Medal of Honor - Rising Sun

By David Rasmussen, 25th Jun 05
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For three weeks we’ll be looking at the Medal of Honor series, a set of games set in WWII (one of the three major conflicts that has the fascination of gamemakers). This is week 2, and that means we’re leaving Europe for awhile and headin’ out towards the hot and steamy Pacific Ocean, and Medal of Honor : Rising Sun. Next week is the finale of this trip with June 2005’s newest Medal of Honor release, European Assault, fresh on the market and brand spankin’ new for review, marking the first time tactical squad based combat is utilized in great detail in the Medal of Honor series.

But first, Rising Sun. Once again a brief recap on the series.
As you may, or may not know, Medal of Honor is one of the major franchises of the WWII genre.
This series, along with Call of Duty and the recently released mega game Brothers In Arms, are amongst the most powerful of the WWII games. But there are also some minor gamers trying their hand at the WWII genre as well, including our old friends BAM! (makers of Way of the Samurai and WotS2 of which I have reviewed recently (the original WotS)) who are trying their hand with “WWII Paratroopers” out this June (same time as European Assault) for starters.

As for Medal Of Honor? It is not only the title of a series of WWII games, it’s also (as you may know from last review) a WWII group… The Congressional Medal of Honor Society to be more precise.
Started in the aftermath of WWII, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society (CMOHS) was formed to uphold the qualities of the Medal of Honor, and also to provide assistance to indigent recipients.
So whether the Medal of Honor winner became rich, poor, or an insufferable politician that nobody liked, the CMOHS seeks to promote a brotherhood between recipients… no matter how difficult that may sound to you and me. And, yes, if you think Medal of Honor (the game) is closely linked to Medal of Honor (the Society) then you’d be correct. They seem to have played a role in all these games, of which one clear aspect of that involvement is seen in one way that I mentioned last time… another way is clearly seen as you watch the ending credit roll and behind the scenes footage as the RMOHS & the military takes time out of their busy schedules to help EAGames recreate the realism of WWII for Medal of Honor : Rising Sun.
Ok, now I forgot to post this the last time, but if you are interested in checking the site of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society for more info on them you can find it at

As for the gameplay? Well, once again you got the standard stuff from Frontline, as well as even more extras, historical footage and so much more in this game! How can you go wrong with that?
Actually it seems you can go wrong, in one way. Sadly the trade off for more history is less gameplay, with the game clocking in at a mere 9 (10 at the most) levels of gameplay (half of what Medal of Honor : Frontlines offers) from what I’ve seen of the game (and I’ve finished 75% of the game).
But that’s what you have multiplayer and online play for, to lengthen the game and give you your money’s worth. Still, for a person like me who doesn’t do the online multiplayer thing it’s abit of a disappointment to have a meager 9 to 10 levels to play with, which falls way short in comparison to Frontlines.

But past that there is still lots to be impressed with. Once again, as I am beginning to feel is standard fare for a good Medal of Honor game, the game just has this feel of genuine authenticity here and there which just adds to it’s charm. From the historical footage to the other extras and the gameplay itself, it just feels so right that I am going to make Medal of Honor my first stop for WWII gaming.
That, if nothing else in my book, makes it one of EAGames hot series that sells like hotcakes… or as X-Play likes to call them, “smack-cakes”… (that’d be hotcakes smothered in smack, which strangely enough did not appear as a breakfast time power-up in NARC)… and that’s a good thing isn’t it.
And considering each time EAGames rolls out a Harry Potter game it seems to degrade little by little in playability EAGames needs a good series to depend on… that way people will forget EAGames had anything to do with that abyssmal Catwoman game from last year.

Yes, I know, once again it’s a WWII game and by now people must be are getting sick and tired of WWII games since everyone and their third party game publisher is making them, and if I continue this review tangent any further you might get tired of reading WWII gaming reviews! But still… a few reviews can’t hurt, and I for one think I have a little space in my heart for Medal of Honor.
Heck, I might have space for Call of Duty down the line, ditto with Brothers in Arms… but as for BAM!’s Allied Paratrooper? I’ll stick to rental first before I buy.

Yes, Medal of Honor : Rising Sun is not a terribly complex shooter, but it is a leap above Frontlines in the combat aspect. Still it’s once again a one man show, and yes while you do have allies to help you battle they are not under your control as of yet! Squad based combat won’t become available until the modern day incarnation of European Assault (again coming this June of 2005), but for now Rising Sun is still good for those who aren’t tired (I.e. sick and tired) yet of reenacting WWII in shooter format. In anycase it’s not RTS and it’s not card battle combat so it could be worse!

