Future Publishing


Medal Of Honor: Rising Sun
By Electronic Arts
Xbox (EU Version)

 
Published in Official Xbox Magazine #24

East meets West and heads South fast

Medal Of Honor: Rising Sun (Electronic Arts)

For you, Tommy, the war in Germany is over. The new theatre of combat is the Pacific. Just as WWII movies have drifted east from Saving Private Ryan to Windtalkers, so this franchise has migrated (NS from the continental Medal Of Honor Frontline to the land of the rising sun. Conspiracy theorists suggest that US commanders allowed the 'surprise' attack on Pearl Harbor to secure war support at home.

Rising Sun does the same, drawing you in with great Pearl Harbor opening scenes, knowing full well that the excitement will not be sustained. For MoH: Rising Sun consists of a handful of set pieces interspersed with generic first-person fodder that is at best uninspiring and at worst unfinished or even broken. This lack of effort is evident throughout. There are buildings and ships that are missing textures, allowing the sky to shine through where there should be brick or metal bulkhead. Soldiers sometimes hold invisible guns, their weapon models mysteriously AWOL. Throw grenades in some jungle canyons and they bounce back off an invisible ceiling at tree canopy height. Nudge other characters while they are talking to you and they skate around the levels like human pucks. Co-operative characters run into walls and get stuck with their disembodied heads appearing on one side of a partition while their legs keep running on the other. The game development medal of honour is staying locked away in a display case at our HQ.

Worst of all, there are game-breaking bugs that can totally stymie progress and force a level reload. If a game is going to rely on the AI of supporting co-operative characters then their intelligence has to be up to the job. If, in the case of Rising Sun, they can't even lay the explosive they are carrying on a gun emplacement, a mission objective that must be completed before you can continue, then it's a court martial offence that should go to the firing squad. Co-op AI characters also cannot die, which can lead to insane infinite close-combat battles if you stand and watch. Enemy AI is little better. Despite the occasional screaming bayonet or samurai sword charge, most gunfights consist of a standing exchange of fire with weapons often inappropriate to the mission type.

The lazy programming and suspicion that no one actually thought to play the game through before pulling the pin and lobbing it at the public, unfortunately extends to the graphics. If a game like Rainbow Six 3 is a colonel in the shooter army, then Rising Sun is basic infantry. Very basic infantry. There's little noticeable improvement over the MOH Frontline graphics engine and we weren't very impressed with that.

Textures seem flat, poor lighting and spot shadows make no use of Xbox hardware potential and while some environments are certainly expansive, the payoff between size and detail is too high, leaving the impression of a cardboard set made by children for an amateur production of Tenko. And that's before you go into the linear jungle corridors or rigidly enclosed grasslands. We've felt closer to nature hanging a tree-shaped air freshener from a rear-view mirror.

The over-sentimental heavy-handed plot and dialogue, awful AI and shoddy graphics are not aided by a sudden and unsatisfactory ending (the story will be picked up by the next MOH game, although you're not told that in Rising Sun). We recommend that you stick this where the Rising Sun don't shine and wait for Activision's Call of Duty to take the WWII shooter to the next level in 2004.

Good Points

  1. Grand set-pieces
  2. Co-op option

Bad Points

  1. Aged graphics
  2. No Live play
  3. Unfinished levels
  4. Poor ending
  5. Awful AI
  6. Clumsy plot

Verdict

Power
Even though detail levels are low, busy scenes can still stutter, especially when planes abound.

Style
Some good imaginative set pieces but there's far too much dross to get through in between.

Immersion
There is some effort at a plot, but it's so heavy-handed that it's extremely off-putting.

Lifespan
There are loads of movies and extras to find and co-operative play is a good additional option.

Overall Lazy programming and over-reliance on the franchise name make a disappointing sequel that is less than honourable.

Steve Brown

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