Review: Medal Of Honor: Rising Sun

Medal of Honor: Rising Sun
Genre: First Person Shooter
Platform: PlayStation 2
EA Games
1-4 Players, 2 Player Co-Op, Online Play.

Plot

Medal of Honor: Rising Sun takes you across the world to the Pacific Ocean, and plunks you down in the shoes of a Marine named Joe Griffin, who is aboard the USS California on that infamous day sixty two years ago enjoying some downtime in his bunk when out of nowhere he and the rest of the nation is plunged into war with Japan. As your ship is attacked, you rush out of your bunk and head up to the deck to defend your ship. Avoiding fires and downed electrical wires, you manage to get on deck only to see the entire harbor in flames. After a few minutes of defending yourself from wave after wave of Japanese bombers and fighters, you are blown clear of your ship and rescued by a nearby PT boat. Once again you man a machine gun and continue your defense of the US Pacific Fleet, or what remains of it. USS Arizona is destroyed just after your PT boat is briefly knocked out of action and takes a near miss. You continue to defend the other vessels in harbor until the mission ends, and you can relax. Sarge tells you to look around, see what has happened today. The United States has been brutally attacked, you are now at war, and its time for some payback.

Plot rating: 8/10

Graphics

Starting off in Pearl Harbor and then hopping from battle to battle just like the Marines did to win the war, the graphics in Rising Sun change from minute to minute. From the burning paradise and gray naval architecture of pearl harbor to the occupied city of Singapore to the deep jungle of Guadalcanal, the designers have given players enough of a variety to not get bored anytime soon. Player models as well are varied and are certainly a refreshing change of pace from the German uniforms of the past 4 Medal of Honor games. For the most part anyway. At the start of one mission, the Fall of the Philippines, it’s difficult to tell who’s an ally and who the enemy is. Fortunately that is rectified very quickly as you basically wind up being the only US soldier in the immediate area that isn’t on board a tank.
The action in Rising Sun does at times get a little ahead of what the PS2 can handle, with the odd bit of slowdown occurring as machine gun bullets wiz by, but there isn’t anything that will get you killed. Unless you’re just really unlucky.

Graphics rating: 7/10

Sound

If there is one thing the Medal of Honor games have always done right, it’s their sound effects and music. Once again, as in the original, underground and frontline, the sound work in Rising Sun is phenomenal. Whether it is your Springfield 03, the STEN sub machine gun, or a mortar shell incoming on your position, you will hear it coming, and you’ll know what it is. The sound of an armada of Zeroes flying overhead during the day of infamy, the sounds of the harbor in Singapore, all faithfully recreated to add to the feel of the game.

The music too, is well done. Pacing the various levels and giving subtle clues when action is about to heat up or when its time to relax. The music all has an Oriental flavor to it, further intensifying the feeling that you are in an all together different war than previous games.

The voice work for the characters in game is done to perfection. Characters speak to each other believably, and only rarely does the cheese-o-meter register. Of particular note is the voice work during the letters from home portion of the game. When you complete a level you open up a new letter from home, which your sister sent to you. These letters, read in your sister’s voice, further bring home to you what a national effort the Second World War really was, even on the home front. Basically what I’m saying with this one is stick it in and crank it up. Then sit back and wait for the neighbors to call the cops thinking there’s a gang war going on in your basement.

Sound rating: 9.5/10

Control

To put it bluntly, controls in this latest Medal of Honor fall flat when you use what they give you right off the start. The analogue sensitivity for both movement and turning around needs to be jacked way up as soon as you get the chance. However, once you do change the settings, the controls are intuitive for the most part, but not nearly as natural feeling as Halo. Still, as was mentioned, you do get used to them once you can turn at a normal rate, and move at a likewise normal speed.

