Medal of Honor:
Review 12/7/03 by Neal Stevens
Platform: PlayStation 2 (also XBox, GameCube)
Producer: Electronic Arts
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun takes EA's famed war series into the Pacific theater. The series of eight missions erupts into action with the onset of the Pearl Harbor attack. You begin the game as Marine Corporal Joseph Griffin deep in the bowels of a rocking, burning, tortured ship. This opening scenario serves to illustrate the horror and death that thousands of US naval men faced when Yamamoto's attack planes swarmed into Pearl Harbor that Sunday morning. The action intensifies once you reach the gundeck: the sky is literally filled with planes, flak, and smoke. Your crewmates command a gunboat and weave through the burning battleships as you try to take down as many Japanese planes as you can.
Each of the following missions is varied and well-scripted. You will take part in a commando raid on Guadalcanal (watch out for the 'gators!), blow up a bridge over the Kwai, infiltrate a high level military meeting, and sabotage an aircraft carrier. The goal is to gun down all opposing force and progress along a fairly linear track toward the end objective. You will uncover hidden objectives along the way and there are bonus objectives that make the game even more interesting. Some avenues are less obvious than others: tunnels, sewers, and alternate trails keep the game from getting stale.
Save points are not very common and quite often hidden. Health and ammo are stored in crates you must bust open. I would have preferred a simple ammo locker or a first aid station to crates but at least the power-ups weren't glowing or spinning in mid-air. Diligent searching will reward the player. There are a few hidden tools that unlock additional areas of gameplay.
MOH:RS has several notable strengths. First, the plots are engaging and believable. An element of danger and suspense is evident throughout the game. Stalking through the jungle at night, creeping through the decks of a carrier, storming a Singapore hotel not knowing what lies around the corner--Rising Sun gets it right. A Hollywood soundtrack and solid voice acting underpins the action. Informative newsreels are sandwiched between missions so you are educated and entertained. The music is suspenseful and captivating. It gives the impression that you’re starring in your own John Wayne movie. Sound effects are top notch, boosted by LucasFilms THX. Rifle shots, explosions, and various effects come off very realistically.
As is often the case in many games, sometimes the AI characters can do some pretty wonky stuff and break the illusion of reality. Most common of these is the old "one enemy standing beside another enemy you just shot but fails to react realistically" bugbear. Maybe their orders are not to leave their posts.... Thankfully, in most cases the enemy does respond to your presence; they crouch, take cover, and shift position randomly, making marksmanship a challenge. Imagine my surprise when I lobbed a grenade at a cluster of soldiers and one had the nerve to kick it back! You'll find them in the trees, hidden in huts, and laying in wait in foxholes. The game provides three levels of difficulty but only the hardest setting supplies a challenge. The Japanese aren't very good shots but they come in considerable numbers so you will have to use cover and snipe from a distance to keep your dogtags jingling.
The graphics are passable. I found the night environment, especially the jungle, too well-lighted and the foliage looks a little dated. Some elements, like the fog, subtlety add to the feeling of being there. The settings are rich with ambiance, you will have no problem suspending disbelief that you are prowling the streets of Singapore sniping or crawling through the eerie depths of the jungles of Guadalcanal.
Using a standard PlayStation 2 controller you must use both of the analog sticks to move. One makes your character look right or left and the other enables you to move back or forth. It is rather confusing and difficult at first but as you get farther along in the game you get more accustomed to the controls. Taking aim and hitting moving soldiers is much more difficult than using a mouse and keyboard. You can zoom in by holding the L1 button--this also slows the motion and aids with getting the enemy in the crosshairs.
Multiplayer options include two-player co-op mode with a split-screen style and a mode for up to four players. A large selection of maps and setup styles include free for all and team deathmatch game types. For players with broadband there are nine levels for PlayStation 2 online for up to 8 players in deathmatch and team modes.
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun pays solemn tribute to the sacrifices and courage to American soldiers. It also has its lighter moments. Shoot an enemy soldier in the foot, he hops around angrily for a few moments before he begins to shoot at you again. Some of your teammates are pretty funny, as well. One soldier we called "Sarge" was notoriously hyperactive, always charging into enemy formations and shouting out "Die, you S.O.B.'s!" and "Don't let them escape!" (which often as not occurred when we were badly outnumbered).
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun is less a battlefield action game (Battlefield 1942) but more of an epic interactive game, cinematic and narrative based. The missions are formulated to place you in the middle of some of WWII's most dangerous and interesting battles. It succeeds in holding your interest, it succeeds in providing several evenings of entertaining, engaging gaming. We count Rising Sun as another success in the Medal of Honor series. The ending leaves the way open for a sequel. We look forward to completing the war when it becomes available.
Realism Historical Accuracy Graphics Sound/
Game play Repeat Play Stability
Multi- play Mission Editor 15/20 8/10 9/10 10/10 17/20 7/10 10/10 4/5 0/5
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© 2003 SUBSIM Review