Review by Kamikaze Tomato
"This game is like mixing ice cream with dirt..."
...it doesn't change the dirt much, but it sure messes up the ice cream.
Pretty much, Sonic Unleashed is some of the most fun gameplay ever, mixed with the worst aspects of modern Sonic. I literally almost ripped the disk in half the first time I heard Tails say "Professor Pickles."
I had hoped that this would be different, that I wouldn't have to deal with all the annoyances that have been brought by Sega's quest to give Sonic a plot. Back in the days of Genesis, the plot of Sonic was that some mean man was being mean and taking animals and Sonic, who obviously can run at the speed of sound, had to stop him. It was about as deep as an above-ground pool.
But there's a difference between having no plot and having too much. Many a Sonic game has had this problem, but this time takes the cake. For no Sonic game has had gameplay that's excited me this much. It's strange to say, but by making the gameplay better, the flaws of this series are shown ever the clearer.
I'm only going to divide this into three sections, as the graphics and sound meet the standards for the Wii; very impressive, though the music is just a tad forgettable.
GAMEPLAY, DAYTIME: 10/10
That's right, I consider this gameplay to be perfect.
The gameplay, at least the Day Level gameplay, is unbelievably good. The first couple of levels give a great tutorial, and then you're off, speeding through the streets of the world like God intended. There are free-running aspects, like sliding under low ceilings and leaping to higher ledges. The foes can be dealt with quickly, speedily, with a shake of the remote. In fact, you get FASTER when you beat up the baddies, instead of having to choose between grinding to a halt or dodging them altogether.
Speaking of dodging, there's a simple mechanism (the Quick Step) that lets you do a sort of parallel sidestep while maintaining momentum, making dodging obstacles and boss attacks a breeze. While it still takes skill to get through a level without taking damage, it's not completely impossible. What's more, if you're hit, you don't completely come to a halt. This alone warrants massive praise. As the game progresses, you learn more skills to get through new levels of gameplay. It evolves, but the blistering speed remains.
But the best part, the icing on the cake, is that Sega finally realized that 2D platforming didn't just die when 3D-capable machines came about. So, occasionally enough to warrant notice, the camera shifts to a side view to give the player a super-fun nostalgic rush. These parts of the levels easily meet and sometimes even succeed those of the classic days, and serve as the most intensely enjoyable moments of the game for me.
But then we get to
GAMEPLAY, NIGHTTIME: 6/10
Not horrible, no. At least if it were by itself. No, slowing down Sonic to a snail's pace unless you force an awkward dash that resets whenever you stop isn't the worst thing you can do to the fastest thing alive, is it?
The combat is repetitive and tedious, use of the remote actually slows you down as you try and climb, swing and reach to new heights. But I genuinely believe that, if this were a game of its own and it wasn't being inevitably compared to the gorgeous Daytime gameplay, it'd be a passable system. Sadly it's leagues below regular Sonic, so you're begging the sun to come up whenever you hear the Werehog howl.
Which brings us to the rest.
THE REST: 0/10
Sega decided that, even though they've given Sonic the most horrifyingly annoying group of comrades money could buy, they'd invent an all-new buddy to play with. If Chip (the irrepressible little scamp who fits this new role) were to kill my dog and urinate in my face for five days, I honestly couldn't hate him any more. His voice actor is the result of Spongebob Squarepants and that lady from The Nanny somehow, in defiance of all things holy, having a son. Every time a cutscene occurs, you WILL be forced to restrain yourself from building a digitizing machine, transporting yourself in the game and strangling him.
But, oh ho ho, it's not just Chip. Instead of, you know, going from level to level like a normal game, you have to stop at villages and talk to pictures of people for no reason whatsoever. They don't even try to make lame jokes half the time. It's just... guh.
Moreso than ever, you feel as if Sega is toying with you; they're giving you the greatest gift they've ever made with Sonic's gameplay, but then hold it away from you and throw the most irritating side-jobs and characters they can muster at you. If the gameplay was mediocre I could live with it, but BECAUSE the game is so amazing it feels like a blasphemy to keep me from running about like I wanted to.
In short, Sega needs to swallow its pride and look at the competition. Look at Super Mario Galaxy for instance, a wonderful game for the current generation. The plot of the game is the same as EVERY OTHER MARIO GAME. But the player doesn't care, because they're too busy having a blast with the amazing gameplay. If Sega wants to make Sonic into a true answer to Mario again, to live up to the potential I know Sonic has, it needs to CUT THE PLOT until it can think of one that doesn't rely on such god-awful characters and gags. The absence of plot is better than a plot thought up by a five-year-old. If this game was just Sonic's daytime levels, with the generic hope of stopping Robotnik from taking over the world in a vague sense, it would literally be the Game of the Year.
As it is, I wouldn't even rent it if I were you. It's so painful to watch the greatest gameplay Sega's ever brought be destroyed by all the gimmicks Sega's tried to force down our throats since the days of the Genesis died. This game just makes me so very, very sad.
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 12/08/08
Game Release: Sonic Unleashed (US, 11/18/08)
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