“Ultimately, this simply isn’t the fresh start Sonic fans were so desperately hoping for.”
The Sonic Unleashed review march continues, this time with EGM staffer and frequent Retronauts Podcast guest Shane Bettenhausen taking up duties to review the Xbox 360 version of Sonic Unleashed. Giving the game a C (Average), the review goes through the typical motions of listing off all the complaints he’s had of the franchise, such as the typical dig at Sonic 2006’s interspecies romance. He continues:
Somehow, the kiddies have remained loyal throughout Sonic Team’s decade of desperately grasping for relevance, but many of his more discerning fans have long since jumped ship. If Sega were to pull off something akin to Super Mario Galaxy — a mainline franchise reboot that augments classic gameplay with clever new concepts — he could once again be a contender. Sadly, Sonic Unleashed is not such a title.
Declaring the game has a “resistance to change”, he likens Sonic Unleashed to another Sonic Adventure game, where “you’re dividing your time here between several jumbled gameplay styles”. Obviously not a fan of how Sonic Unleashed controls, he complains about the homing attack being re-mapped to a different button, calls the quick-step “clumsy”, and says “auto-pilot” boost makes the game too easy. Still, he says, the game is exhilirating as long as you’re zooming through at top-speed; but once the game makes you stop for a pin-point jump, “you’ll really notice how slippery and imprecise the controls feel.”
Describing the Werehog, the God of War comparison once again raises its head:
Here, you move slowly through linear environments, pummeling brain-dead foes (many of whom must be dispatched via annoying button-matching minigames), pushing crates onto switches, and clumsily using the Werehog’s nonsensical Plastic Man arms to navigate lame jumping puzzles. The mash-happy combat simply isn’t much fun until you unlock new Werehog abilities later in the game, and the brawls tend to drag on too long (who wants to play a Sonic stage for more than 15 minutes?).
The worst, though, according to Bettenhausen, are the quests you take inside of towns themselves.
You’re constantly asked to gather information from the dippy townsfolk before you can proceed to the next action stage. Is this baby-game handholding really necessary? Yet, Unleashed’s absolute nadir comes in the form of profoundly lame, unskippable minigames (including a disastrous button-matching exercise aboard Tails’ plane) that will have older gamers tossing controllers in frustration. If you thought Kingdom Hearts‘ dreadful Gummi Ship got old quickly, this brain-dead exercise will leave you flabbergasted.
The review ends in familiar territory: You can see the foundation for a good Sonic game, but it gets buried underneath everything else.
Sonic Team seems wholly incapable of focusing on what makes this franchise so special. It’s truly a shame, because their proprietary new graphical engine cranks out some spectacular vistas — if only it were more fun to traverse them.
Stay tuned to TSSZ News as more Sonic Unleashed reviews come in.