Rise to Honor Impressions

We take a closer look at this PlayStation 2 Hong Kong action thriller starring Jet Li.


At a press session today at its E3 booth, Sony gave us a close-up look at Rise to Honor, a martial-arts action game featuring the likeness and voice talents of international action star Jet Li. The game is being developed by Sony Computer Entertainment America, and Jim Wallace, the producer of the game, was on hand to show us everything it had to offer.

The story of Rise to Honor focuses on Jet Li's character Kit Yun. Yun is charged with fulfilling a dying request from his boss to track down and deliver a message to the boss's estranged daughter. As is always the case with these types of situations, nothing is as it seems, and Yun will soon find himself fighting and shooting his way through tons of enemies just to stay alive. Though a specific number of levels was not given, the game will take place in both Hong Kong and San Francisco, with multiple missions and areas in each city.

Rise to Honor's gameplay will focus on a unique 360-degree fighting engine that allows you to take out enemies in every direction. To accomplish this, the main attack button will actually be the right analog stick. Hitting the stick in the direction of a nearby enemy will cause Yun to perform a strike without actually having to turn around and focus on that enemy. Up to five moves can be strung together to make a basic combo. Additionally, Yun will have an adrenaline meter that, when it reaches its peak, can be used by pressing the L1 button. When the adrenaline mechanic is engaged, everything will slow down around you and attacks will become more furious, and during an adrenaline combo, you will be able to string together up to eight moves. Yun also has numerous counterattacks and blocks that can be performed by holding down the R1 button. Tapping the R1 button near an object will let Yun pick it up and throw it at or smack an enemy with it. Rise to Honor will also feature a collaborative fighting mechanism that lets you team up with Michelle, the daughter of your former employer. The two of you can fight it out separately, with the CPU controlling Michelle, or, by pressing the R1 button while standing next to her, you may link up with one another, performing some fantastically acrobatic moves.

Though the primary focus will be on the physical side of battle, gunplay will also be an important factor in Rise to Honor. Gun battles will be handled like the hand-to-hand fighting system, revolving around the right analog stick and trigger buttons. Tapping the analog stick will cause the game to auto-focus on a nearby enemy, locking on to him until he moves out of range or dies. Pressing on and holding the stick, however, will let you swing your gun around in any direction you please, even when hovering in midair. R2 will serve as your firing button, and L2 will serve as an object lock button, letting you shoot specific objects like oil drums that explode, killing any bad guys in the vicinity.

Graphically, Rise to Honor is looking quite good. The game features more than 3,000 motion-captured moves, all performed by Jet Li himself. The game's animations can be strung together in a number of different ways, making for thousands upon thousands of available combos. Everything about the game echoes the style and feel of a Hong Kong action flick very accurately, from the fast and furious style of action right down to the design and scope of the game's levels. The game's soundtrack will be composed by Raymond Wong, a well-known composer of Asian film scores who most recently composed the score for the cult hit Shaolin Soccer. Jet Li will be doing all his character's voice work, speaking in both English and Mandarin.

At its current stage of development, Rise to Honor is looking very impressive. Its variable and extremely creative combo system looks like it will provide a very enjoyable experience for any fan of the Hong Kong action genre. Added features like unlockable alternate versions of Jet Li from some of his more famous roles (including a 10-year-old iteration of the action star) should also add a nice amount of replay value. Rise to Honor is currently slated for release this fall.

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