Review by Randomator
"Is this Sonic the Hedgehog or Sonic the Werehog?"
Like many people, I have been put off of Sonic because of recent games, but when I started to hear about Unleashed, I was fairly interested. The trailers had me addicted, and humming the tune endlessly. The concept of the Werehog confused me, but I was excited about the Sonic stages.
Unfortunately when I got the game I was disappointed. The intro cinematic builds up the tension of "is this really Donna be good or are they just sugar coating it." Being the impressive intro that it is, it certainly looks better graphically, and the difference between the FMV's and the game play doesn't differ so much that it bugs you. (Think the early Final Fantasy FMV's).
But it was when I got into game play that I really got annoyed.
Obviously included for new time players, the game started with a series of short tutorial levels. I understand the purpose of these but they're so short, and coupled with the time to load between the levels, it means I'm waiting for a couple of minutes and playing for about 30 seconds. Not to mention the countless times that "Chip" stops you mid-game to tell you what to do.
When the actual level began, I was thrilled, the controls are quite nice, the levels are well made and I didn't have any problem getting from start to finish. However my feelings drastically changed when I started as the Werehog. As I'm using the Gamecube Controller, the main attack buttons are the shoulder buttons, pressed alternatively to punch with the left and right hands, with specials done by pressing both. My problem with this is that the GC Controller's shoulder buttons are quite deep, allowing for you to press them softly for racing games or other purposes, so these aren't quite the best buttons to be using. The Wiimote and Nunchuk has little difference, apart from that you shake each of them for the punches, which is unresponsive.
The actual levels themselves aren't bad, but when you are required to climb a pole, grab onto a ledge or swing from a pole, all of them have the same pattern, I realise that this is to make it obvious that you can grab it, but I just find that they look out of place, and make it somewhat too easy to get around. Although, even if they were the same colour as the surroundings, the game insists on showing you what button to press to grab on. I find that I'm holding X so often, I might as well sellotape it down and not have to bother.
There isn't much music in the Werehog levels, as they are played at night. There is music, but it's usually quiet and doesn't play constantly. However, as soon as you enter into battle, the same music plays that will play on every single level whenever you find an enemy. The music isn't necessarily bad, but hearing it so often makes me angry. As I've already mentioned, the battle controls are a little odd, but the battles themselves are what I dread more. The monsters in the game have no defining features, there are practically three types, ground types, air types, and ranged types. Ground types are generic and can be beaten with a few punches, air types usually require you to attack from air, meaning you can't combo as well. Ranged types don't always stay miles away, but they won't exactly come close to you. There are several types of each, but they're mostly just recolours, and in some cases giant versions. The giant versions are way too difficult, it's not the sort of thing that is meant to be challenging, I just find myself being caught in it's attacks because I couldn't get Sonic to do what I wanted.
As the Werehog is slow, you have to dash to move quickly, which is executed by double tapping the control stick, dashing is a very clumsy way of moving, you tend to slide a lot more, which I don't understand since the Werehog has spikes in his shoes. I often end up not being able to dash away from an attack because I attempt to do it too fast and mess up, or I can't move away because I slide into something. However the main problem with the Werehog is the pits. I often find that I fall down into a pit or hole of some sort because I'm standing on an edge, try to turn around and end up walking off. Since the Werehog will instantly start moving as you tilt the control stick, rather than just turning on the spot like I'm used to. There is also the dash attack, which sends you flying forward when you attack with it, however I find that it works even when I'm walking, so if I use it near a ledge, I'll fall off with no chance of recovery. Then there's jumping, which only properly works if you run at an edge and jump, if you jump on the spot I often find that I can't quite make it and fall to my death.
The Wii version of the game requires you to explore various continents with a menu system, you click on a part of town and you'll talk to some of the towns people, I find I'm doing this for the majority of the game, I'd much prefer it to take me places itself, give me a bunch of text and make me play. Having to explore yourself is boring and I often quit when this happens. I honestly don't see who in the Sonic team thought that talking to stereotypical people in a text-based system would be fun for a Sonic game.
In conclusion, this game lacks a true grip on the Sonic franchise because it was too focused on the Werehog, which just wasn't satisfying enough. This game would have worked a lot better perhaps in the style of SA2, giving you level after level with a few cut scenes to move the plot along. The Werehog should be taken out, he just wasn't worth being created.
One last point. There is an option in the game after most levels to "Continue playing?", I've said No way more than I've said Yes.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 12/04/08
Game Release: Sonic Unleashed (EU, 11/28/08)
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