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Sonic Generations Review

Just back in 2011, Sonic had finally reached his 20th birthday causing Sega to celebrate 20 years of the blue blur’s heroics, antics and speed in their latest game, Sonic Generations.

The newest game looks to reflect on Sonic’s overall legacy featuring characters and stages from the Genesis era all the way to the HD versions we look at now. Of course that’s not saying our favourite hedgehog has had the greatest run of titles however heads were turned once again with the release of Sonic Colours.

The blue blur has made it this far and looks to keep running for many years to come, so will Sonic Generations prove to be the 2nd good step in a series that’s regaining its strength? Or has running at the speed of sound for 20 years finally tire him out?

Sonic and all his friends meet up and throw the spiky one a surprise birthday party. In the midst of all their happiness and celebration, an evil entity called Time Eater appears and throws all of Sonic’s friends through different portals which lead to different times in history.
Modern Sonic running through Seaside Hill!
Sonic attempts to stop the Time Eater but is easily defeated, when he regains consciousness he finds himself in a strange dimension known as White Space, an area where time and space ends up after being drained of its life and energy. As Sonic searches for his friends, he eventually meets up with his past self and together they speed through their past and future to restore balance, rescue their friends and stop Time Eater.

While the idea of the two Sonic’s teaming up was cool, I feel that not enough was done to truly expand on the story and build some sort of connection between the two Sonics. I also found it awkward that the past one didn’t speak which kind makes sense since he didn’t in the early games however I’m sure an exception could have been made there.

The whole time travel narrative has been done before but I still think Sega could have done something a lot more cooler with it having the two hedgehogs travel together through each stage and in a way learn something about each other while at the same time using Sonic’s friends to develop the story and reach an epic climax. I also found it disappointing that the cutscenes did pretty much nothing to help move the story along however even they seemed to be lacking heavily.

The entire focus for the game here is nostalgia and it definitely accomplishes this by using stages throughout Sonic’s 20 year history. Long forgotten areas such as the Chemical Plant Zone to the more recent Planet Wisp, it’s practically a pick of the best levels the series had to offer. You begin with a blank world where all the levels are white but as you progress, you’ll bring colour back to the other stages making them accessible.
Throughout the game you get to control Modern Sonic and Past Sonic with the option to switch between the two in the Hub world. All stages are accessed from the Hub world and depending on which Sonic you use, the stage changes to suit it for example, Past Sonic will mostly have 2D gameplay with more platforming elements while Modern Sonic has more open space to allow for extended boosting.
Robot: Hey Get Down HERE!!
I found it great how well the controls for Past Sonic were tuned, practically making him just as difficult to control as he was back then. Even though Past Sonic was meant for the 2D gameplay, at key moments during a level an almost cinematic look is presented showing off different angles which I thought was nice touch.

There are extra challenge levels around each stage that consist of various ways to test your skills for example; collecting 100 rings, picking up chao or beating you’re opponent to the finish line. These challenges can also earn you new skills which you can buy, customize and equip at the Skills Shop. The actual skills differ from Power Stomping to extending you boost gauge. It’s a nice idea allowing the player to customize Sonic into what they think is the perfect speed star however it makes a minimal difference when it comes to actually using them in a level.
Sonic’s friends are also around at their respective stages, giving tips and advice on the level their standing next to. These tips vary from finding the special red rings to hidden passages that you may have not noticed during that specific level. Other than the friends that help, you also take part in Rival Battles, a mini sort of boss stage where you battle key opponents from Sonic’s history such as Silver from Sonic The Hedgehog or Shadow from Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, again it’s mainly for the nostalgia factor and for some the update looks great but rarely anything was done to either make it different or improve upon the original, let alone the fact that they are ridiculously easy.

Online Gameplay
Online follows the sort of leader boards competition in two separate modes; Ranking Attack and 30 Second Trial. The main emphasis of both modes is to complete a stage as fast as you can in which your time is recorded on the leaderboards to compare with the rest of the world.

The only thing different here is that 30 Second Trial tests how far you can get in a specific stage with only 30 seconds on hand. The place you stop at is marked with a goal post and friends who challenge you can see where stopped off.

Honestly the features for Online were pretty disappointing and I was expecting much more from it. Having players beat each other’s scores is a good idea however it lacks the competitive feel of actually racing that person through the level instead, something I thought would have made things a lot more interesting.

Of course we have to praise Sega for how well the realised the old school stages in full 3D. The environments are layered and make use of some vibrant and bold textures. One in particular being Green Hill Zone, it was just amazing to see Modern Sonic Zipping through it in 3rd person giving these old levels new life. Of course with such an upgrade comes some problems and they heaviest one lies in the game's loading times between each level, you could probably make a cup of tea before the level loads up!
Green Hill Zone never looked better!
This is the 1st time we’re seeing past Sonic being rendered in actual 3D and I’ve got to say he looks great! Regardless of the character being heavily changed for later titles, this version seems to fit in seamlessly while still capturing what made him different. It begins to make me wonder why Sega just didn’t make 3D Sonic games using this version of Sonic since it still plays on a 2D plane but graphically everything has been enhanced making it a step up from the Genesis days.

If there was one things Sonic games never failed at, it was their soundtracks with the series creating some of the most memorable tunes and Generations is no different; bringing back those retro tunes and re mastering them for a new generation. One nice addition they added was a sped up version of a particular track for when Modern Sonic is boosting through a stage, a great idea which just added to the overall adrenaline rush.

Final Verdict
Sonic Generations certainly looks to be a good step forward for a franchise that has been up till recently, struggling to find its place in the 3D realm of gaming. The inclusion of Past Sonic is a great throwback to the Genesis days and with the addition of re making him in 3D including the levels, it makes the experience all that much better. Yes the game’s story is lacking and had potential to something amazing however by using the most popular stages and improving on them, the gameplay part stays solid and hopefully we’ll see more games like this come out of the blue blur.

Story = 6/10
Gameplay = 9/10
Graphics = 9/10

We Know Gamers Final Score = 8/10
Had a chance to play the game? Tell us what you thought in the comments section below!
Sonic Generations

Reviewed by Liban Ali
on Jan 23 2012

Rating: 8/10

1 comment:

  1. Agree with most of what's said though I didn't find the loading times too bad.

    However, I feel like someone needs to address how awful the voice acting and the writing is. I feel like Sega is writing for five years olds (which may actually be true). I just feel like if you're going to take the route of voice acting, try to make it so that I don't want to skip over the cutscenes because its almost embarrassing to listen to it.

    We don't need the massive montage of characters having their own "pick me up" line in each game every single time Sonic is about to go Super.