A Sub-Par Reboot To The Sonic Series
Sonic The Hedgehog on 360 is the first Sonic game to be released on the current generation of video game systems. This time you play as three different hedgehogs, Sonic, Shadow and Silver, all with their own scenarios and stories as they battle Dr Robotnick and new enemies to save The Kingdom Of Soleana and Princess Elise. Sounds a lot similar to a certain OTHER platformer to me…
Lets get things straight however, Sonic The Hedgehog on Xbox 360 is a complete disappointment. The reason for this though is because the game is plagued by three riveting, and gradually, game crippling flaws. If it wasn't for these problems then perhaps Sonic 06 wouldn't be as misunderstood as it is now today. The first of these main flaws is load times. Sonic The Hedgehog has dreadful load times. Not only are these load times lengthy and enduring, sometimes being as long as 30 seconds long with each load screen but they're sometimes just cruelly pointless. An example being when you get given missions, the game specifically takes its time to tell you what you're supposed to do, before then going to another 30 second load screen to do the task itself.
Furthermore this is irritating because you're going to die a lot during Sonic The Hedgehog on 360 which leads me on to Flaw Number Two. The camera, its off. While we already know the camera in 3D Sonic games isn't great, Sonic The Hedgehog takes this to a whole new level where you'll almost always be fighting the camera just to see what you're doing during the gameWhether this means during a boss fight or picking off enemies with Shadow or Silver's abilities the issues remains the same. The camera sometimes sticks in areas where you don't want it and stays there.
Other times, the camera will be pointing at the wrong thing or zoomed in too close or too far away to let the player get a good enough picture on what they're doing. There are no distinct camera controls in Sonic The Hedgehog, and it would've proved very beneficial if the player was allowed to function with them more properly, like in Super Mario 64. And lastly, Sonic The Hedgehog on Xbox 360 has terrifyingly poor slowdown which as unfortunate as it sounds tends to happen frequently when action comes in to play with the game. It makes the game so much harder to play which is a big problem on some levels.
Still despite these three game impacting issues there are brighter sides to Sonic The Hedgehog. Heck, the game is still very much fun to play with these problems. Sonic The Hedgehog plays a lot like the Dreamcast Sonic Adventure titles that were released in the early years of the 128 Bit era. Sonic The Hedgehog is similar to Sonic Adventure 1 in that you navigate between levels through a world system. In this world system you can buy upgrades – a lot of them being familiar moves from earlier Sonic games like the coin dash and you can also do side missions to earn coins.
The side missions are OK for the most part if you want to earn the extra medals in the game which lead to achievements but are not really worth the effort on most occasions. At other times you have to do side missions in order to progress furthur in the game and often can lead the player in gathering information around the town or finding secrets in order to play the next level. The Sonic campaign is very speed orientated and the action is good too to support. At times Sonic's levels can be annoying though as he can be too fast to control and his speed levels (where Sonic moves faster than usual) are very difficult to navigate properly, thankfully though there are very few of these levels.
As for Shadow's campaign he gets to use vehicles and his special chaos control powers in his levels. Shadow's levels tend to be quite fun with vehicles which range from buggies and bikes to hover-crafts and hang-gliders. These vehicles all control fine and how you would expect them although can be a little odd to get used to at first. Shadow's levels are fast paced much like Sonic's levels as you might expect as a fan of the earlier games. They tend to have similar problems that Sonic's levels have but the Speed levels are replaced by hang-glider levels and with rocket launchers too. Shadow's hang-glider levels are a lot slower than the speed levels also which is a huge relief.
Finally Silver's episode, which is by far the best, is unique thanks to his ability to manipulate the environment around him using his telekinetic skills. I found his campaign the most interesting as it varies from the normal speed formula of the previous two episodes and has unique puzzles that have more challenge than Sonic or Shadow's episodes combined. Besides the episodes, you control other characters in the Sonic universe like Tails and Knuckles, Amy, Rogue and even Blaze The Cat from the more recent Sonic Rush series. It is good playing as all of these characters again and it is an original addition to the game.
As for the boss battles in Sonic The Hedgehog, they're pretty much average for the most part although some are designed interestingly and it is fun to discover how to beat some of the bosses like on Shadow's levels. The graphics are spectacular in Sonic The Hedgehog and there is a lot of detail in the game, while the animation is decent relatively speaking. Soleana and the world are lovingly designed and the effort goes as far as small details on Sonic's trainers and minor patterns on Elise's dress which makes this game stand out from other platformers in the graphical category
The sound design is pretty good too and the game makes use of an orchestral track which is a little out of the ordinary for modern Sonic games, especially considering its normal dependency on pop-rock for the Sonic Adventure games. The voice acting isn't half bad although it is nothing special either. This Sonic in particular has an entirely new cast of voices, many of which are from the Sonic X TV series. Sonic The Hedgehog is a moderately long game but with enough enthusiasm could be finished within a week. Although replaying each campaign has its replay value if you want to earn more medals in the game.
Summed up, Sonic The Hedgehog is a sub-par Xbox 360 release and because of that it is ultimately disappointing as well. We as gamers expected more from this Sonic The Hedgehog on 360 as a Sonic title. It makes the game seem a lot more average than it actually is and sadly requires a lot of patience to really get the best of. If you do play through Sonic The Hedgehog and ignore its problems, a fun and entertaining game shines through in the end. Otherwise however, it is best to avoid Sonic The Hedgehog and go dig out Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 on the Dreamcast instead.