Review by Big Bob

"Let me show you just what I'm made of..."

Ah, Sonic. One of the oldest gaming icons in history. He started off with the hit, Sonic The Hedgehog. He then had many sequels, where he made friends like Tails, Knuckles, and Amy. After skipping out on the Saturn, Sonic got two Adventure games on the Dreamcast. Although these games were loved by veterans of Sonic, they are generally known by the critics as Sonic's worst moments. They complained that there was not enough of Sonic and too much of everyone else. Seems Sonic Team put some alternate gameplay styles in them that the public didn't like. In Sonic Adventure, Sonic met Big the Cat. In Sonic Adventure 2, a mysterious hedgehog known as Shadow appeared, as well as a treasure-hunter bat named Rouge. All these characters, plus three of the four Chaotix (from Knuckles' Chaotix on the Sega 32X) appear in Sonic Heroes. After Sonic went multiplatform, he met Cream the Rabbit and her pet chao, Cheese, in Sonic Advance 2. Well, Sonic has finally returned, and I'd say his latest Adventure is worth it.

Sonic Heroes' story is divided into four parts. In Team Sonic's story, Eggman has issued a challenge to Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. In three days he will conquer the world, and unless the group does something about it, he will succeed. In Team Dark, Rouge breaks into Eggman's base hoping to find treasure. Upon entering, she discovered the thought-to-be-dead Shadow in a glass container, as well as a robot, Omega. Omega goes crazy and attempts to slaughter Shadow, but Rouge stops him. Turns out Shadow has lost his memory, and Omega is pissed because Eggman locked him up. So, they set out on a search for Eggman. Team Rose's story is a much lighthearted one. Big's best friend, Froggy, has disappeared, as well as Cheese's brother, Chocola. Amy, feeling adventurous, wants to help them find the missing pair. Last but not least is Team Chaotix. Work has been slow, and a mysterious walkie-talkie has arrived in the mail. The Chaotix, Charmy, Espio, and Vector, have nothing else to do and need the money, so they set out to help this mysterious person on the other end.

Gameplay: 9/10
Teamwork is the key word here. Teamwork has never been tried before in the Sonic world (except Knuckles' Chaotix, but that doesn't count), so Sonic Team was taking a big risk when they did this. I think they did pretty well. Each team has three characters: a speed character (Sonic, Shadow, Amy, Espio), a flight character (Tails, Rouge, Cream, Charmy), and a power character (Knuckles, Omega, Big, Vector). Speed characters do everything you think they would, and more. First, they are the fastest in the group. If you need to get across a field quickly, count on them. They can also summon a tornado to attack enemies or spin up poles. They can also bounce off walls (except Amy). Flight characters are the most limited. They can fly up and throw their friends at enemies, but that's pretty much it. They're pretty slow, and aren't great for close-range combat. Power is the last formation. When in power formation, characters run side by side, so you can pick up even more rings. When you attack in power formation, the leader will grab the others and use them as projectiles. Power members also can glide, so they're the character of choice for updrafts. Now to single out the teams. Team Sonic is the fastest team. They speed through a level, hardly stopping at all. Team Dark is for advanced players. Their levels are much more difficult than the other teams, so it will be tough as them. Team Rose is for beginners. It even starts out with a tutorial level! Their levels are short, with less enemies. Team Chaotix is the most awkward team. Instead of just getting to the end of a level, you must complete different objectives, such as collecting a certain amount of coins, finding keys, or sneak through a level without being detected. Best of all, Espio the ninja-chameleon can turn invisible and throw stars, so he's pretty fun to be. Now, through all these things, the gameplay is still not perfect. The camera has improved dramatically since the Adventure games, but can still create an unnecessary death. Other glitches such as falling through paths are annoying. Occasionally the controls will feel unresponsive, and it can get annoying quickly. Hopefully Sonic Team will fix these problems in (hopefully) Sonic Heroes 2. Still, it's really fun.

Graphics/Sound: 9/10
Graphics have improved a lot since the Adventure games. The FMVs look absolutely fantastic, even if the characters now have their mouths on the side rather than the front. Outside that, graphics are pretty good. Levels have amazing design and detail. In one level you're the pinball on a table. In another, you must blow up ship after ship of Eggman's armada. Characters look OK on the field, but the levels are much better. As for sound, it's great except for a few annoying voices. Music is awesome. The theme songs were created by Crush 40 (the same people who wrote the music for SA/SA2). The songs are excellent, even Amy's, whose theme was hated by all in Sonic Adventure. As for voices, most of them are good. Team Chaotix, unfortunately, has horrible voices. However, you adjust to the voices as you play, and they don't seem quite as horrible.

Value/Replayability: 9/10
SH can be completed in a rental, I think. The game is 14 levels long for each team, and a level can take anywhere from 3 to 20 minutes to complete. Also, this game will kick your ass. Good luck getting through the levels on the first try. After you've completed the four main stories, you must collect the 7 Chaos Emeralds (just like the old games!). Then a final path will open. Complete it, and you will have nothing else to do but complete every extra mission in the game's challenge mode.

Fun Factor: 9/10
Sonic Heroes is a great game, but there are several problems that can't be ignored that keep it from getting a 10. And it deserves a 10, too. It's one of Sonic's best games in years. It's just that glitches, voices, and an unsatisfying conclusion (what REALLY happened to Shadow?) really hurt the game. If you really enjoy Sonic games, I recommend picking this up. If you aren't sure, rent it. If you don't like Sonic already, I doubt it will change your mind, but give it a chance.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/11/04

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