Sonic Unleashed

Pros & Cons:
Pertaining to My short list below.

The framerate will sometimes slow down to a crawl here and there--usually during the more chaotic gameplay sequences--in many of the Werehog levels (and some Sonic levels); but other than this, the graphics are otherwise stunning, with whimsical and very unique (human) character design, well-realized environments, sharp textures, and relatively fast load times (at about 10-15 seconds, sometimes less).

Dont let his cool stretchy arms deceive you! He's the blight of the game!

The story itself is goofy and shallow, with plenty of sub-par voice acting, but it's entertaining enough and just as good as (if not better than) the previous Sonic stories. Sonic's speed levels--the best thing about this game by far--are a rollercoaster-like blast with twists, turns and incredible speed, and although it's sometimes hard to control him left and right at full speed, the controls are surprisingly responsive.

However, the Werehog levels don't fare nearly as well, and while there aren't any gameplay-breaking bugs, and the majority of his levels are designed adequately enough, they're far too long; the combat degrades into repetitive button mashing with sluggish combo transitions; enemies never seem to stop coming, and you fight the same few types over and over--these levels are plainly not fun. The world hubs that lead off to levels are small and closed off (meaning they're not very explorable), and you're often made to talk uselessly to people about where to go next, only to find out that they too don't have a clue. This carries into the level access, as not only do you constantly have to replay earlier levels or run through towns and find Sun and Moon medals just to open the next set of levels, but once you actually have access to later levels, you really have no clue on where the next one is.

If only they had stuck to these gameplay sequences...darn you pesky Werehog!

To fix this, I think they should have skipped the towns, Sun/Moon medals and level access hubs altogether, or at least given you the option to bypass them and use a simpler and clearer menu system instead. These issues, along with the Werehog levels were an obvious attempt to pad its 10-15 hour length--I would have preferred a shorter 4-6 hours focusing on Sonic's speed levels, than (honestly) this mess.

Closing comment:
But overall, if you're a huge Sonic fan and can overlook the monotonous Werehog levels, useless towns, annoying Sun/Moon medal collecting and level access, than this is marginally better than the moderately terrible Sonic the Hedgehog for Xbox 360. If they'd just stuck to Sonic's speed levels (which are worth playing), this could've been the best 3D Sonic game to date--if you're a big Sonic fan get it, if not, rent it.

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Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating and My age rating.

Content-wise: When it comes to content, this isn't any worse than one of the more mild Saturday morning cartoons, meaning for kids 7- it's quite suitable for them to watch an older sibling play, and in very early parts, even try.

However, while the control scheme might be pretty simple, everything else is way beyond their grasp, from the actual use of controls to the quick-thinking and frequently frustrating trial and error it takes to complete the game's levels.

Difficulty-wise: If this game weren't so kid-friendly in content, and didn't have some levels that were playable by skilled ten year-olds, I would recommend it for teens on reasons of sheer difficulty.

The Sonic games have never been easy, and this one is no exception, with far and few between checkpoints and an incredible amount of trial error. You'll be falling to your doom multiple times, and because of this marathon mentality with very little breaks or leeway, most levels require plenty of finesse, quick thinking, and most of all, patience.

So, if your ten year-old is a veteran Sonic gamer, then he or she won't have too many problems with the difficulty presented. Otherwise, think of getting them something easier (or try renting it first).

Fun for: Although the game's narrative is often cheesy and contrived, and the graphics resemble a Saturday morning cartoon, its overall gameplay and more than moderate difficulty are far more suited to adults--specifically adult Sonic fans, they'll enjoy it the most.

Gameplay sum up: The world has been split into seven pieces, unleashing an entity called Dark Gaia. To fix this and seal it away, you'll have to explore the game's hub worlds, as you collect Sun and Moon medals in order to unlock and complete levels, and in turn, acquire the keys to the seven Gaia temples. You'll then defeat their guardians, and place the seven Chaos Emeralds into each temple to restore the world to its former shape. Levels are split between Sonic and his Werehog form, which can be switched at anytime by aligning the sun and moon on the world map, using the menu to wait until day or night in town hubs, or hitting the hourglass in level portal hubs. Both Sonic and his Werehog form can collect experience points from downed enemies, which can then be used to upgrade Sonic's speeds skills and the Werehog's combat skills.

