Review by appear_offline

"SHINY, but otherwise all-right."

Sonic the Hedgehog has always been about speed. A lot of it.

When Sonic first came out on the Genesis, it awed the world with it's incredible graphics, music, and most importantly- the speed of the game. An average fan could say the Platformers from the early 1990s to the mid 1990s were Sonic's peak of fame. Every game that came out got better, and faster.

Fast forward a few years. 1999. Sonic Adventure is released, and it promises to give us the speed and excitement from the previous 2D Scroller Sonic games. What we got instead was Sonic, but the gameplay was really slowed down due to the main 'overworld'. Hence the name Adventure, but Sonic isn't really about 'adventure.'

He's about speed. Thats why we love him.

Next came Sonic Adventure 2, giving us more speed-filled levels without the main 'overworld'. It is less of an adventure. but still doesn't give us the amazing speed and thrills that came with the classic Sonic games. Now speed toward to 2003- Sonic Heroes is announced, promising to go back to the Old School Style where Sonic was all about Speed. Well, the game was realeased a few months after that in early 2004, and does it keep to it's word? Does it really have the speed and the 'Classic' feel to it? Like it's supposed to?

Well, one thing for sure is that the models are SHINY. This can predate back to the Classic Games, where all the characters had a 'shiny' look to them. Look at any screenshot of Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, or any other Sonic game back then. None of them had even close to 'realistic fur, but more like a shiny feel to it. Sonic Heroes' models are just that. Shiny.

They aren't bad, but it isn't the best graphics the system could offer. The models themselves are smooth and clean, and the enviroment is just great. You may have to turn off the 'Anti Flicker to really see the textures, but when you're moving at 'supersonic speeds', you really fail to notice the textures in the enviroment. Not many of you may know this, but Sonic Heroes' graphics actually is based on a Dreamcast engine. So the graphics may look a little predated. In a final word, the graphics are good. Good, but not great either.

The Sonic the Hedgehog series always had great, fast paced music that was well fitting and at the same time kept you aware of your enviroment. When Sonic Adventure was released, all of the Classic tunes (Sonic CD is a prime example of good music, the PAL Version, anyway) were changed into 'rock, tunes. Most of them were well fitting, supporting Sonic's new 'too cool for you' image. But some of the tunes didn't seem 'Sonicy. They fitted the game, especially the Adventure titles, but just wasn't Sonic.

Sonic Heroes' music goes a little bit backwards to it's roots. A lot of the tunes fit the level well, and give the series the good music from Sonic CD. There are a lot of genres in the mix, anything from Pop to Rock. The theme songs are following the tradition from the Sonic Adventure titiles. They're great, in a word, but some are really meidiocre (Team Sonic's theme!!). The Sound Effects are classic. The ring chime is still there, the same spring jumps, item box popping- it's all here!

Sonic Heroes has you controlling three people on screen at a time. Jeez, just how many characters do SonicTeam need?! None of these games are about Sonic anymore. There are so many characters in the fray, and maybe only a quarter of them have the charm like the original crew before Sonic Adventure.

*Ahem*. Anyway, Sonic Heroes has you controlling three people on screen at a time. You pick from a selection of four teams, each containing three characters. Got it? Good. Each team varies a bit. Team Sonic will have you doing the classic forumula while Team Rose does it at an easier level, and Team Chaotix having you do missions in the stages, and so on. Each character has a diffferent skill from SPEED, FLY, and POWER. You may- will have to continually switch between characters to get the right job done. You'll need the Power Character to crush blocks, and the Flight Character to fly you across a crevace. Power comes in number, anyway... Many signature moves return from the Adventure series, like Grinding, Homing Attack, Flying, Puching, etc. Although many moves have been tossed out the window so you can just tap one button for this and another for that. It's good that way, espceially if you're going fast, like the game's meant to be.

One thing you'll notice after you get to the middle of the game is the level's sheer size. Their the biggest yet, some ranging up to ten minutes rushing. That's long. Very long. No more 'half minute level clears like in the old Sonic games. You'll be spending a lot of time on the levels, especially Team Dark's. Get comfortable, and if you're not a good player at the Adventure Games nevertheless Heroes, then you might as well camp out ;). Special Stages return, but they suck. Let's leave it at that =)

Another thing I hated about the game is the order of stages you'll go through. Every team you'll go through the same levels. Although there may be a slight variation in them between the teams, it's basically you doing one level as Team Sonic and doing an almost identical one as Team Dark the next time you play. The variations are few between Team Sonic and Team Dark, while Team Rose and Team Chaotix have the biggest differences- which is not a lot. They could've at least re-arranged the levels some way, so you don't feel like you're playing the level again as slighty different characters, but it'll soon grow on you. Besides, you'll need to collect all 130 Emblems and all 141 A Ranks to get a 100% Completion!

The good thing is that every Team has a different story, and some of the cutscenes are presented in beautiful CG Cutscenes. The prettiest the Sonic Series has ever seen up to Sonic Heroes. Too bad they're all short, and there is no story. Well, that's actually good in this case. Less Cutscenes usually means more time to play, and that's what Sonic was about. You won't get any more than two minute cutscenes at the maximum. They can take place from 30 seconds to a minute, but the good tning is that it makes the game flow better. Better and faster.

Generally, it's split half half. If you like this game, with all the character switching and stuff, this game will keep you entertained for weeks and even months to come!

But if you hate it, you won't go back to playing the same stage with a different team/mission. There's a 2 Player Mode, but you'll have to unlock different 2P Modes by getting Emblems, which is equally as long and tedious. I have all 130 Emblems and 141 A Ranks, and believe me, it took a long. time. (99 Hours, to be exact! :( I have no life).

>>Final Score
Sonic Heroes is a game that takes a step in the right direction, but gets mislead along the way. This is what Sonic the Hedgehog is about! Minus the overly huge amount of characters, of course. The Next-Gen Sonic on the PS3 and XBOX 360 promises to go furthur in the direction. Good, because that's what made the Sonic games 'cool' in the first place. Not because of a complex story, or an 'Adventure feel.

Graphics- 8.0
Audio- 9.0
Gameplay- 7.5
Story- 8.0
Replayability- 6.0
Final Score- 7.0
This is how Sonic should be. Now let's shave off all the extra fat that the game shouldn't be.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 02/13/06

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