Every now and then a good Sonic game is released to the masses. Fans and critics cheer and then Sega screws up the jubilee by announcing a new Sonic game that messes with the formula. Sonic Unleased has been touted by Sega as THE Sonic game that brings the franchise back to its roots and fixes many problems that have plagued recent Sonic games.
As a fan of Sonic, I wish I could say that Sonic Unleashed has lived up to the hyped but overall this game is a mishmash of things that do work and things that still don’t work.
Sonic Unleashed thankfully focuses its story on Sonic. Don’t worry about playing as silly characters like Tails or Amy. Sega did throw in a twist to the gameplay that does bring down the potential enjoyment that one seeks from a Sonic product. The twist is that Sonic transforms into a werewolf. Ok, I think someone at Sega enjoyed The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess a little too much. It’s frustrating to be forced to start off as Sonic and then be switched over to the wolf mode for a different level. Unlike in previous titles, you can’t choose who you want to play as.
The ‘wolf-hog’ levels focus on [repetitive] combat. You’ll spend these wolf levels fighting the same enemy, with the same moves, and then have to deal with the occasional boring box puzzles.
The game shines when you get to play as Sonic in hedgehog form. The levels are lightning fast. Sonic is so fast that it doesn’t feel like there is any friction between him and the ground. Imagine that Sonic is a Ferrari, you want it to be fast, but there should also be a certain style and grace to how it moves. Sonic’s animations are smooth, but as a player you don’t really feel in control of the joy ride.
Graphically speaking, the game is gorgeous. If this is what Sega’s new Hedgehog Engine is capable of, I can’t wait to see what Sega’s future titles look like. There were some frame rate issues that occurred mainly within the wolf stages. The game chugs when tons of enemies appear on the screen. Whether you’re a hog or a wolf, the level designs are slightly repetitive. The majority of the levels are based within a city. Each city has its different theme: desert, jungle, etc.
Sega did throw in a new element that basically adds some value, but overall slows down the gameplay. Rather than simply going from one level to the next, you’re stuck in the city and have to do some exploration to get to the next level. It’s really minimal stuff here. Talk to the village people and move on. It’s that simple, which begs the question of why bother with this at all?
Sonic Unleashed is by no means a bad game. In comparison to other recent Sonic titles, Sonic Unleashed shines like an emerald. It would have been nice if Sega polished this title just a little bit more. Nonetheless, Sonic Unleashed is probably the first Sonic console game that I would recommend since Sonic Adventure 2. By the way, Sonic Adventure 2 was released almost seven years ago!