When it was released ten years ago, Sonic Unleashed was chided by many for some design flaws and a questionable focus on a certain grumpy Werehog. Despite this, its breakthrough Boost gameplay and gorgeous art direction laid the foundation for some of Sonic’s most successful 3D outings. Now, thanks to Microsoft’s backward compatibility process, the game is available to play on Xbox One, and it’s more or less exactly as you remember.
Now I don’t have performance-measuring tools or anything, but just from eyeballing it, Sonic Unleashed on Xbox One looks and feels fundamentally the same as it was on Xbox 360. This means that no graphical changes were made, which is fine for the most part; Unleashed still features excellent visuals ten years after its launch. That said, TVs and monitors have come a long way in that time, so the rough anti-aliasing that your 2008 TV may have obscured will be more obvious on your shiny new 4K set.
Performance is also about the same as it was last time around, meaning it runs no worse than it used to, but don’t expect any improvements; Adabat’s day stages still feel like the game’s about to melt. It’s possible that some areas feel a hair smoother, but I really can’t say for sure. Finally, there’s some good news and better news. The good news is that Xbox cloud saves work, so if you uploaded your save file from your 360, you don’t have to start from scratch again on the One. The better news is that DLC stages are indeed along for the ride; they each need to be downloaded separately, but all of the Adventure Packs are available and ready for play.
I’ll admit that it would have been nice to see the game polished up, though. Certain Xbox 360 games received an “Xbox One X Enhanced” version when they were made backward compatible, and this essentially amounted to a remaster; resolution was increased dramatically, and performance was generally stabilized, if not noticeably improved. Unleashed received no such upgrade, despite Sonic Generations getting one when it was made backward-compatible earlier this year. In fairness, I don’t know whether “updating” Unleashed in this way would have been practical, but still – if there’s any game in the series I’m begging to have remastered, it’s this one.
Simply put, Sonic Unleashed on Xbox One is Sonic Unleashed on the Xbox 360. That may disappoint those who were hoping for an upgrade, but I’m just grateful that the game is playable on the One at all. On a personal note, Unleashed is one of my favorite Sonic games, and when the 360 lost its place in my entertainment center a few years ago, Unleashed went along with it; thanks to this update, the game will once again see lots of playtime in my house, and I’m very happy about that. It’s not perfect, and it never was, but Unleashed still offers a beautiful and high-octane modern Sonic experience all these years later. If you’ve been looking for a chance to tear through the game again, now’s the perfect time to jump back in.
This article has been edited to note that all of the game’s DLC stages are available on Xbox One as well; we thank Wesall1 on Twitter for bringing this to our attention.