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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

SCEA

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

February 2004

 

 

- Plays just like a good action movie

- Jet Li adds authenticity

- A definite nod to side-scrolling punch ‘em ups

 

 

- Cheap bosses

- 360° control has its downsides

- Not fun for long stretches

 

 

Interview: Rise to Honor Post Mortem Q&A

Review: Grabbed by the Ghoulies (XB)

Review: Blade II (PS2)

 

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Rise to Honor

Score: 6.7 / 10

 

I lost my left eye almost 5 years ago.  No, it didn’t just wander away but the particular circumstances aren’t important.  It’s had a huge effect on my own life in a myriad and sundry ways, but the biggest impact is scaling back on the number of bar fights I can get into.  I’ve never been one to back down from anything – no matter how out-numbered.  So on some level I can appreciate the kind of challenges Jet Li (as Kit Yun) faces in his first digital outing in Rise to Honor – a game that plays a lot like an action movie.

 

rise to honor ps2 review          rise to honor ps2 review

 

RtH’s really is an action film dressed like a game and several of the best action scenes (e.g. taking down a helicopter with some well-placed bullets) are taken out of your hands during very-polished cutscenes or reduced to one-button presses à la the original Dragon’s Lair.  Everything from the position of cameras to the lighting to the music to the simplistic plot would make for a great action flick, but that doesn’t make RtH a great game.

 

In Jet Li’s films, it’s not uncommon to see him surrounded by a ring-around-the-rosie circle of highly trained thugs.  And in Rise to Honor (RtH) the situation is the same, where there are few circumstances that Kit isn’t hammering a group of bad guys into the ground in a complete 360° circle thanks to the right analog stick.

 

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There are a few different modes of combat, but you’ll spend most of your time maneuvering Kit in hand-to-hand, foot-to-mouth and fist-to-head combat.  You move Kit with the left stick and direct his (mostly random) attacks with the right stick.  Performing combos and such are often context sensitive – the move performed by the direction you press depends on where your opponents are and what move immediately preceded it.  Besides being a one-man-wrecking-crew, Kit can also equip himself with infinite-ammo guns

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during some sections.  Making the guns “bottomless” takes out any frustration that comes with ammo management, but it also takes out a lot of the challenge of gunning down your opponents.  However, you just couldn’t have an action game/film without bullet ballets.

 

Unfortunately, the fisticuffs get tired pretty fast (as will your right thumb) trying to beat up the bad guys, particularly the later stages that feature god-like AI opponents and extremely trying boss battles.  The dual stick control and combat works for a game like Smash TV or Robotron, but games like Grabbed by the Ghoulies and Blade II should have been enough to convince developers that maybe we’re not ready for beat ‘em up games with this control scheme – and we may never be ready.  The other aspects of the control – activating your stored adrenalin, counter attacking, etc. with the shoulder buttons – are easy enough to handle for those slow-mo dives and blitzkrieg flurries but maybe gamers should have been given the option of using the regular triangle, circle, “X” and square buttons instead of the right stick.  There’s always the sequel…

 

rise to honor ps2 review          rise to honor ps2 review

 

On the upside, you’re never at a loss for good-looking backgrounds and smooth animation.  Apparently, Jet Li did a ton ‘o motion capture for the game and his personality really comes through (as if the likeness and voice wasn’t enough).  And load scenes are so discreet you probably won’t even realize they’re happening.  (I’m no engineering wiz, but I can still applaud the development team for this – they’re starting to get to know the PS2.)  If you want to show off an action game to your non-gaming friends, RtH is the one to pop-in.

 

Overall, I’d strongly recommend a weekend rental to see what you think before dropping your hard-earned dinero.  Rise to Honor does have a lot going for it with its action-movie-that-never-was to game translation, but the drawbacks are a little too glaring to be ignored.

 

- D.D. Nunavut

(March 22, 2004)

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