“Sega need to think long and hard about where their mascot heads next.”
With reviews beginning to trickle in for Sonic Unleashed, UK news site Telegraph have gotten their hands on a copy of the game. Giving the game a 5/10, they say:
Those of you who are hoping that the werehog plays a small part in Sonic Unleashed should look away now. For those of you still reading, the good news is that even though the werehog is a huge part of Sonic Unleashed, playing as him is – whisper it – not actually that bad. At least, not at first.
They describe the Werehog combat as “simplistic”, but enjoyable. Typical comparisons to God of War follow. They talk about platforming, which, like combat, is “derivative but enjoyable”. Speaking about the daytime levels where you race around as normal ol’ Sonic…
Unfortunately, while it’s all very impressive to look at, part of the problem with these sections is that too often you are just a spectator. The camera sweeps gloriously from behind Sonic in 3D to “2.5D”, where the action is viewed side on. Too often, however, it’s just to see Sonic skate across a great looping rail with your only input being whether you hit the boost button to make him go even faster.
While the game can feel a bit too scripted for its own good, says Telegraph, there still exist moments of “Sonic Magic” where you make the “perfect jump” on to a set of springs, “But then, he’s off again, blasting on-rails through the level”. They say there is some enjoyment in finding the “perfect route” through a level, but later stages in the game rely too much on trial-and-error for this to really remain fun.
“If that was all there is to Unleashed”, Telegraph writes, “we’d have an enjoyable hybrid of arcade brawling and frustrating but fun speed sections.”
Each of these countries have two (count ’em) hub worlds, the first of which can be more or less ignored save for a few time trials and sidequests or if, for some reason, you want to talk to the citizens. The second hub world acts as the gateway to the “action stages”. To get to each stage portal you must perform some rudimentary platform puzzles marred by a dreadful camera that isn’t as consistent as in the werehog sections. This wouldn’t be so bad, but to then enter the stage you need to have collected enough of the sun and moon medals that are scattered across the game. Meaning that, should you wish to progress in the story and find yourself lacking in collectibles, you must redo previous levels or wander around the hub worlds, poking your nose into every corner or smashing crate after crate, hoping that they contain one of these medals.
The collectible medals, it seems, are mandatory in order to access the next level in the game. Without having the stated number of medals, you are forced to go looking for them.
Frankly, it’s enough to drive you to the off-switch. And if that isn’t, some of the infuriating sections of the action stages will. The core gameplay of both types is fine, but the level design is littered with terrible, patience-testing sections, exacerbated by some dreadful checkpointing. Meaning you have to battle your way through a load of enemies time and time again, just so you can tumble off the narrow beams you have to negotiate your lumbering werehog across.
To make matters worse, they claim Werehog levels can last up to 30 minutes each with no option to save your game mid-level. They finish off the review saying that Sonic Unleashed is “a good game at heart”, but:
…the unfortunate truth is that Sonic, as a series, has become far too overblown for its own good. The irritating padding and poor design decisions in Unleashed often suffocate the otherwise decent gameplay is further fuel for the fire.
As more reviews come in, stay tuned to TSSZ for all the latest on what the press has to say about Sonic Unleashed.