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E3 2011: Hands-On: Sonic Generations

Hands-On Sonic Generations

I’ve always been an optimist for Sonic (not sure how), and I’m always pulling for the little blue guy. While I still don’t think he’s made quite the comeback he needs, I can at least see some progress in the right direction with the last few releases. However, whether it’s the episodic adventures SEGA is releasing, or this new offering, I feel like they still haven’t quite got it right.

In this demo you are able to choose between classic Sonic in Green Hill Zone re-done in “beautiful HD visuals,” or you can play the all-new level with modern Sonic. Since I’ve already had all the ‘nostalgia’ I can handle with Sonic 4, I decided to opt for the new level.

Sonic Generations seems to be trying to capture all of the ‘fun’ spots of its recent 3D outings, and string them together. You’re equipped with a few moves: Pressing ‘X’ gives Sonic a super dash, ‘A’ is jump (tap again in-air for the usual homing move), and ‘B’ provides a slide which can be used to slide underneath rocks or obstacles to maintain your speed.

Things moved quickly in the demo, but most of it felt familiar. Similar surroundings, classic loops, and rails to glide on find their way into the first stage. This also means the same problems will to pop up. I’m not sure why they don’t attempt a fix for these, or just do away with the mechanic that causes them in the first place. You’ll still home-on toward a rail only to have Sonic fall right through to his death, and still find yourself watching the game play itself. Really, in a lot of the 3D Sonic games, I’ve found that the real challenge does not rest in the hands of the level design or enemies, but rather the game itself. How long can you run before a bug, or game design error kills you? That’s the true test.

Visually the game also suffered from a few aliasing issues, and things got a bit scrambled when moving super fast or when the camera switched from side-scroll view to behind Sonic. I suspect these are issues that will be panned out before its release. They were also offering the game in 3D, but I didn’t get a chance to try that out.

Overall, I can see people enjoying this more than some of the other Sonic games (Sonic Unleashed, Sonic the Hedgehog etc), but I still don’t think it’s the one to turn the tides for our favorite hedgehog.

UPDATE:

I decided to give Sonic Generations a second play through, this time not only choosing the other level they are putting on demo (which is classic Green Hill Zone HD), but also playing it in 3D.

The 3D glasses fit terribly, and kept falling off, but I managed to keep them balanced on my face for the entire level. I must say, the 3D added quite a bit to my enjoyment of the game; it really added to the experience. The classic stage itself felt a lot better than the other stage, too. It was better designed, flowed well, and was a lot more fun. Feeling selfish, I decided to make the person behind me wait a bit longer, as I tried the other stage again, but this time in 3D. My second experience with this stage was also more fun. That being said, it was just ‘better,’ not game changing by any means. Hardcore fans will find something to enjoy in this title, but those waiting to hate on it will still have plenty to hate on.

It’s strange; I’m not into this 3D craze at all, as I find it doesn’t enrich any of my experiences, even when watching movies. In fact, it hinders them. When it comes to gaming, however, the experience just feels right. Will it give Sonic Generations the boost it needs? We’ll find out when upon its release.

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