Review by Chris7
"Sega can go out in triumph"
When Sega announced that they would no longer be making games for the Dreamcast, I was mad, being a Dreamcast fan and all. Then I realized that they were going to make a sequel to one of the best Dreamcast titles ever, Sonic Adventure, before they gave up on the Dreamcast. I immediately knew I had to have Sonic Adventure 2. And when I got it and played it, it was everything I had expected from a Sonic game, and maybe more.
While Sonic Adventure was very good in many areas, it was bad in others. There was little replay value - players would often find, after playing their favorite levels a few more times, that there was nothing more to interest them. The adventure fields, while graphically impressive, were a bore to ''adventure'' through, especially with the slower characters. They were little more than set-pieces for the next cut-scene. And the amount of levels was rather mediocre - there were 11 different level locations that varied a bit between characters because of their different objectives. But overall, the game was over just too quickly. Sonic Adventure 2 has done its best to fix these problems, with more action and less adventuring.
Sonic Adventure 2 has just as fast gameplay, if not faster, than the first game to be released for the Dreamcast. Speed is just as crucial, and the controls are just as accurate as they were. Included with the game is a two-player mode, allowing you to compete with another player in a game of Good vs. Evil. Sonic and Shadow use the Chaos Emeralds to slow each other down in the race of a lifetime, Eggman and Tails duke it out in a battle arena of robotic weaponry, and Knuckles and Rouge try to find as many pieces of the Master Emerald as possible before the other does. The original controls return, along with a new rolling attack that doesn't require charging. On top of these controls, its possible to glide down railings, snowboard down the streets of what appear to be San Francisco, and the standard race until you start twitching in every Sonic game.
Sonic Adventure's six characters, although all having different moves and objectives for each level, did not really stand out from each other. The only character with a really different gameplay style was Big, and his fishing stages became rather tedious. In Sonic Adventure 2, four distinct gameplay styles can be observed.
The first is the racing style, played with Sonic and Shadow. These are where the game really shows off its most spectacular effects. Players snowboard, run down the side of buildings, dash through loops and around corkscrews - it really is very fast, but easy to control.
Tails and Eggman now pilot mechanical walkers around areas full of robot drones for you to blow away. These levels are not as impressive as the racing levels, becoming a little tedious from time to time when all you do is lock-on and fire. Still, the walkers are pretty easy to control, but these levels offer no real challenge.
Knuckles and Rouge participate in scavenger hunts, where the player must find three objects in the level as fast as possible. The environments for these areas are fantastically detailed, but later levels become just too large. Players spend far too long searching and re-searching areas to look for the objects they must find. Hints are given to the player, but they are either completely useless or blatantly obvious.
The fourth style is the kart racing. This is not very exciting at all. The tracks are far too long, and all look the same, with the same objects being used in different combinations. The kart control is also rather dire, and you will be crashing into the walls more than actually driving.
Although Sonic Adventure 2 has 180 Emblems to collect (over Sonic Adventure's 130), it is still a bit too easy for practiced gamers to collect them all. The thirty-one levels all have five Emblems each, and these are obtained by completing different objectives. However, these objectives are either very easy to complete or so hard that they serve little more than to frustrate the player. Still, some of the Emblems are a real challenge to get without being annoying - these are more easily found in stages where getting the most points counts. These will entertain the player to a degree.
The graphics are one of the things that make Sonic Adventure 2 stand out from the other games. The amount of detail that goes into the environments is superb. The hunting stages look the best, with great lighting effects, and intricately detailed designs on anything you care to look at. The graphics are seamless, and each character is almost perfectly animated. No blocky or chunky character models - clean, real-looking characters that have an identity of their own by looks alone. The levels in the game are also beautifully designed. Massive levels with death-defying drops, gut-wrenching corkscrews, and heart-pounding speed all accompany each level (especially Sonic's and Shadow's). And this all happens, believe it or not, without a single framerate stutter. It pushes the Dreamcast's hardware to the limit when it comes to graphics. The movie scenes in the game look extremely crisp. The graphics are even better than in the first game.
SA2's biggest and probably only graphical flaw is the camera angles. During big jumps and sudden twists in levels, the camera tends to screw you up big time. Many times you'll have to redo jumps over and over because of the fact that the camera screws you up. While the camera angle is no worse than any game out there, with a game at its pace, the camera needs to be working well, because it can easily break the action if it goes haywire. Once you get used to the fluctuating camera, it isn't too bad of a problem, but you'll notice that you'll be going upside down and flipping many times, and these are usually the spots where the camera kills you. While the camera is more than just a nit-picking problem, it doesn't hinder the gameplay or graphics too much, and unless you have a very low tolerance, you probably won't mind the swaying camera. It's not as bad as it sounds, but still not as good as it should be either.
The sounds in SA2 are ok at best. Each characters' theme song matches their personality. Most of the music sounds the same, expect for Knuckles' raps and Rouge's cool-jazz style. In the previous Sonic games, every tune had a different feel to it that suited the level and made it sound right. But in SA2, this doesn't happen. I don't doubt the quality of the music for a second, it sounds very good (except for some of the cheesy lyrics), but it just doesn't feel right. Also the sound effects are good. Unfortunately, the voices of the characters are just plain terrible. Luckily, Sonic Team included the Japanese voices which are a much better than the American. The only problem is you do not know what they are saying unless you know Japanese.
I believe that many people will keep playing Sonic Adventure 2 because there are many more things to do like the extra modes, after saving/destroying the world. For instance, there is a new mini game called Go Karts, in which you can play with another person and race each other or the computer. Also those little Chao that you take care of, they will keep you playing. Sonic Team definitely fixed the “no replay value” problem in SA.
This game is a must have for any Sonic fan and for anyone who owns a Dreamcast. It is definitely a worthy continuation to the Sonic line. Dreamcast can definitely go out in triumph.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 08/13/02, Updated 08/13/02
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