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Submitted by Chris Leyton on April 15 2004 - 00:00

Jet Li stars in this Kung-Fu blockbuster; however can a videogame truly be cinematic...

In this day and age cinematic videogames are a distinct possibility, merging the storytelling moments and scripted events of a movie with game elements has proved to be the grail for many developers; few have succeeded however, the latest is Rise to Honor from Sony Computer Entertainment.

Starring Jet Li in the main role as Kit Yun, the trusted bodyguard of Boss Chiang who presides over one of Hong Kongâ??s most notorious crime gangs; itâ??s not long into the game before Chiang is assassinated, leaving Kit to seek out Chiangâ??s daughter in the United States and return her safely to Hong Kong.

Featuring a 360° fighting system seen in a wide variety of titles, Rise to Honor is a traditional 3rd person action title, pitting Kitâ??s martial arts skills against legions, upon legions of mindless grunts out to stop him.

The game splits equal measures of hand-to-hand fighting with gun combat; as with many titles seen since Blade 2 introduced the system, players tap corresponding directions on the right thumbstick to execute a wide variety of attacks, without having to worry about facing in the correct direction all of the time. Tapping the motion along to proper timing allows the player to carry out a variety of combos, whilst the shoulder buttons can be combined to execute a variety of throws, blocks and counter-attacks.

In addition the game features an â??Adrenalineâ?? meter which allows you to slow down time and execute the more unbelievable manoeuvres youâ??ll find in any Kung-Fu flick; whilst some of the attacks certainly look impressive, the simple fact is that Bullet Time/Adrenaline has been used too much in these types of games and is just not that interesting anymore.

The combat system does a good job and is instantly rewarding, not to mention the fact that it looks damn impressive thanks to the input of acclaimed choreographer Cory Yuen. It must also be noted that the destructible environments and the ability to pick up objects to use as weapons does a good job of conveying the hectic fight scenes we expect from a Kung-Fu title; however some extremely poor AI lets the whole side down and leaves you feeling as though the game is just putting endless amounts of mindless drones just to drag you down, whilst the over-reliance on one-or-two combos quickly ups the repetition and makes the whole experience grow old too quickly.

In addition Kit will also whip out a couple of pistols during certain stages, however sadly the gun-fighting is extremely mediocre at best. Players have to hold onto a shoulder button to shoot, whilst tapping the right thumbstick in correct directions to actually shoot. In addition players can hide behind objects, although you canâ??t shoot from this position, whilst occasionally youâ??ll have the ability to target an object manually such as an explosive barrel and make use of the Adrenaline meter for some Max Payne styled slow-mo dives. The main problem stems from the fact that itâ??s quite simple to just run about and shoot everything, leaving very little depth to the actual gameplay.

Thanks to a wide range of scripted events, Rise to Honor certainly looks and feels cinematic; various levels pit you with having to jump over tables and other obstacles as youâ??re running away from an onslaught of gun-fire, simply by hitting a shoulder button at the correct time, Kit will leap over an obstacle complete with black borders and close cameras to give it a cut-scene feel. Whilst this initially amazes, it is a novel aspect and wonâ??t sustain your interest for long or keep you coming back to the game, however plus points for the degree of style that theyâ??ve been able to accomplish in this area.

Certainly the visuals and acoustic presentation do a good job of furthering the blockbuster feel of the game, particularly some of the fighting animations are extremely impressive, whilst character models and the general environments are up to a suitable quality.

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  • Graphics: 86%
  • Sound: 82%
  • Gameplay: 66%
  • Originality: 63%
  • Longevity: 56%
Overall Score: 6/10
Rise to Honor certainly does a good job of bringing a Kung-Fu blockbuster to the home consoles, creating a stylish cinematic experience that is immediately inviting.

However the main problem is depth; once you’ve played through a number of the missions and realised the sheer repetition and poor AI, most players will find themselves playing through just to see what the next cut-scene will be like or where the next ‘oooo’ will come from.

The game will certainly do well for casual gamers; however those expecting more depth to their games will quickly look past the novelty aspects and find a disappointingly shallow title.

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