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Sonic Unleashed Review (Wii)


YelloGecko
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This is from the Wii owner's POV, given that the ports are pretty different in retrospect. My roommate bought it and I mostly watched him beat it, yet I've played quite a few missions myself:

Positives:

This game reaffirmed Sonic's status as a speed DEMON. Unlike Secret Rings, where you have to go through many upgrades to get to top speed, Sonic was blasting off right out the gate. I loved how Unleashed felt like an actual racing game on foot, only there was more control over Sonic here than in Secret Rings (even if it is hard to steer him when you actually hafta slow the lil bugger down. Yeah Sonic was clearly made for running, but if it was easier to walk in SA2 than Unleashed, there's a problem. Fortunately there's not too much that requires that here, so moving on...lol)

I genuinely liked the Werehog sections. It was a nice break from the action (at first) with some additional platforming elements to deviate from runninlykabatouttahell all the time. And of course, who could go wrong with pummeling the snot out of daemons and stuff? Werehog's got some sweet moves...if you can get the hang of 'em.

The cheery, cartoonish graphics (especially on the human characters) was a much-needed break from the desperate emphasis on realism in the last Sonic games. It was excusable when the ppl of Station Square looked like mannequins; it was on the Dreamcast and their first attempt at creating this world. But Sonic 06 was a stretch beyond necessary, especially when the NPC's started looking too similar to one another. Unleashed's design, while far from real, made the world a lot more believable, and you'll even empathize a little with the characters (even if they're just pictures for us Wiiheads).

No clunky Adventure-style hub cities to stumble through! All the interactions are filtered down to a quick and slick point-and-click style map for each country. Of course this was less out of fan demand and more out of Wii's lacking horsepower for such environments, but hey, our port DID get higher points cuz we didn't have the hubs :)

The music kicks @$$ on every level. Literally. How many of y'all were jamming to Shamar before you actually got into an Action Stage? How many were jamming WHEN you were in the Action Stage? Dopest soundtrack this side of the Genesis games, and composed by the same dude that scored the 06 game too! Of course that soundtrack was cool too, but THIS....man just LISTEN to the title screen for Arceussakes!!

Negatives:

The Wii controls could've been more responsive, on both the Daytime and Nighttime stages. It gets even more imperative as the Werehog, when you end up pulling off the wrong combos and just regress into motion-sensor button mashing lol. And don't get me started on vine/ledge grabbing :/ In Sonic's case, something's gotta be done about accidentally boosting when you miss a homing attack, being that they're mapped to the SAME BUTTONS. And again, it should not be so hard to move Sonic while walking...or maybe it isn't, but the stiff animation he makes that looks like he wants to break into a dash so badly doesn't help that perception. We can do better, Sonic Team.

Beat up enemies. Run. Find keys to door. Run. Beat up enemies WHILE finding keys to door. Run. Jump. Swing from ledge to ledge. Run. Goal. That's your basic Werehog stage in a nutshell. Beating the crap out of enemies can be fun, but there was simply not enough variety/imagination in these stages to warrant ALL the times you gotta fight somebody.

Of course, that wouldn't be so bad if there weren't MORE NIGHTTIME STAGES THAN DAYTIME!! This is where Unleashed dropped the biggest ball, because throughout the previews of the game, I was under the (logical) assumption that Act 1 = Daytime and Act 2 = Nighttime. And in a way, I was right. I just didn't count on Act 3, 4, 5, AND 6 being present as well, ALL as the frickin' Werehog. We know you got a new feature that you wanna show off, Sonic Team, but shoving it down our throats was not the way to go about it. In fact, if you spent enough time ironing out the kinks in this mode, this wouldn't be so bad. But since that wasn't the case, I'm forced to go with the prevailing argument that y'all should've cut the Nighttime stages out entirely.

Despite the fact that there were no frustrating/dull/clunky/unnecessary fetch missions to wade through with the lack of hub worlds, the point-and-clicking aspect still seemed pretty pointless and detached from the adventure. In fact, I almost missed being able to go through these cities and talk to these ppl outright. Sort of a Sonic R complex (I had the option of turning off the goudacheesy vocals, but the game/music didn't seem the same without 'em. Go figure, lol)

Yeah yeah, I know. The other versions have better graphics, and we have a slight edge over the PS2...apparently. What bothers me is that the technical cutbacks on Unleashed were so great that they had to cut out Mazuri AND Empire City!! Yes, Sonic running through the former's savannahs WAS the first shot of footage ever shown to the public, and they cut it out of the Wii version like no one would notice. Oh sure, we get to go there, talk to the natives, listen to the cool hub music, and fight a boss. But that's IT. Not even a frickin' Werehog level made it through. Just the hub. And Empire City, the dope NYC-inspired level, doesn't even show up @ ALL!! WTF SONIC TEAM?! Y'know, there might've been a little more room to include these countries if you didn't stuff the game with so many WEREHOG LEVELS!! YEAH I'M BITTER, DIDN'T THE CAPS LOCKS GIVE ANY INDICATION!?!??!?1111!!!111!!!one!!!111

And last but most certainly least, Chip. I don't care how important his role was in the game (which was admittedly bad@$$, looking back on it). He was just plain annoying from the get-go. The fact that Silver's VO brought him to life, of course, didn't help his case in the slightest...

Final Verdict

And there's my opinion of Sonic Unleashed in a nutshell, continuing Sega's ongoing trend of taking one step forward and two steps back with their franchise. Is this the death of Sonic as we know it? Hell naw...Sonic and the Black Knight is apparently (sarcasm, ppl; I still refuse to believe that it was that bad to warrant a 3.9, but...we'll see...). Point is that all of these games have the potential to be great, but they are invariably (and at this point, inevitably) bogged down by sophomoric issues that shouldn't even be. Unleashed was fun though, and in no way as bad as everyone assumed in my opinion. But it gets a 7/10 for now. Keep trying Sonic Team. We are still rooting for you, contrary to popular belief...

Edited by YelloGecko
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