Published on May 14th, 2012 | by Duke0911
Review: Sonic Generations – PS3/Xbox 360/PC
Developer: Sonic Team (PS3, 360), Devil's Details (PC) Publisher: Sega
System(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: November 1, 2011 (PS3/360), November 3, 2011 (PC)
Oh Sonic, you’ve been through quite a lot these past 20 years. I’ve been playing Sonic since the very beginning; battling a mad scientist that turns helpless creatures into robots, collecting the chaos emeralds, and turning into a werehog? Yes, you have had quite a history my blue friend. Sega decides to celebrate that history with Sonic Generations; which combines the old and the new into one fun, fast-paced, creative game. Sure there are a couple hiccups here and there, but this is one of Sonic’s best games in years.
Story has never been a strong point in many games of the Sonic series, but in Sonic Generations, Sega switches things up a little. Instead of having a few cutscenes at the beginning to introduce the game to the player, you start the first level the second you hit start game (the same way that Sonic Colors started.) After racing through the level as Classic Sonic in the past (I’ll go into more detail about the gameplay later), a mysterious monster known as the Time Eater appears from the sky and sucks time and space from that period of time. In present time, Modern Sonic is celebrating his birthday with many of his friends when suddenly, the Time Eater appears. Though Modern Sonic tries to stop it, he’s no match and is knocked out by it. The Time Eater then captures Sonic’s friends, and sucks time and space out of Modern Sonic’s period of time. When he wakes up, Sonic finds himself in a weird, white, limbo. After running through a couple more zones, the two Sonic’s finally meet. Together, along with Classic and Modern Tails they try to figure out what’s going on and save their friends. After this point, the story in the game doesn’t get that serious. In fact, as you progress through the zones the game makes fun of past stories. This is quite different from the serious tone that Sonic games have attempted in the past, and works better than you’d expect. Sonic constantly makes references to his past adventures, and his reaction, in itself, is also a reference to the ups and downs of the series. It’s a simple strategy, but Sega pulled it off nicely and it would be great to see them continue this in future Sonic games.
The gameplay of Sonic Generations is split into 2 distinct parts. In each level you have 2 acts; with Act 1 representing Classic Sonic, and Modern Sonic for Act 2. Classic Sonic levels are side-scrolling, 2.5D levels that feel close to how games from the genesis played. You run, jump, and spin your way through levels to reach the goal post at the end. The levels are designed where if you can manage to stay on the top path, you’ll be able to get through the stage quicker in most cases just like the old games. At the same time, however, they are usually more difficult to get around on and require a bit more skill. This can be more difficult at times due to Sonic’s jumps, which feel floaty at times. Also, trying to slow down when running at full speed can be a bit difficult, but these issues aren’t game-breaking.
With Modern Sonic, the gameplay is completely different. You not only play from 2-D perspective, but you also switch to 3-D seamlessly in the levels (was first introduced in Sonic Unleashed and later in Sonic Colors.) Control-wise, this is the best that Sonic has moved in this type of gameplay. You’ll be boosting, sliding, drifting, and much more towards the goal ring at the end of his acts. I must admit that even though he controls great, their are a couple of flaws when playing as Modern Sonic. Jumping, like with Classic Sonic, can feel a bit floaty at times, which can get irritating when trying to make precise jumps. Another issue I ran across is with the light-speed dash, which allows Modern Sonic to travel along a path of rings. In past games, you simply had to press a button near a trail of rings, and Sonic will travel along them. In Generations, however, at times it seems you have to be touching the first ring in the trail to perform the light-speed dash. I can’t tell you how many times I died because of that problem, and it’s even been limited to use on specific trails (you can see what the trail looks like in one of the videos below). Overall though, both Sonics control great. The complaints I mentioned earlier feel small compared to how much fun the game is.
