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.