by: David Sanchez
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 5/25/2012
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Sonic Unleashed on the Wii is a great example of just how good a 3D Sonic game can be if done properly. Some fans won't enjoy the Werehog sections of the game, and while a bit cumbersome at times, these parts still aren't bad by any means.
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Fast-paced Sonic Gameplay Meets Action-adventure Gameplay
Sonic Unleashed on the Wii takes the classic fast-paced 2D Sonic formula that made the franchise so popular and combines it with action-adventure elements. The fast-paced levels of the game are all very good, and fans of Sonic’s older adventures are likely to appreciate these portions of Sonic Unleashed. The Werehog sections of the game aren’t as great, but they are functional, and there is some fun to be had here, but it’s definitely hard to sell these parts of the game to Sonic purists.
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The story in Sonic Unleashed once again pits the Blue Blur against Dr. Eggman. This time around, Eggman actually succeeds in taking out Sonic, and he uses a powerful new device to awaken an evil force, separating the planet into different pieces and turning Sonic into a Werehog—a werewolf version of Sonic—in the process. Sonic wakes up several moments later and finds a small creature who is suffering from amnesia. The two become fast friends and decide to help one another, thus embarking on a journey to stop Eggman.
Bits and pieces of the story will unfold through beautiful cinematics, and these are a real treat, but there are also a lot of text-based character interactions that, despite having good writing, don’t fit into the Sonic universe and tend to go on a bit too long.
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Sonic Unleashed features two gameplay types, daytime and nighttime stages. Daytime stages take the speedy Sonic formula of the Genesis days and put it successfully in a 3D setting. This is probably the game’s strongest attribute, and old-school Sonic fans are sure to have a lot of fun with these parts of the game. You’ll run across expansive terrain, go around loops, and jump across large gaps, all at a constant, fast speed. It’s certainly refreshing to be able to have a true 3D Sonic experience, and the daytime levels in Sonic Unleashed are truly rewarding.
The second half of the game takes place at nighttime, and it is then that Sonic the Hedgehog turns into Sonic the Werehog. These levels feature platforming, block-pushing, and simplistic combat. Overall, these sections aren’t bad, but they are so slow-paced that Sonic aficionados will have a hard time enjoying them. Sonic will encounter hordes of enemies, and he’ll use his fists to take them all out. His arms can stretch out and take down enemies from afar, and the whole thing has a stripped down God of War-like feel to it.
The Werehog levels are for all intents and purposes pretty fun. But they are so simplistic and they drag on for so long, that it won’t take long for many gamers to tire of them. It is because of this setup that you’ll find yourself spending a lot more time in the nighttime levels despite the fact that there are an equal amount of daytime and nighttime stages. And this is the game’s main flaw. The fact that the daytime levels are over so quickly will definitely make you wish there were more of them and less of the nighttime stages.
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Sonic Unleashed features three different control options, and they all work well. You can either use the GameCube controller, the Classic Controller, or the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. This last option does require some remote waggling, but it’s usually very responsive, and you won’t find yourself getting at all frustrated with unresponsive controls. You can go either way with the controls, and you’re bound to find the control option that’s right for you with this title.
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Graphics and Sound
Sonic Unleashed on the Wii looks absolutely gorgeous. Like Sonic and the Secret Rings before it, this game manages to capture a great sense of speed thanks to some cool lighting and blur effects. The game’s locales are rich in color, have a variety of textures, and feature an artistic architectural design. The graphics in Sonic Unleashed are excellent, and they are easily some of the best on the console.
The game’s sound also shines and features a strong soundtrack and good voice acting. You won’t hear the cheesy rock tunes you’ve heard in past 3D Sonic games. These are original, non-lyrical themes that fit into the Sonic universe perfectly. And while the game’s voice acting isn’t perfect and can be a little over-the-top, it’s still enjoyable to listen to the interactions between characters.
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Sonic Unleashed is a decent-sized game. Despite the short length of the daytime stages, there are bonus objectives to fulfill. You’ll be given tasks such as collecting a certain number of rings before times runs out, getting through the level in a certain amount of time, and other such fun extra missions. The nighttime stages also feature some extra content in the form of hidden items, so it’s safe to say completists will have their hands full with Sonic Unleashed.
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Sonic Unleashed Overall Rating
It’s impossible to consider Sonic Unleashed a perfect 3D Sonic game due to its nighttime levels. Yes, these stages can be fun, but they don’t fit in with the rest of the Sonic universe, and they can be a bit repetitive. Still, old-school Sonic fans should definitely check this one out. But be forewarned: you’ll either hate the nighttime stages or enjoy them somewhat, but you won’t love them. All in all, Sonic Unleashed is a wonderful Sonic game, even with its flaws.