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Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (PlayStation 2)

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3.2
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Written by  :  Bill Clay (31)
Written on  :  Dec 19, 2003
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  1.13 Stars1.13 Stars1.13 Stars1.13 Stars1.13 Stars

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Summary

Paint-by-numbers WWII exploitation

The Good

At times, Rising Sun manages a kind of cheap, guilty pleasure. The high production values and obviously heartfelt (if misguided) passion evident in the game's presentation may fail to mask a multitude of shameful errors, as will be seen, but the game's heavily cinema-influenced, set-piece based nature means that there is an urge to keep playing to see what it'll throw at you next. Said set-pieces may be at times little more interactive than Dragon's Lair, but the roads in between can be filled with folk to shoot, and if you're playing the game in the first place, that's probably what you signed up for, right? (I know that was the case for me).
In a climate where AI and unscripted encounters are all the rage, there's definitely something to be said for pumping a lot of money into a game dependent pretty much entirely on prescripted action. It may be seen as taking the easy way out, but then again, it could be argued that EA, in designing a game so linear and fixed in its pathways, are doing things their way, and damn the Haloes and Far Crys that dare to pursue other avenues.
Not that that's necessarily an argument I'd make.

The Bad

I remember when my grandfather sat me down and told me about the war.
"It was great", he said.
"Fresh out of my time in Europe, I got sent to the Pacific. Hadn't been there but a few days when our fleet at Pearl Harbor got bombed! Now, some folk say Pearl Harbor was a nightmare, but me, I had a blast. The clouds of smoke, they were so beautiful I almost didn't notice that my crewmates all had faces that looked like bricks with faces painted on 'em. (You gotta realize, sonny, I'd just been through Europe, where they all look like painted bricks, so I was getting accustomed to this sort o' thing).
"Speeding around the Harbor, popping Zeroes with my fixed mounted gun (I'd be doing a lot of that sort of thing, but I didn't know that then), it was almost like I could hear a grand orchestral score playing in my head, just for me. Oh, sure, the music sounded exactly like John Williams' scores for popular motion pictures, so much so that - heh - some would call it plagiarism, but it was so grand! Y'know what they say, sonny, 'steal big, steal little', and whoever stole that music in my head, they were stealing it BIG!
"Now, I hear some folk died at the Harbor, but I assure you, son, they didn't bleed and their deaths were quick and painless, and that's the way it really was in the war, that's why war's so great. Yep, if someone were to depict my efforts, and the efforts of my fellow soldiers, I wouldn't be at all disgusted if they were to gloss over the tragic pain and sacrifice we had to endure as real soldiers. Nope, even if they made war seem easy and fun and without moral or psychological consequences while simultaneously painting their retellings as some sort of noble effort to educate the whippersnappers of today about the heroic effort made by us folk who really fought the war, well, I wouldn't think that risible in the least, and neither should you. After all, if anyone were to depict the horrendous realities of that conflict, fully admitting the wrenching physical and mental anguishes our heroic sacrifice actually entailed, how would they sell anything? Exactly!
"But I'm getting ahead of myself. After the attack at Pearl Harbor, we went to Guadalcanal. Some folk say Guadalcanal was an island with a jungle on it. Those people don't know nothing. What Guadalcanal was, was an office building with a series of corridors where the walls were painted with leaves on 'em. You'd walk down one hallway, and after a whiles, you'd see another hallway to walk down, and so you'd walk down that there hallway instead. Jungle? Them folks don't know what they're talking about with their jungle.
"The folks on Guadalcanal weren't none too bright, though. Reckon the reason they weren't too bright was on account of they spent all their time standing next to cans of highly explosive material - now, I don't know why someone would put one of them things in the middle of the jungle, so I reckon these folks were huffing on that highly explosive material. Either way, it reduced them to racist caricatures who'd run at you screaming in Japanese, or Mandarin, or Viet, or something - I don't know. What I do know is that if someone were to retell my story, I'd want them to portray my enemies as two-dimensional racist stereotypes, because as someone who really fought in that war, that's something I wouldn't find despicable in the slightest, and as a citizen of the world in the 21st century, my grandson, it's something you shouldn't find despicable in the slightest either.
"Also, their attacks were never really a threat, because in real war, nobody who mattered got killed. Heck, you could shoot them in the head a half-dozen times and they'd just look at you like you was whistlin' Dixie. That sure was a fun game to play when the going got quiet! And me personally, well, Ike had seen to it that there was a medical canteen hid in the bushes after every two or three enemies, so it's not as if I was ever scared or threatened or anything. So that was good.
"But I'm getting a little political here, and I think you'll be aware by now that politics isn't a dimension you should be thinking along for the purposes of this tale. The point is that war is hell, and I hope you never have to fight in one, and if your generation is lucky enough not to have a World War to fight in, I know you'll be smart enough to use the time that is given to you making the world a better place, instead of, oh, say, playing paint-by-numbers first-person shooters that exploit every cliche in the book while casting you as a Straight White Guy With A Gun impervious to actual harm. If you ended up doing that, well, frankly, I'd feel as if my efforts in the war were a little wasted."

The Bottom Line

A risible, disgusting effort that actually thinks it's a simulation or educational document, the best Rising Sun ever manages to be is cheap fun that makes you feel dirty. No matter what you're looking for in a first-person war game, there's a better alternative to this.