Posted 4 years ago By - Kabir Singh
The last Sonic game I played and enjoyed was Sonic The Hedgehog 2 on my good ole’ Sega Genesis and I loved it almost as much as the original. Sonic was an icon that for me represented fantastic gaming experiences. Sadly, the Sonic franchise has been releasing sub-par games as of late. So, where does Sonic Unleashed fit in this “continuum of game quality” that is bookended by greatness and “the disc is good enough to be used as a coaster for my beer”?
The story starts Sonic off in space, battling Eggman a.k.a. Dr. Robotnik and ends up with Eggman using the energy of the Chaos emeralds to shatter the Earth into large pieces, releasing an entity known as Dark Gaia in the process. The emeralds’ energy also transforms Sonic into a were-creature: during the day he is Sonic the Hedgehog and at night he transforms into Sonic the Werehog. This transformation is of key importance to the core gameplay.
Your goal in this game is to repair the shattered Earth, and defeat Eggman. To do this Sonic must find several mystical temples in various locations across the globe (which are based on real world locations). Here’s the twist: each of these locales can be played during the day and during the night. To reach all the areas in a locale you must play it during both time periods.
Daytime Sonic is his usual speedy self, running through loops, bouncing off bumpers, jumping away from traps, riding rails and doing his usual thing. Daytime gameplay switches between two dimensional traditional Sonic side scrolling and three dimensional gameplay. The switch is quite seamless and natural but there are some issues that should be noted. The 2D segments achieve the glory of Sonic on the Sega Genesis, which is absolutely wonderful. The 3D segments are very ambitious and extremely fun but the controls are too sensitive and border on twitchy. It is extremely difficult to aim a fast moving Sonic precisely at a target or golden rings. A slight tweak on the sensitivity would have made good 3D levels great 3D levels. A common flaw often found in both the 2D and 3D realms is that Sonic moved so fast, that it is almost impossible to react to visual cues. The end result is that the player resorts to memorization of the track layout instead of responding intuitively to course changes and dangers. Slowing Sonic down a bit would heighten the sense of control and immersion but we all want Sonic to be lightning quick (that’s half the fun). Night time Sonic is the werehog form, who is brawny,sharp of tooth and claw. Sonic’s signature speed is replaced by pure melee attack power. So Sonic Unleashed switches from a speedy platformer during the day to a platformer/beat- em up at night. This variety is quite nice and provides a refreshing change, but like the day levels there are some flaws.
The camera is one of these flaws, for at some moments the camera functions smoothly and you have complete control over its movement and at other moments your control is limited to jittery motions, as if the camera is fighting your controller inputs. It’s very curious as to why the camera functions beautifully one moment but in another all user control is almost completely lost. This loss of user control results in some atrocious camera angles, which are sometimes so bad that your character cannot even be seen. I found myself wishing for an input command to centre the camera behind the character and a way to enter a first person view mode. These features are extremely common and it is surprising that they are not available in this game. It must be said that for the most part the camera works well and is functional but there are moments where the camera was terrible and I thought to myself “Did the developers get lazy or were they pushed by a deadline?”.
For the younger gamer, the night time levels will feel fresh and fun, but the more experienced gamer will see that the gameplay is a G-rated, stripped down rip-off of God of War. Sonic’s arms extend out to increase his reach, much like the Blades of Chaos; the puzzle/switch design is a directly borrowed from Kratos’ adventures; the beam walking is a direct copy as well. We all know that imitation is the best form of flattery and if you are going to rip-off a game, you might as well rip-off one the best ever made. Sonic has a variety of combos available to him but button mashing is almost as effective as a well executed combo, pointing to the fact that this game is clearly targeted to a younger audience. Combat is still fun and at times it can be hilarious.
A very nice addition to the gameplay is the ability to level up Sonic’s running and combat abilities by collecting Chaos orbs (the equivalent to experience points) from defeated enemies. This RPG element adds some nice depth to a flawed but charming title. Overall, the gameplay is geared towards a younger audience but its quite fun and at times can provide an enjoyable challenge to a more experienced gamer.
Graphics & Sounds
While not being the greatest looking game on the Xbox 360 Sonic Unleashed is definitely up there, this is one gorgeous game. The visuals are lush, the backgrounds are stunning, the colours are vibrant and very pleasing. Sonic Unleashed looks fantastic even during the high speed gameplay which is quite an accomplishment. The character animation and facial expressions are top notch and very entertaining. The lighting effects are also very well done and provide a sense of realism to the surroundings.
The audio production values in Sonic Unleashed are top notch. Keep in mind that there are no massive explosions and gun battles to take advantage of a killer sound system, but for what they are, the audio is very good. Solid voice acting, pleasant and sometimes jazzy music provide an upbeat atmosphere to the game. The sound effects are very reminiscent of early Sonic titles and they are very vibrant and full. The ear candy is quite tasty too!
For the sheer amount of fun I had playing this game, I would consider this game to be an excellent value. Between playing locations in night and day, there is a tonne of videogame to be had. There is well over 15 hours of gameplay for a casual gamer and this not the type of game you would want to rush through. Sit back, enjoy the experience and smile.
The real strength of this game is in how it can be enjoyed by young and old gamers alike. This is definitely family friendly gaming and I would love to play this game with my 6 year old nephew. The game is geared towards a younger crowd but the beauty and fun gameplay make it enjoyable for adult gamers. If you have a younger sibling, child or niece/nephew I would highly recommend this game.
From the moment I put this game in I could see that a lot of hard work, love and dedication was put into this game. The game is stunning, the sound is great … some aspects worked so well but then a few glaring flaws popped up. The camera behaved beautifully and then it went all wonky, the uninspired God of War clone combat was a bit of a let down. This all leads to one thought ….. this title was rushed at the end. A few more months in development and this game would have received my highest praise. But this is still a very solid game to share with those young gamers close to your heart. So, on my continuum, Sonic Unleashed sits close to my “greatness” bookend but not quite there.
+ At times reached greatness of originals
+ Stunning visuals
+ Great sounds
+ Solid production values (mostly)
+ Night and day mechanic keeps game from getting stale
- Camera angles can be infuriating at times
- Tracks rely on memorization to complete not intuitive gameplay i.e. a little too fast (but it’s still cool)
- Uninspired combat system ...if wanted GoW I would have played GoW ...but great for a younger player
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Release Date : 2008/11/30
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : SEGA
Developer : SONICTEAM
Category : Platformer
ESRB : E
7.0 / 10
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