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Medal of Honor: Rising Sun Package Art
 GENRE
  First-Person Shooter
 DEVELOPER
  EA Games
 PUBLISHER
  EA Games
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1-4
 CONNECTIVITY
  no
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Medal of Honor: Rising Sun

In my opinion, the best first person shooter that I’ve played for the GameCube is Medal of Honor: Frontline, the predecessor of this title. While an argument can be made for titles like Timesplitters 2, the gritty realism and admittedly high levels of difficulty made Frontline a fantastic game.

So how does Rising Sun live up to its pedigree? I think the first thing that has to be recognized here is that this game does not take place in the same rubbled-out towns of Europe. The venue is mainly in jungles (think of Goldeneye’s Jungle level). This fundamental difference drastically alters the gameplay as you sometimes find yourself lost and unable to find your bearings as the jungle scenery can get somewhat confusing. However, there are some brilliant moments because of this venue as well. One of them would be charging up a hill as a howitzer fires shells at you while trying to kill Japanese soldiers hiding in head high grass not more than two feet in front of you.

While I think that Rising Sun does a decent job in some aspects of maintaining the series’ level of quality, in others instances (such as AI) the game seems to falter. However, for you first person shooter lovers out there looking for a fix, you can’t find a better one than this for the 2003 Christmas Season.

visuals

The first mission demonstrates just how much EA can throw at you while you’re playing the game. Granted, this first mission rides on “rails” but the planes, munitions, explosions, dead bodies in the sea around you….it’s certainly a good effort at portraying the spectacle of devastation that was Pear Harbor.

As for the rest of the title. You’ll find that enemies are sometimes difficult to distinguish from your own men. Thankfully, if you shoot your guys they won’t die but at the same time, in a hectic fire fight you can be standing in front of a Japanese soldier thinking he’s on your side and yet he’s plugging you the whole time. I know that the uniforms are historically accurate but some type of further differentiation would have worked here. The ‘camo’ effect of the Japanese soldiers will really do a number on you. Sometimes they’ll completely blend into with ground or trees; it works really well.

Animations are somewhat disjointed at times. Aside from Madden, I’m beginning to think that this choppy animation is an EA hallmark! The other issue with the characters is the collision detection. You’ll sometimes have enemy soldiers right on top of you and you'll get an interior view! I know that the art of war says that you should know your enemy, but looking into his innards is ridiculous!

Aside from that, the jungle levels breathe an organic feeling into the Medal of Honor franchise. Some of the environments are really well done (like the raid on the canal level and the aforementioned Hill excursion) but at times the jungle seems a little too prefab for my taste. For example; the trees don’t sway enough, the leaves around you should be more organic in their movement. The jungle is a constantly moving and living entity in real life and most times, EA’s jungle feels more like the greenery in Tiger Woods 2004!

The environment can get pretty sparse at times as well. With the exception of a few huts and some trees there isn’t much to look at. Compare this to the dynamic and diverse war torn city of the Arnhem Knights level in Frontline, and Rising Sun comes up short. However, there are other times (like the temple level or singapore sling) where this game blows you away visually.

audio

As always, this is a highlight of any Medal of Honor game. You’ll hear bombs whistle their way onto your location. Bullets will whiz past you. Enemies will utter Japanese obscenities like “your mother dishonors her family by using Tide instead of Clorox during her laundry duties.” The audio effects are smashing and full of life.

The soundtrack doesn’t have the same simpatico of Frontline. At times, the tension established by the staccato drumming and use of pan flutes gives the game a Platoon meets Commando soundtrack feeling but at other times, the Soundtrack feels out of place in the jungle environment of this game.

gameplay

As I suggested in my Frontline review, those of you comfortable with the Goldeneye control scheme should immediately go to the options portion of the game and switch to Classic MOH as your button layout. You can also customize the scheme but keeping the Classic MOH spread means that you can teach multiplayer partners to play the game a lot quicker as your more comfortable with the scheme. On that note, I disagree with EA moving the action button over to the right direction on the control pad. It feels like a stretch for me. Aside from that, the Classic scheme is the best as it allows you to strafe easily and play intuitively.

The first thing that I find as a regression in this game is the opponent AI. I had Japanese soldiers run right by me in a tunnel! Also, I’ve walked right up to some Japanese soldiers and they don’t respond until I’m literally right on top of them. They have a new “Kamikaze” type of ambition whereby they’ll sometimes charge at you with their bayonet fixed to their rifles but I’m pretty sure the savvy and cunning of the Japanese army was far superior than the representation in this game. The Frontline soldiers, while not brilliant, were a lot better than Rising Sun’s soldiers. I also feel that at points, this AI issue affects my enjoyment of the game which is a shame.

Some levels are as long and challenging as Frontline’s were (Pistol Pete Level). However, the spacing of the game save stops is much more user friendly. You call into a radio in order to save your game and thankfully you can find these radios strewn throughout the levels.

The opening level is more of a “shock and awe” gesture in that the game brings you along for the ride rather than allowing you to actually play it. Some of the levels get a tad repetitive and monotonous in that once you’ve cleared out five hundred Japanese soldiers in the same stretch of jungle, you may get sick of it.

Keeping with that, you’ll find that this gameplay relies a little too heavily on killing hordes of the enemy. I think the LOTR dev. crew may have gotten to these guys or something? I know what you’re thinking, Frontline was about killing a ton of enemies too. I agree, but Frontline had a pace and spacing about it that felt more real (until the last levels). In addition, more enemies worked from behind cover. Here, the Japanese soldiers just come running at you at all costs and don’t use any AI savvy in finding a good place from which to attack. Not only that, but they come in droves so it gets too repetitive.

One thing I liked about Frontline was the diversity in your toolbox. Things seem as little drier in some missions of Rising Sun (e.g. Rifle, handgun, and grenades for a very long mission can get boring). But later levels like the aforementioned Temple level load you up with a springfield, shotgun, and trench gun. Too bad you aren't this loaded up throughout. However, having limited weapons does add to the thrill of being loaded up in later levels.

You’ll find Rising Sun to be a nice compliment to the gameplay established by Frontline. At times it’ll stun you with some moments of brilliance and at other times it seems flat. The weak AI doesn’t help that feeling either.

multiplayer

One very welcomed addition is the use of co-operative play in this title. You and a buddy can play through missions and work together at stopping the Emperor’s army. This adds a lot of replay to the title as you can finish the game solo, go back again and try to improve your effectiveness and then tackle the whole thing in co-op play as well.

I really liked the deathmatches in Frontline. They are well done here as well and the new environments add a solid twist to the four way play.

overall

Rising Sun is a mixed bad; excellent here, and pretty average there. Either way, first person shooter fans and action fans alike should buy this game. It’s an excellent mission to run through over the Christmas holidays and the production quality of EA's Medal of Honor series blows a lot of games on the Cube right out of the water.

Although I still rank Frontline as a better experience, this game is worth buying. Especially if you’re an older gamer looking to get through some realistic gritty action. Rising Sun is recommended.

final score 8.9/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Eric Mattei
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"Lost like tears in rain"


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