Game Review

Sonic Unleashed Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Anthony Dickens

SEGA couldn't keep him on the leash any longer...

Better late than never - this review - not Sonic Unleashed. Sonic Team offered us the latest Sonic adventure just before Christmas, we'd like to tell you we've been so busy playing it since then that we're only just getting round to the review, but that's not true. So let's get on with it.

Sonic Unleashed starts off with a very impressive FMV prologue, around 5 minutes long which paints the scene, Eggman captures Sonic and uses the Chaos power for evil, striking down on the planet annihilating the gaia spirit and splitting it into 8 pieces and transforming Sonic into a Werehog.

So far so good, the production values of this intro are great, only a matter of time before a feature length Sonic CGI movie? perhaps.

Sonic finds himself back on the planet, dazed and confused and looking rather ugly. Cue annoying sidekick, Chip, after a brief conversation our team set off to figure out what's going on and put the planet back together.

As the sun rises in the sky Sonic transforms back into his usual self, suddenly things start to click into place. Sonic Unleashed revolves completely around the ol' day/night thing, by day Sonic is the Sonic we know and love, by night Sonic becomes the ugly Werehog - ironicly that almost sums up the entire game.

Finally you get thrown into your first few missions, learning the controls for normal Sonic, if you've played other 3D Sonic games you'll know pretty much how this works. Using the control stick moves Sonic, (A) will jump, (Shake) will perform a homing attack, you can drift by holding (Z) around corners, after collecting rings you can boost by (Shaking) whilst running, slide under things with (Z) whilst running and finally quick step from side to side (strafe) by holding (B) and moving left or right.

This is pretty much the usual selection of Sonic moves we already know, Unleashed offers similar high speed, high octane levels we're used to with the scenery flashing by and to be frank, that familiar feel of lack of control or purpose.

So what's new? Sonic the Werehog - that's what's new. As night falls your transformed back into the nasty Werehog and Sonic Unleashed changes dramatically.

Werehog levels are very different, gone is speed, gone is homing attack. Sonic's Werehog levels are more platform based and more beat 'em up based.

Sonic the Werehog can double jump, (A) and then (A) again whilst in mid air, he can also run (not that fast) by double tapping a direction (yes, annoying). Sonic can utilize a host of "sticky neon" ledges, poles and bars, when near (B) is used to attach himself using his stretch-armstrong style flexi-arms, he can then haul himself up a pole, swing on bars in order to get over big gaps and scale large buildings.

These platforming elements work fairly well, but it's not very "Sonic", there is no "need for speed" here. As the Werehog you'll encounter a lot of twilight enemies, emerging from the ground in flashes of neon with slightly camp music, it reminded us almost exclusively of the dreadful Batman and Robin movie, eugh.

Luckily for us Sonic is up for a fight, swinging the Wiimote and Nunchuck will throw punches with either of Sonic's stretchy arms, it's pretty easy to rack up combos with a flurry of enemies around, swinging both arms at the same time will trigger the Werehammer smash attack. Each of the enemies has a small power gauge so you can keep track of your attacking prowess.

When enemies show themselves the game locks you into a small area (similar to how Twilight Princess worked, except not as good) of which you must defeat everyone before you can move to the next area.

Completing levels rewards you in either Sun (night mission) or Moon (day mission) medals, collecting these are required to unlock further levels.

The map area (level select) is quite curious in itself, the world map is firstly split into 8 continents, each continent contains a little village area which you visit, SEGA seem to have tried to add some extra RPG elements here, you have to talk to people around the village in order to discover where the Gaia template is located, most of the time this just feels like a way to stall or slow down your progress, the text is dry and doesn't even develop the story further.

Another problem is a confusing array of stages and missions and how your actually meant to progress. You have a list of missions on your map screen, missions are usually mini stages, "collect 100 rings in 30 secs", things like that. Then you have stages, they seem to be hidden in the Gaia Temples, behind doors which you have to open by collecting the different sun/moon medals - it's just not as straight forward as it should be.

So let's get down to business and answer the questions you probably still have, is this finally a 3D Sonic game SEGA can be proud of? Sadly not, the normal Sonic levels still have the same problems as previous games - it still hasn't translated to 3D successfully. SEGA have made a bold (or maybe strange) move to include a whole half of the game to this Werehog beat 'em up style of play, it's actually not TOO bad but completely distracts from our normal definition of what a Sonic game is all about.

It wouldn't be fair to be completely harsh on SEGA over Unleashed, it's biggest problem is the generally disjointed concept, a jigsaw with some missing pieces, it doesn't all fit together.


Sonic Unleashed offers pretty much what we've seen before in the speed/platformer department, fans of this should be content, however flipped on its head Unleashed adds a whole new half of "beat 'em up" action which sadly doesn't compliment the game as a whole, feeling rather sluggish and disjointed Sonic fans must wonder why their hero is so far behind the times when compared to his arch rival, Mario who only a year ago secured probably the best game of his career. Try again SEGA, we're not giving up on you yet.

From the web

Game Trailer

Subscribe to Nintendo Life on YouTube

SEGA blast us with a new trailer for the upcoming "Sonic Unleashed", this one showing far more detail of the "Warehog" sections of the game.

