This game did a lot for the series, so much a lot completely changed. I don’t exaggerate when I say this game is the most ambitious Sonic title Sega & Sonic Team ever produced. It has issues but I will say right away; I find this to be a really great game.
Lets dash our way to the history, shall we.
This game’s origins stem back in 2005, with the development of a new engine, called the Hedgehog Engine.
My, why does that name sound familiar? To be serious, this is an impressive engine, being made by a big programmer/developer from Square Enix and the results speak for themselves.
So, its clear that amazing looking games can be born from this game. What game do you make with this engine? Why, a big-budget Sonic title of course! Why else would you call the engine ‘Hedgehog Engine’ then?
Development of the game started after 06 shipped to retail and Sonic Team was in major disarray. Not only is the team fractured from Naka leaving with a good deal of Sonic Team Staff, but you have the rest of Sonic Team working on two projects going through issues (Colors Team making Secret Rings in a year, with it originally being a port of 06 for the Wii/Another part of Sonic Team making a Nights Sequel for the 360/PS3 but it being shoved to the Wii after internal issues within Sega).
So…..they needed more help :l. Izuka took charge of Sonic Team after Naka left the studio and hired a lot of new programs from west and east. Then, he asked “What do you think of Sonic? What should a game staring him be like?” then everyone said with little issue “Speed of course. That is what made the Genesis games and Sonic levels in the Adventure games so much fun”.
What happened was this basically:
Sonic Rush’s Boost Mechanic + Secret Rings Behind-the-Camera Style + Sonic Adventure’s scale and core 3D gameplay = Sonic Unleashed Day Levels
And the Modern style was born!
Beautiful levels and they have decent design to boot. While not nearly as open as Sonic Adventure, they offer extra paths to push getting the best times through levels…..sounds familiar? That is what Sonic Adventure 2 did but with Sonic Adventure 1’s core mechanics. Unleashed feels like an evolution of what SA2 tried to do and its was nice seeing that here.
The core gameplay systems work like this though. Sonic has one button for jumping….
S-Sonic has multiple buttons for different actions!? My….it took years for this to happen but….FINALLY! This makes playing with his entire moveset so much more rewarding!
Okay, going back to what I was saying before…..*cough*
Sonic has the Sonic Boost, Sonic Drift (Ha!), Light Speed Dash, Slide, Stomp, Homing Attack, Wall Jump, Quick Step and Air Boost.
Wow, that’s is a lot to take in! Okay, will explain things better.
-Sonic Boost/Air Boost: High-speed action activated when pressing Square/X and it allows you to run through robots with little issue. The more rings you get, the more you can boost. This also allows you to run across water in some zones.
-Homing Attack: Mapped to the Square/X button, Sonic can fly toward robots in the air when pressed (only when the lock-on icon appears). Mixed with the Air Boost….making things a bit tricky. But a lot better than issues with Light-Speed Dashing/Bounce attack in SA2.
-Sonic Drift: Allows Sonic to get across tight corners with little issue…..in Generations and Colors. Here, if you are boosting when using this, it works like crap. Skyscraper Scamper day comes to mind here…… It works well when not boosting though. (L2/R2 in PS3 version)
-Quick Step: Pressing L1/R1 or the bumpers in the 360 version, Sonic can quickly dash left or right when running.
-Slide/Stop: Mapped to the Circle button, Sonic can slide and stop. Sliding is helpful when getting through tight places while Stomping is for pushing down switches.
-Light Speed Dash: Mapped to Triangle/Y, you can get across trails of rings.
-Wall Jump: As described; Sonic bounces from wall to wall.
A lot to process honestly! But a lot mapped to different buttons makes everything work well. Hopefully that breakdown explains things well enough.
The level design is interesting, as it’s a hybrid between the Genesis games and the Adventure games. This was the very first time Sonic goes into 2D during a console game in decades; something that made many happy when first announced.
But the style of level design is styled after Sonic Adventure 2; heavy focus on forward-level design with extra paths pushing the speed rather than expansive exploration. This isn’t a problem at all, as we still get a healthy amount of 3D platforming in Jungle Joyride and Dragon Road for example. Just something to point out, as it’s something Generations tries fixing for a few stages.
The game has four issues, with one of them being how Day Sonic ‘feels’. He feels like a race car, not a platforming character.
But my second issue pops up a lot in the Day levels; the frame rate. I’m not sensitive to frame rate issues in games but Unleashed really required swift inputs and the PS3 version has really bad frame rate problems in Eggmanland and Jungle Joyride Day.
