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April 12, 2004
Rise to Honor - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
290KBDolby Pro Logic IIYesNoNoneYes

Read the interview with Jet Li about making Rise to Honor
Read the interview with Brian Rausch (Sony) about motion capture in the game

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Take That! (not the band)
I have to admit that I've always liked Jet Li. Why not? He's one of the best martial artists' to appear on the silver screen since Bruce Lee. Jet may have come to many peoples' attention with his first starring role in the Hollywood blockbuster Lethal Weapon 4 in 1998, but his Chinese (and many would say superior) movies including Once Upon a Time in China (and the sequels), Hero (which is coming to Western cinemas late this year - and is stunning), Fist of Legend and The Shaolin Temple stretch all the way back to 1979. Now he's branching out to video games, with Rise to Honor not only starring Jet Li's likeness and voice, but also significant amounts of motion capture to, ermm capture, all his moves. This is aided by choreographer Cory Yuen, a long time martial arts actor, director and expert.

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Jet Li is quite detailed.
Rise to Honor tells the story of Kit Yun (played by Jet Li), trusted bodyguard of Boss Chiang, the leader of one of Hong Kong’s notorious crime gangs. As Chiang is assassinated, he whispers his dying wish to Kit, imploring him to deliver an important message to his estranged daughter in San Francisco. By fulfilling Chiang’s wish, Yun becomes entangled in a web of alliances and hidden agendas that will push his senses of duty and honour to the limit.

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Some nice backgrounds.
At its heart Rise to Honor is a fighting game in the vein of Double Dragon, Streets of Rage and Final Fight with one big difference - you can now direct your attack at enemies in any direction. While the left analogue stick is used to move Kit around the levels the right analogue stick directs the attacks at enemies. The R1 button can be held to automatically dodge the enemy attacks while counter attacks are performed by pressing both the L1 and R1 buttons together and then pressing the right analogue stick towards the attacker at the moment they attack - something which is made easier by visible animation transitions (more on that later).

The game also includes stealth type sections where Kit will have to hide in the shadows and then take out the guards without being spotted in their torch lights. In theory this would make a nice addition to the game, but it doesn't work and is somewhat amusing when you think about it. Kit will take on high powered martial arts enemies, but is afraid of low level security guards?

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Attacked in the streets.
My biggest gripe with Rise to Honor is that you have no control over they type of attack being executed. Surely the developers could have mapped another button to force a kick or punch. Another disappointment to this game is the AI of the enemies. Even though you may be surrounded by half a dozen enemies at a time, they will mostly attack you in turn, almost never more then one at a time. Sure, this allows you to counter attack each attack, but you never feel threatened by large groups. Finally the game simply isn't long enough. It took me about 8 hours to complete it, and there was little reason to go back through it again.

It's obvious that a lot of effort has been put into making this game look its best. Indeed Jet Li spent several weeks in the motion capture studios to ensure authenticity to his fighting styles and overall the animation is terrific. The problem is that in many locations there is a jump between these locations making it easy to see when enemies are about to throw a punch or kick. This really should have been fixed prior to release.

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Flying kick to the head.
Sound really deserves a mention for one special reason - the voices. Unlike the butchered English dub in Forbidden Siren from Sony Europe, Rise To Honor (developed at Sony America) allows you to select preferred languages. The default, and probably best, setting is Cantonese during the Hong Kong sections of game, and English in the American sections. You can, however change it to all English, or all Cantonese (as well as other European languages). Overall, this sets new benchmarks for the number of options. The effects in the game are pretty good and the music rounds out the action nicely.

Rise to Honor is an ambitious game that doesn't quite live up to the hype surrounding it. Some aspects such as the graphics, sound and presentation of the game really impress, while some, such as the animation changes and general gameplay miss the mark. If you're a Jet Li or action game fan then this game may be worth considering, but for most there will be other games that should take priority.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSNice modeling, but animation can jump between character moves.
SOUNDSuperb sound options with Cantonese & English, good music/effects.
GAMEPLAYIt really needs kick/punch options, but it plays fairly well.
VALUEUnlikely that you'll play through more then once, needs multi-player.
OVERALLRise to Honor is a fairly entertaining game that despite its flaws manages to keep you busy. The graphics and sound are very impressive, albeit with some animation jumping. Recommended for those that like action titles, or Jet Li.

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