Sonic Unleashed Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii | PS2
Sonic Unleashed box art
System: X360, PS3, 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
Halfway There
by Adam Brown

Sonic has had a fairly rough time as of late. Back in the Genesis days he was the edgy blue mascot that had everyone wagging their fingers and heralding Blast Processing, secure in the fact that Sega did what Nintendon’t. Moving into the third dimension with his Dreamcast debut Sonic Adventure, Sonic’s gameplay changed slightly.

Sonic Unleashed screenshot

Instead of focusing solely on pure speed and timing, adventure and exploration became the main attractions. Ever since this change, Sonic games have struggled to find balance, identity, and the throng of fans they once commanded. By adding often unnecessary new characters as well as strange new gameplay elements (guns, controlling multiple characters at once) with each iteration, the series has continued to stray further from the successful formula that longtime fans have adored. While Sonic Unleashed doesn’t completely right the Sonic ship, it does make some significant strides in the right direction.

Upon starting the game, players are treated to a downright gorgeous cinema that delivers the somewhat odd storyline of the game. After speeding through intense robotic opposition, Sonic finally corners Dr. Eggman who promises no more foul play. As one who rarely keeps his word, Eggman blasts Sonic and the entire planet with a beam of energy. This beam not only transforms Sonic and the Chaos Emeralds but also cracks the planet into pieces. Of course, it is then up to Sonic to find a way to undo Eggman’s treachery and return everything to normal.

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Due to the blast received from Eggman, Sonic now has the ability to change between two different forms. During the day, Sonic is the speedy blue hedgehog that everyone knows and loves. At night, Sonic will transform into a lumbering, stretchy-armed werehog. However, the differences between these two forms aren’t entirely cosmetic, as each has its own separate levels and distinct type of gameplay.

Sonic Unleashed screenshot

Werehog levels move along at a fairly slow pace; focusing heavily on combat with some platforming, puzzle solving, and exploration thrown in for good measure. While traversing these levels, enemies will frequently pop into existence and start attacking you. Despite the combat’s repetitive nature, there are actually quite a few options when brawling. Aside from just basic attacks, the werehog can perform combos, unleash, grab and hurl enemies, and land critical hits.

You start off the game with a few basic combos, unlocking more elaborate and devastating ones with the experience you gain from defeating enemies. Downing foes will also net you energy that fills an unleash meter. Once this meter is filled, you can unleash the werehog, which basically amounts to making your attacks do more damage for a limited amount of time. Grabbing enemies can also often prove useful, whether just tossing them at other adversaries or using them as a melee weapon. Once you’ve done a significant amount of damage to an enemy you can also try landing a critical hit. This involves a quick time event that will either dispatch your foe when successfully completed or result in them regaining their health if you fail.

Sonic Unleashed screenshot

While it is clear that the developers tried to make the werehog’s combat fairly diverse, the fact remains that it still isn’t terribly interesting. Pummeling the same few creatures over and over again, no matter which method you use, grows tiresome quickly. These numerous fights can also get fairly annoying as there is no ability to lock onto specific enemies and you’ll often find yourself fighting with the camera for a decent view of the action. It is a real shame that these levels are so combat intensive, since the other elements managed to mostly work well and were fairly reminiscent of playing Sonic Adventure.

Screenshots / Images
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