The levels are all re-imagined from past games and divided into three eras; Classic, Dreamcast, and Modern. You’ll race through some of the more famous stages such as Green Hill from Sonic the Hedgehog, to more obscure ones such as Speed Highway from Sonic Adventure; from 2 different perspectives. What this means is that you’ll be able to see what playing a classic level like Sky Sanctuary is like with a gameplay style similar to Sonic Colors. Likewise, you get a chance to race through levels like Crisis City, with the Classic Sonic gameplay from the genesis. All of these levels are well done, beautifully detailed, and graphics that just give each area its own personality. The level design is also spot on, though there are a couple of mishaps that could use some work. At times, the game feels like you have to perform an action with precise timing; while other times the screen looks so busy that it’s hard to determine where you’re suppose to go. All that aside, you can’t help but have nostalgia seeing these levels again, remastered for today’s time.
For each level there are missions; 5 for Classic and Modern Sonic each. As you progress through the game, you’ll be required to play a handful before moving on. The mission variety is beefy; ranging from getting to the end of the level with one ring, to solving puzzles to get to the goal. There are also friend missions; which are my personal favorite, that has you pair up with one of Sonic’s friends. Their missions go from racing Tails to the goal, to using search lights to find and defeat Espio in a friendly competition. Don’t worry though, if you find that you don’t like a mission, you have many options to choose from. Once you complete a couple of missions in an era, you receive a boss key; which gives you access to that era’s boss battle.
The boss’s in this game are, honestly, a bit of a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, they look great and all and have some of the most memorable villains in Sonic’s history, but they are just too easy. Seriously, without a doubt, you will probably get an S rank on your first attempt. Even on hard mode these fights seems like a joke. The only time you may run into some trouble is with the level design that I mentioned earlier. This problem especially arises in the final boss. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but the 3DS version of this fight is way more enjoyable. Rival battles on the other hand, are a blast. You gain access to one rival battle per era right before the boss. In each battle you have either Classic or Modern Sonic fight a rival while at the the same time racing them. Their attack patterns are very easy to read, and will probably be no real challenge to anyone on their first try. On hard mode however, their fighting styles change completely, and can give you a real challenge as you try to defeat them. Even after you defeat them, it’s blast to go back and fight them again, and is one of the best parts of the game. Also, after defeating a boss or rival for the first time, you receive a chaos emerald that can be used for later once all seven are collected. That’s nice and all, but it would’ve been nice to have some special stages squeezed into the game somewhere.
Another strong point of the game is the music, all of which is just gorgeous. The style of music focuses less on the heavy guitar music trend that started with Sonic Adventure, and has a more orchestrated, violin-heavy soundtrack. If you’re a fan of the Rock and Roll style that Sonic games have had for so long, don’t worry. Tracks like Chemical Plant Act 2 still represent that:
Also, for those who liked the music direction that Sonic Unleashed went, Sega has you covered too, with tracks like Crisis City Act 2:
Also, you have the option to change the music in any stage, boss, or mission with tracks you can collect in game (Sonic Boom played in Green Hill? Yes, please!)
After you complete the main story, the game isn’t quite over yet. There’s also two online modes: Time Attack and 30 Second Trial. The latter has you run as far as possible in a level, and after 30 seconds your spot will be marked. From here you have the option to continue moving around the level, and you are able to search and find how far your friends have traveled. This can be a fun way to compete, though it would be nice to be able to actually race against others.
Time Attack has you run through a level as fast as you can, and once you reach the goal your time will be recorded on an online leaderboard. This can be a test of one’s creativity and reflexes, as running through the stage casually won’t get you a fast time. With a little practice though, you can blaze through a level quickly (Spoiler alert for those who haven’t played the game yet) like this:
And let’s not forget Modern Sonic:
Sonic Generations takes everything good about the series and mashes it into one game, and for the most part it succeeds. Though there are a few frustrating moments, very easy bosses, and not that many levels (hopeful for DLC in the future,) the good definitely outweighs the bad. The crisp visuals, solid controls, and amazing soundtrack will give an incredible feeling of nostalgia to any fan of the series. It’s also a great game for newcomers to get a taste of what Sonic is all about. Overall, it’s a great game to celebrate 20 years of everything Sonic.
+ Amazing visuals and level choices
+ Beautiful and diverse soundtrack
+ Great level design and rival battles
+ Solid control for both Classic and Modern levels
– Atrocious final boss
Final Score: 4.5 out of 5