The names's wrong for a start. Tails is in it, Shadow is in it, Blaze is in it, new guy Silver is in it - this game was supposed to be back to basics for the Sonic series, instead we get an entire entourage turning up to help out in Sonic's most other-animal-packed adventure yet.
Ironically, the best levels in Sonic The Hedgehog are the ones where you don't even play as Sonic. Sonic's just too fast for the 3D world. He hits scenery in the speed levels, falls off the edge in the combat sections and mostly frustrates in all his little bits of game. When playing as new guy Silver, though, it's far better. Silver walks at a sensible pace, so you don't fly off the edge and die so much.
His telekinetic powers are interesting to use too, often having you stomping through a level surrounded by spinning cars and rocks, while firing them off at huge enemies and enjoying the carnage. Blaze, the female cat introduced in the awesome Sonic Rush for Nintendo's DS last year, is equally good, thanks to having sensible attacks that, unlike Sonic's, don't have her looping off the platforms to her death every time you use them. It's the same for the other characters too. Who would've believed we'd prefer to play as Shadow than Sonic?
The first two levels sum up our frustration with Sonic The Hedgehog. We had four people gathered around the TV, taking turns to try and master Sonic's second level - a speed race across a beach and through a forest. The beach was hard to navigate, touching trees made you die, and the end section was designed so as we couldn't tell where we had to go. Worse still, when you die you have to go back to the very beginning and play the first level and the awful 'hub' training mission all over again. Total pain.
Sonic and Silver both have these horrid hub levels as a base. Here you perform quite dull missions for human characters, earning you money to buy additional skills. Once you've got the necessary skills, you can progress to the next mission. You really don't need a hub in a Sonic game. Or a shop. The hub bits are quite appalling, featuring really simple and tedious challenges broken up by numerous loading screens. One of the things Sonic has never been about is tedious challenges broken up by numerous loading screens. It's wrong, was boring enough when they did it in Sonic Adventure on Dreamcast back in 1999, and you have to wonder why Sonic Team continually persists with this nonsense.
But when Sonic The Hedgehog works it's great fun. You can't go wrong with loop-de-looping your way around a pretty beach, nor can you argue with the happy vibe and handful of moments that actually work. Sonic is certainly a big game, and the annoying control problems will ensure you die more to make it even longer. Multiplayer is restricted to offline tag and battle games. As you'd sort of expect. Sonic doesn't really suit 16-on-16 team deathmatches particularly well, hence the lack of Xbox Live features.
Despite the lack of frills, new Sonic The Hedgehog is the biggest, fastest and prettiest Sonic game yet, but SEGA still needs to find a way to make Sonic's speed come across in the 3D world. Next-gen Sonic is awkward, dogged by awful levels and a terrible hub system, plus the basic action never gets that challenging. When you die, it's because you couldn't see, or you fell off by accident. It's hugely frustrating.
Silver's levels are more playable due to the slower pace, plus his telekinetic powers are fun to use, but there's nothing to distinguish them from every 3D platform game released over the last five years. What SEGA needs to do now is to make a brand new 2D Sonic game for Xbox Live Arcade. That's the dream. This isn't.
FAST AND PRETTY, BUT PAINFULLY AWKWARD
- Pretty levels
- Good boss battles
- Silver's slower levels are great
- Rubbish hub-based mission system
- Consistent accidental deaths