Archive for November, 2008

Sonic Unleashed for the PS2, First Impressions!

November 21, 2008

super_sonic_unleashedSonic Adventure, our first real 3D Sonic game was a blast, but in retrospect you were really only Sonic 1/6 to 1/5 of the time. Sonic Adventure 2 was a marked improvement, non-Sonic levels were faster and much more fun, but the game was really pure Sonic gameplay 1/3 of the time. Then the Dreamcast *sniff* died and we waited for Sonic Adventure 3, only to get Sonic Heroes. on paper Sonic Heroes looked to offer pure Sonic gameplay, but in actuality you we’re Sonic for about 1/3 of the level, and even then it was subpar-Sonic gameplay. Factor in that the other three teams were simply different difficulty levels of the same game, and you’ve still got 1/3 Sonic. Following Sonic Heroes was the overstuffed Shadow the Hedgehog and the overly complicated and buggy Sonic ’06. Now in late 2008 Sonic has one more chance to get it right.

While Sonic Unleashed for the PS2 and Wii is roughly 70% the game available on PS3 and 360, the fact that (A) the PS2 and Wii even HAVE a port of a next gen game (yes, I called the Wii NOT next gen) and (B) what could have been a watered down port is actually a FUN immersive game, says a lot. As the story kicks off, I have to say I love that the game opens where a Sonic game would usually end.

Progressing through the first few stages, the cuts from the PS3/360 versions are pretty apparent. Cut scenes feature much prettier graphics than the PS2 could offer, making me wish I had been playing the next gen version. Also, the first village, Apotos, features a map and NPC characters in a menu format, making me realize that there will be no adventure fields from here on out. Progressing to the next village, Mazuri, I expected another day/night set of levels but instead, thanks to another cut, I was treated to just a boss battle (though the boss kicked ass). Once I got past these aspects to the game and played the “lesser” version for what it is, I really got into it! Sonic’s day levels had the feel of true speed that previous games attempted but didn’t quite perfect. If the PS2 day levels play out this well, I can only imagine the PS3 versions to be awesome.

Now to the elephant in the room, the werehog night levels. I love them. As others have mentioned, for what is usually the “filler shit” of a 3D Sonic game, the werehog is quite good! Just as the game’s plot reminds me of Capcom’s Power Stone, the werehog combat also has a bit of that Power Stone feel with a dash of Kingdom Hearts. Compare brawling combat to truncated Sonic levels (a la Tails in SA1), treasure hunting, fishing or slow moving mech shooters. The combat is the clear winner, and even better you’re still essentially Sonic. 50% Sonic the Hedgehog, 50% Sonic the Werehog. Could this be the first main console series Sonic game to feature only Sonic as a playable character since 1991’s Sonic the Hedgehog?? I’ll make a stretch and say yes.

In conclusion of my first impressions, were I to rate the game on what I played so far, I’d give it an 8.5/10. The game is a much tighter Sonic game with less focus on complicated plot and more focus on gameplay. Unlike previous releases, the returning/new character count is pretty low! Sonic, Tails, Eggman, Amy, Chip and Dark Gaia. Woh, that’s a one hand count! While the PS2 and Wii versions aren’t the same as the next gen releases, I’m actually happy about this! Both look to be awesome, but different enough that when the time DOES come for me to move up and buy a PS3 or 360, I won’t feel like I’ve played the same ol’ game on the PS2.