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My thoughts on Sonic Unleashed...


iambitter21
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I've stated time and time again that Adventure 2 was my favorite sonic game, and I still really, really like the game despite it's many detractors on this site. I stated that the speed stages are very fun to master despite it's linearity, and that mechs and the treasure hunting are great ways of making different gameplay styles. it's something I personally want in a sonic game even to this day where my opinions on the game (and many others) have changed time and time again. SA2 was a game that couldn't be beaten by any other 3d sonic game, and yet I was still very excited to play sonic unleashed for the very first time. I heard a lot of great things about the game, just as much as I heard terrible things about it. so when I finally got it for Christmas I didn't hesitate to put the disc into the 360, told my friends on discord the news, turned on the TV, and the title screen was right in front of me. I pressed start and... it looked incredible, sonic team really brought their A game with the animation at the beginning, as well as the rest of the animation in this game.

Okay, okay. I know that you came here for a review and not me gawking at the animations, so I'll spare the spectacle and tell you that I absolutely LOVE Unleashed and everything else about it, way more than I ever could with SA2 and that's crazy. I've known as the SA2 stan on twitter for a while (it's literally on my bio), and I never thought that title would be turned into the Unleashed stan in my life head on to the gameplay:

The Boost Gameplay: at first I wasn't very big on this gameplay, it was fun, and It was a very good spectacle, but it wasn't really hitting the exact right tones. lt got much better as the game went on, like using the quick-step to get through spikes in Cool Edge, drifting across a dirt road and avoiding the mud in Savannah Citadel, keeping  enough speed in Arid Sands, literally doing everything in Jungle Joyride, and so much more. this game is extremely linear, yes, but it does much more to keep you on your toes besides that linearity, and I love it. call me crazy, but this is the exact same formula that SA2's speed stages did and exceeded in. it's also extremely linear like Unleashed but it throws a lot at you that you need to face in order to get an A rank and finish the stage like rail grinding on rails to get points, homing attacking a chain of enemies to rack up more points, making through a linear section to get the highest amount of points like in Final Rush. Unleashed takes that formula and improves on it. I can't number all the times I felt so god-like getting an S rank in a hard level trying to do tricks by doing quick-time events in these stages, while also gathering enough rings and keeping your speed. it's a really great way of rewarding/punishing a player for their performance in a stage. there's a lot more to unravel when it comes to these levels so I'll stop here and say these stages are absolutely phenomenal in everyway, 9/10.

now... again... don't kill me for this take:

The Werehog gameplay: this was the gameplay that I was super worried about when I first got into this game, so many people were panning the gameplay for being slow and clunky and unfair and "not sonic". it's been panned for years and years, and I think I have the confidence to say that all that panning... is nothing to me. the Werehog is great in a lot of ways. the Combat is super fun to use, it feels so satisfying to chain in a lot of enemies with a pummel combo like Y-Y-Y-Y-X-X-X-X or X-X-X-X-Y-Y-Y-Y, and unlocking new combos via XP is a great Idea especially since you get a lot of XP in the Werehog stages as opposed to the speed stages. oh and to those who say the werehog as an idea doens't really make any literal sense, how about this theory: the real reason that sonic is the werehog is simple, he took energy from dark gaia, turning him into a dark beast like some of the citizens in the hub-world (sorta) do. his soul is so strong that the negative energy doesn't phase him and he can keep control, that why near the end you saw tons of dark energy leave him and enter Dark Gaia instead. boom, all the sense you need, but I digress. there's also something SA2-like about the Werehog, and that's the fact they feel like a carbon-copy of the mechs in SA2. now hear me out on this one:

- Both have slower but more persistent platforming that requires the player to be light on their toes in order to transverse through a segment quick enough, like cutting through moving platforms that'll break after you shoot them in eternal engine or locking on to a ton of enemies as well as bombs on a pillar to rack up points and shave time, or tight pole-jumps above a cloudy sky on the rooftops of Rooftop Run or swinging across a pole before waterfalls rain down on you in Jungle Joyride

- They both (to an extant) have a way a combat orientation to said platforming, either by chaining enough enemies to get more points, or a beat-em-up that has a way of gaining more points via quick-time events.

- They both have quicker, more efficient ways of traversing a level beyond simple jumps, like a quick hover-jump up a ledge you wouldn't reach otherwise, or an air combo that let's you get through further gaps (such as X-X-A, I love using that combo)

to me the werehog takes the formula that the mechs had and improves on them in a lot of ways, especially in the combat and platforming departments. but the stages themselves are quite long... very long even, and I don't mind that, if it weren't for the fact that I'm a huge perfectionist when It comes to games like these. and restarting is one of the advantages the mechs have against the werehog. I'm fine with one and done-ing a level just fine but when I die and have to restart over and over and over and over again, fun slowly but surely turns from fun to tediousness, and tediousness to frustration. and that's one of the biggest flaws of these stages. but past those flaws, it's combat is very fleshed out and done super well, some like to say it's an unoriginal GoW or DmC clone, but I'd say it's more inspired by it than anything, especially seeing how stylistically different they are when you compare them. I'd give it a 9/10

the Story in this game is also one of my favorites, seeing sonic and chips friendship grow stronger brings a nice smile on my face and some moments with chip the rest of the characters in this game made me laugh. out. loud. like chip turning into a ghost out of nowhere, or him magically getting fangs, or professor pickle not being upset about being locked up, but the fact that the sandwiches he has aren't made properly, or one of the NPC's you come across always being hungry, even in the credits. those jokes feel genuine and earnest, instead of... baldy nosehair over and over and calling it "light-hearted" in it's tone.

the final boss though was not fun even when I got better at it. the music and tense quick-time event definitely bring it up from terrible but I struggle to call it good imo. the ending was kinda sad seeing chip die. but it was definitely a nice way to end the game especially with the credits music (all 3 of them). so by this, I'd give Sonic Unleashed a solid 9/10.

so there you have it, a sonic game that finally trumped SA2 from being my favorite 3d game. now does this mean I hate SA2 now?.... you serious? NO! I still adore this game and title it as Sonic Team's magnum opus, but Unleashed is still better in every way to me now. I'll be replaying this game for quite a while, seeing all the great looking food, seeing all the collectables I can find and so on. share your thoughts on the game if you want, I'll probably see a lot of people disagreeing a lot on the werehog but eh, what are ya gonna do? people are very divided on this game so I hopefully won't be surprised.

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