapons and updated looks (there are no more Hitler moustaches). The map also starts with a voice over saying, “The devils are coming.” There isn’t much more to be said about this except that at one point there is a helicopter that you need to take down but you aren’t given any surface to air weapons.

Political overtones aside, Glorious Mission Online is a triumph of Chinese game design in that it works fairly well as a shooter. When compared to other homegrown efforts, Glorious Mission Online is a step above. However if you take it as a whole package, it is undeniably offensive and politically charged. At no point in this update are the enemies anyone other than the Japanese. However since the game is currently only in open beta, there could be more “enemies” added. It’s also very interesting to note that despite the various amount of promotional material and hype presented before the game’s release, there didn’t seem to be any sighting of China’s first operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

But the question is should you play this game? The answer is a whole hearted, no. The game as it is, is no different from any other shooter, except for its message of destroying the Japanese and protecting the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. Glorious Mission Online is virtual chest thumping, wrapped in propaganda and fantasy. There isn’t anything of substance. But how often can that be said of any military shooter, let alone this one?

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian Internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Eric is Beijing based writer and all around FAT man. You can contact him @[email protected] or follow him on Twitter @FatAsianTechie.


        • The fact that you are able to publicly ask that question whilst reading this article provides your answer. Democratic governments may keep on eye on their populace, but they don’t seem to be big on going to massive efforts to stop them saying or reading whatever they want.

          • wait, he said Capitalism and you are arguing for the case of democracy which is a different thing entirely. You do know that Communism and Democracy are not mutually exclusive right? and you can have a Totalitarianism government but with a Capitalist economic system too.

          • The difference here is that they feel they don’t need to because their perceived control is a passive, hands off type of control. PRC just has a more.. err.. hands on approach.

            What amazes me the most is people, who have not set foot in China, proclaiming their “knowledge” of China.. having been there on many occasions over the years and spent time in rural, medium density and high density areas, I’ve seen quite a lot… some good, some bad… but one thing I find interesting is the amount of “true” freedom the general populace has.. one small, seemingly insignificant example of this true freedom is a father and son playing racket-ball with a ping-pong ball in the tunnel of a subway station. They are able to do that with police, station guards and what-not walking past etc.. no one says boo to them.. they’re not being disruptive, they’re not being “bad”.. they are just enjoying the flat surface and lack of wind to move the ball.. you wouldn’t be able to do that in Sydney.. you’d be “moved along” within a couple of minutes.. why? Why would they not allow such simple freedoms here? Why are you asked not to take photos on train stations in Australia when it is not against the law? Why?…. because of control..

            There is a lot of censorship in China, that’s true.. and a lot of “unspoken” truths like say Tienanmen Square for example.. but at the same time, the truths here are not as a clear as they are there. The corruption is in your face in China, in Australia the corruption is still there in the same amount (percentage-wise) but it’s hidden.. buried.. unspoken..

            There’s two sides to every coin… three if you count the edge.. unless you’ve been there and experienced it for yourself, just remember that the mainstream media are usually just parroting what someone else said and that person may be wrong…. like the recent articles about Apple employing (16 to 20 year old) “child” laborers.. just ridiculousness,

        • The difference in most free markets is that, while there certainly is propaganda, you have the capacity to challenge it. In China, there is no such option to counter politically-charged commentary that is pro-government. Unless you want to disappear.

          You commies make me larf.

          • Where have you been since 2001? In the US, your capacity to challenge your government is an illusion; if you can beat the billion dollar corporations who are lobbying against you, in other words, actually have the capacity to challenge your government, then you’re labelled as a terrorist somehow and “disappear.”

            Why do you think Guantanamo even exists?

            Point is, both sides have their propaganda, both sides control their citizens differently. Here in the west, they make us believe we can actually change things and make us believe we live in a people’s utopia, over in China, they just cut straight to the point. I must admit, I’m a fan of the adage “ignorance is bliss”, and I’m not going to kid myself and say that we don’t have a shit load of freedoms that China and other communist countries don’t, so I’m totally chill with living in the west, but to say that we’re much better than “commies” is just naive, considering how much our governments spy on us behind our backs and how people like Assange and Manning are currently being treated.

            Both extremes on the political spectrum are incredibly corrupt. Would you honestly expect otherwise? A compromise of the two, or at least a capitalist system with the benefits of communism (a society similar to Norway), is the only real system worth supporting.

            Still though, us here in Australia aren’t too bad, but we’re still so far up the US’s arse that, when shit hits the fan, that will all change. We live in a world where it just isn’t appropriate to believe that our own governments are 100% working for us, and that other governments are %100 terrible; we live in a world where it’s appropriate to believe that our governments are not to be trusted.