The explosions

are even more screen rattling this time out, and the combat is more hectic (and beautiful to look at) as well since this time out you’ll be spending lots of time roaming large open area jungles and large civilized areas (the Phillipines & Singapore) where there are plenty of chances for ambushes and sneak attacks all over the place! Add to that an enemy that’s fiercer than the previous Nazi foes in Frontline and you have improved gameplay in Rising Sun.

So where do you start off? You start off as a US GI Joe named Griffin, and you’ve had the misfortune of being on the USS California on the “Day of Infamy”, as Japan attacks Pearl Harbor! You are going to be struggling to get topside onto the deck, where you’ll be fighting for your life against wave after wave of Zeros with only a rifle to take shots at them with… look to your left, see the stairs? Go up them and you’ll come to a larger gun to shoot with. Take this and start gunning.
Oh, and don’t go resetting if you get knocked off the deck of the California, you’ll find a new boat to shoot from and start up your burning desire to pop open a can of whup(bleep) on the Japanese Air Force!

After that you’ll be heading over to the Phillipines where you’ll watch it fall to Japanese forces, but not before you do your most intense street fighting yet battling throughout a section of town in search of a means to destroy a bridge to delay the advance of the Japanese military.
Then you’ll take a trip to Guadalcanal where you’ll fight the good fight though thick jungles which are filled with Japanese soliders looking to cut you a new one… after a few battles on Gudalcanal you’ll hop on over to Singapore… what, no stopover on Iwo Jima? From there it’s onto Burma to locate hidden gold stolen by the Japanese & then you’ll visit the Bridge on the River Kwai and finally have a chance to do payback on the Japanese naval fleet after they trashed Pearl Harbor by trashing their supercarriers in turn!

If you’ve played previous Medal of Honor games you should have no problem picking this up, and if you didn’t play Medal of Honor games you’ll also have no problems picking this up since it’s easy to learn.
However for those of you familiar with the control setup from Frontlines the controls are set up slightly different here in Rising Sun so you better pay attention to the setup before you go out there to wail on the Rising Sun’s butt. Sure it’s mostly the same but the few changes can really throw you off your pace if your not careful. One particular difference is in your M1 Garand rifle. Unlike Frontlines where you could reload this at anytime, now it’s only reloadable after you empty the clip out (which is kind of awkward if your in the middle of a firefight and you end up having to reload).
Otherwise it’s mostly the same as the previous Frontline with some new weapons to lay your hands on, which is just so sweet once you start using them.

Gameplay, as stated above, is easy. Basically all you have to do in this game is lots of shooting in order to take out a lot of Japanese soldiers, like before in Frontline with the Nazis (who make a cameo appearance during the game)… and once again you should have no fears about friendly fire fatalities since that won’t bother you in the slightest… unless your online or playing multiplayer then you can actually set Friendly Fire to active which means you can cause harm unto your allies as well as enemies!
Yes, once again the Friendly Fire rule has been rolled out ala Frontline, but not completely.
Apparently while the Congressional Medal of Honor Society could derail friendly fire damage once again they couldn’t stop the “friendly fire” made by online or in multiplayer combat! Oh, well.

As for the enemy? Sure it has some triats similar to Frontlines, but if you think that’ll mean it’s the same as Frontlines combat here in Rising Sun guess again! The Nazis for the most part hung back and shot at a distance, occasionally running forward to start swinging at you, but the Japanese Army is quite a different beast altogether! Besides shooting they also come rushing right at you to gut you in hand-to-hand combat with either bayonette fixed rifles or katana blades! That’s brutal, as is the damage they can deal out to you if you are not careful! They also are well versed in camoflague and ambushes which the Germans were not very good at in Frontlines! Talk about a major improvement in gameplay here, folks! That means you’ll need to keep your wits about your since ambushes could happen just about anywhere if you are not careful… of course listening for Japanese dialect kind of gives away that Japanese soldiers are nearby.

Another improvement in Rising Sun is the ability to save the game during gameplay, something that was impossible to do in Frontlines! As you play all you need to do is locate radio equipment (which is easily identifiable since it’s the only thing in the game that glows brightly ) and use it to save the game. Easy, eh?
This means you can play through the level and save often so that you don’t need to go all the way back to the beginning of a level if you happen to die during the level, which is a plus in my opinion.
Sometimes it takes a wee bit of effort to find the equipment but once you do you’re all set.

