Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 2
Developer: Sonic Team
Release Date: Nov. 8th, 2008
Those of us who haven’t given up on Sonic still feel as if that poor, old, haggard blue hedgehog still has some life left in him to be redeemed. And trust me, there’s not much of Sonic that doesn’t need to be redeemed. So on the plus side Sega has decided to take a new turn on the Sonic franchise by bringing back some of the old elements that made the speedy blue meeny so popular back in the nineties. I didn’t think I would be saying this, but it’s good that Sega is finally bringing back some of the 2D side-scrolling elements that made Sonic fun in the first place. There’s also a new character transition for Sonic and a revamped behind-the-back camera for the 3D platforming. But that’s just part of what Sega is doing to unleash Sonic this fall.
Running on the new Hedgehog engine and featuring a new development team at the helm, Sonic Unleashed is a traditional action-adventure title with a good dose of platform hopping, wall-running and bad-guy bopping. Even with the new engine, physics-based gameplay still plays a role in the way Sonic interacts with environments and clashes with enemies. But the one of the biggest things to change in this iteration of Sonic is the inclusion of night stages that dramatically alter the gameplay by turning Sonic into a werehog (yes, it is a ridiculous sounding feature.) However, the addition of the werehog coheres to the story in a way that seems passable enough in the Sonic universe. The cool part about it is that Sonic has a series of combos that can be used with up to four buttons. And while werehog Sonic lacks the speed and quick maneuvers of the regular Sonic, he makes up for it with his ability to take on multiple opponents and use his stretchy arms to battle tough foes. I’m not sure how well this feature will go over with gamers, but it can’t be any more sappy than Shadow’s run-and-gun, motorcycle-riding antics.
Now as many Sonic fans know, one of the biggest complaints for many of Sonic’s recent games have been with the ill-responsive controls and the wonky 3D camera angles. So instead, things have been simplified to bring gamers back to the basics – the basics that made Sonic popular on the Genesis. This means that maps now have multiple routes with easy-to-navigate linearity. The view will also automatically switch between a behind-the-back camera angle and a classic 2D view depending on what part of the stage players will be running through. So gamers will be able to speedily traverse through the maps without the painstaking difficulty found in other 3D Sonic games.
While we’re on the subject of maps and travel, I must admit that the development team has done a wonderful job with the detail embedded within some of the stages from Sonic Unleashed. The team seems to have gone out on a ledge to make sure that people will no doubt remember the remarkable and exquisite locations featured in the game. But here at Blend Games, I’m just hoping that the entire gameplay experience will be worth remembering.