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Medal of Honor Rising Sun Impressions

We watched the next Medal of Honor game in action. Read on for details.

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We were fortunate enough to attend a behind-closed-doors showing of the PlayStation 2 version of Medal of Honor Rising Sun at the ongoing E3. The next game in the Medal of Honor series will be set in Pearl Harbor during World War II. In fact, the opening level of the game will be the morning of December 7, 1941--the day Japanese forces launched a surprise attack on a US naval base. Rising Sun will feature five single-player campaigns consisting of 10 levels each, though you'll be able to play through the game as US soldier Joseph Griffin either in single-player mode or in a cooperative multiplayer mode with a friend. EA has consistently striven in its Medal of Honor series to create exciting, cinematic action sequences that resemble scenes in popular motion pictures and TV shows such as Saving Private Ryan and HBO's Band of Brothers, and according to the presentation we attended, the game will feature detailed character animation and "new behavioral AI" for its characters.

The demonstration began as you (as Griffin) lie down for some rest, only to be jolted out of your bunk by an explosion. Two squadrons of Japanese fighter planes will swoop down from the skies and open fire on the ship you'll be stationed on. You'll get screamed at by your buddies to get up and get moving, and you'll run down the halls of the ship, passing through highly detailed corridors full of characters who will be similarly confused and terrified. Later on, you'll run past an unfortunate sailor who got caught in a set of loose wires and was electrocuted. This sets up what seems like the only tutorial in the first level as you scramble through a damaged hallway with a broken steam vent you'll have to crawl under, followed by another set of sparking cables you'll have to jump over while your buddy ahead of you shouts brief instructions at you. As you near the end of the hallway, part of the ship's hull will burst into flames, and your fellow soldier will grab a fire extinguisher from the wall, hand it to you, and scream at you to help put out the fires. You'll continue making your mad dash toward the upper decks, putting out fires as you go, though you'll have the option of occasionally pausing and helping other crew members trapped by fires. Finally, as you near the surface, another one of your comrades will grab the fire extinguisher out of your hands and put out the remaining fire ahead of you, leaving you free to try to make it above decks.

Unfortunately, the soldier in front of you will hastily sprint up the steps and then turn back, shouting at you to hurry, only to get gunned down by heavy fire. When you finally do make it on deck, you'll find it in a state of complete chaos, as a bunch of your fellow soldiers, dressed in their uniform slacks and T-shirts, will be desperately trying to defend themselves against the squadrons of enemy plans by manning antiair guns and firing whatever sidearms they have. Another of your buddies will toss you an assault rifle, but a nearby antiair gun will quickly become available, and you'll need to take control of it to stand any chance of taking down enemy planes.

Without giving too much more away, we will say that the demonstration showed a number of extremely dramatic, movie-style sequences that will involve massive explosions, billowing clouds of black smoke, gouts of sea spray kicked up by nearby explosions, and reflected flames on the water. In fact, other than the occasional jagged edges on the game's smoke effects and a few other places, it was sometimes difficult to tell that the game was even running on the PlayStation 2 hardware. Medal of Honor Rising Sun will be released later this year for the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube, and the game will also be released for the PC next year.

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