It's been a fair old while since we have had good cause to really lay into a game on account of it being painfully bad. EA have been in very good form of late, so when we came to open up Rising Sun we were expecting something quite enjoyable. To say we were off the mark would be a tad diplomatic. Ladies and Gentlemen, read for the safety of your own wallets.
We know how many people are going to be tempted by this, it's one of those games that people take interest in. It has the history, it has the big set piece battles and it also has the Medal of Honor name. Previous installations of the franchise would make you feel that this would be a fine game and one to consider as part of an already bulging stocking this Christmas. Sadly expectations can deceive greatly. Just as Pearl Harbour the film was one of the worst of all time, this game does its best to fit the 'god awful' bill.
Just with all EA titles the basic ideas are as simple Boris Johnson is odd. Its 1941 and you are an American soldier battling out the infamous battle of Pearl Harbour. Starting off in the water you have to smash, shoot, duck and dive your way through a mass of Japanese enemy troops. This is an utterly superb level. Its intense, well mapped out, challenging but fair and everything you could hope for. But that's where the fun starts and ends in this game. It really is a shocking downhill slope from here. It would seem that EA ran out of any ideas to bring innovation or simple entertainment into the rest of the game and after a few hours even a die-hard MoH fan will be sitting there wondering why he or she bothered to waste their time and money on this mediocre pile of excrement.
When you look at some of EA's best titles as a developer you think about how graphically excellent and detailed they are. Te company are able to push consoles very hard and make sure that what you see on the screen of the highest possible calibre. In Rising Sun it is evident that the machine that makes things look nice and pretty (the development team in other words) decided it might be fun to make a perfect recreation of the PSone games of the 1990s. The sad fact is that this game is so retro it almost develops a new visual style that we are going to dub 'fuzz'. If anyone can spot a well-made texture or a level not ruined by graphics so disorientating that they make you twitch with rage, we would be interested to know. In some places the colour palette fails to excite much about beige to off-beige and back again. Whether or not EA noticed this huge flaw in development we don't know but by their high standards this is way, way, way below par.
Another issue we have with Rising Sun is the fact that its American's, war, and another race of people. There are certain factors of this game that just feel plain racist to us and to be frank it is disgusting. On the American side you have intelligent, well groomed, latterly thinking, morally correct and wonderful Yanks, on the other you have the squealing, dancing, Kamikaze-obsessed, sword-flailing and knife throwing Japanese 'soldiers'. If this gets released in the Land of the Rising Sun we can see a massive uproar, and rightly so, the way in which EA have handled the balance between the races is shocking.
Those of you not catching on quite yet might not notice the pattern developing, so just to hint, yes there are a lot of bad points. Next up in the queue is the level design. It’s so linear it’s more like being prodded through a long narrow corridor with lots of weapons and insane squealing Japanese people lolloping about. When you get to the end of one corridor you simply progress onto the next until you loose the will to live. Admittedly you have the occasional breath of fresh smoggy air in the form of a city or town scenario but every house seems to have a door that just won’t open, except one that might contain…erm…nothing. Exploration in the jungle is also suitably pointless if you decide to go for an explore amongst the leafy undergrowth then you will be disappointed, it is solid as concrete. EA seem to have revolutionised jungle design. This game is about as in-depth as the ITV Evening News. The idea EA have had is a fair one, directing the player through a game and keeping in interest and drive through some wonderful narrative in cut-scenes and the like; once again Rising Sun fails. The scripting is so wooden it is worthy of Crossroads. Intense well thought out sequences like ‘Come on’ and ‘This way’ power along a gripping plot that is all the more annoying by lip-synching that makes the characters look like they are talking about something totally different; perhaps even they find this game totally pointless.
For a game that forces itself to be so linear and one way EA have gone to remarkable lengths to ensure that it is just about impossible to find a save point! The damn things are so spaced out that you have to battle for ages before you get close to the next one and then you have the tedious task of hunting it out without getting killed. Be it hidden down a small hole or anywhere that you wouldn’t think of looking we were consistently crying when we were thrown back through a mass of game due to our ineptitude in finding the bloody save points. Replay value is also suitably obsolete. If you play it again you just shoot down the same demented enemies in the same places and employ the same tactics, yes perhaps you enjoy being force fed tedium for £40 a go but we can think of better ways to spend our leisure time.
Just in case all hope is being drained from this title there is one plus point apart from the opening level, this being the sound. The explosions may look like a large paintball blowing up but they sound gives off a massive trembling 'booom'. All the killing sticks make some suitably frightening noises and the music is wonderfully appropriate to the subject material and adds atmosphere to an otherwise bland and listless title.
Thankfully EA have tried to add in some excitement. From time to time you get the pleasure of fighting with some of your allies. The aim was to add a feeling of grandeur to the battles; sadly all it achieves is unintentional comic value. At times you can just stand aside and let the computer-controlled allies go into battle with the enemy. Off they run bravely into combat, right into the face of the enemy until they can see the hairs coming out of their noses and then both enemy and ally open fire on each other whilst running about in a strange inter-locked jig. Gunfire goes all over the place, sadly this odd method doesn't get many kills, so you will have to step in and do it all yourself, properly.
Awful. The levels are totally linear, the save points impossible to find, the enemy AI ridiculous and the whole package is weak and poorly designed. Playing it feels awkward and you never really feel in control.
EA have certainly taken some time over this. To make the GameCube produce PSone graphics for the whole game is a great achievement. The only problem is we expect next-gen graphics on a next-gen machine. Bland, flat and so disorientating in places you just stop playing through disgust.
This is a game of massive extremes. Some of the worst graphics on the console, but some of the best sound. Whilst the voice-acting is a bit wooden everything else is perfect. Big sound, big music. Massively impressive.
To get from start to finish takes very little time. Get really good at it and the corridor level design will ensure that holding down shoot and pushing forward will get you quite a long way in Rising Sun. The co-op mode can be quite good fun, but you have to find a friend stupid enough to suffer with you first. If you want to play it and enjoy it, you might manage to get a bit of your money's worth out of it.
EA did it all right in previous versions, so why we are being insulted by this tedious, poorly designed and plain nasty piece of gaming we don't quite know. The graphics are awful, the levels are awful, the gameplay is poor and it has a very short lifespan. Whilst the sound is superb a game can't be worth buying on the fact that is sounds good. Yes the first level is excellent fun, but beyond that this is just plain torture. Buy Frontline for half the cost.