Sonic Unleashed was…unleashed upon the world back in November of 2008. I, like many others I know, didn’t go out and buy this title the day it released. In fact, I simply received it via GameFly. For those wondering what the actual game is like who don’t want to risk being disappointed by renting or purchasing the title, read this review to learn all you need to know.
When most people think of Sonic the Hedgehog, they like to think of the series back in its heyday. Sonic (and accompanying “pals”) has had a tough time making the transition to the third dimension, the first two Sonic Adventure titles on the Dreamcast being notable exceptions. Sonic Unleashed introduces yet another new concept to the Sonic games, but for the most part it falls flat.
Perhaps taking a cue from the decent handheld versions of Sonic (Sonic Rush and Sonic Adventure on the DS, Sonic Rivals on the PSP), this latest title includes what can only be described as 2.5D levels. This is easily the game’s strongest portion. You get hi-def visuals at pretty smooth framerates, and classic gameplay that consists of little more than run, jump, attack, repeat. Though there are some frustrating deaths thanks to an occasionally awkward camera, Sonic Team really got this part right, and I applaud the effort here. A really nice surprise in this title is in-game custom music support! I was totally shocked when I started music from my XMB and it actually started playing. This really helped get me through some of the overworld-like portions of the game, and is a welcome feature that I think Sony should have made standard along with trophies.
During the introduction cinematic, we are shown that Sonic is transformed into a “werehog” during the night. These portions are a strictly combat-based affair. Ever wonder why the demo available on the PS Store only contained a single daytime section? Well, the night time levels are long and very repetitive. Though there are checkpoints, they are few and far between, and a death often results in you having to replay around 20 minutes of a level. They really tested my patience, though ironically they made the daytime sections that much more appealing and rewarding to get to.
The storyline here makes very little sense, and the voice acting is very corny. Tails, the two-tailed fox who has been a friend of Sonic’s ever since Sonic 2 on the Genesis, has a voice that is still far too high-pitched. Now, this goes without saying to any fans of the series, but how much longer must Dr. Robotnik be known as “Dr. Eggman?” It’s just silly. Back this time around is also an “adventure” mode, where you have to walk around different locations and mingle with the locals. It’s time-consuming and not very fun. The music is also very repetitive, but as mentioned before the custom music support definitely helps here.
Verdict: Sonic Unleashed has just barely scraped a 3/5 rating. Its major saving point is the rather enjoyable daytime levels, which harken back to the massive, fast-paced Dreamcast Sonic Adventure titles and its various action stages. Fans of the series should try this title out, but be warned that a lot of frustration is headed your way in the form of those long, tedious night time levels. Having your PS3 ready with custom music should help alleviate the pain though.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
The Werehog levels are horrible.
The classic Sonic moments are incredible, but half of the game isn’t.