GZ Interview: Rise to a New Honor in Jet Lis First Video Game

Rise to a New Honor in
Jet Li’s First Video Game

by

Louis Bedigian

 

Is it a movie?  Is it a
game?  Jet Li: Rise to Honor hopes to redefine interactive entertainment.

 

 

"Welcome to GameZone
Tonight.  I’m your host, Louis Bedigian, and this is my co-host Joseph Calibur."

 

"It’s Joseph Soul
Calibur, remember?"

 

"Tonight’s top story is
about a master of the arts."

 

"Akira Toriyama?"

 

"The martial arts."

 

"Jackie Chan?"

 

"No, I’m talking about Jet
Li, the man that made Lethal Weapon 4 a great action flick."

 

"He was awesome in Fist of
Legend."

 

"Yeah.  Enemy forces
depleted faster than food disappears from Ruben Studdard’s refrigerator!"

 

"I wouldn’t want to be
stranded on a deserted island with that guy…  It’d be eat or be eaten."

 

"Jet Li is starring in Rise
to Honor, an all-new video game from the makers of the world’s most successful
home console, Sony.  Now we’re going live to an undisclosed location where my
alter-ego, Luigi Biscotti, is interviewing Rise to Honor’s producer about this
exciting interactive action flick."

 

 

Most gamers are not yet familiar with how
Rise to Honor plays.  Explain why the game is so cool, and why it stands apart
from the crowd.

 


Jim Wallace, Producer:

One of the very cool and unique elements of Rise to Honor is our 360 fight
system.  Taking our cue from Jet Li’s movies, we wanted to be able to attack
enemies in all directions without re-orienting the player’s character.   To
handle this system we are using the right analog stick of the DUALSHOCK® 2. 
The player just slaps the stick in any direction to launch an attack in that
direction.   Pulling off combos is accomplished by timing multiple hits of the
right analog stick.  Jet and Action Director Cory Yuen designed all the moves,
so the combat is not only extremely fast and intuitive, but it looks like Jet
Li fighting as well.

 

Based on the stages I’ve played I’d say
that Rise to Honor is like an interactive movie.  Is that what the development
team was going for – the feel of a movie?

 


JW:

Definitely.  From day one our objective was to create a game that made the
player feel like the hero in a Hong Kong action flick.

 


How was Jet Li’s likeness
transported into the game?

 


JW:

The Rise to Honor character team created the Jet model from the ground up.

Originally we did a 3D body
scan of Jet, which served as great reference, but ultimately we were happier
with our hand made model.

 

If sticks and stones don’t
break your bones, Jet Li probably will.

 

 


Was he personally involved
with this game project?

 


JW:

Jet was very involved with the development of the game.   In addition to
spending several weeks in the motion capture studio, he worked with us on the
story as well as performing the voice for his character, Kit Yun.  Jet has a
genuine curiosity about how things are done in the video game world.  He asked
many questions along the way and enjoyed seeing how his performances were
integrated into the game

 

I’ve used Jet Li to pummel bad guys,
dodge a stream of bullets, and engage in a hide-and-peak gunfight.  What else
will players be able to do in the game?

 


JW:

The way I like to think of it is this, if you’ve seen Jet do it in a movie,
you’ll probably be doing it in the game. The game features a wide array of
attack moves, combos, blocks, counter attacks, grabs, throws, head smashes,
wall jumps, slow-mo gun dive with 360 aiming, dual targeting and many
surprises to be found along the way.

 

Jet Li threw chairs and swung around
chickens in the demo.  Are there any other objects or poultry to fight with?

 


JW:

If it looks like you should be able to pick something up and smash an enemy
over the head with it, you probably can.  For the record, that’s a roast duck
you were fighting with, and it is lethal.

 

Jet Li runs from danger.

 

 

Jet Li’s character is an undercover cop
who wants to honor a dying man’s wish.  What else is there to the story?  Are
there any key characters that Li will encounter?

 


JW:

In honoring the wish of Boss Chiang (dying man,) Jet’s character, Kit Yun,
heads to San Francisco to deliver an envelope to Boss Chiang’s daughter,
Michelle.  The story revolves around Kit and Michelle, as they attempt to
understand the envelope’s contents and why certain individuals seem to have
such a strong interest in it.

 

Rise to Honor’s graphics are some of the
best seen on PS2.  How were those impressive visuals achieved?  Was a new
engine created specifically for this game?

 


JW:

Yes, the graphics engine is home grown.  Our rendering programmers worked very
closely with the art team to tailor the engine to the specific needs of Rise
to Honor.  We are very pleased with the results.

 

It’s clear that a lot of work has gone
into Rise to Honor’s development.  What was the most time-consuming aspect?

 

JW: Not having had a ton of motion
capture experience prior to working on Rise to Honor, I would have to say that
the animation pipeline from mo-cap performance to final game animation was
surprisingly time consuming.  Contrary to what some people believe, motion
capture is not necessarily a time saver.  It took a great deal of time and
animation skill to process and tweak the data to the point that we were happy
with it.  We needed to make sure that our final moves looked like Jet Li in
action as well as being responsive enough to give gameplayers immediate
feedback when they launch an attack.  This took a great deal of work…even with
Jet Li as the performer.  I can’t imagine how much more work it would have
been if we weren’t working with Jet and Cory.

 

Silly rabbit, kicks
are for kids!

 

 

There didn’t seem to be much music in the
demo.  Is that a representation of the final game – a quieter, subtler sound?

 


JW:

Keeping in the theme of an action movie, at times the music will sit in the
background and subtly support the action, at other times it will be more
driving and in your face.  There are also areas where you will not hear any
music at all.  A very talented Hong Kong based composer named Raymond Wong
composed Rise to Honor’s music.  We wanted a very authentic HK action movie
feel and Raymond, who is no stranger to scoring these films, did an excellent
job.

 


Will the final version
feature English voice-overs?  Why or why not?

 

For levels that take place
in Hong Kong, the default language is Cantonese with English sub-titles.
Players will be able to change this to English, but I love the character that
Cantonese adds to the game.

 

Thank you for your time.