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Rise to Honour PlayStation 2

Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment America
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99

I suspect that most of you reading this by now will have played many games over the years and when you play a new game it often reminds you of something you've played before . It happens to me quite frequently but it's not often that a game reminds me of numerous games. Within half an hour of playing Rise to Honour, I could see elements of Max Payne, Shenmue, the latest Prince of Persia game and believe it or not, Grabbed by the Ghoulies. I'll admit that's one heck of a strange mix and you're probably wondering what the game must be like after such an unusual description. Well the end result of Rise to Honour is quite unlike anything you may have played before.

Rise to Honour is an oriental action game based on the Hong Kong action movies. The action comes thick and fast and is loaded with martial arts combat. You control the console game form of Jet Li (who actually had a hand in the games development). Jet Li stars as Kit Yun who is working as a bodyguard for Boss Chiang, a leader of one of Hong Kong's crime gangs. Chiang is later assassinated and his last words are for Kit Yun to deliver a message to Chiang's daughter in San Francisco. Satisfying Chiang's wish puts Kit Yun in all kinds of trouble and will severely test his sense of duty and honour.

Let's make no bones about it here, the game is saturated in martial art combat. Instead of the customary button bashing though you are required to use the right analogue stick to attack your opponents (this is what I meant about Grabbed by the Ghoulies). You simply whack the stick in the direction of your enemies to hit them. Successive hits are strung together to for combos. This is a control method you'll simply love or hate. It's all down to personal opinion. Having played Grabbed by the Ghoulies it feels quite comfortable but I remember when I first played that game I found it very strange. Personal preference aside though using the right analogue stick does cause a problem in that the usual camera control, that is almost always the function assigned to the right analogue stick, has to be assigned to other, less intuitive, controls or indeed removed completely from the game as is the case with Rise to Honour. Occasionally you'll also be armed and will have to take enemies out with your guns. Here the right analogue stick is used to aim whilst the R2 button is used to fire upon your enemies. Using the guns feels awkward though and it's always a relief to get back to using your hands and feet.

In true oriental action movie style some parts of the game stray from the realistic to the fantastic. Kit Yun is able to run, temporarily, across the face of a wall, Prince of Persia style. In situations where mere mortals would be made into mincemeat, Kit Yun can make easy work of many enemies thanks to a combat system that allows you to attack multiple enemies at once. You'll even see the Max Payne/Matrix influence as slow motion shooting dives can be made. Powerful adrenaline attacks can be made once your adrenaline meter is filled too. Kit Yun can also make some pretty fantastic jumps from time to time. Like a Shenmue quick time event, you'll be running along in pursuit of an enemy (or avoiding gunfire) and the word jump (or climb or another such action) will appear on the screen and you'll have to press the R1 button as quickly as possible. You'll even get some of these display of athleticism in dramatic slow motion to exaggerate the effect.

Graphically Rise to Honour looks good. Jet Li fans will be pleased by his virtual likeness and they will also be pleased to know that his moves were motion captured for the game. The animations on the whole are okay, although some look a little suspect. The various cutscenes in the game look good, which is important as there are a lot of them, and they really capture the feel of the kinds of movies the game is based upon. I didn't notice any slowdown either and the frame rate remained smooth throughout, which is pretty impressive considering the amount enemies that attack you from time to time.

Deaf gamers will be pleased to learn that Rise to Honour is subtitled. The game actually has two different spoken languages, Cantonese and English and the options menu allows you to enable subtitles for both of these. As the game is subtitled you'll have absolutely no problem in following the cutscenes and the events in the game, which is fantastic news. All tutorial messages are shown in text too. There isn't a separate tutorial but the very early stages of the game are littered with tutorial messages that will help you learn the game controls.

Your opinion of Rise to Honour will be hugely influenced by your opinion of the combat system. If you don't fancy using the right analogue stick instead of the traditional button bashing then in all honesty you're not going to get on with the game. If this isn't a problem then what we have here is one heck of hectic action game that most will probably enjoy. It combines a fair few game styles and makes a good job of it. There are some areas that could do with improving mind you. The ability to manoeuvre the camera would have been appreciated, although as we mentioned earlier this becomes tricky once the right analogue stick has been assigned to combat. Personally I found using guns rather tricky too but thankfully you don't have to do this that often. The game is also rather short and could even be completed over several evenings worth of casual play. Further difficulty levels can be unlocked though, which adds to the replay value. It's not the best action game on the PlayStation 2 but martial arts action movie fans and fans of Jet Li will probably love it.

Overall Game Rating: 7.5/10
Rise to Honour is probably a must for all Jet Li fans but for everyone else it boils down to whether you like the rather different combat controls the game has.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No problems at all as the game is subtitled.