Sonic Unleashed


Sonic Unleashed is the most recent attempt by Sonic Team to revamp the infamous blue hedgehog’s career by bringing out a game that combines classic sidescrolling 2D Sonic gameplay with some speedy 3D elements and some third person action adventure combat as well.
On paper, Sonic Unleashed should be the best hedgehog adventure since 1999 when the Dreamcast finally brought Sonic into the 3D limelight in a (believe it or not) brilliant way with Sonic Adventure. However, in reality, it doesn’t work so well.

This action-adventure platformer is set over multiple locations across the world, mimicking real-life countries and places, and is split into night time and day time stages, both with very different play patterns.
From the word go, Sonic Unleashed is a barrage of disappointments. In a game that is advertised as being one of the fastest Sonic games ever, you spend the first hour or so of the game in tutorials that take far too long to load and don’t last nearly long enough.
After a 3..2…1…go! style countdown, you expect to be thrown into a blisteringly fast onslaught of platforming action, but instead, you are taught how to jump (which, lets be honest, a monkey could work out), before being brought to a screeching halt, asked to save your game and begin painstakingly loading another arduous training mission.

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After the seemingly unnecessary and painful training missions, one would expect for the game to pick up at least a little bit. Unfortunately, Sonic Team do not seem to want to grant us this liberty. Before any kind of action can be undertaken, one must navigate completely silly and redundant hub worlds and talk to the “locals” in order to obtain “information” about where the next level actually is. Back in 1991, Sonic would tap his foot if you left him on screen for longer than about 5 seconds. 1991 Sonic would simply not put up with this nonsense.

Once you are finally into the level you wanted, the shortfalls, unfortunately do not end.
Sonic is controlled by using the analogue stick on the nunchuck and by using the buttons and movements on the wiimote, Sonic attacks and performs actions. Sonic hurtles through the daytime levels at a rate of knots, something Sonic Team haven’t got right for a while. Sonic is fast, very fast, and it feels good to see him finally run the speed he should be.
What is massively unfortunate about this though is that he’s horrifically fiddly to control. Sonic is far too sensitive to a push on the analogue stick, and whilst he is supposed to be hurtling on at miles prower (little Sonic joke for you there), you will find that, more often that not, he is hitting walls and obstacles’ because the controls are just too flaky. That being said, the daytime stages do have their moments. Legging it along 2D style and collecting rings is very reminiscent of the old Sonic days and the team have done well to preserve it. It’s a shame the same can’t be said for the 3d parts.

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When the sun goes down, most like to kick back and relax doing whatever it is they enjoy the most. Sonic Team, however, decided that it would be wise to turn Sonic into a werewolf (sorry, “Were-hog”) for the night-time segment of the game. Instead of running along, collecting rings and bopping badniks (woah…90’s flashback, sorry…), Sonic grows hair, stretchy limbs for some reason, and hops around at a snails pace bashing baddies together.

These sections may have actually been quite entertaining if they hadn’t been pulled off in such a terrible way. The Knuckles levels in the days of Sonic Adventure were similar but they weren’t pulled off nearly so terribly. All functions are mapped to the wiimote and the nunchuck – which act as Sonic’s right and left arms respectively.
Wanna hit a guy in the face with your right hand? Whip the remote! Wanna do the left? Whip the nunchuck! Will you have fun? Almost certainly not. The werehog sections are, for the most, very tedious. You will walk into a section and you cannot leave until you have killed everything.

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Spend the next 10 minutes repeating the same combo over and over again (mostly because….there are no combos), move to the next area and repeat. The levels are not particularly long but they feel like they take up hours purely because they are so repetitive.
Some levels are broken up with some nifty platformring sections, which aren’t actually that bad. One level has Sonic ascending a waterfall that was very reminiscent of some old Crash Bandicoot levels, which felt like a nice breakaway from the kill-move-kill procedure. The only downfall of this element is that things like swings and climbable poles are once again mapped to motion controls, and these are just far too inexact for sections as important as they are placed.

Sonic Unleashed is in one word; Disappointing. I had such high hopes for the blue blur but it seems as though he is going to have to sit this round out as well. Sonic Team need to get it straight that Sonic will appeal to audiences old and young even without a silly gimmick thrown in, and that they should simply put together a Sonic game reminiscent of the good old days.
The 2D sections of Sonic Unleashed come very close and even parts of the werehog stages are fun but there are far too many shortfalls that are simply too frustrating to make up for it.

Written by James Richards.

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