previews\ Sep 17, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Jet Li Rise to Honor - PS2 - Preview 2

In the rich tradition of Hong Kong action movies, Jet Li performs physical feats, twisting, turning, spinning and dropping his foes with a fluidity that both amazes and delights.

The only thing this time out is that Jet Li is not controlling the action - you are.

Rise To Honor is a first-party PlayStation2 title from SCEA slated for a January 2004 release. It was one of the titles showcased at Gamers Day 2003 in San Francisco.

In the story, Jet Li takes on the role of Kit Yun, the bodyguard to Boss Chiang. Chiang is assassinated, but while dying he tells Yun to deliver a message to his estranged daughter in San Francisco. This embarks Yun on a mission will eventually challenge Yun’s sense of honor and duty.

What is unique about the title is that Jet Li not only lends his name to the production, but also his considerable skill in the martial arts. Using motion-capture technology, developers accurately portray Li’s abilities in a 360-degree format.

But rather than being a button smasher, trying to pull off blocks and counters, as well as the wide assortment of kicks and punches, the game has moved all the fight elements into the right thumbstick. By tapping the thumbstick in any direction, Yun (Li) will attack any foe approaching from that area. Not only that, but he can use elements within the environment to his advantage. Walls become ramps for high-flying moves, and chairs become missiles.

Jim Wallace, SCEA, stated that "we’ve been able to realize our ambitious goals for this game."

"We really want to get across the feeling that the player is the hero."

The game sports 11 different environments, solid cutscenes, and flawless animation.

Graphically, this game is superb. Yun looks like Jet Li, not only in terms of standing still, but even when in the middle of a fight, battle opponents surrounding him. In addition to the simplistic attacks, the game also uses simpler defense controls. R1 blocks attacks and combining L1 and R1 with the right thumbstick blocks and then counters attacks.

See the gurney? Hop on it and roll down the hospital corridors, guns blazing as hoodlums jump out of the doorways. If one picks up a tank of explosive gas, shoot the tank. That will discourage the thug from advancing toward you.

And, of course, in the grand tradition of the films upon which this story is based, there does not seem to be an end to the number of henchmen surging forward to taste Yun’s fists and feet.

The path through each level looks somewhat linear. There is an opening cutscene and a defined exit - which is through a host of opposition and a boss. You will have to determine how to open doors, and there are simple puzzle elements in each level - mostly in figuring out how to negotiate your way through the area. Stealth is really not the option here. You will leave a trail of destruction in your wake.

Rise to Honor is fast-paced and furious action interwoven with a solid story. The control elements only add to the great feel this game has, and will likely make it a top-seller when released.

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