First Impressions: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

Hands-on impressions from the EB Expo in Australia

Sega had a playable version of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed at the EB Expo 2012, so we naturally took the opportunity to check out how it compares to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions, as well as see if the previously-noted frame rate issues were indeed solved, as Sega has publicly stated in the past.

The game holds up very well visually, with bright and colourful characters and eye-catching environments. The frame rate only skipped for us a couple of times after we’d crossed the finish line, it was never an issue while driving the cars.

The controls were very responsive too; once we had figured out which buttons did what, we were able to keep up rather well on the harder difficulties. Drifting around tight corners is a must, and the timing takes a short while to get used to - especially if you’ve been playing Mario Kart games for years!

The Wii U pad was used rather sparingly, as it only contained a map, not dissimilar to the DS and 3DS iterations of Mario Kart. This wasn’t much of a surprise, as almost the entire time was spent looking at the screen anyway.

The transformation of vehicles happens rather smoothly, though the design of the course we played on wasn't fantastic. Once in the water part of the course, we immediately went the wrong direction as we missed a small marker to the far right of the screen indicating a tunnel we needed to go to, when the course itself seemed to go straight ahead, sending us into an invisible wall and sending us to the back of the pack. We can only hope these course designs will be fixed in the final build.

The Wii U and the Xbox 360 both had the same demo to play, which allowed us to play only as Sonic, and race on just the one track. We thought the Wii U version seemed to handle the pace a tad better, running just slightly smoother and having a slight edge in the crispness of the graphics. Both versions were rather far behind the PlayStation 3 version, but it should be remembered that the demo for the PS3 was a version that was much further along in development, and allowed us to pick from a number of characters and courses.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed doesn’t quite stack up to Mario Kart just yet, but with enough extra polish, it could come in very close. We'll find out for sure when the game launches alongside the Wii U in November.

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