Review by Joey_Jojo_Jr
"I haven't felt this conflicted since my cousin kissed me at the Christmas Party."
Listen, it was dark, and we had a few drinks... it's not the point. My point is that this game is pretty hard to judge. As you can see from the other reviews here on Gamefaqs, it hasn't been extremely well received, well let me give you the backstory. This game was gaining press for over a year before release, and numerous delays only added to fervor. The high end graphics and nifty little features like a cool day and night system made it the most highly anticipated thing since the second coming of Jesus... or Halo 3. Of course, a lot of the people expecting it haven't liked any 3D Sonic game, yet they got hyped up about this one. Fast forward about one year: The game finally gets released... for 360. PS3 owners are pretty upset about their version's delay. Meanwhile the game is starting to get bad publicity from the Xbox. It seems the formula is more of the same that we've been seeing since Sonic Adventure (duh) and a bunch of expected features (namely the day and night system) have been left out. Fast forward another few months: The PS3 version is finally released. PS3 fans are going in with a negative attitude after hearing the 360 reviews, and of course have the same complaints, but that doesn't mean the game is all bad, and I'll explain why.
Let's start with the most important aspect of any game, the gameplay. We're going back to the Adventure field system of Sonic Adventure. This is where the Action Stages, the main levels or "Acts" if you will, are separated by a large "hub" world where you'll find some minor characters to talk to and a few sub missions. The Town Stages, as they are called in this game, are certainly larger than the Adventure Fields, but not as enthralling. The Adventure Fields had actual characters who you could talk to as the game progressed and watch their own story arcs unfold, the pedestrians in this game are largely nameless and most have no point whatsoever, from gameplay hints to story expansion, most don't do anything but slow you down. There are a few who give you minigames but this is pure torture. You walk up to the character (you can tell which ones give missions by the icon over their head), they say one sentence asking if you want to do a mission, you answer "Yes" or "No", answer "Yes" and a loading screen appears, starting the mission right? WRONG! </LexLuthorVoice> The ped reappears to say one more sentence THEN ANOTHER LOADING SCREEN APPEARS! Now, it's not that the loading times are incredibly long, it's just that this makes absolutely zero sense. I mean, I'm not a programmer and I'm frankly not great with computers, but from what I do know I can think of no reason why they would need to have a loading screen for one text sentence. That's right, text. In the Town Stages you'll be doing a lot of reading. Not a huge problem, but I think they could've got some voices down with not too much effort, especially since the cutscenes have a lot of voice acting, but I'll get to that later. Back to the Town Missions. They are completely pointless and make you just run around searching for an item/character, chasing a character, that sort of thing. There's plenty of variety in these tiny side quests. This could've been fun, but the Town Stages themselves are largely uninspired and not too fun to explore. You have a Venice type place, a forest, and a downtown stage, and although they aren't too large or small, they just aren't fun to explore or run around in. However, you may be able to scrape out a bit of fun from the missions and searching for the hidden medals.
One of the reasons the Town Stages seem bad is because they pale in comparison to the Action Stages. This is the fast paced action platforming we've grown to love or hate over the last decade and a half. There are some complaints that some people have had with every Sonic game since 1998. "Problems" with the camera, hate for non-Sonic playable characters, etc. if you've had problems like these, you won't get away from them here. However, if you haven't had these problems you can get a great experience out of this game. Sonic's stages are the same formula as always, run to the end of the level, fight enemies, and maybe find a shortcut. I find them to be very well done, although a little to combat oriented for Sonic, who is not a combat based character. Shadow, on the other hand fits perfectly into his levels (not that Sonic was incredibly out of place). He plays very similar to Sonic, but with a more offencive style. He doesn't have his guns from his solo outing in "Shadow the Hedgehog", but a nifty little kick combo at the end of his Homing Attack that makes fighting enemies a breeze, as well as a few other attacks. The big new addition to the lineup is Silver. His telekinetic abilities allow him to hover short distances and pick up and throw items, including enemy bullets, to toss at enemies. His style is different, but in the same sort of levels as his contemporaries, sort of like Knuckles in Sonic & Knuckles. While playing the three main characters' stories you will sometimes switch to another of six characters, giving you nine playable characters in all. There's Tails, Knuckles, Rouge, Omega, Amy and Blaze. You play as them in parts of the main characters' levels, but Tails, Rouge and Blaze also have one level each that is all their own. The characters all have unique styles and I found them all very enjoyable, if not as deep as the 3 hedgehogs. Even though all characters share the same levels their styles make it a completely different experience each time.
Sharing levels may seem lazy but it's sheer brilliance once you see the Multiplayer modes. I know what you're thinking, "Sonic and multiplayer in the same sentence?" Let me assure you that this is far greater than the simplistic races in Sonic Adventure 2 and isn't just like letting your little brother be Tails while you try to beat Sonic 2. Since each character does each level you can play against each other in the same level, but use completely different strategies to race to the end. If you're Sonic it may be in your best interest to forget about enemies and try to distance yourself from your rival, while Silver can try to sabotage the other player, and Shadow can just beat the crap out of you. Nobody has an advantage, but the system is still very deep. Then there's a Co-Op mode. You each pick one of the three main characters and work together to beat each level. Equally brilliant as the Battle (race) mode, and you can get different experiences out of it by picking different combinations of characters. I can't praise the Multiplayer enough. It's really the high point of the game, even if it's not the main point.
