Sonic Riders PS2 Review

May 31, 2010 by Chris Wigham  
Filed under PS2, Retro Content, Retro Reviews

Sonic goes hand-in-hand with racing games as if it were the perfect romance, and it’s not difficult to see why the blue hedgehogs secondary soul mate is racing. It’s really quite simple, Sonic runs at impossible speeds, and racing is at its ultimate best when speed limits are smashed. Unsurprisingly the speedy one has appeared in racing games in the past (Sonic Drift and Sonic R) although this time around Sonic and company hop onto some unnecessary hover boards.

We were quite surprised at the amount of depth that Sonic Riders contains, as it’s not nearly as straightforward as we’d expect a Sonic game to be. There’s much to like here upon discovering the fruits of the game, and the clunky controls of Sonic R have thankfully been banished some place else.

This is undoubtedly the fastest racing game Sonic has ever featured in, as the well designed tracks rush past your eyeballs in a drunkard-like blur. Running at 60fps, the game is graphically stunning, and never slows down to a speed unworthy of a title starring the freakishly fast blue hedgehog.

As mentioned earlier, this is a Sonic title that is deeper than you might expect and it’s also a little more difficult, as there’s a number of things to keep tabs on whilst racing (a tutorial mode is a godsend here). The air meter for example allows you to boost for short distances, although overuse of this method of going faster results in your character hopping off his or her board and running at a slower speed with said board underarm until you manage to replenish the meter. Air is restored upon completing tricks in the sky, grinding, rotating the stick in certain situations, stopping at pit stops and more. It’s certainly a good idea, and knowing when to use or refill boost on each track is key to winning.

Riding turbulence is another thing that you must use to your advantage if you are trailing behind . A trail of air from your opponents signals when you can do this, and when you manage to surf one of these air trails, movement is then pretty much automated until you reach the end of the turbulence, putting the controller down and watching suddenly becomes an option. There is some control afforded to the player to keep him or her from becoming a mere spectator, allowing you to increase your speed by bobbing to the sides, thus resulting in you catching up that little bit quicker.

The tracks are fantastic, although a few more rollercoaster-like loops certainly wouldn’t have gone amiss. Depending on the character you are controlling, taking a shortcut also becomes an option, with stuff to break through for power characters, gaps to glide across with flight characters, and rails to grind along for the speedier of characters. These shortcuts are invaluable to your success if you can find your current characters preferred route.

Sonic is never alone these days and always seems to bring a load of supporting cast in tow, here you’ll find favourites such as Knuckles, Tails, Robotnik (or Dr Eggman if you prefer) and Shadow along with other familiar characters and a trio of new faces. A few surprise appearances are sure to please the hardcore SEGA fan also, but we’re not going to be revealing their identities in fear of spoiling the surprise.

There’s various modes and options, which includes everything from the rather difficult story mode to a shop, in which you can buy new boards for the colourful cast to race on. You can involve yourself in grand prix, survival and tag modes, with all these options also being available for up to four players simultaneously. There’s also a mission mode, which comes available upon completing the story mode. The CD is quite simply loaded with SEGA goodness!

Sonic Riders is a frustrating experience at times, but if you like a good challenge then this is a racing game that is certain to suit you well. We never thought it was anything less than enjoyable, even if we were left trailing behind the pack, which is testament to a slick, well designed and underrated game.

7/10

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