Review by EBwiz
"10 Years have passed, nothing's changed, and that's just the way I like it."
When I bought Phantasy Star Online and played the SA2 Demo, I was hooked. I couldn't believe how great that one level was. It had everything, Classic Sonic type music, speed, roadboarding, and I got chased by a giant Mac truck. I thought ''Could life get any better than this?'' and I instantly knew I had to buy the game. I expected the best STH experience of all time... I hyped the game way too much and my first impressions would have given the game a 6. Thankfully after more playing, I realized I was judging the game on the hype. Though not the best Sonic experience, the game has been beautifully designed, and it's fitting for Sonic's 10th anniversary.
Graphically, This edition of Sonic's story is much like the first game, only better. The game runs smoother and there are less noticeable graphical glitches then in the first game, even when running at high speeds. However, The character models, which are pretty much the same as the ones from the original game, are not always as clear. The outline of the characters are sometimes a bit staticy, but this is rare and when your playing, you won't notice it. In fact, the only real noticeable parts are when the characters are talking, around their lips.
Speaking of the lips, the 2nd biggest disappointment (I'll tell you about the 1st in a minute) is the voice acting. This is a real shame, being how good the acting was in the first game, and what makes this even stranger is the fact that it seems to be the same actors from the first game. Knuckles, who IMO was the best actor from the original, now talks like he could care less about anything that's going on around him, and sometimes it's hard for Robotnik to talk above a whisper. In fact, the only actor in the game whose acting was good through out the entire game was Tails, which is good 'cause next to Amy, he has the most annoying voice in the game. To top it off, the lip synch is off in several places, and some characters will cut off others in the middle of their speech. Oh well, At least Shadow's voice has a coolness factor.
The main game is split into two stories: Hero and Dark. If you choose to play Hero, you play the story from the Hero's viewpoint (Obviously), and the villain's from Dark. It's not like in SA1, where you pick a character, play there side of the story, then pick another character. Also, Adventure Fields are now gone, and levels are split into stages. This doesn't appeal to me as much since I prefer adventuring and non linearity over going on a set path. Also, replaying levels to get more emblems is confined to going back to the main menu and selecting Stage Select, and fiddling around in Menu's is much more of an annoyance. Anyway, From here you've got 3 types of games. Sonic/Shadow's games are typical Sonic fair and emphasize on Speed, though a little puzzle solving is needed every now and then. Knuckles and new comer Rouge the Bat's levels are just like Knuckles' levels from SA1: find the Emerald, and Tails/Robotnik get to go on a shooting rampage ala E-102 Gamma. As you play, you pretty much trade off on who you play as you beat each stage. It's nice to know Sonic Team wanted to add in some variety, but my God, some of the Non Sonic/Shadow levels are long, drawn out, and boring, ESPECIALLY the Treasure hunting stages. I mean, those stages were short and sweet in SA1, now it can take as long as 30 minutes to find the emerald pieces, no exaggeration. And to make it worse, when playing as Knuckles, you get to do it while listening to crappy, New school raps playing in your ear... Sonic Team seemed to be out to kill SA2 with this joke of a play mode, and almost made me stop playing.
Ok, I'm sure you've picked up on all the negative things I've said about the game, but lemme level with you for a second. Despite some levels being drawn out, there are some real thrills in this game. I mean, the same type of thrill I got from being chased by that Mac truck in the demo. Things like racing in a well designed Kart mini game, fighting a gigantic golem and grinding on small poles extended in outer space. It's design structure like this that made the first Sonic Adventure the great game that it was and despite the flaws, give this game a worthy place in the Sonic series.
The games music is just like it was from SA: It's fast paced, it's catchy, and in tradition of the first Sonic games for Genesis.... that is, the level music. As far as the vocal songs go (Minus the first levels theme, which was sung in a very Sonic style manner.), they've sunk to a new low. Now, I don't know about many of you, but I enjoyed the songs from SA1, and characters like Sonic have had there themes remixed and put into SA2... The remixes though, are pure crap. ''It Doesn't Matter'', Sonic's theme, which was once a fast paced, light rock theme, now sounds like a sappy kids song. If they were going to use the old songs, they might as well have put in the originals. The only character to get a new theme is Knuckles, and much like the first game, it's rap... Actually, it's more of a New School rap theme, and it's the worst song on the track. I hate rap, but I'm sure rap fanatics would find these songs annoying as well. But that's not all, All of Knuckles' levels are fill with other, just as annoying, rap themes. But this isn't to say all the music is so bad. What was done right (Level themes, Chao music, and the main SA2 theme ''Live and Learn'') is possibly the best music heard in a Sonic game. In fact, had the quality of the music remained throughout the entire game, I would say this is the best sounding Sonic adventure of all time.
The story is just traditional fair: Robotnik lets loose his Granddads ultimate weapon: A lifeform known as Shadow. Shadow is a dark copy of Sonic, it seems, but has a mind and personality all his own. Shadow is mistaken for Sonic in an attempt to steal the Chaos emeralds, and Sonic is arrested by the military. From there, the story continues in what seems to be another attempt at deep story telling like most games do now, as it was in SA1. The story is all right, and leaves you guessing for the most part, but I can't help but feel something was incomplete by the time I finished the game. Don't get me wrong, The game's story is, as far as 3D platformers stories can go, excellent, but I feel that alot of things just made no sense, and that the plot wasn't as tightly woven together as it was in Sonic Adventure 1. Maybe that's for the sequel to fix, I'm not sure, but hey, Story isn't as important as gameplay is in this type of game anyway.
And what gameplay there is.... Even after story mode, there's so much more to do. Trying to get an A in all the levels is near impossible, so collecting all the emblems in the game (Though they seem to serve no purpose) is a game within its self, not to mention getting the emblems include things such as raising Chaos, winning the kart racing games, and other really cool tasks. Plus, bring a friend over to try out the awesome 2 player mode... You can race as Sonic and Shadow, Shoot each other up as Tails and Robotnik, and race for the emeralds (Which is seemingly more fun in 2 player mode) as Knuckles and Rouge, as well as race in the karts. The only problem is that the game doesn't run as fast in 2 player mode, but it's good enough to be very playable, and very competitive. Awesome.
So in the end, The game was almost perfect, but the few, major flaws bring it down a couple of points, but the experience is nothing short of awesome. Any Sonic purist, and normal gamer alike, will love this game, as long as they can sit through a half hour of emerald searching while listening to rap, and I'm guessing someone out there might actually enjoy that. I don't regret picking up my copy, and I suggest you all do the same. Happy 10th anniversary, Sonic the Hedgehog.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/23/01, Updated 06/23/01
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