So, overall, Day Sonic has some great sections and gameplay that really shine strong.
But it’s not just high speed thrills this game offers but some of the best story content in any 3D Sonic and a gameplay style that many are outright mixed on.
We are going to wait until night time for the other gameplay style but I hope you all enjoy my thread !
Now that its night time we can move on to th-
Wow, guess someone got in a bad mood XD!
Guess its time to cover this style of gameplay, The Werehog.
Now before I talk about this style, I have to say one thing.....I'm one of the oddballs that enjoy his levels .
Moving on to these stages, we get a hybrid of a standard platformer with God of War style combat. Every night level is mixed in this way, with some leaning on one over the other.
One thing I like about the Werehog is his controls. You hold one of the bumpers to run, two face buttons for light/heavy attacks, one button to jump, left shoulder button to block, right shoulder button to use Unleashed mode and lastly, the circle/B button to grab foes.
This leads to a fun combat system that opens up the more you level up and unlock moves. Forgot to mention this, huh....okay, lets backtrack a bit to explain things .
Chill for a sec, gotta explain this first.
Okay, so as you destroy Eggman's robots, eat food in the hub world and collect yellow experience orbs, you can upgrade you're abilities. This effect's Sonic's Day and Night forms and will explain each one.
Speed - Um....you go faster of course! Gotta go fast after all .
Boost Meter - Increases how much you can boost.
Stamina - Increase you're health bar (which refills as you collect rings)
Combat - Unlocks new moves you can pull off
Power - Increases damage you're moves deal
Shield - Increases the amount of shields you have at once (they refill over time but use it too man times, it breaks)
Unleashed - You're rage mode. Just a mode that makes Sonic move faster, deals blows swifter and his power output is much stronger.
The Werehog isn't just a button masher, as he has a lot of moves to play with.: http://sonic.wikia.com/wiki/Skills_(Sonic_Unleashed
But....this leads to my only issue with the Werehog; you start out with such a small moveset, the game's structure is all out of wack.
With the Night levels of Unleashed, All the foes are the same power level throughout the game outside of the DLC stages (which I will get to latter on), leading to you not having any real motivation to play with his moves. But this also leads to a game's design being fumbled up a bit; because the game isn't structured to force usage of moves you may not have, it leads to the game not forcing you to use the moves you get.
Basically you have no motivation to use you're large moveset when you end up getting it as the game progresses. It leads to combat being to simple despite the hidden depth it really has.
Otherwise, I like the Werehog a lot here .
Common, let me explain at least :l.
Anyway, I like how polished he feels to play as. Coming from 06 to this, one would imagine that Sonic Team couldn't juggle multiple play styles. But I feel that they nail the Werehog just as much as the Day levels; both control well, have distinct styles that work and are both enjoyable.
The level design is enjoyable, with platforming moments having Sonic stretch....his...arms :l? Looks like Sonic is taking a few lessons from another Sonic Team hero .
Ristar's power is to use his arms to pull into objects and foes, so Sonic's night form doing this isn't that much of a shocker.
His stages like the day levels look great too:
Like their look and its a nice reflection of the high-speed day levels Sonic runs through .
Overall, the Werehog is fine; nothing outstanding, nothing horrid. The best comparison I can give the Werehog to a prior Sonic game is....the Mech Levels in SA2. They weren't horrible but they had there moments that are a lot of fun . Sure they took away from the fun speed levels but they were fine on their own and complement the speed stages well enough.
I will agree it DOES distract from the speed stages Sonic runs through but considering this style was made by Sonic Team to not make the game 2-3 hours long (Izuka really said this, not lying here), it is quite enjoyable.
Most Sonic games prior to Unleashed tried to have a serious story.....with two specific games falling flat on their face attempting that X(.
But Unleashed just.....'gets it', so well that it tops future Sonic plots and is the template I want future Sonic stories to follow.
The game opens up with six minute long, opening CGI movie. Its.....amazing honestly, give it a watch guys .
It got me HYPED when I first played this on my Wii in 2008 and again in 2011 when I played on my at the time-new PS3.
Sonic meets a little flying imp creature, who he calls Chip:
He lost his memory when Sonic crashes his face into the Earth:
So, he goes on a journey to restore power to the drained Chaos Emeralds with help from his buddy Tails, his new friend Chip and a new character called Prof. Pickle.
This journey is really great, as unlike 06, its light hearted AND serious. And yes, when it gets serious, you take it seriously as its done well here. Eggman is a creditable villain but at the same time, he still has great moments with Orb....I mean Ergo and some encounters with Sonic are nice.
