Sonic the Hedgehog is coming dangerously close to being the video-game equivalent of Spinal Tap - a former icon blissfully unaware that he's so out of touch, so far fallen from grace, that he's become a laughing stock. With his next-gen debut, the blue blazer has literally become a parody of himself. Plus, his game sucks.
Sonic 's action stages are plagued by a sassy renegade camera, virtually no exploration, loose control, boring combat and rudimentary collision problems. Argh.
You do get to control two more hedgehogs in the game, which at least changes the gameplay a bit. Shadow bombed in his solo game last year, and his clunky, vehicle-centric stages here fare only slightly better, making him Batman to Sonic's predictable Superman. Silver is the new blood, with telekinetic powers that toss the level's contents around and show off one of the game's few complimentary aspects: its physics. But his levels plod along at a glacial pace.
The saddest thing is that these are some of the game's highlights. Side quests, which often star additional secondary characters like Tails or Knuckles, are even more pathetic, unpolished, and sometimes laughable. Find a lost dog or chase down some kids. Whoopee. Even better: Silver travels back in time to kill the person responsible for his era's woes, and the first thing he does is collect apples? At least, he does once you figure it out - the game's instructions on how to do it are inaccurate.
The world is a cookie-cutter RPG kingdom (complete with countless random conversations), and the plot is the same Eggman-wants-jewel retread we've heard countless times before, except more complex and cluttered than ever before. If anything remotely cool is going on, odds are you're not even controlling Sonic at the time. And don't get us started on the insane story events near the game's climax, when it finally does go where no Sonic game has gone before. Just... don't.
Sonic also lacks the production values of an alleged triple-A title. The graphics are limp and lifeless: Objects constantly pop up that should have already been visible, animations are limited, and the hedgehogs appear to be made of clay. Sonic 's music seems more fitting for a Cracker Barrel restaurant than a supposed action-packed video game. Plus, tough as it is to understand on a system with a hard drive, load times are inexcusably long. Why must we wait over 30 seconds to play in the same environment we were already in?
Sonic either needs to be reworked from the ground up, or put to sleep. Every installment has us hoping for a return to glory, but each one further craps on the hedgehog's legacy. The redeeming qualities here are few and far between, and it's just plain not fun. If Sonic were a real person, his friends would've called for an intervention long ago. We're really worried about you, blue buddy. Get help.