      • This game’s propaganda no doubt, but not for Communism. The ideology this game is touting is Nationalism, and the disturbing thing about that is it’s not exclusive to China.

        • This. There’s a huge difference between nationalism and communism. Anyways, I kinda can’t see the point of criticising this specifically for it’s massive dollop of jingoism because A: What did you expect? and B: Every single Western military shooter looks just as bad to non-American countries, especially their cultural counterparts.

    • I too giggled at this…. We’re all just gamers after all… even pinko poofy commie bastard ones.

  • I guess it is understandable that the Chinese feel this way about Japan. The atrocities committed by the Japanese in china during ww2 would be very hard to forgive even now. We shouldn’t judge too much given how thinly disguised a lot of the politics is in COD/Battlefield etc

    • Japan,China, and Korea are all guilty of doing awful things to each other. They’ve forgotten what it’s all about.

      Also, are you yet to forgive Germany for the war? Russia? Do you forgive America or even Australia for Vietnam?

    • World War 2 was a very long time ago. The people calling the shots then are probably all dead. You can’t blame an entire nation for the atrocities of a few politicians, and doing so is just as atrocious. No justification here.

  • All shooters seem like they are written by nationalistic lunatics. I can’t think of one western shooter which doesn’t have commies (get over it guys, the cold war is over) or Muslims (though usually just represented by brown folk) or some other enemy from 70-80 years ago (Nazis).

    I like shooters when the universe they are set in is entirely fictional, (Halo, Killzone, Resistance etc.) that way I don’t feel like I am playing out some gun nut’s flag waiving, war fantasy.

    • Except when the Space Marines are clearly American (Halo, Killzone, Resistance), and the evil empire is British Imperials or Russian/German space commies/nazis (Killzone).

      • Fair point.

        Although, I guess when it is sci-fi based I can suspend disbelief a little easier than when I have to see Swastikas and Hammer and sickles everywhere.

    • Yeah, we aren’t much better. Although, we aren’t directly racist/dogmatic, we just give off that message and dilute the racism and political dogma by heavily enforcing the idea that “they are really the bad guys, guys. Look at that nuke they dropped.”

      I would love to see a shooter that ended in the US and Russia coming together and making peace. Hopefully it would cover the western worlds flaws, and then the Russia’s benefits and what they have over our societies, then them both coming to a compromise that they’re both different and the fighting won’t fix anything and that they can co-exist in this world peacefully. A war game with an anti-war message. That would be super neat.

  • I generally loathe these sorts of state-sponsored games because they’re jingoistic and take nationalism to a mildly psychotic level. The ones coming from China are even worse because they’re completely shameless and they prey upon ignorant, age-old prejudices. Chinese kids will play almost anything if it’s free, but shame on these people. Of course, China’s opaque bureaucracy will ensure this offensive PoS will thrive.

    • Frequent traveller to China I assume?

      “Chinese kids will play almost anything if it’s free, but shame on these people”
      – maybe, but if its crap, they stop playing it almost immediately. They arent the mindless zombies that digest and regurgitate the communist propaganda that you think they are. Most, if not almost all of them, have minds of their own and have a distrust and dislike for their government. They consume a lot of western entertainment and media and arent naive to what happens in their own backyard

      Seriously, this ridiculous view of China that the commentators of this website have where they are a country of mindless government controlled zombies is old-fashioned and out of date. Try visiting China sometime, you’ll be surprised by a few things

      • I have been to China a handful of times. I say Chinese kids will play almost anything if it’s free because it’s absolutely true. Walk into a Chinese internet cafe and try to recognise half the games being played there, and every second week there’s a story of a kid selling his liver, robbing someone or doing something horrible to pay for some meaningless in-app purchase.

        I don’t think China is full of brain-dead zombies, but even if it’s not as blatant as this, they’re still being pumped full of nationalistic sabre-rattling. It’s like that kerfuffle last year over the Chinese/Japanese rocks and a nationwide poll amongst Chinese youths ate it up.

        • The last Chinese net cafe I was in mostly consisted of League of Legends, Counterstrike, World of Warcraft and Fantasy Westward Journey. What district did you visit a net cafe in?

          • I am interested to know this too.. because in the places i went to Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shanghai, I hardly saw any internet cafes, and the ones I did see were full of that Fantasy Westward game and LoL… lots of video arcades filled with the same Japanese shooting and fighting games we have, and a lot of Chinese driving games (clones of Initial D and Midnight Tune with Chinese tracks) and Chinese/Korean dancing games

  • Let’s go back to shooting Arabs or Russians or NAZIs then, because that’s much more acceptable.

    • I will say that Soviets and Nazis no longer exist, so those shooters tend to be alternative historical fantasy and not really attempting to unleash hate on a group of people.