The gaming is stronger here, and it shows. The enemy are a little smarter (though you can still sidestep Japanese soldiers and watch them run past you without changing direction) and more aggressive (unlike the previous Nazis these guys are more aggressive, to

the point of even rushing tanks with explosive poles in a kamikaze attempt to disable them or rush you when your manning a machine gun post in an attempt to overwhelm you). There are lots of machine gun posts, and it seems everytime you man one a huge wave of Japanese soldiers appears and attempts to overrun your position, so grab each post as you pass them just in case such an attack takes place (it’s going to happen regardless of whether you grab that post or not so you might as well hunker down and start shooting -- though sometimes it doesn‘t happen but it‘s rare).

There are more useage of vechiles here (to escort and ride in) as opposed to the previous Medal of Honor game though you still end up as a passenger as opposed to Call of Duty - Finest Hour which seems to let you drive a lot more vechiles than you can in Medal of Honor games. But that’s not all, there’s also a killer gunner level at Pearl Harbor which has you knocking down Zeros left and right, which just rocks.
Add all that to the list of extras in this game and this time out there is just that much more to enjoy.

There are more layers of extras in Rising Sun than in the previous Medal of Honor : Frontlines which is a plus in my opinion on the series! The extras are summed up in four categories, which can be viewed either in the extras level or when you replay levels you’ve already beaten (except for one extra which can be viewed right off the bat during gameplay and one extra which you need to work hard at to unlock).
The extras are as follows…
Historical Movie - Watch the intro historical footage sequence to the level again. Since it bridges the gap between levels you automatically earn it by completing each level.
Letter from Home - Playable either during gameplay, when you replay a level or in the extras section, this has your character reading letters from home from his sister. Kind of gives it that extra touch of historical significance since it shows what’s happening on the homefront during WWII. These are also earned at the end of each level since they too bridge the gap between levels.
Valor in History - If you don’t think just getting historical movie footage is enough history for you then how about hearing about each level’s happenings from the actual soldiers who experienced each of these in real life? Each campaign features a “Valor in History” segment where an actual WWII veteran talks about their experiences in each, from Pearl Harbor & the Phillipines (the Bataan Death March) to Guadalcanal, Singapore, Burma and more. It’s quite interesting and something new to the Medal of Honor series from what I can see of it. However you have to locate a film reel during the level in order to unlock this feature (each level has two film reels to locate) so sometimes you have to play particularly pesky levels over again until you find that reel.
Storyboard - Unlockable extra that you need to locate during gameplay to unlock (it‘s the second film reel of the level). These are even harder to come by than the Valor in History reels so you have to REALLY look for these if you want to unlock ‘em. So far as of the closing of this review I have found only one.

Yes, there are some minuses to this game. It lags abit in gameplay despite the fact it’s loaded in extras, and once you get into the game it‘s over. With only about less than a dozen campaigns to go on (give or take) you‘ll be able to finish this in about so many hours and that‘s just a shame in my book. It‘s got some good gameplay and the music/animation is good, but I wish it had a few more levels and campaigns for the single player to work on which it doesn‘t. Yeah, it has two player, multiplayer and online combat but I don’t have anyone else to do reviews with, nor do I play online, so I can never use those.

Then there’s the matter of the AI. Your allies do seem a little smarter this time out, but they still lack a little here (often you‘ll have your own allies running about you like chickens with their heads cut off, seemingly uncertain as to where to go next). The enemy AI is good though, so that’s an improvement… hmm.. Unless you count the moments they seem to run pass you while trying to attack you… ah, breakdown time. I’ll lay out the rest of my thoughts there.

Medal of Honor Breakdown 1942-1943
What’s Hot?

There are many improvements here that make more sense than what they were doing in Frontlines.
The enemy is abit stronger and smarter (even going so far as hiding in ambush not only on rooftops but in pittraps in the ground where they come popping up for a surprise attack), though again you can still sidestep charging Japanese soldiers who’ll run past you without changing course to compensate for your dodging.
The extras are impressive and more detailed than in Frontlines (which only offered historical film reels from what I‘ve seen of those extras). The levels are more detailed and the chance to roam through the jungles of the pacific islands hunting an entrenched enemy was a nice touch, though I wish there was more levels to explore and play through. Not to mention I wish the game had a map to use since occasionally I got lost.
Explosions rock you even harder here than in Frontlined, the action is intense and a kicker, and while it won’t measure up against some of the other shooters out there it is a fine WWII era shooter and something you should consider for your collection.

