Sonic Adventure 2 Xbox 360 Review
Publisher: SEGA Developer: Sonic Team Genre: Platformer, Adventure Players: 1-2
Age Rating: 7+ Other console/handheld formats: PS3, PSN, Dreamcast, Gamecube
The downloadable version of the original Sonic Adventure was marred by the lack of a widescreen mode, and it was shocking to learn that SEGA didn’t seem to have as much respect for their back catalogue as they ought to. Since then, things have fortunately changed for the better, and Sonic Adventure 2 has been treat with more respect.
Like the original game, Sonic Adventure 2 sees the intertwining stories of multiple characters. This time around the plot is told from both the hero and the dark side, and is actually decent enough for what it is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly not going to win any awards for storytelling and the voice acting is really quite laughable, but, even though the series has made great strides in its sense of humour since this game was first released in 2001, it’s amusing enough.
So, who makes up the selection of characters? On the hero side we obviously have Sonic himself, but joining him are Tails and Knuckles. On the dark side on the other hand, there’s Dr. Eggman (or Robotnik, depending on who you may be) as well two new characters who were introduced here: Shadow the Hedgehog and Rouge the Bat. You may think that six characters would make for a lot of variation, but this simply isn’t the case.
You see, there are basically three styles of gameplay here. Firstly, we have the speedy stages of Sonic, while, being that he’s an evil version of Sonic, Shadow’s stages are the same, with the only difference being the way in which he skates through levels, really. Then we have Tails’ and Eggman’s stages in which both characters pilot robots, and these levels are shooty and explosive. Finally, Knuckles and Rouge are comprised of exploring big and open levels, in which you have to search for pieces of the Master Emerald. It’s hard to complain about the lack of variation when there’s three very different gaming styles in Sonic Adventure 2, but it’s a shame that each of the six characters aren’t distinctive from any other. The word is that three of the characters were added in late in the development cycle, hence the reason that three of the characters are so similar to the others.
The best stages in the game are the Sonic and Shadow levels. These stages are fast and well designed and are as exciting as such stages should be, although such levels have since been surpassed in other games in the series. Sonic’s early days in glorious 3D are still worth the experience.
The Tails and Eggman stages have you targeting your enemies and releasing a barrage of gunfire on them. Besides the shooting, there’s jumping and hovering to be done, and the stages are certainly enjoyable enough, while also being a contrast from the Sonic and Shadow levels.
The Knuckles and Rouge stages are the weakest and most annoying levels in the game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun gliding around and scaling walls with the skills of the two characters, but the levels just don’t offer the instantaneous appeal as the other styles of play do, which is what a Sonic game really should do in my book. As I said, when playing as these two characters you are largely searching for scattered pieces of the shattered Master Emerald, and, while there are clues as well as an indicator to suggest a piece is nearby, finding the pieces can be a chore rather than anything else at times.
The Chao side quest, on the other hand, is just as addictive as ever, and will have many players coming back for more, as they aim to raise the ultimate Chao. Improving stage rankings in the main game is also something that will encourage certain players to return. Also, upon completing the levels, you are then able to revisit them to tackle four alternative objectives, which add considerable replay value to the game. These objectives task you with things such as collecting 100 rings and finding the lost Chao. There’s also a Boss Rush mode and a serviceable kart racing mode.
The game also has a multiplayer mode in which you are able to race against or shoot each other in two-player split screen. Being that it takes stages from the main game, split screen is plenty of fun, although obviously suffering from the same problems as the single player game.
Fortunately, the rather nasty glitches from the original Sonic Adventure were dealt with in this sequel, which was something that needed to be addressed, being that you could fall through solid ground to your death in the first game in the series. Still, the controls and camera are dated, with the former not being as smooth as they should be, while the latter has the occasional habit of disagreeing with you as you attempt to get a good view of the action, sometimes even rudely showing you a wall as opposed to anything else.
Visually, Sonic Adventure 2 has the widescreen mode that should have really been present in the downloadable version of the original game; so we don’t have big, garish borders on the side of the screen this time around. The HD upgrade is decent enough, although there are some rather blurry textures to be seen.
While still being fun and relatively playable, Sonic Adventure 2 does have a number of things which more than suggests that this is one of the earliest 3D game that the character starred in. The Sonic and Shadow stages are still speedy and enjoyable, the Tails and Eggman stages are still dumb and explosive fun, while the Knuckles and Rouge levels offer enjoyment but are annoying at the same time. Sonic Adventure 2 was one of SEGA’s final games before they were forced to retreat from the hardware market, which was one of gaming’s saddest days, although their final Sonic game on their own hardware could have been a lot worse than this enjoyable effort, although it’s an effort that feels rather dated in a gaming world that moves almost as fast as the blue hedgehog himself.