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Sonic Adventure Review

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On 09/24/2010 at 01:38 PM by Nick DiMola

11 years of improving game design does a great job of highlighting the numerous issues present in Sonic's first true foray into 3D.

For those with strong nostalgia for the Dreamcast original.

Sonic Adventure is Sonic's true debut in 3D, and as such, the gameplay that once defined the series has been drastically altered in order to accommodate expectations for a 3D game at the time of original release. As time has gone on and Sega has continued to make games in this style, gamers have come to loathe Sonic titles due to this fact. Regardless of all the hate, I always felt like Sonic Adventure was a genuinely good game. Revisiting it 11 years later has proved otherwise.

The game is essentially a collection of different types of gameplay, as players can choose from a roster of six characters - Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy Rose, Big the Cat, and E-102 Gamma. Upon starting the game, only Sonic's character is available for play and as he completes levels other characters are unlocked. Similar to something like Super Mario 64, players have a collection of stages and an overworld, where they complete other tasks in order to unlock levels within the game. Unlocking levels often proves to be frustrating, since the next point of action isn't often obvious and many of the items that must be retrieved are hidden throughout the levels.

Conceptually, Sonic Adventure is a great idea. With six characters to choose from, all with their own set of levels, players get numerous levels and a wide-ranging experience that is unique to the character they are currently playing with. Unfortunately, most of the cast is uninteresting to play as, and even the ones that do prove interesting are plagued with a variety of issues, such as the camera and controls.

The most glaring of issues are front and center at the very beginning of the game when players begin with Sonic. Conceptually speaking, Sonic Adventure is flawed because it attempts to apply a new formula to Sonic that isn't based around moving fast, though the actual on screen character behaves as if he is ready to take off at any minute. On occasion, the game provides an opportunity to do so, but the loose controls really make it tough to stay on track without switching direction and hurting the gained momentum.

As mentioned, the camera is not the greatest, and when it isn't on a fixed track, it has an extremely hard time keeping up with the action. The camera issues persist even when not moving at high speeds; oftentimes when players are in an awkward spot the camera simply points toward Sonic leaving players blind, making any potential movements challenging.

When the camera does decide to behave, the game can be occasionally interesting, though it is criminally easy. After just a few levels in, I noticed that I had racked up over 15 lives and managed to only die once, on complete accident at that, due to the shoddy camera. Most of the action levels that involve Sonic do prove to be interesting, though their purpose is very one-dimensional, and there is little to do other than reach the finish line in the completely linear levels.

Outside of Sonic, the other characters' levels are very hit-or-miss, which grows frustrating as players make their way through all of the quests. Knuckles is a great example of this. While his gliding power is fun to execute in 3D, the levels players must complete are nothing more than hide-and-seek fetch-questing.

In spite of all the game's shortcomings, a number of the game's parts still manage to impress. Casinopolis is spectacular when playing as Sonic, allowing players to play some very in-depth pinball mini-games that really focus on Sega's unique intellectual properties.

Regardless of the actual game content, as a port to XBLA, the game succeeds in offering a perfect port of the original with improved graphical resolution. Arguably this isn't quite preferrable, given the simple fact that the game has already seen a number of ports and re-releases. Even worse, the XBLA version doesn't offer the DX upgrades found in the GameCube version of the game. Instead, Sega upcharges players an extra 400 points if they desire access to that content.

The letterbox presentation is less than desirable as well, though the game does still look pretty good, regardless of the fact that it's over a decade old. The game's music is decent enough (though it can be terrible at points), but the voice acting is absolutely atrocious and will likely encourage players to mute the in-game sound just to avoid the drivel.

After spending a number of hours with this port of Sonic Adventure, it's clear that it isn't quite the game I remember it being. It can have a significant amount of charm and it's even capable of holding the player's attention, but the experience is no longer fueled by anything but nostalgia. The issues that existed years ago are extrapolated here due to the massive enhancements gaming has seen since the title's original release. Those who have never experienced the game could do worse with 800 MS Points, but conversely, they could certainly do better. Only those with intense nostalgia for the title should truly consider a purchase; however, those who are genuinely curious might want to check out the game to see the point where the Sonic series started to go downhill.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



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