Review by Zeolahn
"Partly great, but several major problems"
Sonic Teams likes to mess its games up.
At least that's what it seems like in recent years. They come up with a great idea and lay down great ground work, then apparently go "HEY LETS MESS THIS UP ^_^!" Sonic Adventure 1 had very buggy gameplay, Sonic Adventure 2 had the levels of Rouge and Knuckles, Sonic Heroes was Sonic Heroes, and Shadow the Hedgehog had crippled gameplay and the lack of any aiming device.
Regardless of their problems though, Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 were VERY solid Sonic games. SA2 gave us a more mature story and probably the only good new characters we've ever gotten since Knuckles. Things went down hill and many Shadow the Hedgehog jokes later, here we are at Sonic the Hedgehog for PS3/X-Box 360.
It took me a while to get the game, so it's a late review. But I didn't get a PS3 until Christmas of 07.
So, to the game itself. As you can already see, I gave it, OVERALL, a 7/10. But talking about the game itself must be split into five parts. One for each separate episode and one for a general over view. So let's start off with Sonic himself.
Sonic Episode: 5/10
I have never been so back and forth about my opinion on a game as I was when playing Sonic's episode. I'm not sure what went through Sonic Team's head during the creating. Let me explain, in Sonic's episode there are three basic missions styles. The classic 3-D Sonic style, going through a mostly linear level while running fast and fighting enemies. Escorting the Princess, which is basically just the previous stated style with an extra mechanic. And the super speed stages, where you run forward at full speed non-stop.
During the standard 3-D Sonic stages, I was in ecstasy. It was like Sonic Adventure again. It was fun. It was GOOD. But then...a super speed stage. Let me sum something up, you will die. A lot. You also can't control your direction after you jump. Who thought THAT was a good idea? I don't know. And sometimes on a super speed stage, you will have NO idea what you're doing wrong when you're dying.
Sonic was the only episode I was sent back to the title screen on. His episode had the CHEAPEST deaths ever in a Sonic game. Add on that his time spent in Town was the longest and most boring, as well as having the lamest other playable characters, gives us an Episode that you MUST force yourself to play through. Not that I have anything against Tails or Knuckles, but the way they are handled is poor.
The story of Sonic's episode is also lacking. Every cutscene is a lame "save the princess" story aspect and is usually filled with partially creepy Furry-based romance. There's nothing interesting, aside from Eggman FINALLY being threatening. The entire time you feel like a HUGE story is progressing around you and you're seeing NONE of it.
Silver Episode: 6/10
Silver is the new character for this game and brings us some new mechanics to play with, which are sometimes fun. He moves slowly through any level, using his Telekinesis to throw objects at enemies.
There's nothing really bad about Silver's play through, save a couple needless puzzles. The only downside is that...it's really not fun. He moves too slow, he levitates too short, and the throw mechanic? You still lack an aiming system. All you can do is make sure the object is in front of you and hope for the best.
On the flipside though, boss fights with Silver were my favorite boss fights. It was nice to do something different with a hedgehog instead of hitting X twice a bunch. Blaze the Cat was an enjoyable extra character, although Amy was more crippled than she has ever been.
Silver's story is a notch above Sonic's, with a few interesting questions ("Is it right to kill someone to change the future?"), but didn't make sense sometimes, such as major events being changed in the past yet his future still being in ruins when he returns to it.
Shadow Episode: 10/10
Make all the Shadow the Hedgehog jokes you want. He's black. He steals cars. He shoots people.
But none of that matters when it comes down to this: Shadow SAVED this game. The short reason? It's pretty much the same format as Sonic's episode...except WITHOUT the cheap deaths, super speed stages, or other needless bullcrap (HEY BUY THIS GEM AND IT MAKES SONIC TINY FOR NO REASON). Shadow, somewhat ironically, has the MOST solid Sonic gameplay since SA2.
Shadow is, in essence, a tougher version of Sonic. He has air combos, ground combos, and uses vehicles. Yes, motorcycles are still slower than you and in all cases but one, the cars are useless. But you know what? If a level starts you out in/on a vehicle, just GET OFF. Yes, you can do that. And then it's like they were never there, just good old FUN 3-D Sonic. Running. Collecting rings. Killing enemies. Wisely, there are no guns ever in Shadow's hands.
But I will admit, once, it was really fun to chase down a train on a Motorcycle.
Rouge handles as a mix of Tails and Knuckles and works decently, while Omega is not as fun as E-102 was, but is better in comparison of other extra characters in this game. There will also be times where Shadow flies on some hand-glider-plane-thing, but they are usually short enough that even if you hate it, it's not around for long.
The story of Shadow's episode is also the best. You realize this early in his Episode, when Shadow meets Mephilles for the first time. The cinematic is better set up, nice angles, music is moody and properly placed, and dialogue is more mature. As it progresses, it just gets better. The ending is somehow the ONLY cliffhanger ending, the other story endings don't even hint that there's a Final Episode left (even though we ALL know there will be). If Shadow's solo-game was as good as his episode, NOBODY would be laughing at him.
Final Episode: 8/10.
Best final episode to date. Playing as each character was handled well, even the characters who aren't fun to play as. And save a couple more cheap deaths, it was challenging but not anger-inducing. The final battle with the Super Saiyan Trifecta (hey, will we ever see Hyper forms again? Or Super Knuckles? Just saying) was very enjoyable, switching between the three super hedgehogs.
So where does all of this leave us? I feel its worth the $30 price tag I paid (now $20), mostly thanks to Shadow and the final episode.
There are a couple more problems I have to point out though which didn't belong anywhere here prior. The story really doesn't isolate its own Time Travel rules. Sometimes it establishes that all time travel in the game ALREADY happened and no time travel will change things (which gives us actually a really neat reason why Mephilles knows Shadow). Other times a major even WILL be changed and the future with it. So while this bothers me as a geek that over-analyzes sometimes, know that it's better to shut off your logic about this.
Also, the game music was great as usual. But the end theme music was not. With the exception of Crush 40's (the greatest band associated with Sonic) well done cover of "All Hail Shadow", we're treated to lame pop and decent rap-rock. The final episode theme is also just a beautiful melody which, might be well placed in an RPG, but not in a Sonic game.
So was this Sonic Adventure 3? No. But it was close. VERY close. If Sonic's Episode was more like Shadow's I would submit to this as my favorite Sonic game. But the problems prevent it from gaining that title, but I do stand by my over all score of the game.
If you haven't played this game out of fear of 3-D Sonic, I suggest you give it a try, especially for the $20 price tag. It's not as bad as all the magazines said it was.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 02/14/08
Game Release: Sonic the Hedgehog (US, 01/30/07)
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