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Sonic Unleashed review

Decent
AT A GLANCE
  • When Sonic just runs
  • The graphics and tunes
  • The combat's at least okay
  • The half-done platforming
  • Your new friend, Chip
  • The needless talking sections

There was a time, perhaps a year ago, when we were seriously excited about Sonic Unleashed’s retro-platform action. The sense of sheer velocity was breathtaking as Sonic blasted through admirably detailed levels so quickly that the soles of his shoes should have melted off. The camera smartly alternated between a dead-on side view and a legitimately usable over-the shoulder view, and there was neither a huge cast of useless and annoying sidekicks, nor fishing, nor pet raising, nor kissing human girls, nor even any evil/anti-hero hedgehogs toting twin pistols or levitating around chucking cars with their minds. It was just Sonic. Running. And it looked wonderful.

Then we found out about the “Werehog” levels. And hope died. 

And unfortunately, both our worst fears and our most hopeful dreams have been realized. Once again publisher Sega has somehow completely ignored all that made Sonic great – that would be the super-fast running – and added yet another needless bunch of crap.

It’s extra painful with Sonic Unleashed because the skeleton of this game is fantastic. The levels in which you’re rocketing along as Sonic, exploring the levels at a pace that would make your eyes water and your cheeks flap like you were in a wind tunnel, are an absolute joy. It’s all here, too: Loops, the rail-grinding, the spin attacking, the gold rings. There are even new ideas, such as a drift-like skid and a quick dodge. If the whole game was like this, we’d be looking at a legendary return to form for one of gaming’s most iconic characters.

But then you get dragged back to the werehog levels, which take up way more time than the running segments. When night falls, a newly lycanthropic Sonic gets even furrier, grows Hulk-like muscles, and gains the inexplicable ability to stretch his arms as if they’re made of elastic. We know this is a game about a talking, shoe-wearing, blue hedgehog, but seriously… what the hell?

At any rate, Were-Sonic then growls, stomps and stretches through typical platform action split between clumsy, stretchy-arm-assisted climbing over stuff and an admittedly decent combat system, which he uses to thump the noggins of any bad guys who blunder past.

The graphics and music are plush and worthy. And there’s nothing horribly wrong with most of the gameplay mechanically – well, except for the seemingly aimless RPG-lite bits in which Sonic is forced to just meander around talking to people. Oh, and Chip, your voracious and slap-worthy new fairy buddy. But it’s bland, typical even with the rubber arms, and seems too much like pretty much any average platform action title released over the last five years.

The main character’s name is SONIC – it’s a reference to how fast he can run. Why must the game include all this other random crap, especially when it isn’t all that polished anyhow? We understand that Sonic runs through levels so quickly that a game without excess junk would be shorter. But we’d happily play, replay, and replay over again a game that lasted only a few hours if it reminded us why we fell in love with this character in the first place.

Here’s a hint: It wasn’t his stretchy arms.

Dec 3, 2008

More Info

Release date: Nov 18 2008 - Wii, PS2
Nov 20 2008 - Xbox 360
Dec 09 2008 - PS3 (US)
Nov 28 2008 - Wii, PS2, Xbox 360
Dec 19 2008 - PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: Wii, PS2, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Action
Published by: Sega
Developed by: Sonic Team
Franchise: Sonic the Hedgehog
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence
PEGI Rating:
7+

23 comments

  • Nikiicha11 - October 4, 2009 7:20 p.m.

    Big Rudy: exactly what happened to me... ¬¬'
  • Jimmyjammy - December 10, 2008 8:15 a.m.

    I didn't even like the running (having played the demo). When you're running in 3d, behind Sonic view you keep whacking in to whatever's coming up in front of you. You don't really have time to move 'cus you going a billion miles an hour and what's in front of me is obscured by sonic anyway. It seemed like the only way to avoid these irritating stops was to hit a button shown on the occasional on screen prompts, but this essentially turned the game in to a very dull series of quick time moments.
  • DarthRev12 - December 7, 2008 4:16 a.m.

