Too Fast Too Furious
Oh Sonic the Hedgehog, you were so fantastic back in the olden days when you and Mario fought over supreme rule in the minds of platform lovers. Back when you were more about speed than you were about saving the world, or even defeating Dr. Robotnik. But ever since your second installment things have seemingly gotten staler and staler, like 10 years of old lay's potato chips. Ever since Sonic has emerged onto the 3D video game scene back in his Dreamcast days things have been fairly mediocre if not abysmal at best. I will say that I personally had a lot of fun out of Sonic Adventure 2:Battle for the Gamecube, I feel like they struck a fairly average balance of speed over control so that you feel like the speedy character is going slightly too fast for you to control, but you still feel in control enough to make things happen. Although this high point in character control in the series was in fact no where near the masterful control of his far more popular rival Mario in his 3D re-enactments. This issue of speed and control brings me to the crux of the issue of Sonic the hedgehog which I will get into just a little bit later, but now let me actually get into telling you a bit about this actual game.
Sonic the Hedgehog for the PS3 and Xbox360 was meant to be a reboot for the Sonic series, the games developer's and Sega as a brand understood that their foray into the 3D translation of Sonic had been met with unfavorable reviews for years and that they needed to change this perception of their beloved hedgehog. What better way and time to do this than on a brand new generation of systems and by calling it "Sonic the Hedgehog" just like the very first game so many years ago. Though Sonic Team's intentions were honorable to the highest degree, their execution on these plans were terrifying, for Sonic at least. The game is broken up into three separate episodes one for Sonic, one for Shadow, and one for the brand new character Silver. If you've ever played a Sonic Adventure game you understand this episode concept and how Sonic Team has used it previously, the execution is near identical in every way. You do have the option to stop playing as any character and switch to another "hero" at your will, but as you begin playing you'll just want to power through each episode as quickly as humanly possible.
I will begin by just talking about the good in this game, there are two outstandingly well done things in this game that stood out to me. Number one being the games visuals, for a game that is supposed to show off Sonic's speed in the different environments the game looks fairly amazing especially for its time in 2006, but even four years later the graphics hold up quite well. The second aspect that I think is done with great detail is the music. This game has a somewhat varied soundtrack, with each character having their own theme and each area having its own atmospheric sounds, I just thought th e music in this game was quite well done, nothing highly exceptional but fairly well done. Other than those two aspects of the game, there is nothing worth seeing here, absolutely nothing.
The biggest issue here is the camera, who is probably your toughest enemy throughout the game, he hates you and will stop at nothing to see you lose lives repeatedly. Bad cameras in video games at this point in video gaming is in one word "unacceptable". Sonic's movement is often times too fast for the camera to keep up with and sometimes you just won't be able to see important ledges or enemies you must hit to reach other areas of the game world. This leads me to control issues, the game controls horrendously. This is exemplified in Sonic's straightforward running sequences where you must rush to a goal and you only control Sonic's horizontal movement and jumping ability. It would seem fun to go at ridiculous speeds bypassing enemies and running through beaches, but trying to control sonic in this mode is a sheer nightmare of death. You will want to throw your controller at both sonic and your TV screen repeatedly at the sight of your repeated death. These parts in the game which come up about once per world or so are simply the worst part of any game I have probably ever played. You are allotted so little control over your character that it is near impossible to finish levels on a first run basis depleting your level score which determines which rank you get at the end of a level. These sequences also highlight the biggest problem with Sonic the Hedgehog, you often fail at points in the game where you feel as if it is not your fault. Games where this is possible are some of the most frustrating games ever developed. Failing is something that you can learn from in most games, but in games where you feel you could not have avoided failure you often times feel defeated and powerless to the game and its unfairness due to horrible game design.
I could go on and on about how the load times in this game are by far the longest load times I've experienced in any game in my life, or how it tends to load multiple times for one word quests to be given, only to load again for whatever reason. Or I could talk about how playing as tails, knuckles, and all of the side characters to the main characters is lazily put together and highly unneeded. I could even go on about how the story is completely boring and bad in a myriad of ways. Instead I will say although this game had many huge gaping issues I somehow came away having some fun with the characters that were not Sonic, tails, or knuckles, which is sad, but also makes me wonder why the developers didn't design sonic like Shadow, who plays similarly but better. I'm not sure why but these other episodes, both Shadow's and Silver's raise the quality of this game on their own and are the only enjoyment to be had in this game. So if you can handle a broken camera system, a terribly put together campaign for the main character, a lackluster story, and longer than life loading times, I'd say see what this game was, check it out. But try and see what the developers were trying to do, but don't kid yourselves, at the end of the day this game is awful.