Review by Rick52
"It's not bad at all. It's not hard, either."
Seen by some as the next big reboot, Sonic's "last chance", the early screens and videos of Sonic Unleashed promised to return Sonic back to glory. Well, it has to some people on the frustrating pile that is the 360/PS3 version of the game, but nobody seems to think that is the case with the Wii version (also on PS2). Well, I don't think so either, but its not the steaming pile compared to the 360/PS3 version like everyone is making it out to be.
To sum up the comparisons between the two versions is pretty much this: the 360/PS3 game is Normal mode (maybe hard mode near the end) and the Wii/PS2 version is Easy mode. The stages in the latter are shorter and easier to get through. Does that make it a bad game? Of course not, but if you're one that likes to be challenged, don't even bother reading the rest of this review, the Wii/PS2 version of this game is not for you.
I'll try not to compare versions from here on out and talk about the Wii version of the game on its own merits,of which there are quite a few.
It's a pretty decent story. Dr. Eggman went and split the planet up so he can use the power of the sleeping Dark Gaia to make his crazy little EggmanLand, and now Sonic has to patch it back together. Not the most epic of plots, but it doesn't need to be.
The game is broken down into three parts: hub worlds with which you gather information and key items, "Gaia Gates" where you access new stages and collect hidden items and such, and the actual stages themselves. The hub worlds are pretty boring, going around clicking on places to get an item so you can access the next stage, but this method is pretty efficient and you'll barely use up any time to get through the hub world. The Gaia Gates used to unlock stages also have separate doors which require moon and sun medals to open (those medals are acquired by completing stages) and you'll need to solve puzzles to unlock the contents within.
Finally, the stages are broken down into two types: the Day (Hedgehog) stages and Night (Werehog) stages. The Day stages are the standard Sonic fair, running and homing and springing all over the place. There are many different paths to take, the quicker paths require some action on your part to access. The only real difficulty that comes with these stages are the attempts to S-rank each of them (which only requires fastest time, not total score like in the other version). Otherwise, the stages are all very easy. With the first seven, the pitfalls are easy to get through and avoid, and while the last stage presents a somewhat harder challenge, it still won't take long for you to learn how to avoid it all and blast through that stage no problem. Often if not always, you'll have to complete an additional mission after completing a day stage, such as a time attack, gather x rings in y time, or "don't break anything for some reason". The increase in challenge is barely noticeable (though the don't break anything stuff is annoying).
Now, don't get me wrong. I say these stages are easy like as though that a bad thing, though that is the case for some. For me, these stages are still very fun to run through, trying to explore all the various side paths and acquire every item with little chance of falling into ill-placed pitfalls most of the time. Some think that such easy stages become boring really quickly, but to each their own.
The night stages, of which there are a bunch, usually alternate between platforming and combat. Sonic's main method of attack involves alternating between his left handed attack and his right handed attack. The nunchuk combo requires alternating between swinging the nunchuk and the wiimote, which the game doesn't register all the time. Other controllers use the shoulder buttons which isn't nearly as bad. This alternating of attacks creates combos are make quicker work of the generic monster enemies. Platforming often consists of Sonic grabbing onto highlighted ledges or poles and jumping from one to another, using a lock-on system for Sonic to grab onto these things with his arms, which are very stretchy for some reason. These stages are rarely difficult as well, the platforming is simple to get through with some patience and the combat is pretty dull once you learn a few techniques to wipe out most enemies. You collect "experience" from defeating enemies or opening capsules with experience in it, and that experience goes toward enhancing the Werehog's abilities, from boosting his health/attack/unleashed meter to giving him new combat abilities (this is all automatic, you don't choose what goes where).
Get used to the night stages, too. For every one main day stage you get through, you'll have to plow through at least 3 night stages, up to 5 at the very end. This may seem like much of an imbalance, and it is, its not much more of an imbalance than the 360/PS3 version (1:1, but the night stages there take 20-30 minutes on average whereas the Wii version's night stages take 5-10 minutes each). In any case, if the Werehog ends up being something you dislike, the game can become a real drag real fast, especially near the end when it feels like the night stages may never end.
Complete both kinds of stages for an area, and you'll be able to fight a boss. Bosses again come in Hedgehog and Werehog form. In the former, Sonic will be racing along a repeating path trying to catch up to and destroy some of Dr. Eggman's battle machines, whereas as the Werehog Sonic will be mostly dealing combos on large creatures. These bosses are also pretty easy.
Lastly, before I forget, "Quick Time Events", where you have to press a button told to you by the game in order to advance and failure to do so can end in death in later stages, are far less prominent in this version. The 360/PS3 version uses QTEs too much, while the Wii version uses them a very small amount of times.
Yeah, its no 360/PS3 unleashed (though in that version it looks like everything is a bit shiny, even the grass) but the Wii version looks fine, though a bit jagged. Hub worlds are static images upon static backgrounds, but that's no problem. The best use of the Wii's capabilities come during the day stages; each of the stages are vibrant in color and are quite detailed. The night stages are somewhat detailed as well, though the colors are as vibrant (obviously, its nighttime).
Cutscenes are ripped straight from the PS3/360 version and as such looks very nice. They don't usually drag on (unless it involves Chip and his "do you want some chocolate" bit) and they progress the story well enough.
The music in this game is wonderful most of the time (the main tune might get annoying after awhile because you hear it so often), and the sound effects are standard Sonic fare. Voice work is annoying as always, but I'm sure Sonic fans are used to them by now. Sonic himself can sound rather repetitive rather quickly, but its a small problem if a problem at all.
As easy as the game was, I had a fun experience with it. The game wasn't overly frustrating for the wrong reasons, nor did the Werehog sections drain me of any enthusiasm towards completing the game. If you've played the PS3/360 version, you'll probably think this version is far worse. While I won't make an opinion one way or the other here, the Wii version of Sonic Unleashed is a solid entry and would make a solid addition to the Wii's rather starving library.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 01/05/09
Game Release: Sonic Unleashed (US, 11/18/08)
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