Rising Sun is a great fun, but has alot of room for some improvement.

User Rating: 8 | Medal of Honor: Rising Sun XBOX
Madal Of Honor: Frontline was the first incarnation of a Medal Of Honor game on the Xbox after a series of hugely successful titles on the original Playstation and a debut on the PC in Allied Assault. It marked a move forward on the consoles in terms of graphics, environments and scenarios and continued the legacy of enjoyable and moderately challenging World War II first person shooter action that the earlier games established. However, despite an engrossing single player game virtually unmatched at the time on any console it was criticised most heavily for not including any type of multiplayer option. It's tightly scripted mission structure also meant it was largely fairly linear in nature plus it was yet another Xbox First Person Shooter that ignored the mouse & keyboard option that could have made this game worse, as this title is a solid game, but has alot of room for improvment.

That said, PC gamers addicted to Allied Assault wouldn't have even sniffed at the console version due to its gamepad based aiming controls. But I digress. Frontline actually set a pretty good standard for the Medal Of Honor console debut and it rocked my socks! Now over a year later of its release, Rising Sun was released, but unfortunately, quite simply brings nothing significantly new at all to the series. Rising Sun is based in the Pacific Theatre of World War II where you'll be pitted against the full might of the Japanese war machine. The game begins, as Frontline did, with an impressive action packed opening scene, this time at Pearl Harbour as the Imperial Japanese Navy launches its devious sneak attack on the 100 or so US ships and all the American personnel based there. You play the role of Marine Corporal Joseph Griffen who is awakened from his sleep aboard the USS California as the first bombs start dropping. Your ship like many others has been hit and this initial level has you at first frantically rushing past fires and dead comrades in narrow passageways to get up on deck before it sinks. Once there the whole massive onslaught is immediately apparent as Japanese planes strafe the decks in waves, some dropping torpedoes, and the sky is filled with AA flak fire and the smoke of burning vessels. You need to quickly adapt to the situation and mounting an AA gun on an upper deck allows you to start giving it back to some of the airborne attackers in no uncertain terms. It's also your first impression of how squirrelly the MOH aiming controls can be and also how remarkably slow and unresponsive the default set up is. Not to worry though, a little bit of trial and error with the controller settings in your options and you'll be back in action after finding a good balance between analogue sensitivity and turn speed. Speaking of controls, they're pretty much identical to Frontline's and anyone who's ever played a first person shooter on the Xbox will already be familiar with the basic layout so I won't go into any detail here. After your ship takes one too many torpedoes the whole thing goes up (or down as the case may be) and you're thrown into the water until some fellow marines drag you aboard their vessel. Then it's all on again as you man the twin machine guns and begin shooting down enemy planes as the patrol boat dodges fire and darts in between burning and sinking ships. After protecting some surviving boats as they slip out past the enemy the battle comes to an end and it's time to catch your breath before the real war starts as you survey the carnage. The first 10 minutes or so then are some of the best you'll experience in a game like this and although at least half of it is on rails it's quite an impressive visual and aural experience that gets you fired up and ready for more. Those that played Frontline will know that the Normandy Beach opening level did much the same to get the adrenaline flowing but then disappointingly eased back the throttle to a less frenetic level of action and a smaller scale for the rest of the game, but it still was awesome. Well I hate to have to say it but unfortunately Rising Sun does pretty much the same here and the fantastic build up and atmosphere at Pearl Harbour just ends up making all the following levels seem quite mediocre by comparison. What you end up getting is quite a straightforward and linear progression through the game's 10 missions and the sense of tension and dramatic scale from the opening scene is never really repeated throughout the game. Level design could really be seen as a bit of a mixed bag. There's all the usual nice Medal Of Honor stuff in terms of dressing up the environments to look authentic with bombed out buildings full of nooks and crannies to explore etc, but the design really serves one major purpose, to get you from one scripted scenario to the next in order to keep the storyline moving along. There is the fact that after finding a machete and spade hidden in later levels you can go back and cut your way into new pathways in the jungle but even that's not quite as free roaming as it sounds. But the design is wonderful, as with the previous version. There are dead bodies around, and great leaves to hack your way through.

One thing I was thankful for here and there was the occasional placement of save points around the place, which offer good re play value if you die, and not just chucking the controller accros the room. The missions themselves contain a fairly good variety of objectives for you to try and achieve behind enemy lines such as blowing up gun emplacements, finding secret documents, infiltrating a secret meeting between Axis partners and sinking a Japanese super carrier. The thing being though that you don't necessarily have to complete every single one to progress. Also there's the usual well researched attention to authentic detail that the Medal Of Honor series is famous for from the vast array of realistic weaponry to nicely recreated uniforms, locations and believable wartime scenarios. Speaking of weaponry, all the usuals are here again including the M1911 pistol, the M1 Garand rifle, the Winchester shotgun and the Thompson sub machine gun as well as a few new additions like the Japanese Type 11 and Type 99 light machine guns. Grenades also feature and as usual can come in handy when confronted with large groups of opponents. However, they're fairly inaccurate and remain a pretty much hit and miss weapon in Rising Sun. Still on weaponry and scattered through the game are places where you can use mounted guns and even a scenario where you operate a machine gun from the back of a lumbering elephant! While the elephant scene adds a small dose of variety, obtaining and then using the many Japanese machine gun posts exposes one of the few slightly unrealistic and ultimately unsatisfying events in the game. Firstly they can just be way too easy to overcome, enough said. Another soon realised touch of non realism is the way your accompanying allied comrades in the game are indestructible in the line of both enemy and friendly fire despite grunts and groans as they take hits. Funny then that when the script demands it they are quickly dispatched in a timely and touching fashion to progress the story. Enemy AI is also questionable in Rising Sun. In Frontline you were faced with Nazi foes who were devious and smart and did everything they could to fight back and avoid fire including picking up your grenades and throwing them back. Here some enemies are so stupid that they often just stand there waiting for you to kill them. Others will dodge, hide and put up a reasonable fight and some will charge you with their bayonets or draw swords and attack samurai style but overall enemy AI just seems to be lacking somewhat.

Visually, Rising Sun has greatn graphics, and it's great when you're all caught up in the action at Pearl Harbour. Rising Sun is a great fun, but has room for some improvement.