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Sonic Unleashed

The Wii version of Unleashed has its flaws, but is still an enjoyable experience.

When I first bought Sonic Unleashed, I found myself with a dilemma. There were two versions of the game to be released, one for the Xbox 360 and PS3 and the other released for Wii and PS2. In the end I opted for the Xbox 360 version, which I found a very enjoyable game. Later on I found myself able to afford the Wii version and picked it up.

The story of the game is identical regardless of which version you get; Sonic goes to stop the evil Dr. Eggman's latest plan but it backfires, leading Eggman to drain the legendary seven Chaos Emeralds of all of their power in order to fire a laser at their planet, splitting it into seven. This awakens a supernatural entity by the name of Dark Gaia. The events also have a negative effect on Sonic, causing him to transform into a vicious monster whenever it is night-time. After being sent falling to earth, Sonic meets Chip, a curious little character who happens to have lost his memory. Sonic then sets off on a quest to not only restore the planet and stop Eggman, but to also help his new friend recover his memory.

Outside of the story and sound, the game is completely different, featuring different stage designs and different layouts. Like in the other version of the game, there are day stages, night stages and hub worlds, but the flight stages have been removed, which is not a huge loss. There are a variety of control schemes, including Classic and Gamecube controller support.

The day stages are still a lot of fun to play in this version, with Sonic blasting through well-designed levels, trying to reach the end of the stage as fast as possible. Sonic can use a boost to speed up so long as his boost meter is full enough; collecting Rings will gradually refill it. The only issue I have with the boost is that you can only do so in very short bursts, meaning that if you wish to continue boosting, you need to keep pressing the boost button as opposed to holding the button down. The controls are comfortable and work well regardless of what controller you use. The Wii Remote and Nunchuk offers the option of using motion controls which are not overdone and feel appropriate. Without a doubt, these are the best sections in the game.

The night-time stages are completely different, and do not feature the same sense of speed but feature slower-paced platforming mixed up with some brawling. The platforming segments are not bad, although they do feel a tad generic. Quite often in each stage you will not be able to proceed without engaging in battle with some generic looking enemies, and while it can be fun the first few times, it gets dull and repetitive very quickly. Smashing through various scenery will give you 'Dark Gaia Force', which will enable you to level the werehog up at the end of each stage. The controls for the werehog are nowhere near as good as the day stage's controls; if using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, the controls are gimmicky. You will find yourself needing to mimic climbing actions when climbing a pole, and shaking the controls like crazy allows you to attack, and considering how often you will find yourself brawling with enemies, it gets tiresome extremely quickly. Using an ordinary controller does not fare much better, with you using the L and R buttons to attack instead of the buttons on front, such as Y or X. This is not bad to start out with, but quickly becomes uncomfortable.

At the end of each stage you are given a rank, with S being the highest and D being the lowest. How you earn the highest rank differs in both types of stages; in the day stages you simply must beat the stage in a certain time which you will find listed near the top-left corner of the screen. This is handy and let's you know what rank to expect. For the night stages it is based on how many rings you have collected, how much Dark Gaia Force you've collected and how quickly you've finished the stage. Getting the best rank can be a challenge on the later stages, but doing so awards you with three medals, which will enable you to access extra playable content. The medal system is, I feel, much better and much less annoying than the 360/PS3 version of this game, as there is no need to backtrack.

While I don't mind the night stages, they are nowhere near as good or as fun as the day time stages. Unfortunately, you will be spending more time playing the night stages in this game than the day ones. Each continent has a minimum of three night stages while there is only one proper day stage, plus a couple of short missions involving collecting rings or beating a section of the stage in a certain time. Therefore, the night stages completely dominate this game, and it feels incredibly unbalanced as a result. The day time stages were more fun and I cannot help but wish we had more of them.

The bosses in this game are fun. The day-time bosses require you to give chase to one of Eggman's robots, hitting it whenever you can. The 360/PS3 versions of these bosses were easy due to boosting, but the bosses here are a bit more challenging. You cannot simply boost to win, you need to wait for the appropriate openings and attack when possible. They're still not extremely hard but they're much preferable. The night-time bosses are also really well-designed and fun to fight, perhaps more than the day bosses.

The hub worlds are also completely different. Instead of being able to move around and explore the hub environment, you are faced with a point-and-click screen which overlooks the hub. Clicking on certain places enables you to talk to different people who may or may not give you hints on where to go next. These are fairly straightforward to navigate, and enable you to get to the next stage quicker, but lack depth and are not very interesting to look at. They are not bad though.

The graphics look pretty good for a Wii game. The character models move fluidly and everything looks smooth and crisp. The stages also look very nice and unique; while boosting with Sonic, the day stages blur by with no lag experienced and it looks great. The night stages have a slightly darker look to them, and really suits the atmosphere.

The soundtrack for this game is identical to the 360/PS3 version, with only a few tracks absent and one or two new ones added. The music is absolutely top-notch, with fast-paced music being present in the day stages, and calmer music being used for the night stages. The only problem I have is that you may not get a chance to listen to some of the well-done night stage tracks in-game, due to constantly coming across enemies to brawl. Every time you have to face off against an enemy, a piece of jazzy music is played and while it certainly isn't bad music, it will quickly grate on you after listening to it multiple times. The boss music is very well done and fits the mood.

The voice-acting is a step forward from previous Sonic games, though it still isn't perfect. Sonic's voice now seems to have emotion in it, doesn't sound bland and the performance is believable. Eggman's voice is as top-notch as ever, providing a blend of both humour and evilness. Chip's voice is a tad on the annoying side, and does not entirely suit the character, but it can be gotten used to. The other characters that appear in this game are also mostly voiced well, including Tails and Amy, though some of the cutscenes involving the continent's inhabitants feature bland and emotionless acting, but as the inhabitants are only featured speaking in cutscenes once or twice, it matters very little.

All in all, Sonic Unleashed for the Wii is not a perfect game, but it's still a solid one worth trying out. The 360/PS3 version is better in some ways over this, but this game also has things which are better than that version, so which version you prefer is all a matter of personal taste. I personally feel this game is quite fun to play, with the only thing really spoiling it for me being the fact that the werehog stages dominate the game. However, I still recommend at least renting this game to give it a try, it's pretty good.





Review by Swift.

Fans and their reviews of video-games. xD