by Keaton Arksey
reviewed on X360
Not every fox takes care of its own tail (cntd)
With a few underwater levels, the manoeuvrability and extra speed help, especially in levels where entire paths can disappear if Sonic is not fast enough. With both local and online multiplayer, a second player takes control of Tails. Should they fall behind, they will automatically be teleported to the player ahead of them, not unlike in New Super Mario Bros Wii. While most of the time the focus on the speed, there are red star rings hidden throughout each level, so it can get annoying if one person is trying to find them while the other rushes ahead.
Just as in Episode 1, there are five zones, with three acts and a boss in most. Sylvania Castle Zone does not carry over any gameplay ideas from its namesake, acting as the typical “Green Hill Zone” opening level with some nice dusk/twilight backgrounds. Winter Park Zone appears to be two separate zones combined into one, with a winter wonderland and giant rollercoaster overlooking the entire park splitting up acts. Oil Desert Zone is a mixture of Oil Ocean Zone from Sonic 2 and Sandopolis from Sonic and Knuckles, taking features from both like oil slides and rising sand sections as well as a giant sandstorm that hinders Sonic’s progress. Sky Fortress Zone takes place both in the air aboard Tails’ plane the Tornado and on Eggman’s giant air ship, with lots of bottomless pits and the return of the chicken gunner badniks. The final zone, Death Egg Mk. II, is the typical final boss zone. The level design is solid, though early on the game does not offer much in the form of obstacles or heavy platforming segments.
The bosses, a mixture of various Eggman robots and Metal Sonic, are good, though they sometimes are a bit vague as to what Sonic must do for victory. Sega chose to reward those who purchased both episodes with Episode Metal, which acts as a prologue to the events in Episode 2. Taking control of Metal Sonic, Episode Metal explains how Sonic’s rival gained his new powers and returned from his defeat in Sonic CD. Just as in every 2D Sonic game, collecting 50 rings in a stage opens up a special stage where Sonic can earn a Chaos Emerald. Episode 2’s special stages, based on Sonic 2’s half pipe stages, get deviously hard towards the end.
A very decent omelette
The designs of the bosses are actually quite neat, from a series of concentric circles to a giant plant/robot monster. The graphics are also nice and clean, with lots of bright colours, and some nice vistas in the backgrounds of various acts. The soundtrack is all right, though nowhere near the legendary 16-bit games’ quality. The sound effects are identical and just as in Episode 1 everyone keeps their mouth shut. Completing the whole adventure while collecting every red star ring and chaos emerald should take around six or seven hours, with the only real draw to come back leaderboards. Unfortunately these have already been hacked, with the fastest time on Sylvania Castle Zone Act 1 an impossible zero seconds. I hope that Sega can resolve this problem, as the same troubles plagued Episode 1.
Overall, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 is a solid entry in the main Sonic series. While the level design falls a bit flat, the return of the 16-bit era physics and Metal Sonic is sure to please fans. While it may not be the highest recommended Sonic game for download, especially with the superb Sonic CD available for a third of the price, fans of the Blue Blur should find something to enjoy in the conclusion of Sonic 4.
Classic physics return, some visually interesting bosses and zones, return of Metal Sonic.
New abilities feel underutilized, not a lot of reason to come back once beaten, difficulty spikes in later special stages.