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Desktop Maestro

 PLATFORM: XBOX
TO THE EAST, MY BROTHER

always look forward to the new Medal of Honor, and not just because the series is one of the true blue-chippers on the FPS market. The thing that separates MOH from the pack for me is the fact that I always feel like I’m getting a little taste of what it must have been like to live through the events of World War II. In many ways, the franchise’s story and heavily researched historical elements have been more of a draw for me than gameplay.

One question that will definitely motivate many to buy this game is: Can EA possibly top the stunning D-Day opening sequence that was featured in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and Frontline? Sadly, although Pearl Harbor is certainly dramatic (and allows for some truly amazing depictions of huge ships exploding and slowly sinking into the drink), it’s just not as gripping a gameplay experience. Where D-Day thrust you into a beehive of frenzied combat, Pearl Harbor just straps you to a boat and forces you to play Duck Hunt with kamikaze pilots. Where last time you felt like you had to find your way through the madness, this time it’s just segments of track shooting shuttling you from cutscene to cutscene.

Thankfully, the following levels put the focus where it should be: frantic FPS action set in a diverse variety of locales in the Pacific ranging from the jungles of the Philippines to the back alleys of Singapore and the ancient temples of Burma. These lush environments are a major improvement over the too-linear levels in Frontline. There are often alternate paths to your goal, and many extras are hidden in secret areas. Also, you won’t be doing many of the missions solo, as you often have NPCs around to help you on your quest to be reunited with your lost brother. While they aren’t exactly super soldiers, the AI has been improved to the point where they are assets in battle.

From a technological standpoint, Rising Sun seems content to merely maintain the status quo. For all of the visual splendor, this game is still lacking in some areas. The texturing is simply atrocious at times, and I saw more collision than should be expected from such a profitable franchise. Also, there were times when I clearly had a headshot on an enemy, but kept shooting away to no effect.

That said, completing the single-player missions is definitely an invigorating adventure. I just wish it were a little longer. I’d say that most players will complete this in between 10 to 12 hours. Perhaps its brevity would have been offset by a dramatic end sequence, but I was displeased to discover that Rising Sun concludes with an anti-climatic "cliffhanger" that leaves many major plot points up in the air. Of course, you can always tackle them again with the slick two-player co-op mode or enjoy a little four-player action. It’s too bad online is only available on the PS2. This is still a good buy for MOH fans, but it’s fallen from the ranks of the elite.  



ADAM BIESSENER   7.75

Though it looks noticeably smoother than its cousins on the PS2 and GameCube, Rising Sun on the Xbox suffers from the same lack of innovation. Enemy AI is awful – guards would often not notice me at all after I had shot them, or would stare at me for a couple of seconds before opening fire. Collision seems a bit off at times, and the track-shooting levels are irritating. Beyond these flaws, there are still some good times to be had – wandering through the trackless jungles of the Pacific islands on a stormy night surrounded by hidden enemies is pretty cool. Two-player co-op is interesting too, as there are a number of differences that bring out the co-op dynamic. The MoH team’s strengths – namely environmental ambience and sound – continue to come through for them, but Rising Sun just doesn’t have the same kick-you-in-the-face feel as Frontline.

7.75
CONCEPT:
EA’s WW II epic tackles the Pacific Theater with grand style, lesser execution
GRAPHICS:
The character models and animations are great, as are the improved explosive effects. However, the texturing is pretty poor at times
SOUND:
The best in the business – brilliant ambient sound and an inspiring score
PLAYABILITY:
As a by-the-book FPS, Rising Sun performs decently, but has too many problems to be considered triple-A
ENTERTAINMENT:
It’s hard not to get caught up in the period drama. It’s a shame it’s not a bit longer
REPLAY:
Moderate
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