|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|
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 Sonics 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.
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 youll 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, youll 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.
Despite the games 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 everyones pleas for a return to form for the series werent 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, Sonics next outing could be just what longtime fans have been longing for.
CCC Staff Contributor