There's a fair amount of extra value to be had in Rising Sun, if you can trudge through the main campaign. Subsequent plays will let you access some new areas of the levels via a few hidden items that you'll only pick up toward the end of the game--the first time around. Furthermore, the game features a no-frills two-player cooperative mode that lets you play through the game in split-screen fashion with a friend (whose character model will look exactly like yours). Finally, a basic four-player competitive mode is available with a handful of maps and a pretty big assortment of weapons. The deathmatch is a nice gesture, but it lacks the extensive gameplay options found in other recent shooters. You'll find online multiplayer in the PlayStation 2 version, though it's limited to the same game modes, maps, and weapons as the offline four-player mode. Again, the online stuff is a nice gesture, but unless you're an online deathmatch junkie, this mode isn't enough to really recommend the PS2 game above the others. Finally, the game includes a fair amount of supplemental video content that creates a nice historical backdrop for the action. Between missions you'll see old black-and-white footage of the war, accompanied by a decent narrator, and these segments help to fill you in on the state of the war during the time you're currently playing. You can also unlock video interviews with actual veterans of World War II, which should prove interesting to those with an interest in the subject matter.
If more time had been spent ironing out Rising Sun's mechanical flaws, it would be a much better game.
Graphically, Rising Sun fails to live up to the standard of its predecessors. The weapon and character models look pretty detailed, but the levels are often extremely basic in both artistic and technical aspects. They lack the sheer amount of geometry that other recent FPS games have used to establish greater detail, and the textures aren't nearly as detailed as they could be. Some of the game's levels do have a unique and appealing character, such as the nighttime slink through Singapore, but you'll also get tired of traipsing through the same-looking jungle pathways that lack detail and variety. The three versions of the game stack up against each other pretty much as you'd expect. You'll get the cleanest image quality and highest frame rate on the Xbox, with the GameCube coming in second and the PS2 bringing up the rear. However, the visual quality and frame rate differences really aren't that dramatic between the three, so you won't get a significantly different experience playing one versus the others. In true Medal of Honor fashion, Rising Sun's sound fares better than its visuals. The score is extremely dramatic and sounds like something lifted out of a recent World War II combat epic. The sound design is passable, with pretty solid explosions and some ambient noise, although some of the gunfire could have used a little more punch. Finally, the voice acting is usually pretty good, with no noticeably hokey faked accents coming from your international colleagues. You'll even hear a good amount of spoken Japanese when you sneak up on your enemies, which adds a little to the game's authenticity.
What's really a shame about Medal of Honor Rising Sun is that a few more months of development could have polished it into a game truly worthy of previous entries in the series. The basic framework of a Medal of Honor game is evident here, but Rising Sun's fundamental components just aren't as well-oiled as those of its predecessors. Most of the less-essential parts of the game, such as the rousing score and informative supplemental materials, are consistent with the high quality we've come to expect from the Medal of Honor name. Sadly, that contrast makes the failures of the core gameplay that much more disappointing. Diehard fans may be able to overlook the mechanical flaws in order to appreciate the game's refreshing change of venue and rich historical context, but taken purely as a shooter, Medal of Honor Rising Sun is simply not where it should be.