Wednesday, December 10, 2008



How could I be having such a good time with a game that's rated a 3.0/10 (or worse) in some review sites? Have I lost my mind? Or is it that gaming review sites have COMPLETELY lost touch with what their audience wants?

Sonic Unleashed, perhaps....had it been released for a Sega console, or perhaps had Sega sent more freebies to reviewers, maybe it would have received the coveted "OSCAR AWARD WINNING PLOT!" quote for its review.

I just don't understand it. Are my standards just lower? Or do I just know how to have fun with a game and look at the BIG PICTURE? The Sonic sections of the game are just mind-blowing. They're exactly how I pictured Sonic 1 / Sonic 2/ Sonic 3 / Sonic and Knuckles should play like in the next generation of consoles.

And the Werehog sections; I'll admit not initially liking it at first, but then it only took figuring out that you could level up the Werehog to make those sections more enjoyable for me. Surely it's no Devil May Cry, but I did enjoy the change in pace. The Werehog sections contrast well with the Sonic running sections----they make the Sonic daytime sections even more SPECTACULAR, breath-taking, and well-worth looking forward to.

I recall the original trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) for the Xbox 360....and how THAT game turned out quite poorly. It had so many bugs and was extremely frustrating.

Contrast that game....with THIS. Good Lord, Sonic 2006 makes Sonic Unleashed feel like a masterpiece in comparison. And this game approximates what those original trailers for Sonic 2006 were promising for gamers everywhere.

And how could this game have failed with the reviews? I can't imagine why...Does a game have to be so dumbed down and casual these days to succeed with the press? Admittedly some parts of Sonic Unleashed are pretty hard....but not anything that a bit of patience and slowing down can't fix. If you're Sonic and you're missing that crucial jump or two, SLOW. DOWN. Just for a second. Or time it right with a proper brake (or drift! lol) and then jump, and then off you go again; HOLD X for an extreme blast of SPEED!

And with the Werehog, I read a good tip for those sections online which improved the platforming sections somewhat. When trying to grab onto ledges as the Werehog, hold B even before the green prompt appears onscreen. Most of the time that works, and it makes the platforming sections more fun.

Granted that's a point against the game that I had to find that out from reading a few forums like GameFAQs and the like....but why should it be a point against the game? Do we gamers live in a disconnected bubble? If you can't figure out how to get past something, SEARCH THE 'NET. Google is all over the news everyday....if you have an Xbox 360 then at the very least you should know how to search online for game tips.

For the most part, the game, even with the high works. It has that SEGA shine. It's very polished. Not many bugs; I've seen a slight bit of framerate stutter as the Werehog but it never affects the gameplay. And I've NEVER seen any slowdown at all when playing as Sonic in the daytime sections. That has to count for SOMETHING. I don't know if the high difficulty counts as a point against the game...wait, no, it DOES NOT. In fact, that's probably the very thing that makes completing every level all the more satisfying.

Is there room for improvement? Sure! Maybe sometimes the game should give a bit more guidance to the player as to where to go next. Should they make some of the platforming bits even easier? I disagree; the sense of satisfaction when finishing a level will dissapate. What the reviews called FRUSTRATION, I call CHALLENGE. Initially I had a few frustrating bits, true; but over time, you just figure out how to play the game right, and then it just clicks.

A game like Sonic Unleashed CANNOT deserve a 6/10, nor a 3/10. I'd say an 8 if you're nitpicky. It's just too polished and well made to be called a bad game. Perhaps in terms of accessibility it could have some room for improvement. But then, had I started out with the gaming hobby in my youth, playing games as easy as Wario Ware Smooth Moves or Guitar Hero on Easy difficulty, would I become as passionate as I am about games today? Should the gaming industry spoonfeed its audience? What is the gaming press telling the gaming industry? Make EASIER games? Make our grandmothers/parents/non-gaming siblings play games? I believe that, as much as being inclusive is an important factor in game design, addressing the needs of the existing audience is still important. We're the ones who'll still buy games tomorrow after we've finished the games we bought today. Those casual gamers will just buy a console for that one game, and then move on to the next big distraction. Who's going to stick around to pay the game industry's bills? We hardcore, real gamers are.

These horrible reviews for Sonic Unleashed have proved yet again how out of touch the gaming press is with what the gamers want, and how obssessed they are with getting mainstream respect, to the point that they'll screw over some well-developed games. I think bad reviews send all the wrong signals to SEGA. Who knows, this could be the last Sonic game ever made; I mean, if something as fantastic as THIS just can't win over the influential gaming press, then perhaps we should just be stuck with the Mario brothers for the rest of our days.
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Update: I know how a lot of people feel about online petitions. They don't really work....that said, this one in particular is just a 'Thank you Sonic Team' petition. It's not really asking for anything other than to say 'thanks'.

I signed it.

SEGA deserves a lot more credit for their efforts on Sonic Unleashed. I think they did a great job, and to watch them trashed by the press just seems so unfair to me.

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