Review by Sprite37
A Sonic game that's "almost" worthy of the title of Sonic Adventure 3
Sonic has been in some of the most lack luster 3D games in the past 7 years, but he's steadily coming out of the rut. Sonic Unleashed shows that Sonic Team is finally giving what the fans want, but still making sure we try something new, whether we want to or not. Looking at the exterior of Sonic Unleashed it looks as though it's all about Sonic's new transformation into the infamous Werehog that seems to have caused a lot of skepticism, and for good reasons too. But before we break it down just by look, let's take a look at what the game holds itself.
Story - The story is no different than what's been done before, Dr. Robotnik (I refuse to call him Eggman) lures Sonic into his fortress and uses the Chaos Emeralds in order to split the planet into pieces unearthing a power to control the world that was sealed up long ago... Yeah, seems there's a lot of Monsters and Power sealed in the Earth, that's one messed up planet. In mix of all this, Sonic is transformed into a "Werehog" and thrown to Earth where he meets up with Chip, a cross between Tails and a chao, who lost his memory and has an unhealthy fixation with Chocolate, now it's up to Sonic to restore the planet to it's rightful form and help Chip to get his memory back. Nothing special. 5/10
Sound - While the recent games had some mediocre soundtracks and "Ehh" voice acting, this one actually does a little better. The music fits the tone for each level and it's worth hearing a multitude of times, and the voice acting is pretty decent to say the least. 8/10
Graphics - Quite frankly the most noticeable look to the exterior is the graphics, for the Wii it's actually surprising and the frame rate on the high speed Sonic levels are pretty smooth, the lighting's also very noticeable in the night and day stages. The Pre-rendered cutscenes are some of the most beautiful animation to rival that of Pixar. While the Werehog stages suffer from some frame rate issues is really the only thing keeping this from a perfect score. 9/10
Controls - The controls are split into two types, the fast paced controls for the Sonic stages and the platforming controls for the Werehog stages. While the fast paced controls seem complex at first they're easily usable, it'll take 5 minutes to figure them out. The Werehog's platforming controls are almost too sensitive and far more complex than necessary, it takes a lot longer to get used to, even then it still presents a challenge and a problem, like holding down the button to keep your grip on a pole or a ledge. 10/10 for the Sonic Controls 6/10 for the Werehog Controls.
Gameplay - What makes a game a game is of course gameplay. While going in the game you see the Sonic stages where you go extremely fast and finally play a Sonic game the way we should've played'em for the past 7 years. The gameplay is somewhat similar to Sonic Rush, you move in a 3 dimensional linear environment but transits to 2D in certain sections of the level, giving it the name of 2.5D, you have a bar to unleash bursts of speed that make you a little faster and allows you to charge into enemies while raising the bar with points higher depending on the Action Combo you preform. Like all Sonic games, Rings are important in the Sonic games and in this one they make you go faster as well as increasing your Rush Bar, the more rings you have the faster you run. As fast as the stages are, you need to maneuver quite a bit by sliding through narrow passages, Shifting to avoid obstacles in mid-speed, and drifting to make sharp turns, mastering these maneuvers are key in order to receive a high ranking. The boss battles are dependent on your Rush Meter as well as you need to use the burst, aside from your standard homing attack, in order to attack each boss. The Werehog stages are another story however, unlike the fast paced Sonic stages, the Werehog stages are platforming brawlers that are much more slow paced. You have to navigate through out the stages by climbing, swinging and searching for keys in order to progress, you also are pretty much forced to fight everything in your path, unlike most Sonic games where you can skip every enemy if you want. The more enemies you fight, the more experience you get, you receive a new move and more power as well as unlocking more missions for the Werehog. Through out both sets of stages you can find items to unlock images and music. 10/10 for the Sonic stages 5/10 for the Werehog stages.
Wii functions - As far as the Sonic stages go there's nothing to really critique, they're fine, but as for the Werehog you might get tired as you need to swing punches to use the attacks for the Werehog, as well as climbing, for this case it's advised to use a classic or a gamecube controller. However if you have the stamina to play through the Werehog stages and swing like a madman then go for it, just be sure your wrist band is tied securely.
Presentation - As far as the main game goes you're pegged with a ton of cutscenes and dialogue, as well as talking to people by clicking on menus of different continents and making you go through tutorial missions, when you really just want to play the game. It could've been a lot easier to make the levels continue one after another, like the old games, instead of layering it with useless cutscenes on an otherwise simple universe. 7/10
Replay - Of course there's a lot to be had in this game like unlocking images and music, you'll find yourself going back and completing each level to increase the overall score of the stage. However, the Sonic stages are enjoyable and can easily be played again and again. Replay Value is pretty Moderate.
Overall - Sonic Unleashed comes close to actually bringing Sonic out of a long line of bad games, yet also forces gimmicks that slow down its advancement out of the rut, but it steadily moves in the right direction in comparison to its last games. But let's face it, the only reason anyone wants to play Sonic Unleashed is for the Sonic stages, however the Sonic stages make up about 2/5 of the entire game if not less, if you're not playing the Sonic stages, you're playing as the Werehog or talking to the villagers on each continent. For the devoted fans that grew up on Sonic, this is worth a buy for a recent Sonic game that isn't HORRIBLY disappointing, as far as the casual gamer goes it's a toss up between a rent or buy, because some people actually find the Werehog stages a little fun... surprisingly. Great Sonic stages, but you have to endure a lot just to get to them.
Final Score - 7 out of 10
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Sonic Unleashed (US, 11/18/08)
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