Review: Sonic Generations (PS3)

(Originally posted on 12/8/11 at Dtoid)

After every Sonic fan’s whining and complaining, Sega finally decided to take the best approach to creating a game celebrating Sonic’s 20th anniversary, a simple but fun and exciting mix between classic 2D Sonic and modern 3D Sonic.

Sonic Generations begins with seeing our favorite spiky hedgehog running through Green Hill Zone until an evil shadowy figure appears, casting some funky time magic, but in the future, all of Sonic’s friends are throwing him a surprise birthday party. Eating a delicious chili dog whilst surrounded by happy faces…what could go wrong? Well, the obvious of course. The same shadowy creature appears and opens up portals to what appears to be different stages from Sonic’s past. His friends are all sucked into these different portals and Sonic tries to give chase, only to be knocked unconscious and sent into a world where all these timelines exist together. Now, it is your job to save your friends and fix time.

The basic level select of Sonic Generations is set in a type of hub, where you are able to move about freely to select an Act or Challenge. In every section of the hub there are three Zones and one boss stage. Every Zone is a recreation of areas from Sonic’s past games, but with a twist. Each Zone includes two Acts: one you can play as classic Sonic and the other as modern Sonic.

In Act one, classic Sonic stages are truly what they say they are. Classic. None of the homing attack gimmicks or modern look that Sonic 4 had. Just your simple run, jump, and spin dash; the way I remember it. I really enjoyed and appreciated these levels. Playing through classic levels like Green Hill or Sky Sanctuary was quite the treat. Even a few level design callbacks to the original stages. Later on in the game you even get to explore originally 3D levels like City Escape or Seaside Hill in standard 2D platforming, which proves to be quite interesting.

One thing I really enjoyed about classic Sonic was enemy hopping. A mechanic that wasn’t as important in original Sonic becomes much more prominent here. Enemy hopping in certain areas can lead to shortcuts, brand new paths through the level you haven’t seen before, and red star rings that unlock collectibles. Oh, and spin dashing is insanely fast.

Act two features modern Sonic and as of Sonic’s recent game, Sonic Colors, Sega seems to be slowly bringing Sonic back to life, and this game surely finishes the job for me. Colors’ gameplay is a mix between forward running 3D environments and sidescrolling 2D. Despite it being an improvement, the gameplay and level design still felt like it was missing something. It needed some more polish, and that’s exactly what’s delivered here. Modern Sonic has moves such as speed boosting, sliding, wall jumping, homing attack, and more. All of his skills blend smoothly together in these well designed and vibrant levels.

There’s also an online mode to get your name on the leader boards. Here, you have two choices: Time Trial or 30-second trial. In Time Trial it’s you’re average “get to the goal as fast as you can” deal, but in 30-second trial you’re given 30 seconds to race as far as you can through the level.

One thing that every modern Sonic gamer knows is the massive amount of glitches that come along, but there are almost none. Being able to flow through the levels without the constant frustration of bad level design and interrupting glitches is an improvement I never thought I would get to expierence.

After all three zones are completed, three sets of challenges appear, ten for each stage. There is one key placed in each of these areas that are needed to gain access to the boss. All you have to do to obtain these keys is beat one mission in each area. That’s it. One challenge. Out of 10. Here you can see they aren’t trying to force the extra content on you, but at least having you take a stab at it if finishing the game is all you are really looking to do. I really like the idea that I don’t have to go through an onslaught of these; I guess you could say, side quests, to progress.

You may be wondering, what would provoke me to even play the rest of the challenges if I can just win by playing a few? Collectibles. After every challenge you unlock a new piece of artwork, music, and sometimes even a new skill. The artwork can range from concept art of stages to just original character drawings. The music on the other hand is all from past games. Literally, almost every Sonic game has at least one music track featured. Then when you collect these songs, you can apply them to different stages if you want to mix things up a little. Oh yeah, and they’re just damn fun. Missions ranging from beating another you in a race, having Sonic’s friends help through obstacles, or even bouncing the end level flag to the end of the level as a Sonic 3 callback.

The boss fights are all brought back from the past as well but bigger than before. Although they may look more intimidating or more challenging, they really aren’t. They just didn’t give me the same feeling of excitement as the originals did. Even the final boss is a let down which was kind of a disappointment for me. Rival battles for chaos emeralds are also included as a nice touch and I actually, despite their low difficulty, had a fun time with them.

Another cool addition is the Skill Shop. Here you can purchase upgrades that make finishing stages or completing challenges easier like “Power Sneakers” that make you even faster or the “Flame Shield” from Sonic 3. Up to a max of five skills can be equipped and you also can’t go over a skill point number of 100. So be sure to choose your skills wisely.

Without a doubt though, this is one of my favorite looking PS3 games. It’s bright and vibrant colors just stand out so much in its high definition quality. The green grass of the Green Hill Zone, the ruins of Sky Sanctuary Zone, or even just watching Sonic fly across the screen makes Sonic Generations look outstanding. It’s just such a nice change of pace from the very gray and stagnant colors we usually get in HD, not saying those are a bad thing though. The presentation of the game itself is a little overdoing it for my tastes. The cluttered level load screen to the odd looking pause menu are just, shall I put it simply, ugly. It’s definitely bright, but just a little too confusing.

While Sega had been digging a deeper, and deeper hole for Sonic video games, they finally clambered out of that ditch with Sonic Generations. Fast-paced and polished gameplay, a simplistic story, gorgeous graphics, and plenty of replayability, Sonic Generations really proved itself, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.



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