Review by Goldom
"Sonic is good, but that's about it."
Sonic Heroes is, supposedly, the sequel to Sonic Adventure 2 (SA2(B)). At least, the story takes place after that one ends. Kind of. Except for gaping plot holes that are never explained, such as what is going on or why anything is happening. This, however, is forgotten next to the game being nearly unplayable.
Gameplay / Control: 0/10
Right off, the game fails this most important point. Control is irregular and annoying, and you'll often find yourself randomly shooting off into death for no reason. Quite honestly, this game should never have gotten past testing. The bugs and glitches in this game make Windows look perfect in comparison. You'll be hard pressed to get through a single level without falling through the ground or a wall, running into invisible walls, or your characters just doing weird things out of your control.
The style of control is original, letting you change between 3 modes of control, (Speed, Fly, and Power), but the result is obnoxious, not to mention unnatural. (Floating is part of the Power formation?!) Switching between modes is often difficult, as it can only be done while still and on the ground. If changed in the air, (for example, lets say you were falling and wanted to change to Fly?) nothing will happen until you touch ground again. And sometimes it simply reverts back for reasons unknown.
Ease of play is also hurt by the characters all having to 'level up', starting from level 0 on each area you go to. While the Homing Attack was a useful way of, say, crossing a gap in SA2(B), it now takes several hits to defeat each enemy, unless Sonic is at max level (3), making it difficult to control where exactly he homes to. (Try homing onto the next enemy in a line while the one you just hit is still alive). Or take the Light Dash. This fairly simple move was already a subject of a bit of annoyance on having Sonic/Shadow roll instead of dashing, but now they will randomly do a whirlwind move in the air instead of grabbing on to a chain of rings intended for dashing along, generally resulting in death. On that note, Sonic's trademark move, the spin dash, having been around since Sonic 2 for the Genesis, is now gone.
Then there's the Special Stages. Once again, it is possible to get the famous Chaos Emeralds through bonus levels. The form is similar to Sonic 2's, but drastically more annoying. The character runs along on the inside of a tube, which is filled with balloons and mines. The Emerald is running away from you. You must collect the balloons, which charges you, and then use said charge to dash after it. The entire time, you are uncontrollably running forward. Except, ''forward'' resembles a staggering drunkard. Control here is ungodly bad. You find yourself strangely attracted to the ceiling, against your control, and no amount of maneuvering will get you down, except for simply jumping, which loses your speed, essentially forfeiting the level. The control is utterly incomprehensible, as it is using a 3d controller (the control stick) to move you on a 2d plane (around the circumference of the circle), while the system moves you along a 3d surface (the tube you are in). Trying to control it in a 3d manner, as the rest of the game runs in, (holding forward on the stick, and tilting to go side to side) results in the character stuck to the ceiling. Trying to use it as a 2d pad, (simply tapping left and right), the character loses all control and does whatever it wants.
Basically, there is no story. While this isn't generally important in a Sonic game, this one tries to, and fails miserably. Shadow is alive, for unexplained reasons, after his death in the previous game. So much for all the theorists, Sonic Team apparently decided to forget about it. His story in Heroes, at some point, tries to explain what's going on, but fails miserably. The first time Sonic sees Shadow, one would expect he would be amazed, deeply emotional, something, after the end of the last game left everyone thinking he was dead. Yet, Sonic's reaction is simply, huh, you. And then they proceed to fight, apparently not remembering that they were allies a minute ago. The entire story line makes entirely no sense. For example, Tails notices at one point what seems a rather huge revelation, and tells the camera so, but never happens to mention it to Sonic? Nor are these oddities ever explained. Most all the stories' endings consist of pointless drivel that makes one wonder why they bothered playing. It is possible there will be something more conclusive in the Final story, as there was in SA2(B), but after having the whole game and getting nowhere, don't count on it.
The graphics are beautiful. The FMVs are liquid clear, and even the playable game is bright and attention-grabbing, as all good Sonic games should be.
Average Sonic music, it doesn't exactly have much of a reputation to live up to, but still doesn't quite make it. It is uninteresting, and easily forgettable. While the music of SA2(B) may have been widely hated, one is not likely to forget knuckles doing rap music. Even having last played this game within minutes, I cannot recall a single tune in my head. That's probably a good thing. As for the voice-overs, you'll want a pair of earplugs. While SA2(B) had the option to switch into Japanese sound, escaping the awful acting of the English speakers, Heroes has no such option. The characters' voices seem to have inexplicably changed since the last game, and are equally bad. Then consider the addition of Big. His voice, to rate it, deserves a -10/10. Yes, negative. It will make you want to stab your ears off. On the plus side, Omochao is almost gone. Almost.
By the time you get through the main part of the game, you will have replayed everything so much, you will never want to see the game again. Under the guise of having 4 separate storylines with different characters, it actually just makes you play the whole game on multiple difficulty levels - there are almost no changes between the 4, except for how long the level is. (Team Rose's levels are identical to about the first half of each of Team Sonic's. Team Dark's are the same as Team Sonic's, with more enemies).
The buggyness of this game makes it quite simply a pain to play. Sonic Team seriously needs to hire an entire new group of testers, and while they're at it, probably think about the people making it in the first place - the series is on a downhill curve, and this game proves it is quickly approaching the point of no return.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 03/28/04
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