Sonic the Hedgehog
for the Xbox360 (also on Ps3)
Online: Content Download
ESRB: E 10+
Enter the 1990’s. Sonic the Hedgehog is at the height of his popularity. Recent successes like the three installments of “Sonic the Hedgehog” on the Sega Genesis, as well as “Sonic CD” on Sega CD show that Sega’s mascot will be around for a while. In the late 1990’s, however, things change. Console gaming is leaving the world of the side-scroller in favor of 3-d platformers, such as “Super Mario 64” and “Banjo Kazooie”. Sonic moved into 3-D with flying colors at first, with “Sonic Adventure” and “Sonic Adventure Two”, as well as their Gamecube remakes. But things started going downhill after that. Although considered classics by a select few gamers, “Sonic Heroes” and “Shadow the Hedgehog” ultimately got far worse reviews than the “Sonic Adventure” series. Enter 2007. With the next generation of gaming technology, Sega and Sonic team try again to create a successful 3-D Sonic on the Playstation Three and the Xbox360 with “Sonic the Hedgehog”. This review will focus on the 360 version, although the two are essentially the same.
As with past Sonic games, this newest installment allows players to play in three different "episodes", each containing different characters and missions. Sonic's episode begins when Sonic, Sega’s super-fast running mascot, arrives in the kingdom of Soleanna just in time to save the heir to the throne, Princess Elise, from the clutches of the returning villain, the evil doctor Eggman. Sonic’s story focuses on the constant chase of doctor Eggman to same Elise. Meanwhile, Shadow the hedgehog, who (because of the events of the game “Shadow the Hedgehog”) is now a government agent. His mission is to stop yet another of Dr. Eggman’s plans. Two hundred years in the future, we meet Silver the hedgehog, who, with the help of the deceiving, evil, and shape shifting creature known as Mepheles, travels back in time to stop his future from turning out the horrible way it has. As with every other Sonic game, the story ends up centering on the search for the chaos emeralds, or the sacred stones that can turn thoughts into power. The story line for this game is surprisingly very interesting. So interesting that it seems more like an anime series than a video game.
Now, onto the review…
Gameplay has always been unique for Sega’s blue blur. The goal is to reach the end ring, or giant ring at the end of each map, without dying. Your character will die (thus resulting in the loss of a life) if they are hit by an enemy while not holding any rings or by falling off of the map. If you die, you will return to the last checkpoint you passed, but losing all of your lives means you’ll have to continue from the point you last saved at. Controls are solid, obviously one of the few things in this game that a lot of thought was put into. They also work excellently with the Xbox360’s controller, and are extremely responsive. But, once again, Sonic team has failed to create a camera that stays focused on Sonic. On occasion, when jumping over a box or an enemy, the camera will stop at the enemy, blocking your view of the action ahead of you for a few seconds. The camera is by far the worst in Knuckle’s and Rouge’s missions, in which you must climb and glide around an area searching for something or someone. If you climb too high, the camera will actually go inside an object above you, forcing you to climb down and find an alternate route to your destination. Although it is extremely annoying, the camera doesn’t cut down on fun too much, though. Controlling Silver allows you to use psychic attacks on enemies. He can pick up and throw boxes and enemies without even getting near them. Silver's psytokinesis is, however, also quite glitchy, as boxes are randomly dropped on occasion and also may block off the camera if they get behind you.
Some points in the game involve an almost cinematic sequence in the middle of a level, mostly watching your character go over a loop of some sort. On occasion, if not paying attention for even a second after the loop ends, you can run right of the edge of a ledge. There are also a bunch of smaller glitches. Gameplay in this game could have been great if more work were put into it. It was, however, obviously rushed, making it really glitchy. It is still quite fun, though.
There is one aspect of this game that really, really hurts the game play. That aspec is the load times. First of all, load times are extremely long. But that's okay, you'd figure that a lot is being loaded. Well, you're wrong there. Each level has an average of three loading screens. But loading screens are even more annoying in the TOWN missions. You talk to a person, initiating a load screen. After the load screen, you see the person say a sentence more. Then, after a second load screen, it finally starts. Load times REALLY put a downer on this whole game.
Now, onto the graphics. During gameplay, there are really no complaints about the graphics. The Xbox360 is a graphics machine, and delivers very nicely, although not the best it could've been (as seen by other games). In order to progress the story, cinematic scenes are used in this game. About fifteen percent of them look so amazing you'd think they were in an animated movie. But the other eighty five percent look as if they’re taken right from the gameplay graphics. Most of them don't even move the character’s mouths in sync with the dialogue. What does this come down to? Laziness. Sonic team was likely very capable of polishing all of the cinematic scenes dramatically. But, as stated earlier, the game was obviously rushed for whatever reason, and it shows the most in the graphics of the majority of the cinematic scenes.
Musically, "Sonic the Hedgehog" does not fail to impress. Side scroller sonic as known for its arcade style music, while on Dreamcast and the last generation of game consoles, most sonic music were modern tunes containing vocals. Well, I'm happy to say that this most recent addition to the franchise finds a good balance between the two with an orchestral score of ear pleasing music playing during maps and boss battle. The one negative aspect of the music comes when Sonic (or whoever) is walking through the three areas of Soleanna looking for missions ect. That music is so repetitive that a player will have to turn the volume down on their television after a while. Other than that, though, music is a success.
Sound effects aren't horrible, but not great either. They just seem too plain. Sonic is a unique game series, and I'd like to see some sound effects to match that uniqueness in the future. By far, the best parts of this game when it comes to sound are in the dialogues. All main characters (and a random few people walking around Soleanna) have professional sounding voices sure to please any player.
Lastly, longevity. Each of the three episodes will take the average player between three to five hours to complete, with the final, unlockable episode taking less than forty five minutes. After that, Microsoft's magic comes into play. Only six gamertag achievements can be gotten from the four original episodes. After that, you must attempt to get a perfect "S" ranking on every town mission and act mission. More unlockables await you after that. Plus, this game is able to connect to Xbox live to allow players to download new content, such as game modes. This adds a ton of replay value. There is also a multiplayer mode (which I will add a bit on after I have tried it).
In conclusion, "Sonic the Hedgehog is a solid, yet glitchy game with grade A music and okay graphics. It is a must buy for fans of the series, but newcomers might want to stay away and try out "Sonic and the Secret Rings" for Wii.
Written by Snowdog4691 on MArch 28th, 2007. May not be used without citing this source.