User Comments (20)



-TR said:

I'd say that the Sonic levels are almost perfect, to be honest.



antdickens said:

Almost perfect? I'd disagree, they might be good when compared with other 3D Sonic games, but they still don't feel anything like as good as the 2D originals.

I can't help but feel a significant lack of control whilst whizzing around at full speed, it still doesn't feel quite right to me.



James said:

I played it on Wii and 360, and I have to say the Wii version is far inferior, sadly. The structure of the Wii version is as you say confusing - with all the Gaia Gates and those awful "city" sections.

On 360 you still have that same lack of control in 2D but at least it's beautiful enough to make you forgive it. One thing that is definitely missing is pushing down on the D-pad to perform a spin attack - the number of times I've done that thinking I was playing Sonic 2 is unbelievable!

It's a good step forward and not the complete disaster it could have been, but I'm sure the next multi-platform Sonic game will improve on this one's flaws.

Hmmm... have I heard that somewhere before?



antdickens said:

Prosody, yeah.. I actually quite liked Sonic and the Secret Rings - although it did have its problems.

I'm quite looking forward to the 2nd game, Black Knight, as they've hopefully fixed the problems, not too sure about the theme though - Sonic and Knights? Okay.



Wiiloveit said:

To be honest, I'd have to say that the six is being a bit lenient here. Some bits are good, but those bits are often too easy. I think people should either relive the classics on VC (or, even better, the Sonic Mega Collection) or just keep waiting...



alvieao said:

On one hand, the Daytime levels brought back classic Sonic gameplay which combined Sonic Rush and Secret Rings. Of course, not everyone liked the idea of Sonic the Werehog but I kinda enjoyed playing the levels for the sake of beat-em up gaming moments. I rather stick with the Wii version than on the PS3/360 versions...



KnucklesSonic8 said:

And no, the day time stages are not "almost perfect" mostly because when you start backtracking or exploring, its flaws show up.



Corbs said:

Sooner or later Sega is going to get Sonic right again. Right? Please?



Slionr said:

Personaly, i think the game is worth about a 7. Mostly because of the running-stages, wich i play again and again. Of course the wherehog-stages are not realy fun, but it is at least not broken and i like the music (except the battle-music). and i gotta say: I just love that there is NO shooting-stages like in the 360/ps3 version.^^



SilverBaretta said:

This game is quite a mixed bag for Sonic. While I personally love the Day stages, the stages themselves need to be more intricately designed. And while the Night stages aren't bad by any means, they break up the high-speed action with something radically different. I like the game as a whole, but even then the package is just more underwhelming then it should have been.



salty1264 said:

no way i got it today its like 7 or 8 its pretty fun especially with classic controler pro its way better controls with the controller



Mryokokurama1 said:

I got bored when i got to the ice place with night time levels haven't played it in like 2 years and not planning on to either which i should cus i havent even beat it yet. i give it a 6.5/10



Varia01 said:

People has been saying that the controls work better on the Gamecube and Classic Controller, I may have to agree, because the controls for Day time that you listed sound hardcore to use. Drifting is acceptable, but the way you put quickstep sounds like a handful. Also the fact that boosting sounds a little frustrating always flicking the remote to boost (Though shaking it to do a homing attack sounds cool). If I ever get this (though the next game I want is Twilight Princess) I'll stick to using my old buddy, the Gamecube controller.



Varia01 said:

This is actually the next Wii game I am looking forward too. Even though I only have a Wii Remote and Nunchuck.....



Varia01 said:

This game is trying my frickin' patience. I really want more day time levels, but have to wait REALLY LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG with those partially boring werehog levels. The daytime levels are really fun, but are so few in number. The boring cutscenes just pauses the game's progression and is just ANNOYING!!! The 3D for daytime Sonic is not perfect, but is still fun and I have to admit, the Wii remote and nunchuck aren't that bad. I have to say, the drift and quick step are cleverly done, but the boost has its flaws. The Wii controls aren't that bad for werehog either, though levels are still just... wrong.

The graphics and animations are pretty awesome. The cinematics are absolutely beautiful and clear for the Wii. It's almost HD. If it were enhanced with HD, than that would be awesome. The design of the bad guys on the nighttime levels are pretty neat-- You know what, everything just looks graphically awesome.

The music is great, but not always. The title screen orchestra is well-played and interesting and so is the daytime levels, but the werehog levels' music is boring. The voice-acting is ok, but it lacks clear volume. I like the SFX though. Their loud and clear. Especially when doing a homing attack combo, it sounds pretty nifty.

Overall, Sonic Unleashed apparently has flaws. These are different kinds of flaws from normal though. The werehog levels poorly introduces different gameplay; especially with it being on a game that also has the series's traditional gameplay. That is poorly escaping a game franchise's tradition, but another major problem is the impatience this game causes with its really slow story progression. The villages and the werehog levels is what causes it to be so. The graphics are freaking awesome and really proves that non HD gaming still looks nifty, but the music and audio have their lags. While 35% percent of the game is mainly a joyride the 65% is boring and tries gamers' patience.


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