The leap from 2D to 3D was smoother for some franchises than others. For Sonic, unfortunately the transition has been quite rough. Time and time again the blue blur seems to trip as he tries to make his mark on advancing game technology. Still, the fans continue to be faithful, failure after failure. Many hoped that Sonic Unleashed, the latest outing in the 3D realm, would finally clear the hedgehogís reputation. Does this game meet the hype though?
The story in Sonic Unleashed isÖ Well, if this area of the game matters to you, Iím sorry to break the news, but this one wonít be winning any awards for writing anytime soon. Dr. Eggman has caused the planet to break apart, Sonic has been turned into a ďWerehogĒ (only at night of course) and a pink squirrel that is obsessed with chocolate has lost his memory. That is the foundation, and unfortunately it doesnít get much better as the game continues. The dialog is completely ridiculous as well, and you will be hearing it a lot in the frequent cut scenes.
The game itself is split into two parts: day levels and night levels. I actually quite enjoyed the day stages. In them, your goal is to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible without dying. It is simple, but fun. In addition to standard running and jumping, Unleashed adds some new moves to Sonicís arsenal. You can drift around sharp turns, zip from left to right, slide under small passages, and so on. The developers also added incentive for you to return to each level multiple times by adding extra missions. It is a cheap gimmick to lengthen the playtime, but I didnít mind trekking through these levels more than once.
That is regrettably the highlight of the whole game. The night levels contrast the day ones in more than just setting. Instead of rushing through at break-neck speeds, you will be waddling around as Were-Sonic in a hack and slash style adventure. Everything about these portions seems clunky and poorly executed. Every new room seems to have a new wave of enemies to pound through, and the combat isnít anything special. Progression is incredibly linear and repetitive. What really baffled me though is just how much of the game these portions make up. You will be spending much more time in this variety of stage than the enjoyable ones.
Adding to the trouble is poor controls. Noticeable in both night and day levels is the fact that controlling Sonic feels very slippery. During the day however you will be moving fast enough that the issues donít really stand out. At night, it becomes very apparent. There are also some strange choices for button mapping. To run as the Werehog for instance, you are required to tap the analog stick forward twice. To climb a pole, you must shake the Wii remote up and down. The problems go on and on, and make for some very sticky situations. If you donít feel like waggling, you can always opt for alternate controllers. A nice touch, but one that would be unnecessary had the motion control not been as bad.
No Pros and Cons at this time