Review by BigSticken12
A World Adventure, Indeed...
Even though I'm a die-hard Nintendo fan, I've also been a huge supporter of the cool blue dude since his first Genesis outing. I continued to be wowed through Sonic Adventures 1 and 2, but after Sonic Heroes, I started feeling that something was missing. Even worse was the knock-off Shadow the Hedgehog, then the doomed Sonic the Hedgehog for PS3 and 360. After Sonic and the Secret Rings, I thought Sonic would dissolve into obscurity. When I saw the first minute of the trailer for Sonic Unleashed, I was sure that this wouldn't be the end, that he would return in all his speedy glory...until I saw some overly-hairy hedgehog on steroids. Nevertheless, I went out the day it was released, bought it and gave it a try. I am happy to say that Sonic survived, and not by the skin of his werehog fangs either. He took off running.
Story - 8/10
We focus in on an untold story of one of Sonic's multiple attempts to sabotage the devious Dr. Eggman's plot to rule the world. Everything is going ok: Super Sonic has the doctor cornered in his mysterious spaceship, begging for mercy, but with one push of a button, the energy is ripped from Sonic's body and is manipulated into dark Chaos energy, which is fired at the Earth, ripping it apart into seven continents and unearthing Dark Gaia, an unknown entity sleeping in the Earth's core for thousands of years. The negative energy also saps the Chaos Emeralds of their power and transforms Sonic into a "werehog"; then he and the emeralds are sent plummeting back to earth. Sonic soon finds a small impish creature who has lost his memory, the cause of which, Sonic deduces, is from falling on him. Sonic and his new friend whom he nicknames "Chip", race off to restore his memory and to restore power to the Chaos Emeralds and save the world.
Gameplay - 9/10
Gameplay is basically split into two parts: the fast-paced hedgehog levels occurring in daytime, and the platforming/beat-em-up werehog levels occurring at nighttime. Note that I will be describing controls with the Wiimote/Nunchuk, since I've yet to try it with GCN or Classic controllers. Besides daytime and nighttime, virtually everything else is a point-and-click system. Point and choose a continent. Point and choose an area of the village you're visiting. Sounds boring and repetitive, but it honestly beats having to run around and taking many more minutes searching for stuff, which is exactly what you have to do in the PS3 and 360 versions.
Daytime - 10/10
If Sega had kept Sonic Unleashed like this, Sonic would have made a comeback for the ages, looking at the last 3D Sonic games of recent years. The object of the hedgehog levels is to make it to the goal in the fastest time possible. The better the ranking, the more moon medals you get (more on these later). This is made possible by means of the speed boost gauge. You start each level with a gauge of 3 bars, but you can increase it to 6 when you collect 30, 60, then 90 rings. Predictably, collecting rings will fill up your speed boost gauge, as will action chains, consisting of successive homing attacks, going through hoops, etc. Also, the more rings you have, the faster you run. A Sonic carrying 30 rings is slower that a Sonic with 387. There are areas in levels where you hold down a button, and flick the control stick left and right to sidestep obstacles coming at you at breakneck speed. Another cool thing about these levels are the transitions from 3D to 2D gameplay, complete with loop-de-loops, pitfalls, and the like. One last thing: there are multiple paths to the goal. Sometimes, button configurations will appear, and they could lead to a big shortcut if correct, or certain doom if incorrect. One very minor flaw with Hedgehog Sonic is trying to control him in areas where speed isn't necessary. Prime example: the Gaia Temples. The slightest tilt of the control stick will get him running, so those particular areas could be a little aggravating. Besides that, the daytime levels really get me reminiscing about the good old days of the SA series: fast-paced and fun, slightly marred by the fact that the amount of nighttime levels nearly double daytime levels.
