Posted Thu 9th Feb 2012 6:32pm by Jonathan Hannah
Sonic Generations Review
Sonic the Hedgehog has fallen on hard times in recent years. Whereas rivals like Nintendo’s Mario are celebrated for their seamless transition into 3D, Sega’s attempts at taking their own mascot into the 3rd dimension have proved controversial, evoking mixed reactions from both critics and fans alike.
Released as part of Sonic’s anniversary celebration, Sonic Generations seeks to rectify past mistakes by re-imagining some of the more memorable and detestable moments of the blue one’s 3D adventures, while breathing new life into definitive jaunts from past outings. Playing like a love letter to all things Sonic - good and bad - nostalgia is at the game’s heart, and it shows. Newcomers to the franchise won’t feel alienated by the experience, but players with fond memories of earlier Sonic games will find a lot to bring a smile to their face.
Sonic Generations is somewhat of a rehash of old ideas due to its use of classic stages, but it also proves to be a great game in its own right. Developer Sonic Team reimagine the seminal Sonic formula while staying faithful to core attributes like speed, imaginative worlds and multiple routes.
Stages are more akin to art than the standard platform level, even when compared to earlier Sonic games. Arranged like a bizarre mix of Picasso, MC Escher and Rube Goldberg mechanics, stages twist and wind in complex labyrinthine designs while progressing at a dizzying pace that pushes the limits of your reflexes. A soundtrack of iconic Sonic tunes, remixed to match each era, add to the overt hyperactivity and reverie of the experience.
2D sections, though more linear and slower than their 3D counterparts, hold their own thanks to an impressive mix of classic Sonic gameplay and new elements. On the other hand, 3D sections are all about speed, timing and reflexes and will probably overwhelm inexperienced players.
Differentiation between the two Sonics is handled well. Young Sonic is just how he used to be: silent, full of irrepressible child-like charm, and unwavering in the face of evil. In stark contrast, modern Sonic is far darker than his younger counterpart; more cautious yet significantly more powerful, capable of laying waste to everything in his path. Various skills unique to each Sonic also help characterise both hedgehogs as separate entities, rather than just simple palette swaps.
A large range of punishing side-missions, granting rewards in the form of comics, music and artwork, means there’s more than enough to keep Sonic veterans and purists entertained. These missions offer players the chance to traverse alternate versions of levels while fulfilling certain requirements. These include boss battles, time trials, teaming up with a certain character or even racing another character to the finish line. One particular highlight is the unique encounter against Vector, whereby players must hit musical notes in increasingly rapid succession to knock the crocodile off of his trademark DJ decks.
It makes sense that the most notorious gameplay complaints associated with the games Sonic Generations emulates would turn up. Most of these issues relate to the deviation of the camera, which is somewhat resolved due to a new on-rails approach. But niggles with other parts of the gameplay remain. Both Sonics can be hard to control at times, even without moving at high speeds. The difficulty can often be unforgiving, although boss battles - which are surprisingly short in length - are strangely exempt from this.
Another staple of the formula is a lack of depth to the storyline, which also resurfaces here. Like most Sonic games, it simply serves as an excuse to tear up the scenery at obscene speeds. The entire story can be summed up through the premise: players take control of both classic and modern Sonic as they race through different eras of their adventures in order to save their friends from a time and space-consuming monster created by Drs. Eggman and Robotnik.
Usually, a simplification like this would be a point of dismay, but in Sonic Generation’s case, it works perfectly. This allows the game to fulfil its true purpose as a remastered greatest hits compilation and celebration of all things Sonic. With its innate ability to seamlessly transport players back and forth between the different ages of Sonic and proving that the realm of 3D isn’t off-limits for him after all, Sonic Generations is the best present ever given to fans of the irreplaceable and beloved Hedgehog.
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