Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) left a huge scar in the blue blur’s reputation. In order to get the franchise back on track, they decided to make a third installment to the beloved Sonic Adventure games. As they came up with more ideas for the game, however, they decided to separate it from the Adventure titles. One of the ideas that differentiated from the Dreamcast games was the concept of the werehog which was made to attract new players to the franchise and so, Sonic Unleashed started development. While Sonic Team worked on the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game, Dimps, the company behind the Sonic Advance and Rush games, helped port the game on the Wii and PS2. Gameloft worked on the mobile port of the game.
On November 18, 2008, Sega released Sonic Unleashed. While the game did indeed sell well (4.5 million copies to be exact), the reception of the game was…..mixed. While most of the critics enjoyed the daytime levels, a lot of the criticism of the game belonged to the night sections with the werehog. The game has been quite forgotten until recently where people are starting to love Unleashed (and hate Colors but that is for another time). But what do I think about the game? Do I think it’s as delicious as a chocolate chipped cream sundae supreme? Or do I think Sonic Unleashed drained all of Sonic’s glory like a Chaos Emerald?
Note: I will be reviewing the Xbox 360 version of the game. Your experience may differ depending on the version.
Sonic is doing his usual job of foiling Eggman’s plan in space until he is trapped as Super Sonic by the good doctor and the power of the Chaos Emeralds are drained and Sonic transforms into a werehog (think werewolf but for a hedgehog). Using the drained power of the emeralds, Eggman fires a huge laser on earth which summons Dark Gaia, a destructive beast who wakes up every few hundred thousand years and shatters the earth into seven pieces.
As Sonic falls down to earth in his werehog form, he finds Chip, a tiny flying creature who has suffered amnesia. They find out that Sonic returns to his normal form in the daytime and is in his werehog form at night. In order to restore the chaos emeralds’ power and fix the shattered earth, they must return the emeralds to the Gaia Temples. So their journey begins as they restore the planet and figure out Chip’s past.
As you play through the game, you will encounter only two of Sonic’s friends being Tails and Amy but you will also meet many fun and interesting humans. I really liked talking to them and helping them out. It’s quite unfortunate that Unleashed was the last Sonic game to use humans at the time of this review because I would love to see these humans again. Chip is interesting. Some people like him and some people don’t. I fall into the former. Chip was a very funny character to watch and I liked his friendship with Sonic. Eggman doesn’t do much besides his introduction at the very beginning of the game. He has this robot named Orbot who seems to do nothing but make Eggman look incompetent which I’m not a fan of. I give the story an A-.
The gameplay I have mixed feelings with. So, the game is split into two where you play standard speed levels in the daylight as Sonic’s hedgehog while you play slower-paced action levels as the werehog. In the daylight, you will blast through levels at top speed and reach the goal. Quick reactions are key in this game in order to reach higher paths in the level which are more rewarding with medals (more on those later). Occasionally, you will need to push the button the game tells you to push within a small time limit. I really liked this and wish they kept this in more Sonic games (technically Forces did this but there are no consequences to getting it wrong). Overall, I really enjoyed playing the day stages.
As the werehog at night, you will destroy tons of enemies using mainly your arms which can stretch from a far distance or throw enemies at each other. As previously mentioned, the nighttime sections are slower-paced because you usually have to stay in one location and have to progress by defeating all the enemies. There will be a few parkour parts where you have to swing or balance on pipes. The parkour sections are fine. I hate the balancing sections because it can be very frustrating. Because of this, I prefer to not even try and just go the way I want to go while Sonic is hanging. I enjoyed the combat as the werehog. My main problem with the nighttime sections is how long each level is. I’m fine with the levels but because of the length (usually half an hour), I will sometimes dread playing the levels.
As you play through these levels, you may collect sun/moon medals. These are required to access more levels in the game. I really disliked the concept of these medals. Collectibles shouldn’t be a necessity if you want to beat the game.
You can help citizens by ridding some monsters. Usually, these are pretty short so I enjoy them. There are also these chili-dog stands where you do certain levels like time, survival, battle, or ring trials depending on if it’s day or night. I didn’t really do these missions. I only did the one night mission but once I died, I had to start over so I decided not to do those again. If you succeed with those missions, you will be awarded a breezy dog that gives you EXP. You can use EXP to increase your stats like Combat, Strength, Speed, etc. You will also gain EXP as you play through the day and night levels.
Overall, the gameplay is fine. The nighttime sections are a little too long for my liking and I don’t like how the medals slow me down. The daylight stages were enjoyable though. I give it an A-.
The soundtrack is where this game really shines. The composer of Sonic Unleashed, Tomoya Ohtani, also worked on Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) which had a great soundtrack. It has some good vocal tracks like Endless Possibilities by Bowling for Soup (they also performed the intro to Phineas and Ferb which was a fact that blew my mind when I first heard it) and Dear My Friend by Brent Cash. There is also that sweet jazzy Werehog Battle Theme. Rooftop Run and Windmill Isle are also great level tracks that I enjoy. I give the soundtrack an A+.
To conclude, this is a pretty good game. I had a ton of fun playing it. My biggest problem with the game is, like many others, the nighttime segments. While they can be fun, they are stretched way too long. But I am glad it is starting to get the love it deserves. I give the game an 8.5/10.
At a Glance: Sonic Unleashed
Summary: Travel around the world as you restore the power of the Chaos Emeralds and put back together the pieces of the shattered world.
Rated: E 10+ for Everyone 10 and Up: Animated Blood and Fantasy Violence.
Price: Wii and Xbox 360: $14.99 PS3: $19.99
Systems: PS2, Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, and Mobile.
Release Date: November 18, 2008