E3 2008: Sonic Unleashed Impressions
As of late, Sonic has brought me nothing but misery. There was Sonic Adventure 2, which took everything that was great about the first game, and fed it to Kate Moss, only for her to regurgitate it back. Then there was Sonic Heroes, a mixture of the elements that made Sonic Adventure fun, ultimately marred by the epic crapiness of Sonic's friends (excluding Knuckles and Tails, clearly). Then, for some reason Sega thought we'd want to play as Shadow, Sonic's nemesis hedgehog...so they gave him a game, and no one cared.
Then, things turned gruesome when the first next-generation Sonic game ended up becoming the song of doom and gloom of the all new generation. We usually expect some shoddy C-grade publisher/developer combo to give us the next-generation's first terrible game, but Sega? And a Sonic game? It crushed gamers everywhere, and also crushed Sega's and Sonic's reputation. And Sega would soon acknowledge the game's poor quality.
Long winded rant out of the way, there may be hope for us still. You see, around the time 2006's Sonic game was wrapped up, Sega began developing an all new, true-to-form Sonic title that'll mix the classic elements of Sonic's speed, in addition to an adventure component akin to Sonic Adventure.
We began our look into Sonic Unleashed with a level based on the Greek Island of Mykonos. Representatives from Sega informed us that the locations of Sonic Unleashed are based on real world locales such as China, Spain, New York City, Africa, and Greece, so they're drawing on from a lot of inspiration here.
Each locale is broken down into two forms of play, daytime and nightime. Daytime has Sonic blazing through the stage at his usual, break-neck speeds, with perspectives shifting between 2D and 3D seamlessly. The daytime portions of the game were amazingly fast, beautiful to behold, and extremely fun. Everybody in the room had their jaw on the floor, it is the Sonic we've all come to love, and I have to mention how utterly stupendous the level design is.
The nightime gameplay changes things up a bit. This portion of the game focuses more on action-adventure and platforming, reminiscent of Crash Bandicoot. During the nightime sections, Sonic transforms into the Werehog, a heavier playing character with melee combat abilities, who still manages to retain a solid dose of speed. So even though the action slows down with the Werehog, you're still able to run at a decently quick pace whenever you have a clear path to do so.
Collecting rings now no longer reflects on your health as it did before, but instead your speed. You can now use the rings you've collected for a boost of speed when running through the daytime courses, and even more speed in the game makes for an even more fun experience. But with that speed you'll need solid reflexes too, as you'll still have to time hits to kill and deflect off of enemies in order to continue the momentum you've built up - it's truly amazing stuff, wholeheartedly fun.
Visually, the game looks downright beautiful. The game engine we were playing was early, as it showed some framerate dips here and there, but it was still adequate enough to demonstrate the game properly. Sonic Unleashed is one of the most lush lookers in development right now, and we can't wait to see the rest of the game's levels on our own TV sets.
Look for Sonic Unleashed to hit November 2008.
Related Game(s): Sonic Unleashed
7/25/2008 Arnold Katayev