Sonic Unleashed video game

Does Sonic Unleashed Deserve More Recognition

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For years, Sonic Unleashed, has been one of the most polarizing titles in the entire Sonic franchise. Is it a mediocre game saddled down with a terrible gimmick in the form of the Werehog? Is it an relatively decent game that gets a bad rep due in part to the aforementioned Werehog? Is it a subpar game that was the last in Dark Age of Sonic or was the first game in the Renaissance of Sonic?

Before we go any further, let me state that personally, Sonic Unleashed is my favorite game in the entire franchise so there might be a little bit of bias in this review. Getting back on topic, from the time of its release, Sonic Unleashed was a polarizing game among the Sonic community with some regarding it as godawful and others considering it a huge step up following Sonic '06 and on par with the Adventure Games. Recently, there seems to have been somewhat of a change in opinion when it comes to this game, especially in light of increasingly recent titles such as Sonic Lost World and Sonic Forces. Others still have the same feeling as they did upon its release, considering it an only half good Sonic game at best.

So which is it? Underappreciated or rightfully disregarded? To get the answer to that question, I feel we have to take an in depth look at the strengths and weaknesses of Sonic Unleashed.

Let's start with: The Plot

Without getting into too many spoilers, Sonic Unleashed has a relatively simple story: Dr. Ivo 'Eggman' Robotnik has hatched a new plan to tale over the world by way of using the Chaos Emeralds to unleash an ancient abomination by the name of Dark Gaia. Managing to successfully capture Super Sonic and drain the Chaos Emeralds of their energy, Dr. Eggman uses them to power a laser that splits the Earth into seven pieces. Sonic is caught in the blast and bathed on negative chaos energy, resulting in our favorite chilidog loving blue hedgehog gaining the Werehog form before he is cast down to Earth. With the help of an amnesiac little critter he calls 'Chip', Sonic sets out to find and recharge the Chaos Emeralds to put the world back together one continent at a time and foil Dr. Eggman's scheme. Also assisting Sonic in his quest is his best friend/sidekick Miles 'Tails' Prower and the eccentric Professor Pickle.

While still serious in tone, Sonic Unleashed is nowhere near as dark as the two titles (not counting Secret Rings) that preceded it, Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2006. In addition, the game's story isn't nearly as cheesy as the aforementioned titles and (thankfully) doesn't feature annoying characters such as Princess Elise (Who?). It's interesting to note that, at least in my opinion, that there are times where this game seems like it was intended to be Sonic's Grand Finale following the debacle caused by '06. Not to mention that every character in this game feels like they're in character rather than flanderized caricatures of themselves (which is a problem I feel many of the most recent games have)

Take the opening cutscene for example: up until the release of Sonic Forces, this was the closest Eggman had come to victory, managing to defeat Super Sonic at the beginning of the game, showcasing that The Good Doctor, despite his goofiness, was still a legitimate threat. Another thing that gives this game "series finale vibes" is the level "Eggmanland". Going all the way back to Sonic Adventure 1, this was touted as Eggman's ultimate goal, his endgame so to speak, the centerpiece of what would be his Eggman Empire. In this game, when we finally get to play through it, we see just why as Eggmanland is and remains one of the hardest Sonic levels in the entire franchise. To me, Eggmanland gives me a sense of "This is it. All of our trials, all of our journeys have been building up to this. If we fail now, that's it. Game Over, Eggman has won."

Of course, that is to say nothing about the final boss, which feels the most final boss vibes of almost any Sonic Final Boss. Having obtained all the Chaos Emeralds and gone Super Sonic, you and Chip (who is revealed to be Dark Gaia's counterpart, Light Gaia), take the fight to Dark Gaia in space while a beautiful orchestral rendition of Endless Possibilities plays in the background. It really wraps up that whole "This is Goodbye" feeling.

Of course, this wouldn't be the final game in the Sonic series, but to this day Sonic Unleashed has my favorite story of any Sonic game.

With the plot, out of the way, let's move onto The Gameplay

Sonic Unleashed has two styles of gameplay: the daytime stages, which play like traditional Sonic levels and sees you speeding towards the goal ring, while also allowing plenty of room for explanation; and the nighttime stages, which sees you control the Werehog and are slower paced and more action oriented, playing similar to hack & slash games such as God of War.

It is interesting to note that Sonic Unleashed was the first 3D Sonic game to use the boost formula that would become a staple in later titles. The boost is used in the daytime stages and is measured by a meter known as the Boost Gauge/ Ring Energy Gauge. The Boost Gauge can be sustained by collecting rings (which you can collect automatically by boosting into them). Also prevalent are quick time events consisting of multiple button inputs that require quick reaction times and can be a bit challenging for newcomers.

As mentioned before, the Werehog stages are more centered around combat but also feature their fair share of platforming. Sonic, in his Werehog form, can gain and upgrade different combos that can be fairly useful when it comes to the Battle Stages, which involve taking out large hordes of enemies. Because of it's slower pace and the abundance of battle stages that make them feel like general filler, the Nighttime stages are largely the biggest part of Unleashed that fans dislike.

Personally, I like the Werehog stages as even if they were tacked on to add length to the game, I still applaud Sonic Team for experimenting and trying something new.

Aside from that, there's not much different in terms of gameplay. It plays like any other Sonic game (rings allow you an extra hit, bottomless pits/ water are instakills, etc.) One minor difference I do appreciate is that in this game, getting hit only causes you to lose 20 rings as opposed to all of them, but other than that, nothing else really stands out.

The next two things, I'm going to talk about rather quickly and that's Graphics and Soundtrack.

Graphically speaking, this is one of the best looking Sonic games in the series with only Sonic Forces being a close contender. The use of the Hedgehog engine for this game really amplifies the feeling of finality I alluded to earlier. If this was intended to be the final Sonic game, the gorgeous presentation makes all the more sense.

And finally the soundtrack. Oh my gamikai, the soundtrack. Sonic Unleashed's OST is definitely in my top 5 when it comes to Sonic soundtracks. Nearly every stage has a memorable track to accompany it from Skyscraper Scamper to the fan favorite Rooftop Run. And as always, the main theme of the game, Endless Possibilities is an absolute masterpiece. (speaking of Endless Possibilities, if you wanna hear a really good version of the song, check out Emi Jones' flawless cover of the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dUr0x9f-Gg seriously, it is absolute ear candy and I was listening to this while writing this post).

In Conclusion, what're my thoughts on Sonic Unleashed? While general reception of the game has grown more positive over the years, I still feel it doesn't get a fair shake and is over looked in comparison to other Sonic games. Of course, I can't tell you how to feel so if you ever get the chance, please give Sonic Unleashed a playthrough and give your thoughts (I'm talking about the Xbox 360/ PS3 version of couse, don't bother with the Wii port). Take care!


QuoththeRaven's Avatar QuoththeRaven February 26th, 2018
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Sonic Unleashed game
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Sonic Unleashed

Sonic Unleashed, released as Sonic World Adventure in Japan, is a 2008 video game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for multiple platforms in 2008. However, critical reception for the game was mixed, with reviewers praising certain elements, such as the sense...

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