But my favorite parts of the game is, well, Sonic. He is himself again in a mainline game! He sounds older, he gets shit done, and compared to past games, his cheese is not even present that often. He has the funny scene or two but I really liked his incarnation in Unleashed.
Chip isn't an annoying character to me, as he is the Tails of this game. He has a backstory that goes into detail latter on and his interactions with Sonic are funny. This is shown through some unlockable scenes that you get throughout the game.
Really shows how Sonic and Chip become good friends .
Overall, the story is very strong and one element I greatly enjoyed from Unleashed .
Man, this soundtrack rocks. This is one of the first times Sonic used orchestrated pieces and deviates from the heavy rock focus the Adventure games had. Like 06, its pieces are quite varied and I love these tracks .
Lets jam away to some great tunes !
Windmill Isle \/Night
Tornado Defense Act 1
Savannah Citadel Day/Night
Rooftop Run Day
Jungle Joyride Day/Night
Cool Edge Day/Night
The World Adventure!
Dragon Road Day/Night
Arid Sands Day
Skyscraper Scamper Day
Perfect Dark Gaia
Dear My Friend
This soundtrack is amazing for a lot of reasons. Not only is it high quality, like every Sonic score, but it is so grand. You have calming pieces, you have action packed pieces, you have sad pieces and you have really moving pieces.
One of the finest, scores in any Sonic title.
Sun and Moon Metals:
Remember power stars in Super Mario 64? Now take the fact the game made it clear you had to get these and multiply the frustration with level-caps for each zone based on your metal level and you have the metal system here.
This isn't an issue, if you are an explorative gamer who searches everywhere for items in the levels. But the Day levels were not designed for this kind of hunting .
Between the camera not responding and level design clearly tunnel focused, getting all the metals in the Day Stages is not a fun experience.
The Night levels its a lot better, as you are already trained to think "I'm not running, so I'm taking my time looking for things", so hunting for every metal in the night levels isn't an issue. In fact, between exploring the hub world, keeping a sharp eye during day levels and trying to get every metal during night stages makes this a non-issue.
.....But out of my four issues with Unleashed, this is my biggest problem. It creates an artificial level cap for the game and if you just want to run though everything, it creates really annoying backtracking X(. I can defend a good deal of this game, but the Metal system is something I cannot defend at all.
It sucks and it is a big issue with Unleashed.
Wii/PS2 vs. PS3/360:
This is interesting, as Unleashed wasn't a PS3/360 only game, as it came out on the Wii and PS2 (that's right, it came out on PS2 XD) as well.
This poster helped clarify some things with the Wii version.
-More Werehog stages (1 in HD version vs. the 3-5 in the SD version)
-Werehog combat very different; no combos and focus on button/motion control mashing
-Day Levels completely different, designed by Dimps (who made the Sonic Rush series)
-Mazuri and Empire City's stages (Day and Night) cut from the SD version
-Werehog focused more on platforming then combat in SD version
-Hub worlds are replaced with Gaia Gates to explore. Clearing levels with S Ranks unlock Sun/Moon metals which can unlock more lives, concept art, music and more.
-Eggmanland is much easier compared to HD version
-No Upgrade system for Day Levels; Boost Meter upgrades within the levels as you collect more rings. Night levels have more streamlined upgrade system.
The Wii version does look nice at points and its impressive seeing it in action .
-Far more moves for the Werehog
-Greater focus on Day Sonic's levels with many optional missions to complete, extra acts to unlock and DLC that you can buy (for both Day and Night)
-Night levels have better balance between combat/platforming
-Night level platforming more rewarding then Wii version
-Controls better in HD version
-Eggmanland very challenging and far different from SD version
-Hubs more expanded in HD version. Small hubs to walk around in and Entrance Stages that house act gates and extra goodies to find.
-Supported with DLC; 7-8 DLC packs for both HD versions that expand the content from the base game. Makes the ratio of Day and Night stages a lot more fair (with equal amounts with all DLC purchased).
As someone who fully beat both versions........HD version hands down. The Werehog is a massive improvement over the Wii/PS2 version and I hated the fact there was such a pitiful amount of Day content in the Wii version.
I'm sorry but I really don't like the Wii version. Would like how it handles the Metals though (making you get perfect runs even more rewarding for both Day and Night).
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Overall thoughts on Unleashed are positive. I think this is a great game despite my four major gripes and I feel the HD version was a great step in the right direction for the series. It has issues and they range from minor to horrid depending on your preference but overall, I really liked this game .
My next venture in the Sonic series is going to be a game I never played before, so hope you all look forward to it !