By CapnCloudchaser 3 Comments
I've been pretty busy with Uni lately, and my first proper assignment was to write a review of a game. Naturally, I went for Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, partly because I had a lot to say about it as a gamer and a Sonic fan, but whilst reviewing the game I put a lot of thought into analysing Sonic's 2D and 3D gameplay, and how Sonic has changed over the years.
The older 2D Sonic games were like a race, as you ran through levels as quickly as you could, searching for the best route that offered the most lucrative rewards. However, like most traditional racing games, speed is only half of the gameplay equation. If you compare the MegaDrive Sonic games with newer 2D Sonic games like Sonic Rush and Sonic Rush Adventure, it is quite obvious that a newer generation Sonic has a focus on speed, whereas the older generation Sonic included a lot of slower platform elements. The sense of speed felt more realistic, in terms of real world physics, in that Sonic would have to build up his speed and never ran so fast he would go skidding off the side of the camera, although that was known to happen occasionally.
My point is that Sonic is more than just speed, but it is his speed that gives him the appearance of being cool and thus proves popular with gamers and obviously younger gamers. The original Sonic Adventure was fairly close at recreating Sonic's gameplay in a 3D world; expansive areas to be explored combined with speed segments, but as time has gone by, Sonic has become more and more about speed, and those other traditional elements such as combat and platforming have been relegated to other characters introduced to the Sonic universe, and in the case of Sonic Unleashed, a slowed down alter-ego. Now, most gamers see Sonic as being speed himself, and a Sonic game without that speed is not a Sonic game. But is a Sonic game without combat and platforming elements, as introduced by the Warehog in Sonic Unleashed, a Sonic game either?
Many reviews I have read about Sonic Unleashed have complained that the daytime stages are fantastic, but the Warehog levels bring it down. Would a Sonic game with just daytime stages really be a good Sonic game? How could both of those elements be combined without slowing Sonic down? I don't think they could be, and that the only solution would be to divide the gameplay and make the platforming sections more varied and entertaining, or to slow down Sonic enough so that he could take part in precision platforming and combat. I really do think that, whilst a lot of critics have complained that the Warehog stages bring down the pace of the daytime levels, if the game was purely just daytime stages, then Sonic Unleashed would be quite boring and incredibly short.
I have yet to play Sonic Unleashed (It is released tomorrow in the UK, so I imagine I will have something to finally say about it within the coming weeks) but I'm really interested to see how the sense of speed plays out, if the Warehog stages are really as boring as people have been saying, or if they are reminiscent of the older MegaDrive classics. More than that, I want to ask myself the question: could the daytime stages hold up on their own?