Control Rating 6.5/10

Replayability

After completing the game the first time you can play through again, and if you have found the correct tools (a spade and a machete) you can open up new paths in various parts of the game. This adds to the replayability, but it depends on how much time you feel like investing in the game. In addition to the single player campaign, you can play through the game with a buddy in co-op mode, which is always a plus, and there is some 4 player split screen deathmatch action also. EA once again favors Sony’s little black box by giving the PS2 version online play, but due to technical difficulties this reviewer was unable to play online. But from what I have played on one screen with 3 friends, this title won’t be replacing Halo or Goldeneye anytime soon

Replayability rating 6.5/10

Balance

This isn’t the longest game in the world. Indeed, you could say this is much like The Matrix Reloaded, or Kill Bill Volume 1, it’s half of a game, or at least half a story. There will be a Medal of Honor: Rising Sun 2, or at least a Medal of Honor: Setting Sun, or whatever they choose to call it. You can if you’re dedicated finish this game’s story mode in a weekend rental. And unlike Medal Of Honor Frontline or Allied Assault there is no level like the Normandy landing that makes you want to play over and over. Pearl is good, but not that good.

Balance rating: 6/10

Originality

This is the first time that EA has ventured into the Pacific on the consoles, but it’s certainly not their first time going back to World War 2. While the gameplay is certainly a lot more up close and personal in this game that in was in previous attempts, in the end you are still using, for the most part, a Thompson sub machine gun, a Springfield sniper rifle, a Garand infantry rifle and a M1911 pistol to do your killing. Even if you are using the butt end of these weapons more often than not. And why is it that yet again I’m playing as someone who gets drafted into the OSS? Were there no Medal of Honor winners that didn’t get drafted into the Office of Strategic Services? I understand it’s a convenient way to move the character from battle to battle, but it’s getting more than a little stale.

Originality rating 6/10

Addictiveness

After the explosive start to the game with Pearl Harbor, things slow down a bit, but if you put the time in you will find yourself compelled to keep playing the game to see where the story goes. You can’t stop your brother from being captured in the Philippines, you think he’s dead, only to hear that he might still be alive later in the game. That hook is what keeps you playing, keeps you involved in the story. What if you had been able to save him before his tank was over run? Can you save him from internment?

Addictiveness rating 7.5/10

Appeal Factor

Do you enjoy history that’s been watered down a little to provide you with a few hours of entertainment? Do you enjoy taking long walks into enemy held territory killing hundreds of your country’s foes? Do you enjoy the sights and sounds of the south pacific? If so this game will appeal to you very much. If not, you may wish to find another game to spend your time with.

Appeal Factor rating 7/10

Miscellaneous

There is much to like and more than a little to dislike about this game, and not all of it can be placed in any category other than miscellaneous. For example, more than a little bit of history is revised to give you an enjoyable game. Japan lost 29 planes at Pearl, yet you can shoot down that many and more yourself during the course of the level. The battle for Guadalcanal was not won in a night, as the game would make it seem. Many men died to possess that piece of territory. Also, while I realize that it was a different time back in those days, and that it wasn’t unheard of for patriotism to run quite high, it seems to me that many of the lines the Sarge speaks feel cheesy rather than drawing you into the story. Finally, while it may not be fair, this game will be compared to another WW2 game that recently came out on PC, and it won’t be compared favorably. Call of Duty, which was made by the people who made Medal Of Honor Allied Assault, is a game that is much better at sucking you in and making you feel as though you are there. Another thing Call of Duty does well is allow you to save in a normal fashion, at anytime you wish. This is something Rising Sun fails at miserably. Placing save points on the level instead of letting you save where you will, or even autosaving once certain objectives are reached, this I’ve come to expect from console FPS games. Making you search for save points, hiding them in minor offshoots of the level is not. Nor is it a way to endear yourself to the gamer.

Miscellaneous rating: 6/10

Ratings
Plot rating: 8/10
Graphics rating: 7/10
Sound rating: 9.5/10
Control Rating: 6.5/10
Replayability rating: 6.5/10
Balance rating: 6/10
Originality rating: 6/10
Addictiveness rating: 7.5/10
Appeal Factor rating: 7/10
Miscellaneous rating: 6/10

Short Attention Span Summary
If you have enjoyed the Medal of Honor games, there is nothing here that will stop you from enjoying this one also. Having said that, if you didn’t enjoy previous ones, there’s not much here to say you will enjoy this one any more than them.