marino's Rise to Honor (PlayStation 2) review

Rise to Mediocrity

People seem to like Jet Li movies.  People obviously like video games.  So what gets produced when you combine the two?  A steaming pile of crap apparently.  Jet Li spent six weeks doing motion capture and voice work for this game, and while I admire that, it makes me think Sony spent about half the amount of time implenting all his work into the game.  The game looks and feels like an interactive DVD movie complete with scene selections and constant cut scenes.  You play as Jet Li...who plays a guy named Kit Yun, an undercover trying to infiltrate the underground Hong Kong crime ring lead by a guy named Chiang.  The game will take you from China to San Francisco in an all brawl-fest to bring the crime lord down.     
Nothing special here.  Jet Li looks like his face gained 10 pounds and the enemy models are quite generic and bland.  The environments are about the only plus here.  They are very interactive and almost everything is breakable to some extent.  If you throw someone into a wall or a fish tank, it's going to show.  But even with that, the graphics mediocre at best.  
This is what kills the game for most people.  You use the right analog stick to fight.  The four face buttons have no use what-so-ever.  You are usually surrounded by multiple enemies, and you have to point the analog stick towards the enemy you wish to attack.  So tapping it in that direction will perform combos toward that enemy.  It's loose, inaccurate, and overall a frustrating experience.  For the shooting elements of the game you still use the analog stick to point towards the enemy you want to shoot, then you press R2 to shoot.  This also is quite strange, but easier than the hand-to-hand combat.  You can pick environment object like chairs, knives, chicken legs, and tables to use against your opponents but smashing a wooden chair into the head of Random_jerkoff_047 is about as effect as punching Hulk Hogan while he's hulking up.  The analog system was a good idea I guess, but it did not work at all.     
The overall sound is pretty good, and I guess could be called the high point of the game.  The voice overs are a little over the top, but it's modern day kung fu, what do you want?  One cool thing is that while you're in Hong Kong, the characters will speak Cantonese but once you make it to San Fran, the characters speak English.  You can switch it off, but the Cantonese adds to the atmosphere of the game that they obviously tried so hard to feel like a film, and the background music is what you would expect.     
Replay Value 
Almost none.  The game was made to be like a film and it's almost as short as one.  It may look like an interactive DVD, but there's no extra content on this thing.  The closest thing to bonus material is a new outfit and going to your options screen and turning the difficulty up.  Wow. 
When I played this game at E3 last May I thought "Well, it's pretty early, this could actually end up being pretty good."  Then I played the demo they sent to me a couple months ago.  Nothing had changed and it appeared to be the same level I played last year.  I still held a little bit of hope, but it wasn't answered.  If you can get a handle on the controls, it's your average repeating beat 'em up game.  Rise to Honor is, at best, an interactive DVD with clunky controls.  If you're one of those people that just can't get enough Jet Li and you've seen Legend of the Red Dragon 47 times and can repeat the script word for word without the subtitles...then you might have fun with this game.     
*** This review was written for shortly after the game's release. ***

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