What’s Not?
I think some people are down on this game despite the fact there isn’t much

to be down on. That makes no sense to me. Yes, it could be a little longer. Yes, the story is… well… it does it’s job but it isn’t an epic of wartime storytelling. But you know what? The gameplay is solid and the levels are nice… with one exception. And that is in the need for a map!

It seems a lot of WWII & Vietnam games seem to like to use a compass meter that tells you where your going, but (at least here in the Medal of Honor games) there doesn’t seem to be a map you can use!
That is much more of a hassle here than in Frontlines! Why? Well while you had a pretty easy time of traversing territory in Frontlines (only getting turned about sometimes in gameplay) it’s harder here since you have jungle levels to traverse and (without a map) you’ll end up getting spun about abit more since navigating the jungles of the pacific is not an entirely easy thing. The hardest to navigate is Gudalcanal & the streets of Singapore which will keep you wandering for quite sometime before you beat this level.
Sure you can’t wander too far off the beaten track in this game but a map or at least a Grand Theft Auto GPS maping system would have been better instead of making us memorize everything and walk the level through by what we remember. It’d have saved me the time I spent wandering about looking for the way to get from one area to the next in certain areas that’s for certain!

Then there’s the matter of medical supplies. Once again it’s all hand to mouth (you pick up medical gear, you use it right away) and that means that (once again) you’ll have to backtrack to previous areas you found medical gear to refresh yourself if your injured (and don’t think you can make it through new areas to find medical gear) and that’s a hassle. The game is good, I just wish it didn’t have these few hassles in it.

Moments to Remember?
Sadly it seems this game doesn’t have the same amounts of quirks as in Frontline (like the beer drinkin’ Nazis in the bar, the mission briefings before each level with your quirky OSS commanding officer and so forth) though it tries occasionally to have a little bit of quirky-ness in it.
That, by the way, makes it imperative to find those Storyboard extra reels since they are abit quirky in their own right. These reels are supposed to show you how the level came to be, but for me (from what I’ve seen) it seems to show you what the level MIGHT have been like (and it looks like some levels had a completely different gameplay from the final finished level)! It’s because of that the Storyboards are worth hunting for since they’re so interesting to watch.

Another memorable thing is this.
At one point you have to infiltrate a meeting of Axis mights and you come in dressed like a Nazi officer.
This whole level once you head out for the party is the one really interesting thing that doesn’t involve shooting people. Once you get into the hotel where the meeting is being held you’ll notice you’re in “good” company with German officers waiting to be briefed by one Japanese leader type who happens to be… eh, it’s Mako! Cool! Mako, who you probably remember best from the Conan movies (you know who he played) cameos here as General Yamashita (whose gold you have to uncover next level), and that‘s cool.
But for the most part mostly you’ll remember the action in the game, and that’s a good thing isn’t it.

What to Ignore?
Hmmm… what to ignore here… I can’t think of a thing.
Oh, wait! The bad stereotyped Australian soldier during the battle to silence “Pistol Pete”(s) on Gudalcanal. That’s worthy of ignoring… but is it worthy of the Chet R. Chase Award of Bad Stereotyping? Hmmm… nah. I’ll let that one slide since you don’t see him enough to complain about him.

I don’t know about you but I like the Medal of Honor series.
Yes, I haven’t tried the other games yet but I think this is good (and unlike Call Of Duty : Finest Hour you don’t need to fight through hell itself to reach a save point)! I’m sure there are better WWII games out there, but this series has a special place in my heart and I like what I see. Of course I am going to review other WWII games (sooner or later), and maybe even own them… after somebody knocks their price down to an afforable $20 like this game, which can be had right now in Greatest Hits format on the PS2!
Yes, you too can own Medal of Honor : Rising Sun for a low price of $20! That way you’ll get your feet wet in the Pacific theater of combat without having to pay an arm and a leg for the experience!
And, well really, if you can get a fairly decent game at a good low price then I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to at least give this a shot as a rental to see if you like it or not especially since an affordable shooter that is worth playing is not something to sneeze at (unless you have a cold.)
Go and try it, I think you’ll like it.

Next Week
Next time out we take our return trip back to Europe under siege, as we look at the final Medal of Honor review with the review of the June 2005 release of Medal of Honor :European Assault on the PS2. European Assault, which features the first squad based strategy in MoH, has finally come and I’m going to be here to present it to you next week! And boy oh boy is this game so PRETTY!!
Probably the best Medal of Honor game to date, European Assault is solid and I’ll tell you why next week.

By David Rasmussen, 25th Jun 05

Medal of Honor: Rising Sun

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