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Sonic the Hedgehog Review (X360)

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Sonic the Hedgehog Review (X360)
SEGA
Every time a new Sonic game is announced, gamers take notice. We desperately want it to be good so we can relive the glory days of the Mario vs. Sonic / Nintendo vs. Sega wars of the early 90’s, but for the last five years or so we have been disappointed when the game finally arrived. Sonic’s next-gen debut is no different. Camera issues, load times, poor gameplay, and an ever-growing cast of extra characters no one cares about make the new Sonic the Hedgehog hard to enjoy.
Quick Hits

  • Title: Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Platform: Xbox 360
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Sonic Team
  • ESRB: “E” For Everyone
  • Genre: 3-D action, platforming
  • Pros: Sonic runs real fast
  • Cons: Camera issues; frequent loading; lame story; gameplay is flawed

Story

One of the main problems with Sonic the Hedgehog is that you spend far too much time playing as other characters instead of Sonic. There are actually three different stories, one with Sonic, one with Shadow, and one with a new hedgehog named Silver. You will also occasionally play as Tails and Knuckles. Each one plays differently, so there is quite a bit of variety. Hooking up with these series standbys is sort of interesting at first, but I would much rather be running around very very vast as Sonic than driving around as Shadow or using Silver’s telekinetic attacks.

The overall story tells of a princess kidnapped by Dr. Eggman and it is up to Sonic to try and save her. There are also some chaos emeralds thrown in for good measure. The action levels are put together in tried and true Sonic style, but the hub world connecting them all is a dinky little stereotypical-RPG town that you spend way too much time in. I have to ask the question that has been bugging me ever since the first Sonic Adventure: Why does Sonic need such a big cast of characters and a complex storyline? The whole appeal is that he is a blue hedgehog that runs very fast. Isn’t that enough?

Gameplay

SEGA
The gameplay is where everything really falls apart, though. The first annoyance comes before you even get into the levels, however, in the form of lots and lots of long load times. It takes at least 30 seconds to get in or out of a level, and longer if there are any dialogue or cinema sequences. If the game was well put together, you could overlook the load times. But the game in between all of the loading screens isn’t all that hot.

Sonic’s levels are put together so that speed is the focus, and they can be pretty fun. You run through loops and go fast, and they actually have a rather nostalgic feel. One aspect that I do not like is that in the really fast sections, you don’t actually have control over Sonic. You just point him towards a speed boost pad, and he runs and jumps and does everything for you. That is lame. Shadow and Silver each have different attacks and do different things than Sonic can do in their levels, but their levels are slowly paced and downright boring in comparison.

Some other gameplay flaws affect all of the characters. The levels are filled with water or bottomless pits, and if you fall you die. You only have a limited number of lives, and you can’t save mid-mission. And the camera system is also very flawed and you only have limited control over it. I thought these aspects of bad game design died about ten years ago. I guess I was wrong. Sonic Team, go talk to Nintendo or Rare or Insomnicac or Naughy Dog and learn how to make a proper 3D platformer.

Graphics and Sound

Graphically, Sonic the Hedgehog looks okay, but it isn’t going to floor you. There is quite a bit of variety in the environments you’ll play in, which is nice, even though they all look sort of bland and uninspired. Something else that sort of bugs me is that why are there these huge, cartoon looking, talking animals among realistic looking people and towns? That isn’t really a flaw with this game in particular, but something that hasn’t felt right for a long time.

The sound is similarly adequate, but not spectacular. The music doesn’t really stand out, and the sound effects are typical platformer fare. Dialogue is delivered in typical overenthusiastic anime-style, but it gets the job done.

Bottom Line

SEGA
Overall, Sonic the Hedgehog is a below average platformer that even the most die-hard Sonic fan is going to have a tough time enjoying. The problems with the game aren’t really anything new, either, and have been plaguing the Sonic franchise for the last several years. Why Sega and Sonic Team hasn’t learned from the multitude of great 3D platformers released over the last ten years or so is beyond me, but there are some just plain bad design flaws here that have long since been eliminated in most other games. Load times, camera issues, gameplay flaws, overcomplicated story, overcrowded character roster, the list goes on and on. Give it a rental if you are curious, but I would not recommend Sonic the Hedgehog for a purchase. There are too many other great games out there that are far more deserving of your time.
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