Friday, February 19, 2010

Video game number forty seven: Sonic Unleashed

Game review number forty seven in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Sonic Unleashed".

Ah, my old friend Sonic. What the hell happened to you?

I don't know why I played another Sonic game so soon after my disappointing experience with the craptacular 3D Sonic the Hedgehog. I read reviews on this sequel before I tried it, and the IGN review I found was a 4.5. That's actually worse than the 4.8 they gave the other Sonic game, which incidentally, I scored as a 2. Still, deep down, I think I really want to like Sonic again, even if the folks at Sega are making it difficult.

This game could have been a lot better than it is. They had two years to improve the gameplay after their last release, and it looks like they might have tried. A little.

Once again, it has the stupid town aspect that the other 3D Sonic game had, but at least the missions were easier to find this time. The stages have plenty of checkpoints in them and extra lives are plentiful. The characters in this game make a little more sense than they do in "Sonic the Hedgehog", as they all look like they belong in Sonic's world with him. There are RPG elements, but they don't hit you over the head with it like they do in that other game.

So what went wrong?

Basically, all the same stuff. Sonic is hard to control. The camera stinks. On the speed levels, dying is incredibly easy if you go anywhere off the "rails" they put you on. One thing I like about this game, is the checkpoints. They're still few and far between, but compared to the other Sonic game...it's an improvement. I enjoyed this one more, simply because I didn't have to restart from the beginning of the level again after each death.

The plot is sort of stupid so far, but it's rendered extremely well. I like watching the cut scenes, even if they're kind of dumb. Eggman is back, trying to take over the world again..and somehow he turns you into a "Werehog". Yes, when it gets dark, you cease to be a hedgehog and become a big werehog. Maybe they were trying to please Twilight fans.

The achievements are once again VERY difficult, but I knew ahead of time that I'd be able to get at least one, which I eventually did. Still, after 5 or 6 stages, I still had only one achievement...and frankly, I'm already feeling done with the game. I got stuck on a level with these giant, cheap robots that kept killing me over and over again. I wasted about 5 lives on them, but every time I died, I had to go back so far that it was really annoying. The battle with the robots would take two minutes, but getting to them again after they beat me took five. Every time. There was a quicker way to beat them, but I couldn't do that...and I'll explain why in a minute.

In any event, I have no patience for grinding right now...and so I decided that I was done with this one for the night. Probably forever.


Overall: It's a 3.5/10 This game improves some of the things that made Sonic Unleashed one of the worst games I've played this year, but not by much. It's still an absolutely horrible episode of a once-awesome franchise, and I can't imagine I'll be playing it much in the future, if ever again.

Now to explain the catalyst for my stopping playing this one. It was pretty funny. So, remember those robots that kept killing me over and over again? Well, they all had a weakness if you jumped on their head. You have to hit the "B" button at just the right time, then once you do that, you'll be prompted to hit another, random button...after which, you'll hear a doorbell sound effect. If you hit the right button fast enough,...you are rewarded with a second random button to hit, and a second doorbell sound effect. Awesome, right? If you manage to get that one too (making it three perfectly timed button presses in a row), then the robot dies instantly. It's a lot faster than killing him "manually". I'm not saying this was fun or anything (because it wasn't), but every time I jumped on the robot and got the doorbell sound, our dog barked and ran to the front door of the house to see who was there.

Since I did this stage about 5 times, and there are at least 10 robots on each stage....the dog barked a lot. Actually, the dog barked so much that he woke Heather up. I have to admit, it was kind of funny, but I eventually had to stop playing so that everyone in the house could get a little sleep.

I hear Sonic is coming back in "Sonic 4", which is going to be a straight 2D platformer. I can't wait to play that one. In the meantime, I'm really looking forward to the new Sonic racing game next week. I read a preview on IGN here and they have my hopes up. The game sounds kind of cool, for all the right reasons. Strangely enough, it also sounds like they stole the third paragraph of my Mad Karts of Madagascar review almost verbatim. Even though my review was posted nearly a month before this article appeared on their site, I seriously doubt anyone from IGN has seen this little blog, so gaming minds probably just think alike. Exactly alike. :-)

Anyway, here's the one stupid achievement I got. There are others just around the corner for beating the first world (and you can get some easy gamerscore by buying things for the townies from the store). Frankly, I just don't like this game enough to give a damn about the achievements. Some games just aren't worth playing, not even for gamerscore. I think the dog was trying to tell me that when he barked at it. Good boy.

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