Review by TheFreak

"10 years later, and the final Sonic game on a Sega platform is near-perfection."

...And the reviews just keep on coming. Obviously if you've checked out the Sonic Adventure 2 review section (which you probably are, since you're reading this) you already should have an idea of how good this game is, but I guess it wouldn't hurt to have one more opinion, eh? =-}

Just like the first Sonic Adventure, there's actually a story going on around the game's characters, each of whom find their way into the main plot. But as opposed to playing out each character's scenarios separatly, like in SA1, the characters stories have been joined together into two groups, the ''Hero'' side, and the ''Dark'' side.

Both sides intertwine with each other often, and when they do you'll get to see the scene from the side you're on. There are also times when certain elements on one side won't make sense unless you play the other side. For example, if you play the hero side first, the game opens with Sonic captured and inside a helicopter. But how and why was he captured? That part's explained in the dark side story, where, chronologically, the game REALLY begins. Eggman discovers the ''Ultimate Life Form'', Shadow, who tells Eggman to find the Chaos Emeralds, Shadow then leaves to find the emeralds himself, and later on, Eggman sees a news report about Shadow stealing a Chaos Emerald, with the media and police mistaking him for our blazing blue hero. That is where Sonic's predicament comes in...

Because of the Hero/Dark side selection, you no longer have a line of stages specific to one character. Instead, you now have to take turns. The order may consist of Sonic, Knuckles, Tails, Sonic on one side, and Eggman, Rouge, Shadow, Eggman in the other. So in SA2, you actually have forced variety, which isn't bad if you don't mind it. Each side has similar abilities to their opposites. Sonic/Shadow has speed stages, Tails/Eggman is action, and Knuckles/Rouge is treasure hunting (Which, next to the Sonic/Shadow speed stages, is my favorite game-element). While the other two are virtually unchanged (excepting 'hint monitors' in the Knuckles/Rouge stages) The Sonic/Shadow levels is where the game really takes off. If you thought Sonic couldn't go any faster than in SA1, think again. There are more loops to spin in, vines to swing on, and my favorite new addition, bars to grind on. If you know which way to go, you may never slow down, which SA1 would do, even in certain Sonic stages.

The Adventure fields have been removed to keep SA2 more action-oriented, and it shows. Even the Knuckles/Rouge stages keep the pace going. And any past stages can be accessed from a nicely-designed stage select.

The Chao make a return, and are more diverse than ever. Your Chao will grow and be either good or evil, depending on who takes care of it. There are more animals and abilities to morph your Chao into something unique, and the Chao Adventure 2 mini-game is leaps and bounds from the original, even containing miniature storylines which, if you're successful in completing, will earn you a seed which you can take back to the garden, plant, and grow for various fruit that may have different effects on your Chao. And there is Chao Kindergarten, which will allow your Chao to gain specific abilities, mainly which just make them do cute things.

There are many options Sonic Team has left open, like a downloads section and a 'theme' section, which don't seem to do much as of this writing, but with the Sonic Adventure 2 website, Sonic Team promises a slew of exclusive downloads, including new track designs for racing (a mini-game element within SA2) as well as events. It'll be interesting to see what they have up their sleeve. Also on the webpage is the ''Chao Black Market'', a long-rumored (Sonic team played with the idea in the early days of SA1's release) store of powerful Chaos that you can earn in exchange for Sonic emblems.

Speaking of Sonic emblems, I almost forgot to mention that when you finish a stage, or the entire game (including a special story mode that opens when the two side-stories are complete), if you head to the stage select you'll find four more mission requirements. Each mission will have a new goal, like collecting 100 rings, finding a lost Chao and so on. After completing the first four missions, the fifth mission becomes a ''Hard Mode'', so you'll never have to complain about the game being too Easy.

There's lots of other things I'd like to say about Sonic Adventure 2, the wonderful soundtrack and reduced loading times, for example, but I think I've already given more than enough reason to buy, own, keep and never sell this, the final Sonic game on a Sega Console. Happy Birthday, Sonic.

Ratings as I see 'em (10 being highest)

Graphics: 10
I think there was only one time I saw slowdown, and it wasn't on a Sonic Stage. The graphics are immense, moving smoothly at a stunning 60FPS, and if you actually stop for a minute, take a good look at how far the horizon goes. Now THAT's detail. There are times when the Camera gets sloppy, but most of the time it's responsive. Character designs themselves are so detailed and beautiful, anything I say here just wouldn't explain them well enough.

Sound: 9
I was a big fan of the SA1 soundtrack (not including Amy Rose's), so when I heard the music in this game, I couldn't stop smiling. None of the vocalized songs, which range from rock to hip-hop, in the game sound like they were made in Japan, and yet even the lyrics were written by Japanese people. I guess they have better musical taste than I give them credit for. The in-game sound mixing also seems more professionally done than in SA1, knowing when and what to play when the mood demanded it. The voices are alright for the most part, with the original voices for Sonic, Tails, and Amy Rose in the English dub returning, but syncing is oftentimes sloppy, and you may find the other voices annoying and/or sounding bored. Thankfully you can switch to Japanese dubbing, but the syncing isn't 100% there, either.

Controls: 9
I think I would give this game a 9 on the new grinding ability alone, but the fact that the controls on everyone else aren't bad doesn't hurt either. The only real control problem I have is with the Eggman/Tails stages, but once you get used to them, you never really do give them a second thought.

Fun Factor: 10
Lessee...6 characters, three abilities each, mini-games, Chao-raising and racing, downloads, Stages with 5 missions in each (letter rankings for each as well), MUCH more character power-ups than SA1 ever had...Oh yeah! And throwing the disc into your PC CD-ROM drive will give you exclusive pics sized to fit your resolution and designed to be excellent PC wallpaper. Did I also mention that raising your Chao to be good or evil will open new Chao Gardens? How about the mysterious Big the Cat Cameos seen in several stages?

This review Copyright 2001 TheFreak and Giraffe's Broken Ankle Inc., All rights preserved. Written for Any copying or re-posting of this review anywhere else without permission from myself and/or CjayC is prohibited and very nasty things will happen if you don't obey the rules. People are like a box of chocolates; They come with assorted nuts and fruits. Booyaka.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/27/01, Updated 06/27/01

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