Sonic Unleashed Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii | PS2
Sonic Unleashed box art
System: PS3, X360, Wii, PS2 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Sonic Team 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: SEGA 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 24, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Fortunately, when playing as the hedgehog version of Sonic, the gameplay is completely different. While still taking place on what are essentially 3D tracks, these levels recapture the sense of speed and reflex heavy gameplay that have been absent in most of Sonic’s recent releases. Using an appropriate mix of a side view and a camera angle placed behind Sonic, the action remains cinematic, controllable, and frantic at all times. Each level starts off with Sonic shouting GO and from there everything is a blur of panic, excitement, quick button presses and even quicker reactions.

Sonic Unleashed screenshot

While screaming through these levels, Sonic can quickly dodge left and right, jump, homing attack, slide under objects, and wall jump. Dodging is reserved for when the camera is behind Sonic, allowing him to sidestep obstacles that would otherwise reduce his speed. Everything else can and will need to be used at all times, usually in quick succession. At no time does the action slow as you constantly hit tracks that increase your velocity; you can even produce your own bursts of speed. These bursts are supplied by ring energy which, as you may have guessed, is accumulated by picking up rings while barreling through these breakneck races to the finish. It is hard to describe just how fast these levels move but they are incredibly enjoyable and just feel right.

Besides the repetitive nature of the combat found in the werehog levels, the only other real downside of Sonic Unleashed is the way you are forced to progress. Each piece of the broken planet is host to an area or two that need to be explored. To find out where you need to go you’ll have to spend quite a bit of time chatting with locals. They usually have little interesting or useful to say and constantly seek out professor Pickle for more specific guidance. To play levels, you’ll also need to waste several hours scouring each area and its already unlocked levels for sun and moon tokens, which are collected to unlock other levels. All of these things become a real hassle when all you want to do is progress through the story and play more of the game.

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Despite the game’s clumsy story progression and repetitive werehog combat, it manages to be the best Sonic game released in recent memory. This is thanks mostly to the excellent hedgehog levels that evoke memories of classic Sonic titles while still managing to feel fresh and new. While everyone’s pleas for a return to form for the series weren’t completely satiated, the hedgehog portions of this title are a huge success and give hope for the future of this franchise. If Sega can get the adventure aspects of the next Sonic working as well as these speedy hedgehog levels, Sonic’s next outing could be just what longtime fans have been longing for.

By Adam Brown
CCC Staff Contributor

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.2
Graphics
The game’s new graphical engine produces some great-looking cinemas, effects, environments, and characters.
3.7
Control
Occasional bouts with the camera and some platform jumping issues can arise, otherwise everything controls as you would expect.
3.9
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music in the game is excellent, with some nice touches like a poorly played level complete song when you finish with an E rank. Unfortunately, there is also some repetitive and annoying character voice work.
3.4
Play Value
While the hedgehog levels are thoroughly enjoyable, the werehog levels focus too heavily on repetitive combat and finding/unlocking levels can often be a time consuming chore.
3.6
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Sonic’s World Transformed: Sonic maintains his high-speed abilities during the day, but at night he is transformed into a mysterious dark form with incredible never-before-seen abilities including 3D-action brawling and amazing agility.
  • Tight Navigation and Speed Control: Players accelerate to super speed with ‘Sonic Boost’ by collecting rings to increase Sonic’s ‘Ring Energy.’ Using ‘Quick Step,’ players will quickly move left or right to avoid obstacles instantly. Additionally, ‘Speed Drift’ allows players to rocket through turns without slowing down.
  • Powerful New Engine and Cinematic Graphics: With its new propietary “Hedgehog Engine,” Sonic Unleashed enhances the classic 2D perspective with mind-blowing 3D stages. Other next-gen technology capabilities include global illumination, grid computing, continuous data streaming and an intricate path finding system.
  • Enhanced and Expanded Environments: Many unique and fascinating continents offer the player an opportunity to save the world in a dynamic, high-speed experience. In addition to exploring exciting unlockable areas, players dash through up to nine locations resembling real-life destinations including the Great Wall of China, Arctic Pole glaciers and many more.


  • Screenshots / Images
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