      Arabs, North Koreans, Chinese, Japanese and Cubans however, still exist. That’s where it gets nasty and instead of being a historical fantasy, it tends to propaganda. Spec Ops: The Line was a fine example of turning that all on its head and explaining that this kind of thing (with real people, in the current day world) is grim and horrible and nasty. It explained why I stopped playing CoD a while ago, without quite knowing why.

      • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, but as it pertains to this game, the problem is the Chinese perception that Japanese Militarism(which they identify with the invaders during ww2) hasn’t died. This perception imo has basically no justification since Japan is now one of the most pacifist countries on Earth, even though it has a vocal right-wing minority who fuels the fevered dreams of “revenge” that some Chinese have and live out through games like this.

  • Wait for the expansions that add India, the Philippines, Vietnam and no doubt the US of A. As for wasting Nazis, I would argue that never stops being acceptable. But yeah I generally stick to sci-fi shooters because: 1. I have been in real-life combat a couple of times and I think playing video game depictions of it against other humans in a current setting is deeply, deeply weird even though plenty of my former comrades do. And 2. because sci-fi shooters provide me with what I find to be generally more interesting and believable stories than the hyperbolic crap that modern military games do, as well as having realistic explainations for gameplay elements like regenerating health, your superhuman agility and endurance and so forth. They do tend to annoy me with their massive, constant over-representation of Anglophone and especially American characters in what are usually supposed to be pan-Human civilizations though. But its only a game, something I desperately hope impressionable Chinese kids will remember when they fire this badboy up.

  • Although I agree in principle that the game preaches hate and violence towards a specific country/culture and that it probably has a negative cultural impact in China, I do not think that it is any territory Western games haven’t already covered.
    First of all I don’t particularly have a problem with the historical missions set in this game, since there is a MOUNTAIN of Western media that depicts the killing of Nazis and Communists. Given the atrocities the Japanese committed and the fact that they were an invading force during WW2, a historical mission in which you kill them like you’d kill Nazis/Communists is fair-game, though having the players be in fully modern war equipment is pretty bizarre.

    I’d take issue with the modern day mission relating to the Diaoyu/Senkaku dispute, but then remember the “No Russian” mission in COD:MW2? You can shoot Russians in that level, in a modern-day setting to boot!

    Then there’s the guizi or “foreign devil” epithet. I agree it’s somewhat more pejorative than “nazi” or “commy” but not by much.

    If you studied the history between China and Japan, both during the war as well as the Japanese gov’ts attitude (contrasted with Germany’s) post-war you would better understand why this game has a market. Sure it‘s cheap propaganda that exploits and incites anti-Japanese, but at the same time there is a reason why games like this got made. It’s part of an industry that panders towards ultra-nationalists, and there are plenty of those in China, just like anywhere else in the world.

  • Chinese and Japs have hated each other for years. This is the Chinese equivalent of… every MoH.

  • I’m a little confused here. Are you saying that killing Japanese during WWII is bad now? Considering what the Chinese went through at the hand of the Japanese I would say it’s understandable. It’s like tut tutting at, ohhh I don’t know, every single american shooter depicting Nazis.

    Really, go look up all the Japanese war crimes that happened in China during that time. The Nazis even had to tell the Japanese to clam down, that’s some serious shit.

  • SO what? Do you know the how the Russian people felt about western games bashing their country until now? Every FPS video with any country as an adversery whether it’s Russians in CoD or People of the Middle in Battle for Honor is all blatant propaganda. Why show hypocrisy now if its a persepective from China? And you know what? CoD Ghost and Battlefield 4 is gonna have the current China as the villian. Makes me wonder how the fearmongering hypocrites going to react then?

  • I just got back from spending a while in China and the anti-Japanese sentiment is real and encouraged by the government. We all know the main reasons why, but a lot of Chinese are inexplicably anti-Japanese, and they hold the current generation accountable for the past generations errors. The history is also a white-wash and territorial claims look like they’re on a war-footing. I was even listening to Chinese on TV (which in many cases might as well be the government saying it) that Okinawa was actually Chinese territory also. Its disturbing to view from the outside.

    • China’s territorial disputes only ever involve land they have a historical claim to. Okinawa was previously part of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which was a tributary state of China for some time before it was conquered by the Japanese. It’s quite an old claim, but it’s historically legitimate, and the only reason it’s been brought up lately is because of increasing tensions over the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute.

      You’ll be pleased to know that China recently commented on this specific claim, and indicated that the expressed academic view is not in line with the Chinese government’s view on sovereignty of the Ryukyu islands. It’s about as close as you’ll get to an affirmation of Japanese sovereignty.

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