Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sonic Generations Review

Gameplay (6/10): Sonic Generations (SG) has a good foundation with some decent controls and a game design that moves away from the gimmick-fueled Sonic games of the past few years. However, SG suffers on a few fronts. For one, despite using the foundation of past Sonic games in its design, SG does nothing to improve the flaws found in the designs of the older games. For example, the random falls found in many of the 3D Sonic games can still be found in the 3D Sonic levels of SG, and the floaty jumps of the Genesis Sonic games can still be found in the 2D Sonic levels of SG. But the biggest problem in SG's game is the level design. The first 4 stages for both classic and modern Sonics are fantastic in design and execution, but after those stages, the level design begins to fall apart. Random falls, levels that overstay their welcome, or sections that are more frustrating than fun are spread throughout the latter 4 worlds. This isn't to say that the latter levels have nothing to enjoy, as they're still decent in design and entirely playable, it's just that the player has to take the frustration with the fun, which is something not necessary in the first four worlds, which are nothing but fun.

A surprising problem with SG is its lack of content. As there are only 8 worlds with two levels each; the game does offer 5-6 missions in each world, some of which are very different from the main stages, but they are no substitute for the thrill of main stages.

Overall, the gameplay of SG has a solid foundation and its refreshing to have a Sonic game without gimmicks, but the less-than-stellar level design of the majority of the stages, flaws in game design that shou;d've been dealt with long ago, and a lack in overall content makes the gameplay experience of SG feel unsatisfying.

Also, the final boss fight is very poor in execution, and load times, while not too lengthy, are very frequent.

Graphics (7/10): The two Sonic's look great, as do all of the stages, and everything runs nice and smooth; however, due to the fact that there's no true original content in the game, its not easy to be really impressed by it all. The animation of the characters in cutscenes aren't up to the levels of past Sonics, and their detail in cutscenes is disappointing in comparison to Sonic Unleashed's cutscenes. Overall, the graphics are great where it matters, in the stages, but the honest truth is that we've seen all of it before, but not in such detail.

Music/Sound (7.5/10): Like the graphics, none of the music in Sonic Generations is truly original, save for the final boss theme, which is nothing to praise. However, like the graphics, what we get is very nice. All of the classic themes of the stages have been remixed very well by the sound team, and the burst of nostalgia given by them is very impactful. Many of the remixes surpass the originals. The game also provides many classic tunes as unlockables to play during any of the stages, which is a nice touch. The soundtrack of SG may be the most impressive aspect of the game; if only for the nostalgia factor.

Story (3/10): Unlike most other platformers, Sonic games have had stories ever since Sonic 3, many of which have been pretty good. Which is why SG's story disappoints so much, as it is simply a cop-out to bring the two Sonics together. The worst part is how SG generally tries to create an aura of mystery about the story, but ultimately it isn't interesting or even taken seriously by the game's end. Furthermore, the execution of the story is poorly executed, with poor quality cutscenes, and little dialogue from the other characters. Overall, the story and its execution simply feel like an after thought by the dev. team, and if this were any other platformer, I'd probably take it, but with Sonic, whose told many great stories, it can't be tolerated.

Replay Value (5/10): The first four worlds of SG have the same feeling as the classic Genesis games, in that they are fun no matter how many times you play them; however, the latter levels are a mixed bag: they have their fun parts, but they can be more frustrating than fun overall, making replaying them questionable. There are the missions to come back to, but most of them feel more like chores than something fun.

Satisfaction (5/10): Overall, I found SG more frustrating than fun. The latter four stages weren't very enjoyable, the boss battles weren't great, and the lack of content is really noticeable. Regardless, SG had its fun moments with the first four stages, which pulled off what SG was set to do in the beginning: provide nostalgia and a pure gimmick-free Sonic game design. It is refreshing to have a gimmick-free Sonic game, but those gimmicks were what made those games long. SEGA needs to return to the design of the Genesis and Dreamcast Sonic games where the game was a good length because it had a strong amount of content, not because some gimmick slowed down the progress. The lack of a good story was disappointing, as I found past Sonic stories pretty interesting, especially the Adventure games. SG is not a new step forward for Sonic like many have said, it's simply a copy-and-paste of older game design; Sonic Team needs to show that they are open to fresh ideas and good game design execution; something they showed plenty of when making the first Sonic Adventure. Sonic needs to take another step forward like then.


The score I should and want to give it - (5.5/10): Sonic Generations is a solid game at heart, but it's flaws are too apparent. The lack of content, the poorly executed story and cutscenes, and some disappointing level design keep SG from being a truly note-worthy Sonic title. The game's purpose was for nostalgia purposes, and it accomplished this, but it doesn't make itself truly worthy as a stand-alone title. Hopefully, Sonic Team will learn from what they did here and develop the next Sonic game with higher quality and a more competent mind-set.

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