It’s Sonic’s 15th anniversary and he is trying to get things started by adding a new addition to the already great line-up that Sonic Team has produced. There’s no better way to do this than bringing the series to next-gen consoles or more specifically PlayStation 3. In this version of Sonic you meet new characters and also interact with all of the returning characters to help give followers of the franchise a familiar feel. This sounds like a great game in theory but unfortunately Sonic Team doesn’t quite make it to par.
I’ll start with the worst feature in the game and that’s the fully rotational camera. First off it will just switch positions randomly and if you’re in the middle of a jump this could mean certain death for Sonic. Also the camera gets caught on everything in the environment such as trees, buildings, etc. The process of adjusting the camera over and over again gets tiresome as the default setting for the camera stick is inverted and can’t be adjusted. Another problem is when you’re playing as Sonic your moving so fast that when you barely touch and object Sonic will get stuck on it for a short time. If the camera problems were fixed the game would at least be recommendable.
During gameplay one of the concepts that stood out the most was the level design. The levels were far too simple. Sonic Team has done absolutely nothing to keep us intrigued and interested. They were all just straight forward. Maybe they knew that with the sloppy controls and horrid camera angles that all players would want to do is finish the game as quickly as possible with no time for any extra areas to explore. Even with the simple levels the artificial intelligence (AI) is poor as well, making the levels even easier. Enemies will just sit there as you look at them and decide where to hit them. With the easy levels and awful AI you can easily rush your way through the entire game.
Another drawback is the load times. Most of them are longer than the time it actually takes to watch the clip. For example when you reach a certain point it will load for about 30 seconds so you can watch a 5 second clip and then have to load again just to get you back where you were before. This is extremely frustrating and makes you sit there for quite some time just twiddling your thumbs.
When the cut scenes finally do load they do look pretty impressive. It’s all of the in-game stuff that’s the problem. One minute your character will have a shadow and the next minute it’s gone. The frame-rate is really only a problem when you’re in town or moving really fast as Sonic but other than that it seems to run decent.
The story is intriguing. It starts out in the town of Venice and shows the townspeople having a great time until Dr. Eggman comes and kidnaps the princess and it’s up to everyone’s favorite hedgehog to save the day. Sounds a bit like a certain plumber that we all know from Nintendo if you ask me. Where the story starts to get interesting is when travelling on your quest. There is a time travel section that shows the different characters perspectives on the same events that have occurred.
Something Sonic Team has done correctly in this game is that they have made a number of playable characters who all have their own unique abilities. This will keep you playing a bit longer than normal so you can test all of the other characters traits just to see if they make the game any easier to play. Unfortunately they do not. The characters include Shadow and the all new hedgehog named Silver. Sonic is as always super fast, Shadow can blow up vehicles instantly and Silver uses telekinetic powers to manipulate objects. No matter which character you decide to play as the game just isn’t very fun; there are too many glitches in every level to really get involved with the game.
Some interesting features that Sonic Team has brought to the franchise is the 2-player Tag or Battle modes. However, these modes are only good on paper since actually playing them is as bad as playing the single player.
Unfortunately Sonic didn’t turn out to well for his next-gen debut. Die-hards may enjoy the title from time to time but even they would find some disappointment. It just seems that Sonic Team spent all of their time adding new features rather than working on the basics of gameplay. There are some good ideas with the multiplayer modes and all of the different playable characters but the fact that the gameplay is so bad means most of the good features in the game go unnoticed. We can only hope that the next Sonic game will be something well worth a purchase.