Nighttime - 8/10
Sega keeps insisting on changing Sonic to make him better, and they really took a gamble with this whole Werehog premise. The gamble, in some parts, paid off. Think of the nighttime levels as a hybrid of platforming/combat/RPG. Werehog Sonic is considerably slower than his hedgehog counterpart, but that's a good thing, and you'll agree once you see some of the levels. Some of the platforming aspects of the nighttime levels are balanced well: not too hard, but not too easy. And the controls are actually pretty solid. He comes complete with a double jump, and you swing the Wiimote and Nunchuk alternately or together to pull off combos to fend off the hordes of enemies. More enemies defeated means more experience points, which you use to unlock new abilities, extend your health bar and Unleashed bar. Speaking of which, the Unleashed bar is a handy little thing that could save your werehog butt in a tight spot. If the gauge is full, you can go into Unleashed mode, complete with boosted strength, new combos, and a slightly faster werehog. There are some faults however. Some of the levels (especially those damn Adabat stages) are unnecessarily difficult, and it doesn't help that once again, we have a wonky camera system. You also tend to forget that you need to HOLD the B Button when climbing a pole, swinging from said pole, hanging onto a ledge, etc. One more thing a lot of people are not happy about is the amount of werehog stages compared to hedgehog stages. Just buckle down and get through them, people. I wasn't a big fan of them either, but they aren't really that bad. And you can always let go of some pent up aggression by putting on your running shoes and going for a daytime sprint.
Graphics - 10/10
Absolutely beautiful, especially for the Wii. I don't care how brilliant the PS3 or 360 counterparts look like. That's all those versions are good for: the graphics. I personally think the control for those versions are terrible. It doesn't matter if there are more hedgehog levels, if there's no control, there's no game. Period....Woah, got a little off topic there. But seriously, the graphics are just...take some time on a daytime stage and just look. The opening cinematic was breathtaking, and I was somewhat pissed that I could only watch it whenever I switched on my Wii (until I unlocked the video. Yay!) Again, this game looks beautiful. I really can't say any more. They're THAT great.
Music - 10/10
Sound Effects -9.5/10
The music took quite a turn from the rock genre that we came to love from the SA's, Sonic Heroes, etc. This was a move that I was both excited for, but troubled with. What happened to my Crush 40, who gave us the classics, "Live and Learn", "What I'm Made Of", and "Open Your Heart"? However, I found myself drooling over the new theme song, "Endless Possibility" featuring Jarret Reddick from Bowling for Soup. A fine addition to the Sonic Themes library. And an unexpected surprise: "Dear My Friend" by Brent Cash. Music like this hadn't been seen in a Sonic game before, and I personally think they struck gold, it is an amazing song. And once again, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra hits a chord (ha, get it?) with "The World Adventure"...simply amazing. All the stages' music are nicely done as well; I especially like the daytime Shamar, Spagonia, and Apatos themes.
Sound effects are nothing special really. The spin dashes, springs, rings...all blend in perfectly with the Sonic universe. One "wtf" moment I experienced was when you correctly input a button configuration, you hear....a doorbell? It's grown on me though. =)
Replayability - 9/10
There are LOTS of collectibles. In daytime stages, the faster you complete a stage, the more moon medals you get. However, to get a lot of sun medals, nighttime stages must be completed within a time limit, and a certain number of rings and experience points must be collected to achieve the proper ranking. These sun and moon medals are used to open what are called Gaia Gates. When a door is opened, you enter a room where there are some secret items to be collected. These items include secret documents (which give you hints on how to beat the game), art (sketches and movie stills of the game), music (your basic sound test, only with just music), movies (watch scenes over again), and secret missions (which can be completed for more medals, depending on whether it's a day/night based stage. It will take you a while to get everything, and it will keep you busy.
Rent or Buy
It really is a love or hate situation. You either like the werehog stages, are tolerant enough to put up with them, or downright hate them. If you like them, or can tolerate them, this game is definitely worth the money. Die hard Sonic fans should buy this as well. Even if you don't like it, rent it, give it a try. Or if you're a Nintendo hater, pick up the similar PS2 version or try the PS3/360 counterpart.
The speedy levels we have been waiting for!
Lots of replayability
Amazing graphics for the Wii
Rock solid controls
Still can't get rid of the screwy camera system
Too many werehog stages/not enough hedgehog stages
Final Score - 9/10
Sonic has stumbled quite a bit on his race into the seventh generation, but he has regained his footing and is showing the gaming world that he has no intention of slowing down. I am honestly pretty psyched for his new game out soon, Sonic and the Black Knight, and if that game is as big a hit as this one, and if Sega can keep their act together, Sonic will be running just like so many years ago...at least until another flop comes along.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Sonic Unleashed (US, 11/18/08)
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