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Rising Sun Review

publisher: TalonSoft
developer: TalonSoft
genre: Strategy

Win 95/98, Intel P200, 32MB RAM, 3D card, 4X CD-ROM
ESRB rating: E

release date: Jan 30, 00
» All About Rising Sun on ActionTrip

The third sequel of Talon Soft's "Campaign" serial proves that not all has been said about the second world war and that the frequently used time period from 1939 to 1945 still has much to offer to the gaming industry. The serial first concentrated on the eastern front, and then continued westwards to bring us finally to the far east (or far west as some would call it). Apart from entertaining strategy fans, Rising Sun shows us that the WWII did not only hold Europe in its clutches, it also caught all other continents. Concentrating on Japan, Talon Soft increased the relatively small number of strategy games dealing with this part of the world. I said strategy games, because it would be unjust to neglect various warship and submarine simulators.

Rising Sun is a turn-based strategy like other games in the serial. Talon Soft if one of the few publishers that still support this dying concept of warfare. They might get a be satisfied with the fact that they dominate that part of the market, yet I am not sure how much it pays off because games like this are intended only for true fan(atics). Still, whoever decides to spend his free time (and some nerves) on this game will enjoy a great, professionally composed game.

The first thing one might notice is poor graphics, which they did not bother enhancing from the beginning of the serial. The terrains are specific for this part of the planet (rice fields, swamps, jungles), still considering current hardware capabilities they should look much more sophisticated. The main menu and other menus as well, are very poor in options. Fortunately the previous three sentences contain the main if not all drawbacks of the game.

Command methods are the same as in the rest of the serial, which is good. The engine is marvelous, and it makes you consider a vast number of factors when attacking or defending. The battles are conducted on the tactical level, so that the infantry unit on the map represents a squad rather then a division. In such conditions, thing like soldier moral, terrain configuration, the objects on the map, resourcefulness and rank of the officer, distance to the command center and functioning supply lines play an important role. The outcome of the battle is calculated based on the aforementioned factors and of course the unavoidable luck factor. Experienced players of the serial will have no trouble to accommodate themselves to the user interface, because all the commands and useful data are on the same place they used to be in the first two parts. A large number of on-screen options is used to set the battlefield view, thus compensating some options lacking in the main menu. There is an isometric 3D view, and an ooverhead 2D view.

Even the veteran players have a good reason to get this game because it offers about 350 units specific to this theatre of war. Each of the three sides: Japan, America and Great Britain (and its colonies) have somewhat more than a hundred different units at disposal. The capabilities of some units change over the years. Each of the unit has its black-and-white photo in the game's encyclopedia. There are also night battles, where you have to cope with decreased sight-range, yet if someone shoots at you he will be easily located because of the gun flash. Star shells light the terrain for several moves and enable you to aim more precisely. There is also the possibility to use smoke-curtains and naval support. The Japanese units also have Banzai Attack, which increases their moral, movement rate and strength during attack, but also increases their vulnerability once the attack is over. Here you should pay attention to the capabilities and rank of the commanding officer, because the military hierarchy has great influence on the outcome. If I add that when attacking armored units you have to consider where their armor is at its weakest, it becomes clear that this is a very complex war simulation in which one move can take up to an hour's time.

A part from the 40 single player and multiplayer scenarios there are also 7 campaigns for one player: three dynamic ones where you can choose one of the sides and try to change the course of the war, and four link campaigns with a fixed order of maps and sides you have to play. The dynamic campaigns keep changing mission goals every time you start them. You can multiply the number of missions with five, because it is possible to play them on different scales, commanding anything from a battalion to a corpse. Te first ones will have raiding or scouting missions, while the latter will take control of islands and destroy whole armies.

All the insatiable masochistic maniacs out there have a conflict generator at disposal, with which the computer creates its own random scenarios, and of course, there is a scenario editor that allows you to change the existing or create new scenarios.

The war operations cover the period from Pearl Harbor to March 1946. - a fictional date of the alliances invasion near Tokyo

The graphics, as I already pointed out, are the worst segment of the game. It is horribly monotonous, and the explosions and effects look very unconvincing. The author's point was probably that the graphics aren't important at all, and they may be right there, yet attractive graphics would certainly lure more players, even some who aren't hardcore strategy fans, to play this game.

The music is very amiable; there are several marches, and becoming themes. Combined with the gunshots in the distance it just goes to prove that even an completely unimportant factor in a serious strategy can immensely add to the atmosphere if its done right.

The sound effects are onomatopoeia of the weapons and techniques used, and are quite mediocre.

The computer is a worthy adversary, he will try hard to pass your frontline units and reach the poorly defended points like HQ or artillery. There are four levels of AI - something for everyone, everything for someone.

The multiplayer mode (only for two players) supports direct modem link, Internet protocol, HOT Seat, E-mail and serial connection. The biggest problem with multiplaying might be finding an opponent with adequate skills, but if your neighborhood lacks those, you can always turn to Internet.

All in all, Rising Sun is a well-accomplished product, probably most interesting to the players of the previous sequels of the Campaign serial, but it might still attract some other turn-based strategy fans, as well as some RTS players, or other people with not too many obligations and a lot of free time.


9.0   Excellent

The game's complexity and attention to detail make it one of the best turn-based strategies around;

Graphics are a bit dated. Little or no visual improvement over much older titles, like East Front.



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