    ....Dont all the Sonic games suck?
  • sprog - December 6, 2008 8:37 p.m.

    Are any of us really surprised? We all knew the enthusiasm and hope would turn to bitter, bitter, crushing disappointment. I remember looking at a preview of Sonic 3 in a magazine all those many years ago and knowing that it would be great, that all they needed to do was to ake the graphics a bit bolder and brighter but keep the game the same - which they did. I had confidence in Sega then, now I weep...
  • barrage7667 - December 6, 2008 7:20 p.m.

    sonic is like gouda cheese...its used to taste good but after a while it just stinks really really REALLY badly
  • nelfer320 - December 5, 2008 1:44 a.m.

    Sega just needs to stop trying to do different things with the Sonic franchise. How about just look at Sonic 1-3, Sonic & Knuckles, and Sonic CD and learn from what they did then!? Stop changing Sonic around Sega!
  • VagrantVampires - December 4, 2008 2:17 p.m.

    Sega said that they couldn't make it all running because it would be too short. So what? If they cut out all of the stupid crap there would be a lot more room on the disk. Or if they have to, slow it down. The original Sonics were great and he wasn't going like 300 mph or whatever.
  • joabbuac - December 4, 2008 11:03 a.m.

    @ fancyrat the kiddys love it, the last horrible sonic game on 360 sold well, id bet this one sales alright even with all the good games coming now
  • Geigan - December 3, 2008 11:25 p.m.

    SEGA, offering crushing disappointment since 2002.
  • DirtyRainMan - December 3, 2008 11:05 p.m.

    First...
  • Coolbeans69 - December 7, 2008 11:33 p.m.

    All hope has died... But i don't care anymore! The show did killed it for me a longgg time ago.
  • key0blade - December 7, 2008 1:16 p.m.

    I knew that the Werewolf parts would hurt the game alot, but atleast part of the game is side-scrolling
  • someformofmike - December 4, 2008 4:39 p.m.

    Sega died with the Dreamcast for me. Sonic Adventure was only acceptable, at least then there was hope things would get better for Sonic as Sega become more use to creating 3D Sonic games. But at least back then Sega was producing legendary games like Jet Set Radio & Shenmue to keep us busy. I pray everyday for Sega to return to there best, but I fear Sega Like Rare are a company who once were great, but now worth avoiding like the plague.
  • FancyRat - December 4, 2008 3:52 a.m.

    I don't understand why they haven't figured out that people don't like this shit.
  • flare149 - December 4, 2008 3:02 a.m.

    I'm really starting to think Sonic should just become a downloadable game. Then it would have all of it's original goodness and it wouldn't be a huge complaint that it was short. I guess some games can't make a full next gen release : /
  • Diamondis - December 4, 2008 2:57 a.m.

    I wonder what the meeting was like... "Ok guys, we're bringing Sonic back to his original status, but get this!... He's also a Werewolf!" "Brilliant! There's no way this can fail, and I'm sure all ou devoted fans wont mind if we fu*k with Sonic a little more. Money in the bank gentlemen." This is how it should've gone: "Ok guys, we're bringing Sonic back to his original status, but get this!... He's also a Werewolf!" "You're fired."
  • Gameward-Bound - December 4, 2008 1:45 a.m.

    Why? WHY?!
  • GoldenMe - December 4, 2008 12:04 a.m.

    I would now be happy to see SEGA die and sell the rights to someone else. I'm sick of them and the way they ruin games. Golden Axe, now this. The running is great though, so I'm happy about that =) See? A smiley face!
  • Gurakai - December 30, 2008 6:04 p.m.

    dude this game was not that bad i just beat it the other day and the were hog levels were cool all though there should have been more sonic levels.
  • georgeguy - December 29, 2008 8:45 p.m.

    i think big rudy summed every thing up.

Showing 1-20 of 23 comments

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