It is funny how time can change things so fast. It was not long ago when the Sonic reigned as one of the most impressive franchises in the gaming industry. There was a time where Mario and Sonic were neck to neck rivals on competing platforms. Well those days are well past now and we are starting to see one of the most beloved franchises struggling to keep its audience in what is now a high definition world. SEGA has not given up however and is at it again with their latest Sonic title this one being released for Microsoft’s Xbox 360. The game is simply Sonic the Hedgehog, and it is available now for the 360. But can Sonic bring back its glory? Read our full review to find out!
Some of my favorite gaming moments have been with the numerous Sonic titles that use the combination of speed and simple controls to get you from point "A" to point "B". The speed has really lost its way on most of the later versions of the game and with the 3D realm has come many camera problems as well as just mere adjustments for the franchise. We saw last year the attempt to make Sonic a bit darker with Shadow the Hedgehog, which was nothing short of a disaster. So how does Sonic’s first attempt on the Xbox 360 turn out?
Most of us would have been more than happy to play the whole game as Sonic himself and not worry about many of the side characters that we have seen throughout the franchise. However, Sonic Team making things more difficult then they needed to, allowing you to play as every character except for Sonic, who really you don’t control for most of the game. The game is broken down into three different sections one with Sonic, one with Shadow, and finally one with the new Silver. This to me sounded like it could work out well for the game at first, however as you will see throughout the review it is far from it.
One of the biggest issues that Sonic the Hedgehog has is its camera, which for whatever character you’re playing as causes some major headaches. No matter what you’re doing, the game seems to never give you a good view at the action and you will be constantly trying to mess with it to get it to focus on the right area of your character and the action on screen. The camera makes what is already a frustrating game, and makes even more disheartening by making it even more difficult to enjoy.
Another huge issue that the game has is the controls, which are also linked to the camera, which in a sense go hand and hand because handling the camera is just as much a chore. And although all of the characters you play as have the same sort of base of controls they do end up controlling differently, all of which are not all that intuitive and cause for once again frustration.
And if matters were not already worse enough, I have to mention the one thing that has made Sonic great over the years, speed. Speed has been a huge factor for Sonic games and will continue to in future games, but unfortunately it just doesn’t happen in this game. Besides a few minor glimpses of speed, Sonic is a game that really slows down the pace way too much and causes once again some major frustration. The game just never lets you just hang loose and run through a level like most people want from a Sonic title. Also some of the side characters which you will have control of move at extremely slow paces and nice again really brings down the experience.
In the end, there is very little to compliment or to commend the developers from the gameplay standpoint. This is a game that doesn’t manage to use the Sonic name to its advantage and forgets everything that has made the franchise a huge success in the past.
Visually there are two aspects to Sonic to take a look at. First off, you have the camera, which we did manage to discuss earlier which really does everything in its power not to work with the user. And then you have the frame rate, which when you do get the opportunity to go fast (not that often) you will find the frame rate drop and then drop some more and cause some serious hiccups that hinders what is actually a pretty good looking game. If there is one thing I can complement the developers on they sure did get the colors of the Sonic world down to perfection in this game.
I am a huge fan of some of the older Sonic titles that really competed with the Nintendo games like Mario. However in this version of Sonic, you have a game that really fails to do anything but disappoint. The game has some good ideas trying to keep from boring the user by having multiple storylines with tons of different playable characters; however the more you play the game the less you want to play as these characters, which are definitely a shame.
It is hard to see a franchise as beloved as Sonic is struggle in the manner that it has in the past couple of years. This is one of those games that you just wonder how it made it onto store shelves with the load of problems and shortcomings that it possesses. In the end, Sonic the Hedgehog is a game that I wouldn’t recommend to even the biggest of fans.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.