I'm not going to try to fool you with this review by saying that RISE TO HONOR is a great game. It's not. It has its own set of issues, ranging from replay value to repetitive gameplay. However, that doesn't stop if from being very entertaining and from being a game that PS2 action fans and kung-fu fans alike should play.
The game focuses around Jet Li's character Kit and an all of the fun Kung-Fu events that happen to him. He's the bodyguard for a crime lord and things go wrong, thus leaving Kit with a mission to honor his boss's last request. This mission takes him from Hong Kong to San Francisco even to the Sony owned Metreon mall that seems to be so integral anytime videogame journalists hit up San Francisco.
The game is set up like a movie. The cut scenes are all pretty well done at times they are corny/unbelievable, but at the same time, it works really well as a kung fu movie. You can't expect an incredible plot line or acting, but it's still a lot of fun. The developers want the game to seem like a movie; the level select screen is set up like a DVD Chapter select menu.
The combat system
In gameplay this works pretty well the large fights are quite a bit of fun. I don't like it as much against the bosses it's almost like a more traditional fighting system might have been appropriate for boss fights. Regardless, even though the fighting system is fluid and looks good, it does get a little old after time though that kind of goes with the territory.
The other aspect of the game is the gunplay sequences. These aren't that hard, but whereas the fighting controls are intuitive, these ones aren't. After you do get used to them, you'll blaze through with all of the cinematic flair that the game holds. I didn't think these sequences worked as well but they are an awesome break in all of the fighting action. The game is better for the fact that they are here.
That said, the reason to play isn't the gameplay, rather the story and the cinematics. The game doesn't look the best all the time either. There are some awesome portions of the game that are amazing. Other parts don't look so good and the character models are a bit messed up. It's a mixed bag, but generally effective in conveying what it needs to. The sound is also in that same mixed bag. Some good, some bad, but the good wins out a bit more here than in the graphics department. That's thanks to the music and sound effects being solid, while only the dialogue is shaky.
Ultimately, RISE TO HONOR is a game that most gamers should at least check out. The story line is a lot of fun and it's a good kung-fu flick. PlayStation 2 owners should give it a try, regardless of the bad press the game has currently been getting.