Ohh boy, do I have words to say about this. So before you get all excited, this ISN’T the Sonic Unleashed in all the trailers and stuff. This version was made for the Wii and PS2 by DIMPS, creator of the Sonic Advance and Sonic Rush games, and not to put too fine a point on it, it’s a sloppy port that entirely lives up to the infamous Sonic Cycle.
The game’s story isn’t very serious. It feels like a Saturday Morning Cartoon, and that’s a VERY good thing, primarily because it’s no longer trying to be Final Fantasy with furries. It’s still boring though, and especially flawed in the execution. It’s done much like an old-school adventure game, but with none of the things that made old-school adventure games fun. When you select a continent to travel to from the world map, you’re presented with a map of 5-6 areas. You have to go to every single area and talk with everyone before they give you a key to the actual stages in that level, which gets old very fast.
Story: 6/10 – Below Average
The graphics would have been an embarrassment three years ago, textures are blurry, the gameplay models are jaggy, and the animation is jerky. It looks very much like DIMPS just downscaled the textures and models from Sonic Unleashed’s next-gen games, and it’s especially obvious during the opening of the Werehog stages, when they zoom in on Sonic’s blurry-ass fur. The models, as I said, look very awkward, nowhere near the quality in even Shadow the Hedgehog. No matter how fast you go, Sonic’s running animation stays the same, so it looks like he’s taking a leisurely jog when you’re going 50 miles per hour. Fantastic, let’s all have a round of applause for DIMPS, everyone. Worst of all, the cutscenes are blurry and dithered to hell and back. It looks like they just copied the cutscenes from the 360/PS3 version and downscaled them to VHS-quality.
Graphics: 5/10 – Poor
Classic Sonic fare. The sound effects are the same as they always are, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You’ll hear the exact same sounds when you grab or lose rings, pick up an item box, or jump. Voices are as usual passable, but just barely. Jason Griffith’s improved somewhat, I think, and Eggman’s perfect. I especially like Tails’ new voice, compared to the three-year-old they hired for him in Sonic Heroes. The guy they have voicing new friend Chip is absolutely horrible, he kind of reminds me of Scrappy-Doo. The Hedgehog stage music is the usual funk-rock stuff, and Werehog music is downtempo electronica, which I very much liked. Neither are very memorable though, and the theme song isn’t even up to Crush 40 standards.
Sound: 7/10 – Average
I really can’t figure out the 3D gameplay. Sometimes Sonic moves on his own and you steer like in Sonic and the Secret Rings. Other times, it’s just like the Sonic Adventure-style platforming, but blander. If you’ve played Sonic Adventure 1-2 or Sonic Heroes, you’ve seen everything this game’s 3D stages wants to show you. The 2D platforming segments are essentially Sonic Rush with some rudimentary work on the alternate pathways that made the Genesis Sonic games famous. The camera isn’t quite straight-up sidescrolling, it sort of hangs on a 75-degree angle between Sonic’s back and his side, which pushes Sonic towards the far right of the screen. This makes some timing gimmicks nearly impossible unless you know they’re coming. Level design in both modes is just plain boring. There are about five or seven enemies in every level, the level gimmicks are practically useless, and there’s just nothing much to do in the stage. You can see some attempts at branching pathways like in the old versions, but it’s just not enough. Sonic gets a bonus point for not being as glitchy as Sonic 2006. Werehog gameplay, on the other hand, is every bit as boring and pointless as everyone expected it to be, and little more than a kid-friendly God of War ripoff as far as gameplay goes. This is a bit problematic, because DIMPS saw fit to make it 60-70% of the game. For every one Hedgehog stage, expect 2-3 Werehog stages, twice as long. In this part of the game,
Kratos Sonic can attack with his chain swords stretchy claws, make combos out of his normal attacks, or use skills that he gets by absorbing blood Dark Gaia Energy from his fallen enemies to level up. Most of the Werehog platforming relies on a dash technique that’s clunky and unreliable at best and absolutely unusable at worst. Half the time you’ll just stop in the middle of a dash, or the game won’t recognize the dash, even if you’re doing the animation for it, leading to many pointless deaths.
Sonic Gameplay: 8/10 – Good
Werehog Gameplay: 5/10 – Poor
Sonic Unleashed for Wii and PS2 is a step in the right direction for the franchise, but sloppy controls, poor menu design, and bad execution make this nothing more than a cheap port of its Next-Gen brother.
Overall: 6/10 – Below Average
Tune in next week for the review of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 version of Sonic Unleashed!
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