-Kris “Kaz” Sturm
To be honest, I’ve been playing Sonic for years and have always liked the gameplay, both as a side scroller and in its more recent incarnations with 3D gaming. Over the past five years or so, my time with the fastest thing alive has been sorely limited and it’s only been in part by working in a library that has rekindled my interest in our favourite blue hedgehog. Sonic: Generations presents players with one solitary goal in mind: bring together gamers old and new to enjoy playing as our favorite blue blur and keep things fun but with a little challenge, nothing more and nothing less.
The plot (not to be confused with the level design) for Generations was surprisingly less complex than previous installments such as Sonic Adventure 2: Battle or Sonic: Unleashed or Sonic: DX (Director’s Cut) as it quite literally broke down into being that a giant shadow being comes in to disrupt the natural balance of the world and Sonic (teamed up with himself) must undo the chaos wrought onto his world(s) in order to bring things into balance and bring back his friends from a state of whitewashed, statuesque frozenness. An even simpler explanation: clear through the acts and save your friends, take down Eggman and gather the Seven Chaos Emeralds to take down the big bad.
When the player is first brought into the actual playable aspect of the game, Sonic and Sonic go through the first three levels in their own acts before meeting at a hallway of glass mirrors whereupon they start mimicking each other, not knowing that each hedgehog that stands at each end is a different version of themselves. It’s only with Eggman’s intervention that the two speed off and Modern Sonic sees his younger incarnation in the flesh as he goes to take on one of Eggman’s machines. After a quick battle which should be presumed with a very obvious outcome, Classic and Modern versions of Miles “Tails” Prower come out and explain that there’s been a rip in the fabric of time and space, causing the two worlds to collide.
The actual gameplay was rather… simplistic I could say. Braking down into two components, the first of which involves playing as Classic Sonic for the older generation to tap back into their childhood and the second offers gameplay as Modern Sonic; blasting through baddies as fast as we can and making our way through challenges while generally being a badass. Gameplay was only set for two different modes, but to compensate, particular spin-off challenges were set up in order to prepare the player to fight against a boss in the sense that they were only set up to extend gameplay in an -alright- way to try and extend the life of a seemingly limited (and restricted) game. I mean, the challenges aren’t bad and hell, I’d say that they’re a lot of fun… but I felt as though the inclusion of them were almost a way for the game developers to make some cop-out additions allowing some buffer time available to the player. Whether it’s racing against Tails and his plane, fighting against Metal Sonic or using Knuckles to find coins buried in the ground (just a few examples of challenges available), they’re fun, but can be argued as somewhat unnecessary as more focus COULD have been brought to the story-telling aspect of the game, but it can be taken with a grain of salt.
On the topic of challenges, from the main menu, one can access the Xbox Live (or Playstation Network) and engage in one of two challenges: a 30 Second Trial and Time Attack. The former of which is an addition made for people worldwide to test their mettle and show just how far they can get within a measly thirty seconds. To date, I have yet to see anyone clear through an act in thirty seconds (with one individual close to completing Green Hill Zone Act 1 at an astounding 33 seconds) but with each step made, the player can rack up points to try and bring themselves higher and higher up on the leaderboards. The Time Attack function is merely a “get through the act as fast as you can” option where the player can basically fight other players for their spots on the leaderboards; each one-one hundredth of a second shifting a player anywhere between one to a good hundred or so places up on the board.
Thankfully, Generations does give some consideration to players wishing to try and improve their own version of Sonic and as a result, made a skill shop available to the players to where they can buy perks to attach to either Sonic of their choosing. Whether it’s adding a shield to prevent damage from one attack or to give your rings some time before they vanish or to give the player that extra edge and allow them to stop on a dime, regardless of how fast they were going, the shop caters to nearly all players. In addition to skills, the player can also purchase a Sega Genesis controller in the shop which -after purchase- allowed the player to play the original Sonic.
If I could make a point of criticism to the game, it would be that the voice acting felt… subpar to say in the least. Sure, I can get that for the Classic versions of the characters would sound more child-like and embraced that, but if there was one thing that had made me cringe somewhat, it would have to be that the acting felt entirely stale. From the dialogue that I came across in the game actually spoken by the characters, there were delays in the lines being said (like slowing down speech for younger audiences to grasp what’s said much easier), mostly composed of simpler sentences and the acting seems a little under the full talents of the voice actors’ capabilities (such as Roger Craig Smith as seen at SacAnime). I mean no disrespect to the voice actors involved with the game, however I feel as though the actual dialogue in the game could have been spliced together in a less… awkward fashion and maybe if there were more moments of spoken dialogue, it might have made the overall presentation of the game stand out even more.
Sadly, I felt as though Generations was a bit short overall. The gameplay was great and the challenges were fun and hell, even trying my luck on the online leaderboards was a welcome challenge, but did stand just short of fantastic. The game itself was a good deal of fun and was definitely a welcome change of pace for me and if there was anything I could seriously take away from this, it would have to be that the guys with Sega, the Sonic Team and Havok did a fantastic job at presenting a Sonic game. They’ve rekindled my childhood and reminded me of days past when I played the original on the Sega Dreamcast (thanks again for including the option to relive my childhood by making the original an available purchase in-game!) and as I got older and started playing on the newer consoles. It stood out as a great, fun game and an easy recommendation to payers of all ages.
Reviewed by: Kris “Kaz” Sturm
Reviewer Rating: 4.5