Review: Sonic Unleashed

Yes. Sonic fan present. I’m going to take a look at one of the Blue Hedgehog’s more recent outings on the Home console. Sonic Unleashed. Specifically the Wii and PS2 versions since they are different to the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. So let’s take a look at the version for the cheaper consoles.

Story

The storyline to Sonic Unleashed begins as follows. Sonic is facing off against Dr. Eggman for what feels like the 50th time. Sonic gets a bit cocky though, being captured by Eggman. The evil Doctor then absorbs to power of the chaos emeralds to try to awaken a being called Dark Gaia. In doing this he splits the Continents of the planet up, all of which raise from the core, and chaos ensues. Eggman hastly makes the decision to throw Sonic back to earth, along with the newly drained Chaos Emeralds. Sonic then needs to go to all the Chaos shrines on the planet in an attempt to return the planet to how it was and stop Dark Gaia from destroying all. And that’s the story in a nut shell. Quite original, but not exactly Bioshock story writing is it.

The is set over an entire planet, like I mentioned. This planet is completely imaginary of course, but with all locations based on Earth’s locations. For example Holoska is an icy continent based on Antarctica and Chun-nan is based on Asia, specifically China. The Wii/PS2 version of Sonic Unleashed lacks some of these locations however. For example, Empire City which is based on North America is gone all together and Mazuri, based on Africa, only has a boss fight. This was upsetting for me as after Holoska, Empire City looked like a really fun setting from the trailers.

Gameplay

You play the levels in two settings, Day and Night. During Day time you play as the traditional fast paced Sonic everyone knows and loves, switching between 2D and 3D perspectives and giving the occasional quick time event to deal with. There are also multiple paths in the levels just like the original Mega Drive games. Next comes the gimmick to Sonic Unleashed. Night time gameplay.

In the story Sonic inadvertently absorbs some of the power of  Dark Gaia which when the chaos emeralds are drained. This power transforms him during the night into a “were-hog” form. Yes, Sonic becomes a werewolf. The were-hog is slow and clumsy, and brings more traditional styled platforming to the speed king’s gameplay. In were-hog form Sonic doesn’t have the ability to spin dash or use the homing attack so he makes use of a power given to him in the Were-hog form. His stretchy arms. He uses these arms to attack enemies like it’s a beat ’em up. Oh did I mention, the enemies are different at night-time to day-time? During the day normal Sonic battles Eggman’s robots as usual, but at night-time you fight the embodiment of pieces of Dark Gaia.

During night-time Sonic also gains RPG elements. When you defeat you gain little red orbs that accumulate at the end of the level to unlock new moves and more health. So just to recap, Daytime levels are traditional fast-paced platforming with a couple quick time events now and then. Nighttime levels are slow, average platformers, with beat ’em up combat and RPG elements thrown in. Basically the game wants to be 3 genres at once. Not usually a good thing. The ratio of the Day and Night time levels isn’t very good either. In each continent there is only one Day time level, occasionally a day time boss. In contrast to this each one has at least 3 Night time level. So what? The Day/Night cycle got screwed up so that its daylight for only 6 hours due to the planet breaking apart? Seriously, someone really loved the werehog gimmick at Sega, I however hate it. Fun for one continent, but the Day time levels are the best part of the game sadly.

Scattered throughout the game is a lot of fan service too. There are a lot of hidden items to collect which unlock Concept Art, Music, and Videos. This adds a small bit to the game, but not really much unless you are a die-hard fan of Sonic.

Graphics and Sound

Graphically Sonic Unleashed looks stunning. Vibrant, colourful and great. And this is judging from the Wii version! It’s definitely one of the Wii’s nicer looking games. The soundtrack is lovely too. A nice orchestral score. Really making you want to save the world from breaking apart forever.

Pros:

  • Fun Daytime levels
  • Magnificent soundtrack

Cons:

  • Were-hog levels are just plain repetitive and boring
  • The ratio of Day time to Night time levels is pitiful
  • Sometimes the levels are just plain irritating

Verdict: Rent!

The funnest parts of the game truly are the least common in Sonic Unleashed. If you really must play every Sonic known to man, go ahead and grab a copy. Just don’t go straight into buying a game you will only really play once. I made that mistake.

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About Nick Duggan
I'm 19 an I study Computer Games Design at Staffordshire University. I'm a video gamer and also a Yu-Gi-Oh! collector/player. Twitter: @30DiedOnMars

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