Well it’s been a while since we talked about Sonic, in fact its been over a year since we reviewed Sonic 06 so I feel it is time to hop back into the series and I’m sure that this time we will have a much better experience ………….right?
Sonic unleashed was developed by Sonic Team and released in 2008 for the PS2, PS3, Wii and Xbox 360, It was the final main series title released for the PS2 and the first to get a Wii release. I played the PS3 version of the game so my opinion is based on that version.
Dr Eggman is back trying to destroy the planet this time by waking an evil entity known as Dark Gaia, he manages to trap Sonic in his super form using a power ray which strips away the power of the Chaos Emeralds. Eggman uses the power to then wake Dark Gaia who breaks the earth into seven pieces and also manages to put a curse on Sonic turning him into a Werehog. Sonic is blasted into space but luckily is rescued by a new friend called chip who helps guide Sonic across the globe while he tries to break his curse and return the earth and the Chaos Emeralds back to their original forms.
So whats weird with this one is that we went back to a single character campaign where we only play as Sonic, however due to the whole Werehog situation we do technically have two main variants of gameplay.
In the regular Sonic stages we run at high speeds across various continents while blasting robots and avoiding obstacles, whats new here is a super speed mechanic. Your rings do not only represent your life but also allow Sonic to run at hyper speed and completely annihilate anything that gets in his path, while in hyper speed you also attract rings towards you so its easier to collect tons of rings this way compared to the regular running mechanic.
At night you can play the Werehog stages these are much slower and focus more on combat, here you fight Dark Gaia’s minions and collect loads of experience points, when battles become too tough you can can use some of your collected energy to give your Werehog form some extra power in order to help tackle these trickier situations.
In between stages you will be exploring various hub worlds which each represent different countries, the hub worlds are not great and don’t really offer much apart from shops to buy food and souvenirs as well as hiding the occasional Sun/Moon coins and offering some extra side content.
I did manage to finish all of possession missions which involves players committing to small battle arenas and surviving onslaughts of bad guys. The other side missions are time/ring/no damage trials these are fine enough but a big issue I have with the game is that they keep repeating the same stages for these challenges for example in the time trials the game will ask you to finish the stage in 3 minutes then the challenge will be to do the same level in 2 minutes. I understand you don’t have to commit to these missions but I still think that some more creativity and implementing some of the optional stages would have worked a lot better.
The main levels work pretty well, I had very little issue due to gameplay problems and overall I found both types pretty satisfying, I really enjoyed the high speed action of the Sonic stages but also appreciated the more brawl based stages with the Werehog, I did find the final stage a little too long but I did die a lot and ended up clocking in at around 90 minutes.
The game for a PS3 title is very visually appealing I love the dark colours and glowing enemies at night and during the day time stages the details of the backgrounds are really quite impressive especially considering that even with the high speed action there is little to no issue rendering background details. I also really like that the game takes place in different countries not only because it represents various cultures but also makes each level feel very unique and special in their own ways. I do wish the hub worlds were a little bigger and hid more secrets for us to find, they are very small areas that are linear and quite limited in what they offer but I can appreciate that they were not the main focus of the game and this probably doesn’t bother many other players.
The soundtrack is really good! The main vocal track Endless Possibilities is great and singer Jared Reddick knocks it out of the park, various stages carry that rocking vibe we are used too with these games now but also there is a certain amount of diversity to represent the country you are currently playing in making sure to show appreciation for the various cultures explored throughout the adventure.
Sonic Unleashed is a massive improvement to the atrocity that was Sonic 06 the gameplay here while not perfect at least doesn’t feel broken and is enjoyable, if the game has any sins its biggest is how mediocre and somewhat forgettable it is. I loved the music and the day time stages but nothing else really stood out to me as being what I consider a great Sonic experience, visually those Werehog stages are stunning and while they are decent levels they can be a little long and dont really hold their satisfaction from a gameplay perspective. Personally I think they should have had the ability to turn into the Werehog implemented into all stages and allowed players to Switch between both forms quickly and freely.
The cultural representation of the hub worlds is obviously really important and I feel Sonic Team did an ok job but again these are quite empty and could have had a lot more secrets to find as well as offer better and more creative side content and missions.
As a final note I will say that this game was acceptable, in certain areas it works extremely well but struggled with everything else so what we were left with was a small amount of great content surrounded with a lot of uninspired and in someways lazy game design so I think a 6/10 is a very fair score and I can only hope that next time when we take a look at Sonic Colours we finally get back to the flawless gameplay I know this series can pull off.
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