As mentioned earlier, this game is rushed, but some aspects make it painfully clear that it literally wasn't finished. At the bottom right of the screen are two bars and three smaller lights. The Larger bar works as a meter for Silver's telekinesis and Shadow's special attacks, but the smaller bar and the three lights do absolutely nothing. They are talked about in the instruction booklet, but aren't used at all. Evidently the moves they were going to be used for were scrapped at the last minute. Sonic can also buy some gems from the shop which can be swapped with the directional buttons and give you, as they were called in the booklet, "Custom Actions." They describe how the large bar was going to be used to measure how long you can use these gems, but this doesn't happen in the game and you can use the gems as much as you want. This can give you very unfair advantages like unlimited shields, unlimited special attacks, unlimited speed boosts, and more. The three lights were going to be used to upgrade these Custom Actions, similarly to Sonic Heroes, but this too was scrapped.
Overall, I'd give the gameplay 8/10. Those glitches and teases certainly aren't great, and the Town Stages knock it down a little, but once you play though them in the story you don't have to mess with them again and can get right to the action stages.
The story is fantastic. It's very entertaining and has some deep mysteries that will keep you guessing until they're revealed. At first glance it seems lazy, "Sonic needs to rescue a princess." What? Is Sonic going to become a plumber now? Don't worry, the story gets far deeper and is something of the same caliber as Sonic Adventure 1 and 2. Each character's story happens in the same time frame, like SA1. I find this to be an ingenious way to present the plot. You can do something in one story and see the result in another, or find a deep mystery with one character and reveal it with someone else. You have most of your favorite characters helping you out, Robotnik is more menacing than ever, and there's a deep mystical plot that compels you to keep playing. The only thing keeping the story down is a bit of... how do I put this?... Inter-species erotica. It's a little off putting, not to mention the hedgehog in question has had a love interest for almost 15 years who is playable in the game, but there is only one part in the game where they mention that she is competing for his love.
Even with that it's still a very enjoyable story and I give it an 8/10.
Sonic has always had some of the greatest music in the industry, and this game is no different. You have some remixed versions of themes from all the way back in Sonic 1, others from some more recent games and plenty of original stuff. It's all of the highest quality and really adds to the atmosphere of the game. Sound effects are in the same boat, and all fit their situations nicely. The voices are all done very well and fit their characters perfectly. It would've been nice if the peds you talk to in the Town Stages used voices rather than just text, but it's not that big a deal.
Overall, the sound is great and I give it 9/10.
Frankly, graphics aren't that important to me, but if they were I would give this game a higher score. The in-game stuff is great, some of the better stuff on the PS3 and 360, but not the most mind blowing stuff you've ever seen. However, the pre-rendered cut-scenes are absolutely beautiful. The character models are slightly different from before, but the biggest change is Dr. Robotnik. He's been made taller and more detailed. You can actually see his eyes behind his glasses now, and when you look into them you see death. Not only does he finally look human, but he looks damn intimidating. A nice change for the main villain of the series which I hope carries on to future sequels. If I have to say one bad thing about the graphics it would be a very minor animation flaw. While playing as Knuckles and Rouge you can climb walls, as usual, but the speed at which your character moves their arms and legs doesn't match the speed at which they move across the wall. This makes it look like your character is just sliding over the wall and moving their arms and legs for no reason. It barely comes up since you don't play as those characters much, but it is very annoying, annoying enough to take the score down almost a whole point.
Largely because of the climbing animation, I give graphics a 9/10.
If you really dedicate yourself to this game you can beat the story in a few days. After that you can go back and try to get better ranks in the stages. That's a lot of fun, especially since you'll always find new shortcuts and ways to deal with situations, but there's nothing to unlock. Without motivation some people might not bother to get every medal, especially in the Town Stages, which are already a little tedious. Even so, every few days I find myself coming back to this game and striving for a few higher scores. You can play each level on Hard Mode once you beat it in story mode, which actually is really fun and different enough to make you come back. There is also a Very Hard mode available for download, but I'm too cheap to pay the $3 for each character's levels. The multiplayer adds endless replay value assuming you can find someone else who's into Sonic games, which may be tough in today's world of Halo and Metal Gear Solid.
For replayability I give it a 7/10, but it's a high 7.
This game has some medium sized flaws, but they just don't seem to get in the way of the overall fun, and that's what's important right? If you can ignore the glitches and forget about this game's wasted potential, there is a good core buried deep inside it. Buy, rent, or neither? If you haven't liked the past 3D Sonics don't bother with this game, but if you did like those games then this is a definite buy. If you're on the fence then here's what I recommend, find a store with a good return policy, buy it, and if it isn't your taste, return it. Believe me, you won't want to return it. Especially since it's unpopularity has made it become very cheap.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 09/24/07, Updated 04/25/11
Game Release: Sonic the Hedgehog (US, 01/30/07)
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