Sonic Generations (2011) Review (PC Version)

Rollin’ around at the speed of sound!

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m looking forward to “Sonic Forces.”  Sega looks to recapture the “Generations” style of gameplay, and considering how solid I felt that game was, I’m on board.  Now I’ve got the need for speed, so I felt like firing this up from my Steam Library would be a good way to keep me occupied until “Forces” drops hopefully later this year.

Despite what you may think about Sonic the Hedgehog’s recent video game history, there’s no denying his impact on the gaming industry.  For a time, he managed to overtake Nintendo’s Mario as the most popular mascot, which was about as surprising as Trump beating out Clinton during the election.  So for the blue blur’s 20th anniversary, Sega apparently took some notes from the disastrous 15th anniversary “Sonic 2006” and wanted to skirt the lines between old and new.  All while adding MUCH more polish.

What we got was “Sonic Generations,” a game that somehow managed to elicit that after school nostalgia of firing up the old Sega Genesis after a long day of school AND making your palms sweat during the pulse rocketing modern stages blistering by on PC.  It’s fast, it’s frenetic, and most of all it’s fun.

The story doesn’t matter much in a game series where all you do is go from left to right as fast as possible, but through the series’ magic Mcguffin of time travel, Sonic is teamed up with his younger version dubbed Classic Sonic.  From there, they run as fast as possible to save their friends and, in turn, their world from Dr. Eggman.

The game is split in two play styles.  Classic Sonic plays like the 2D Genesis games with momentum based speed and competent platforming, albeit with a gorgeous fresh coat of paint and slightly remixed classical tunes.  It’s not quite how you remember Sonic controlling, but feeling how it’s more faithful than the underwhelming “Sonic 4,” it’s not worth nitpicking.

Modern Sonic, on the opposite side of the spectrum, controls like a race car down a fixed course with well placed shortcuts.  He’s fast, and goes faster with a boost mechanic that recharges with enemy destruction and ring collecting.  It’s amazing the Hedgehog Engine is able to handle such copious detail and vivid graphics with such relative ease (despite some frame rate hiccups, especially in Crisis City), not to mention the adrenaline pumping modernized soundtrack of the classic Sonic score.

Both play styles are well executed and are borderline euphoric in their speed and platforming.  That’s thanks in part to some sharp controls that are tight when they need to be yet know when to back off (especially true with Modern Sonic).  Sometimes, however, I can’t help but feel the button presses don’t register properly, as I’ve fallen down more than my fair share of well marked pits.  Then again, I’m using a $20 Logitech Controller, so maybe I’m getting what I’m paying for, but I recall similar instances with the Playstation 3 version.

“Generations” manages to cram a modest amount of stages (9 total) with two different play styles fairly well, but the boss battles leave something to be desired.  With the exception of the Egg Dragoon (my personal favorite), each feels like a plodding test of patience, which I suppose is to be expected when taking certain 2D bosses and trying to make them both dynamic and cinematic.  Personally, stick with the dynamism.  The problem is especially apparent with the final boss; I don’t want to spoil anything, but the switching mechanic feels forced and hearing your dumb friends chime in with obvious advice gets to be grating.

HOWEVER, this game is still insanely fun to play, especially the modern stages.  It’s the closest we’re going to get to “Forces” until later on, so there’s no shame in firing up “Generations” in preparation.  It’ll be time well spent.

8.5/10

PROS: Gorgeous graphics; stellar soundtrack; tight gameplay

CONS: Short; loquacious buddies; frame rate issues in Crisis City

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