By Blueblur1 48 Comments
Okay, so this blog post you're reading is a precursor to an article I plan on writing. What the Hell is the appeal of trashing the Sonic franchise? Jeff's take on Sonic Unleashed struck a nerve that's already been pretty irritated. I understand that the last few 3D Sonic games weren't great. Sonic Heroes, Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic 2006) and Sonic and the Secret Rings followed the successful Sonic Adventure 2.
Heroes wasn't exactly a hit as it introduced a team mechanic that broke up specific abilities between three characters. There were 4 teams of 3 characters each and all the teams were nearly identical. You basically had to play through the same game four times. Levels consisted of a lot of stopping and going followed by more stopping and going. Sonic 2006 tried to be Sonic Adventure 3 but unfortunately it was many things except great. It was riddled with game stopping bugs, had terrible level design, had terrible visual design (realistic characters FTL), had constant 15 - 20 second load times, had a ridiculous bestiality-riddled plot, aggravating on-foot and vehicle controls and was just uninteresting. Sonic and the Secret Rings tried to do something different by being loosely based on One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. It was on-rails, required repeated play throughs of levels to level up Sonic's abilities and had frustrating controls. Yet, it still has its fans.
Sonic Unleashed is practically free of all of those complaints. The controls are finally just right for a Sonic game, the visual and level design is fantastic, the plot is simple and doesn't take away from the game and isn't intruding, the game is restricted to playing as Sonic only, only a few bugs exist (amazing considering all the bugs that riddle EVERY SINGLE PREVIOUS 3D SONIC GAME), the gameplay is fast as ever as Sonic and the combat is more than competent as the Werehog, you can beat the game without playing the extra stages that are littered throughout the game (and in almost any order, as long as it has been unlocked), has relatively short load times (5 - 10 seconds), and no mid-level loads.
All of that and Sonic Unleashed is still shit, apparently. Common complaints include: the Tornado mini-game is garbage(a mini-game you're required to play twice and is very easy), the plot is silly and for kids (as opposed to Sonic 2006's serious bestiality love subplot and the overall saving Soleana Kingdom plot), the controls are terrible (despite being the best in any 3D Sonic game; precise jumps are easy to make and Sonic doesn't make a right angle turn at the flick of the left control stick), the game is too fast (yeah, because the game requires you to hold the boost button all the time... oh wait, it doesn't), the Werehog combat and levels are terrible (while the puzzles are weak, the combat is fantastic once you level up the Werehog a bit and the stage design is simple and flows well) and Chip is annoying (he only speaks in cutscenes, which you can skip).
Oh yeah, Sonic Unleashed is TERRIBBBBBBLE. Honestly, I get the impression that these game enthusiasts have a grudge against the Sonic series. Maybe some hold resentment because they were forced to review a game they didn't like; I wouldn't be surprised. Others sound negative and leave me with the impression that the game was just too difficult for them so in turn they criticise the controls and level design to compensate. And it only frustrates me more to see people post in internet forums trashing the game without having played it. (Thanks for the stigma, "gaming journalist" assholes.)
If you pass on Unleashed, and I mean that you don't even try it, then you're missing out. Its the best 3D Sonic game in nearly 8 years. I would really like to see more people play it and give constructive criticism than rather trash it without having actually played it.
Note: Sonic Unleashed on the 360 is the definitive version. The PS2/Wii game is not even the same game thus I don't consider it. Its largely considered to be inferior consisiting of arduous controls (on Wii), dumbed down Werehog combat, and consists mostly of Werehog stages. The PS3 version is identical to the 360 version except the frame rate is sometimes at 60fps but consistently drops. The 360 version has the frame rate locked at 30fps except for a few instances and noticeably in the final stage.