The base gameplay for Sonic levels consist of you using his extreme speed to run through 2D/3D perspective rollercoaster-like levels while collecting rings; homing in and hitting enemies with his rolled-up and spikey body; speeding through rainbow rings and boost pads; grinding on rails; jumping from platform to platform; running on walls; and dodging spikes/obstacles. You'll sometimes have to use his collected ring energy to gain speed and boost across water; slide down slopes with a sled; and press the buttons on-screen in the correct sequence to jump some of the larger gaps and defeat bosses.

The base gameplay for Werehog levels consists of using his stretchy arms to shimmy and grab on ledges; climb and jump from poles; jump from platform to platform; navigate narrow ledges; dodge saw blades/spikes; and grab enemies in midair to cross large gaps. He'll solve puzzles by finding and placing rocks into the correct pedestals; pulling switches; turning cranks; and pushing blocks onto pressure switches to unlock doors. And he'll use his claws and combos to fight enemies; quick time events to finish them off quickly; and his Unleashed ability to do more damage with souped up versions of his powers.

You can also explore the hubs/levels to find and collect all Sun/Moon medals, Tapes (cutscenes), Books (concept art), and Records (audio tracks); replay levels to get a better rank (S rank best, E rank worst); complete challenges in town (collect or defeat a certain amount of enemies/rings in time, etc.); buy food (gives exp.) and souvenirs (trade them in for info) at each town's store; use a camera's flash to exorcize Dark Gaia from certain civilians in town; and play two on-track mini-levels where you man Tail's plane's turret, and shoot down enemy airships by pressing the buttons displayed on-screen.

Animated blood: Very mild purplish-black inky goo, and minor, bright firework-like neon colored particle effects expel in large puffs of thick and very cartoony clouds of smoke when Sonic's Werehog form does away with the Dark Gaia enemies.

Fantasy violence: After Sonic destroys Eggman's starship and goes Super Sonic with the Chaos Emeralds, Eggman makes his escape. When Sonic reaches him, the doctor feigns defeat as the blue hedgehog steps closer to the intended device. Eggman then activates it, causing Gia (earth) to split nearly in two, releasing Dark Gia, a strange, evil entity onto the world. While this goes on, the machine is having an unexpected side-effect on Sonic, turning him into some type of monstrous werewolf, or in this case, Werehog. After his transformation, Sonic rushes towards Eggman, only to be flung out of the starship onto the earth below. Can Sonic stop Eggman from taking over the world, all the while dealing with his strange mutation? We'll see...

The tone of violence is hectic and a bit chaotic, and consists of you using Sonic's Werehog form to smash random objects in levels--like pots, crates (etc.), in order to collect health and Unleashed ability orbs--and slash away at Dark Gaia (neon-colored lizard, wasp, flower, and wizard-like creatures made of black goo) and Eggman's robot with his large claws; lift, swing and throw them at each other; slam them onto the ground (Bam-Bam style); and grab elemental enemies, then using them to set the other on fire, freeze and electrocute them, all resulting in Eggman's robots exploding and Dark Gaia disappearing into a puff of inky, purplish-black smoke.

Sonic levels are tame in comparison, and you'll use his rolled-up body to knock into robot enemies, which results in them exploding, and then disappearing immediately. Eggman and enemies attack Sonic and the Werehog with bombs, lasers, missiles, fire (etc.) throughout levels and boss battles, and many of the cutscenes and gameplay sequences have plenty of large, fantastical explosions. But overall, it's very mild Saturday morning cartoon fare, and although, as I said, it's a bit chaotic (and some very young kids could be spooked by Sonic's big, hairy, clawed and large-fanged, albeit tame, goofy-looking Werehog form--even in this form, Sonic is still his good-guy self) it isn't at all overly violent, with a very silly and harmless tone--I see no problem with kids of any age watching (and/or playing) this game.

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  • Available on: Xbox 360 - PS3
  • More information: wikipedia
  • Cover scans: mobygames - covergalaxy: 360 - PS3
  • FAQ's/cheats: Xbox 360 - PS3
  • Press reviews: ign - gamespot - gamespy - gametrailers

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