Following the success of its popular turn-based World War II simulations, East Front and West Front, TalonSoft is releasing a third instalment that brings the action to the Pacific Theatre. In Rising Sun, players command American, British and Commonwealth or Japanese forces in key battles from 1941 to 1945.
Our experience with a beta suggests war game fans won't be disappointed.
Beginning with the attack at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Japanese launched a campaign across the South Pacific. In some of the fiercest combat of World War II, Allied and Japanese forces engaged in constant battle across diverse regions of Asia and the Pacific, from the mountain ranges of New Guinea to the jungle islands of Guadalcanal.
As in previous titles in the series, the action in Rising Sun is turn-based, details the entire order of battle for both sides . . . but is still simple enough for novice gamers to easily understand. The game will consist of 40 scenarios, plus five missions with two linked campaigns and two dynamic campaigns.
Of course, the key to the success of East Front was the relatively easy-to-use interface that made it accessible to players without extensive war gaming experience, but also offered enough control to satisfy the die-hard military simulation players. Rising Sun is no exception. Unlike many other games, Rising Sun features a corner pop-up window that supplies key information about highlighted units, which allows the player to quickly see the attack and defensive strength and movement points available. New units include landing crafts and Marines, which can make amphibious landings on hostile beaches.
Visually, the game looks better than East Front, offering more detail and animation of units, while the maps have more colour and make it easier to see friendly and visible hostile units. It is also easier to distinguish the different unit types at a glance.
The three scenarios we saw looked pretty similar - and were pretty much generic jungles - but the final game will include more diverse locations around the Pacific and will include reefs, flooded and dry rice paddies, palm orchards and even Japanese cave and tunnel systems.
Like the previous titles in the series, as well as other war games like Panzer General, range is at times difficult to judge because none of the units appears to be in any specific scale and instead they are just used as visual representations on the map. This approach may be confusing to war game novices but is consistent with military board games.
It was hard to tell if any improvements have been made in the sound - it seems like the current previewable version uses a lot of placeholder sounds (including German marches) - but the final version will include new marches for both sides, including Japanese, British and American tunes. Additionally, the improved battlefield sound effects will no doubt shake the walls sufficiently.
The campaign in the Pacific has begun as the Japanese Rising Sun sweeps across the Far East, as TalonSoft continues its ambitious drive to bring rich yet very playable World War II simulations to life. This game appears on track to deliver and improve the gaming experience of East Front and continue TalonSoft's tradition as a leading war game developer.
Product: Rising Sun