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November 22, 2003
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
28/11/2003EA GamesEA Games1-4M15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
117KBDolby Pro Logic IIYesNoSmallNo

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The stunning Pear Harbour battle.
The Medal of Honor games have always been a favourite of mine, ever since the first PSOne titles many years ago. Sure, there is some question about glorifying war, but EA aren't showing brutality, indeed there isn't even any blood to be seen - something which I'm not sure I agree with.

As the subtitle suggests Rising Sun is set in the Pacific theatre of war, with the Japanese as the enemies rather then the Germans as was the case with Medal of Honor: Frontline, the previous game on Playstation 2. The war has shifted to the Pacific Theatre, and its outcome depends on you, Marine Corporal Joseph Griffin. As Japanese forces seek to expand their dominion over the Pacific, you must use stealth, commando tactics, and sabotage to turn the tide in your favor. Of course by moving the game to the Pacific has meant all new battles to be fought with EA Games including historical battles such as Pearl Harbor, the bridge on the River Kwai and Guadalcanal.

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Along the river.
As a First Person Shooter Electronic Arts haven't really developed anything overly exciting, although the game does have a fairly good storyline which is played out not only in the cut scenes but also during the levels through conversations with non-playable characters which you encounter. Starting out during the bombing of Pearl Harbour it isn't long before you are running from bombs and manning the fixed machine guns on the deck to take out the enemy planes. After saving your ship it's onto a patrol boat to help shoot down some bombers. After this first level it's into the jungles in Asia to fight the Japanese. The levels themselves are quite lengthy with many taking around an hour or more to complete. It's also possible after unlocking the machete later in the game to replay earlier levels and slash you way to hidden paths. The levels themselves, despite being set in jungle environments, do have different looks, but can become very repetitive within one location.

One major addition which the developers have made is the inclusion of multi-player support. An all new 2-player co-operative mode is tremendous fun as you battle through the missions together. It actually works very well indeed, although the game teleporting the players together if they get too far apart is a little annoyying. If you'd prefer, however the developers have included online support for the game which means you never run out of friends to play with. The game also includes 4-player split screen support for some deathmatch gameplay accross 9 maps.

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That's a friend.
The AI in the game certainly leaves something to be desired. The enemies will stand around without moving while you pick off nearby firends, while the game soon degrades into a series of shoot and cover events. Also annoying is the fact that enemies can be standing about 2 meters away trying to shoot you but miss on the majority of occasions taking away much realism.

As I stated in the opening paragraph Electronic Arts have taken the moral high ground and removed any blood and gore from the game. While I can see their point of view, you can't hide the fact that war is violent, degrading and at times, gross. I'm not saying the developers should incorporate Saving Private Ryan styled gore, although given that the series was initially developed as a by-product of that movie it may be fitting, however including some small amounts of blood on the bodies and when bullets hit would have added to the realism and given some scenes more impact.

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Escaping the attack at Pearl Harbour.
Moving the game from the open fields to Europe to the jungles of Asia was always going to be a technical challenge, and to be honest I don't think that EA have succeeded to well. In fact, the game contains far too many linear paths to follow and some very average texturing resulting in a lack of variety. The clipping can be horrendous at times and even within the first real level there are sections where the developers have forgotton to put in the ground levels, so soldiers can run through the ground, often up to their necks in dirt (have a look in some ruined building rubble after following the tank for example). The frame rate struggles at times, especially during quick turns, although the 2-player co-operative game manages to cope fairly well. It's almost as if the developers have dumbed down the single player graphics so the 2-player game looks as good. It's not all doom and gloom, the cut scenes are fairly solid and the locations are (supposedly - I never been to the locations)

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Elephant's eh...
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun is yet another title from EA that includes THX sound. This isn't as many believe a sound format, but rather a quality assurance. In short, the sound in this game is pretty amazing. The explosions, espeially through my high-end system rock the room while the gunfire will have you on the edge of your seat. The music is, as you would expect, heavily Asian influenced and sounds wonderful. The speech, and dialogue in particular, is one area that could have done with a little more work.

I have to be brutal here and sum up by stating that Medal of Honor: Rising Sun isn't just an average title, but one of the biggest disappointments this year. The amount of hype and positive early feedback suggested a great First Person Shooter, but it's not, the scripted events which were talked about early in development are few and far between, the graphics are pretty average and it's just not as fun as it should be. I think EA need to spend a little more time fine tuning this series. It could be great, but not this time.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSThis looks more like a good PSOne title, not Playstation 2.
SOUNDThe music and effects are stunning but speech needed better scripting.
GAMEPLAYIt's a First Person Shooter, but not a very exciting one.
VALUE10 hours of game, but you won't replay it. Online gameplay is good.
OVERALLThis is such a disappointing title. The graphics are well below best on the system, and the gameplay seems flat with some poor AI. There is much better available.

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