Sonic Unleashed Playtest: The Full Details

Sonic Unleashed Playtest: The Full Details

by July 16, 2008

Everything the Video Shows, Plus a Link to the Playtest

If you missed it, we have the link to Gamespot’s E3 playtest now streaming on our site.  If you don’t want to see all 20 minutes of it, however (we admit the interview portion is mighty painful), here’s all you need to know from it.  We reserve the right to update this, as we may find new trinkets within the video.

We were first on the web to bring you Sega’s official E3 trailer yesterday which was the first footage to show off Sonic’s alter ego in action.  Today, we now know his name–Sonic the Werehog.

That is his official name, straight from the Sega representative.  We and the rest of the fan community have been giving him several different names, including Were-Sonic, the Werehog, among other more tasteful nicknames.  But, straight from Sega’s mouth, Sonic’s alter-ego remains Sonic, just a Werehog, as opposed to the Hedgehog.

A level featuring Sonic the Werehog was featured in the playtest, and that level appeared to be Mykonos, Greece in the nighttime.  The Werehog could be seen engaging in multiple moves, both in platforming and in battle.  We do know that the Werehog can run; you can do that through the D-pad. Some reports indicated that you needed to push a certain button, but the video appears to show that it can be done straight through the D-pad.

The Werehog has a shield, and that shield can be strengthened by collecting purple orbs that pop up when you defeat enemies.  The shield boosts the Werehog’s defenses.  The Werehog will put his fists up and block an attack, using the shield.

Furthermore, while Sonic has a ring meter, the Werehog has a vitality meter.  It serves more like a health meter, and we assume that is replenished by collecting rings.

Finally, the strength of Werehog and the elasticity of his arms mean you can do a multitude of wide ranging attacks that can defeat multiple enemies, as well as hang onto a ledge if you miss a jump, and break down doors.  In all, the nighttime Mykonos stage was a pretty healthy mix of platforming and combat, though by Sonic standards it did feel a bit slow.

The other big news of the day from the trailer was the confirmation of new characters coming to the game. We knew about Tails, and we knew about Amy.  The Sega representative also confirmed Knuckles the Echidna to be included, as well as Shadow the Hedgehog.  Shadow is a point of serious contention between older and newer Sonic fans, as the new generation of fans took Shadow’s outing into his own solo title earlier in the decade with a much more lukewarm response than older fans did.

With regard to playability, Sega would not confirm whether any of these characters would be playable inside the main game, or out.  We’ve covered previously on TSSZ News that mini-games will be included and that they would include at least some members of the core Sonic community, but this is the first time we’ve heard about Knuckles and Shadow.  They were nowhere to be found in the playtest.

Other developments were equally major.  First, the game is still on for a November 2008 release.  That gives some credibility to a rumor we posted a few months ago which had Gamestop and EB Games list the title for a specific date in early November, though there’s no way to tell if both pieces of information complement one another completely.

The game will have multiple branching, alternate paths.  It appears that a lot of this will be triggered through the use of QTEs or Quicktime events, where you push a sequence of buttons to reach said path.

There will also be, according to the Sega representative, a 50/50 ratio between daytime and nighttime levels and areas.  For the Sonic faithful, you may want to think of this as a sort of a Act 1, Act 2 approach, and though it’s difficult to say whether the game will be a clear-cut as that, the demo played certainly made it seem that way.  Sega’s rep noted that it could take as long as ten minutes to complete a daytime level. Previous estimates from earlier reports put the figure at about 5 minutes a stage.

There will also be an online component to Sonic Unleashed, though the Sega rep would not comment on what it would be specifically, not even a hint as to potential leaderboards or full online play and competition.  But we know it’s coming, and we will track developments on that front especially.

Stage wise, Greece in daytime, nighttime, and China in daytime were shown.  They all looked pretty spectacular, even at high speeds.  There were some frame rate issues, however, which Sega’s rep said would be worked out.  Of more concern to Sonic fans burned by the next-gen Sonic the Hedgehog was evidence of some camera issues yet again.  That wasn’t addressed specifically.

The Sega rep confirmed that this would be a game spanning all four major consoles–the PS3, XBOX 360, the Wii, and the Playstation 2.  The XBOX 360 version of the game was demoed specifically.  There was no comment as to changes from game to game in terms of content, but there was a comment made about the Wii version specifically taking advantage of the Wiimote control schematics.  To that effect, we may be able to expect, on that console at least, a mix between Sonic and the Secret Rings control, and perhaps a nighttime scheme not too far derived from Super Mario Galaxy, using the nunchuk.  Again, that’s pure speculation.

On the control front, both interviewer and the Sega rep commented that the mechanics felt “good” and easy to pick up.  Sega’s rep commented that there wouldn’t be much of a learning curve to the controls, but that, as with other Sonic games in the past, the difficulty in-game would ramp up with each passing level.

Finally, the stuff rumors are made of.

Sega’s rep commented that the company was exploring the possibility of some remixed classic Sonic levels.  On the surface that doesn’t make a lot of sense when you consider the game is based on locations throughout this world, so then you have to look at the mini-game component to give that any sort of credibility, or even the online mode.  Sega’s representative also commented that there is some exploration right now as to whether there will be any special abilities or areas unlocked with regard to the classic use of 50 rings in a stage or the gradual collection of Chaos Emeralds.  We know the Chaos Emeralds are coming back, and we know Super Sonic is coming back–what we don’t know is whether there will be a way to trigger Super Sonic in anything but the final boss.

Stay with TSSZ News for much more on these developments.