Review: Sonic Generations
Sonic Generations is a "best of both worlds" game that offers up the best of both the classic and the modern games in the series. But is it a success?
- Worth The Time?If you're a fan of these games, then definitely.
- Things LovedThe nostalgia, the graphics, the amount of things to do, the amount of unlocks, the boss fights, the feeling of speed while running through levels, the blue hedgehog finally not being a complete failure.
- Things HatedIt got really frustrating at times, the story should never have existed, the modern levels can get a bit confusing with the constant shift of perspective, modern sonic's lock-on is as clumsy as ever.
- RecommendationSonic fans will have already bought this on release, but the rest should await a sale unless they really love Arcade titles.
- Name: Sonic Generations
- Genre: Platformer
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
- Developer: Sonic Team
- Publisher: Sega
- Price: R539 (BT Games)
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
If you had to dig inside the head of your typical Sega fanboy and remove every memory of Sonic in all of the games that were released featuring the speedy blue hedgehog, you would get something of a better idea of exactly what Sonic Generations is attempting to achieve.
The game is more of a celebration than anything, of the last twenty years of Sonic games — at least, the good ones — but with a fresh high-definition coat of paint slapped on. It is an amalgamation of the core concepts of both the 2D-platformer worlds of the classic games, and the 3D-platformer worlds of later entries into the series.
This game is basically a mash-up of all things Sonic, and as such is a must-buy for every fan of the Sonic series who ever dared to appreciate blazing rapidly through levels as a little blue, humanoid animal.
But what about the rest of the world?
As with most of the recent entries in the Sonic series of games, Sonic Generations does in fact have some story behind it; Sonic is cheerfully celebrating his birthday with friends but it all goes to shit as an inter-dimensional rift opens up and swallows everything whole. Sonic later awakens missing his friends and must seek them out by racing through and restoring various familiar levels that featured in previous titles.
That’s not all though and as an added twist, the inter-dimensional rift happened to also swallow a different version of Sonic, effectively meaning that there are two versions of the blue hedgehog from, let’s call them parallel universes, that must seek out their friends and then save them from the clutches of– we’ll get to that in a bit.
The two Sonic characters, Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic as they’re known in the game, have very distinct play styles that both centre around excessive speed, but diversify in execution.
Classic Sonic keeps things traditionally 2D with all levels strictly side-scrolling, and pretty much as you would remember them from way back when, be it the enemies, the rings, the powerups or the methods of navigation. It’s all very much an ode to the old. For some reason this Sonic is also shorter, slightly lighter, and for the most part a mute.
Modern Sonic is stylistically similar to recent entries in the Sonic series in that his levels are 3D for the most part with you running ‘into the camera’ as it were, but there are also parts where you end up side-scrolling through the level as well. Definitely the more interesting of the two even if a bit more frustrating to play, Modern Sonic’s levels will go from 3D to 2D and back again, with the lock-on controls and jump pads that you know from the modern forays. Modern Sonic is also taller, a darker shade of blue, and able to communicate with actual speech.
The game world consists of what could only be described as an extra-dimensional limbo of sorts where various levels from the previous Sonic games are featured as areas that must be restored, first by travelling through and completing the initial stage — basically the level in its entirety — and then through various challenges that range from using one of Sonic’s powers to achieving a certain goal within some time limit.
Completing each of the initial stages will save one of your friends and unlock the challenges for that area. Upon completing one of those challenges, a key will be unlocked for you to collect. For every three keys you collect, you unlock a story-related boss fight that unlocks new stages for you, and the cycle repeats.
There are also various miscellaneous boss battles not related to the game’s story that you may play through.
Since there are two Sonics this time around, each stage has two Acts associated with it, forcing you to switch between Sonics in order to clear every challenge for that stage. While this does mean that you would effectively have to complete each challenge twice, the actual challenges for each Sonic differ in their execution and the levels themselves are varied enough that you end up actually looking forward to doing so in any case.
Apart from that, there is a tonne of unlocks available for either version of Sonic that includes but is not limited to artwork, music and various power-ups, some that allow you to call in friends to help you out in stages.
There is a lot of ‘game’ to be found in this game, and a fan of Sonic series would be quite at home with this title. For the rest of us, it would depend on how much you enjoy arcade-like platformers.
Don’t get me wrong when I call it arcade-like. There are many, many hours to be lost in this game, completing all the challenges and unlocking everything, but Sonic Generations is most certainly not going to win any awards for story-telling or cinematics. I mean, inter-dimensional rifts that bring together two different kinds of Sonic that must then work together to save both dimensions from an evil time and space traversing enemy that threatens to destroy all of space-time? It’s almost laughable.
See, this is basically Sega finally keeling over and giving in to the rage from Sonic fanboys who have longed for a return to the ways of the classic games in the series, but at the same time offering up a means of showing said fanboys that the classic can be mixed with the modern in a way that works for all.
Whether they actually managed to achieve that depends on how much of a fanboy you are, but all for intents and purposes it certainly seems as though they have, with seamless integration of both perspectives in all the modern stages, and enough of the classic stages to keep the rest happy anyway.
The game also looks great. As it should, being a title released for the current generation of consoles. Be it the classic or modern levels, everything looks pretty and aesthetically delightful, with crisp textures and excellent character animation abound. The contrast between the classic and modern versions of each character and level is also a neat touch that really shows off the polish of the game.
The music is suitable to the arcade nature of the game, with many tracks being very upbeat and ‘happy’ for lack of a better word. It’s a Sonic title, so you expect as much.
There is an online component of the game, but it is limited to ranked scoreboards and speed-runs, and as such it still keeps things strictly singleplayer but allows you to compete with friends for times as well.
Sega have really pulled no punches with this game, and offered up a title that really cannot fail at pleasing everyone. It’s not the perfect Sonic game by any means, but it’s pretty much the best of the series for a very long time.
It’s equal parts challenging as it is entertaining, and a proper throwback to the days of old where running through Green Hill was all you needed to enjoy yourself. Sonic has finally got a game that everyone should play. And it’s about damn time.