Medal of Honor: Rising Sun

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Medal of Honor: Rising Sun Review on PS2

Medal of Honor: Rising Sun is the newest addition to the acclaimed World War ll franchise.

Last year, Electronic arts released the very first instalment of the Medal of Honor series on PS2 with the introduction of Medal of Honor: Frontline which came after huge successs on the original Playstation and PC formats. Frontline signaled a move forward on the consoles in terms of graphics, environments and scenarios and continued the legacy of enjoyable and moderately challenging World War II first-person shooter action that the earlier games had established.

Frontline set a pretty good standard for the Medal of Honor console debut and the potential was definitely there for a good advancement of the series with the next installment

Rising Sun, adopts the same formula used by its predecessors, however is hindered by lots of minor gameplay problems that eventually add up to one major headache. Rising Sun isn't completely without merit, since it comes packaged with some nice extra materials and mostly solid production values, e.g. adding several multiplayer options (including online play) and bots plus a Co-Op mode, However the weakness of the gameplay itself undermines what could have been a much more enjoyable experience.

Rising Sun, unlike many of its predecessors, is based in the

 
Games - Medal of Honor: Rising Sun Review on PS2
Games - Medal of Honor: Rising Sun Review on PS2

Pacific side of WWII in which you find yourself pitted against the full force of the Japanese war machine. The game begins, as Frontline did, with an impressive action-packed opening scene, this time at Pearl Harbor as the Imperial Japanese Navy launches its sneak attack on the 100 or so US ships and all the American personnel based there.

The Medal of Honor games have always been about presenting dramatic, larger-than-life action sequences that make you feel like you're really in a war, or at least a war movie--and Rising Sun does a respectable enough job in this regard. The game starts off pretty strongly by thrusting you right into the middle of the Pearl Harbor surprise attack, which will have you trying to escape the your besieged ship.

You take on the role of Marine Corporal Joseph Griffen who is rudely woken from his sleep aboard the USS California as the first bombs start dropping. Your ship like many others has been hit and this initial level has you at first frantically rushing past fires and dead comrades in narrow passageways within the ship to get up on deck before it sinks. Once there the massive onslaught is immediately obvious as Japanese planes attack the decks in waves, dropping torpedoes, and filling the sky with gunfire and the smoke from burning vessels.

You need to quickly adapt to the situation and mounting an AA gun on an upper deck allows you to start giving it back to some of the airborne attackers in no uncertain terms. You'll find the standard WWII-era armament at your disposal, including the M1 Garland rifle, Thompson submachine gun, and M1911 pistol. First Person Shooter fans should be pretty familiar with the weapons in the game, so there are no big surprises here.

The first scenes or so are some of the best you'll experience throughout the game and although at least half of it is on rails it's quite an impressive visual and an experience that gets you fired up and ready for more. Those that played Frontline will know that the Normandy Beach opening level did much the same to get the adrenaline flowing but then disappointingly eased back the throttle to a less exciting level of action and a smaller scale for the rest of the game. Unfortunately Rising Sun does pretty much the same here and the fantastic build-up and atmosphere at Pearl Harbor just ends up making all the following levels seem quite dull and average by comparison.

The game offers 10 missions which contain a fairly good variety of objectives for you to try and achieve behind enemy lines such as blowing up gun emplacements, finding secret documents, infiltrating a secret meeting between Axis partners and sinking a Japanese super-carrier. The thing being though that you don't necessarily have to complete every single one to progress. Also there's the usual well-researched attention to authentic WWII detail that the Medal of Honor series is famous for from the large array of realistic weaponry to nicely recreated uniforms, locations and believable wartime scenarios.

All of the important pieces of the Medal of Honor formula are present in Rising Sun, so you may be wondering what's wrong with the game. Basically, it just doesn't work right. Elements of the game just feel extremely clumsy and unfinished, at times, which often makes playing through the missions feel more like a chore than an enjoyable experience. The attempt at realism in the game is also questionable with enemies are often observed behaving in slightly unorthodox ways such as enemy soldiers who ran in place up against walls and enemies who stood motionless and faced the other direction while you noisily take care of their comrades just a few feet away. Some enemies will attack you with lethal intent, but others will simply stand there waiting for you to reload your weapon so you can shoot them in the head. Headshots, however aren't nearly as lethal in Rising Sun as you would expect. You can often pull off what looks like a solid shot to the head or chest with your rifle, only to have the enemy stagger briefly and then continue firing as normal. It can take two or three shots to put him down for good, which doesn't do a lot for the game's attempts at realism. Similarly, a shotgun blast to the legs will sometimes cause an enemy to hop about comically for a moment, and then he'll charge at you at a full sprint. All of these little problems just make the game feel a little sloppy. Prepare for irritation in the form of 'save spots' as They're mostly hidden in out-of-the-way spots like some dead-end side path in the middle of the jungle so unless you go looking for them, often you'll probably just breeze right on by, then if you do manage to get killed mid-mission you'll either have to start it all over again or wind up back at the last-used save point.

In terms of graphics, Rising Sun fails to live up to the standard of its predecessors. The weapon and character models look pretty detailed, but the levels are often extremely basic in both artistic and technical aspects. They lack the sheer amount of geometry that other recent First Person Shooter games have used to establish greater detail, and the textures aren't nearly as detailed as they could be.

Overall, despite the fact you can now play a Playstation 2 Medal Of Honor game with and against other human players, and even online with a headset no less, Rising Sun unfortunately remains somewhat of a disappointment. I'm sure fans of the series will go out and purchase Rising Sun anyway for all the normal authenticity and the extras in this new title, if they haven't already, but it is hard to recommend it amongst the other more complete first person shooters on the market.

By James Skelton

7 out of 10

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