Review by speedstar01

Reviewed: 03/06/06

Crazy, fast, fun. Doesn't disappoint.

I do have a few choice words about this game, which I will proceed to say below.

Wow. WowWowWowWowWowWow. This has to be one of the best racing games I've seen in a while. Coupled with the fact that I've just come off playing the mildly (cough) disappointing Shadow the Hedgehog, you're in for some rave reviews.

Sonic Riders takes the usual racing formula and throws it clear out the window. You're racing on air boards (or "Extreme Gear", as they call it in the game) through vast, water-filled canyons, crowded cities, desert ruins, you name it, all the while pulling tricks off of jumps and discovering shortcuts that'll put you a step ahead of your rivals. Now, this could quickly become a dull, boring, instant-win-with-no-interaction type thing, but Sonic Riders avoids this trap admirably, forcing you to constantly be on your toes if you want to have any hope of winning.

First thing's first: the graphics. And I'll say this right now: they're amazing. Not just the completely mind-blowing FMV sequences, but the in-game graphics as well. This is far and away the best-looking 3D Sonic I've seen yet, surpassing the heights reached by SADX and making Shadow look like some outdated piece of garbage (not that it needed that much help). Character models are mostly right on (Tails and Knuckles I could probably make a case against), and the landscapes are vast and detailed and are a pleasure to look at. One thing to note is the vast majority of the characters have been given a new look of some sort, be it the mere addition of goggles or a completely new outfit, a la Amy and Rouge. And I mustn't forget to point out; the hand-drawn intro sequence blew me away. I can only hope we see more of that in the future.

FMV, as stated above, takes on an entity of its own. Colors are vibrant, everything looks sharp and clear, and you even notice things like light reflecting off surfaces such as Sonic's eyes. They're a real joy to watch, but when it comes to listening, things get controversial...

I won't start tearing up the voices (as per usual) just yet; instead I'll begin with the music. Gone, it seems, are the heavy-rocking tunes of the Adventure days (and to a certain extent, Heroes). Instead we get some songs of the techno-driven variety, lyrically sparse and heavier on instrumentation. It's not exactly my cup of tea, but that's not to say it's awful. It's just different from what I'm used to hearing from a Sonic game, though it does fit this game quite well.

Then, as I'm coming off my euphoric high caused by everything else that's gone right with this game, I'm hit with the (once again) 4Kids voices. Only there's a problem. I don't mind them. Wait, did I type that? I actually don't mind them. Jason Griffith is constantly growing on me, and though he'll never truly replace Ryan Drummond, I'm not as adverse to his voice as I used to be. Tails and Eggman continue to be just fine, Amy's pretty good, Rouge and Cream continue to bug me, and Shadow, well...I'm just kind of glad he's not a main character for once in his over-long video game life. The newcomers (Jet, Wave, Storm) are voiced particularly well, especially Wave, who in my opinion they got spot-on. So for once, I don't have too many glaring complaints about the voices. That's new...

Gameplay is what it should be for a game like this: fast and fun. The boards move by themselves, so all you have concern yourself with is boosting, maneuvering, and pulling off all your insane stunts. You're constantly watching your air, which is used to power your board. Run out of air and you'll have to go at it on foot until you find an air pit, which almost surely costs you the race if your opponents are any good at all (and believe me, they are). Luckily, you can keep your air levels up fairly easily by successfully landing tricks, grabbing air packets out of item boxes, and a multitude of other methods, further ensuring that you stay alert throughout the race. Further adding to the mayhem is character classes. Characters are split up into three groups: speed, flight, and power, a la Sonic Heroes. Your character's class dictates what kind of routes he or she can take advantage of: Speed characters can grind rails, Flight characters and fly through dash rings, and Power characters can bust through any obstacle in their path, often opening up hidden routes. So be sure to experiment and see what type best suits which course.

Good as it may be on single-player, multiplayer is really what makes this game. Nothing is more fun that out-riding, out-tricking, and just generally beating the crap out of your friends. So grab some friends (and if you don't have any, grab some strangers) and get ready for a fun time! front of your TV set, that is.

As far as replay goes, there's a mission mode that'll having you pulling of weird stunts in races for medals. In addition, you'll want to collect rings to buy new boards that grant your characters new abilities such as letting flight characters grind rails, etc. Plus the game's just naturally fun to play. Can't deny that.


The Good:
+ Great gameplay
+ Tons of fun to play
+ Great variety of characters
+ Good amount of courses
+ Tons of unlockables
+ Great replay
+ Awesomely fun multiplayer
+ Unbelievable graphics
+ Tight control

The Bad:
- Computer is near-perfect all the time
- Learning curve is a bit steep

Final Thoughts:
Sonic Riders definitely doesn't disappoint. It's a solid racer, plus a great game all around that's simply a blast to play, even though it'll take you a while to master. Don't hesitate to buy.

Final Score: 10/10

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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