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Sonic Forces ~ Review


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Sonic Forces is a platform game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. An installment in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, it follows Sonic as a member of a resistance force against Doctor Eggman, who has taken over the world with his robot army and a mysterious villain, Infinite. Gameplay is similar to Sonic Generations (2011), with two versions of Sonic: "Classic" Sonic plays from a side-scrolling view reminiscent of the Sega Genesis Sonic games, while "Modern" Sonic uses 3D gameplay similar to Sonic Unleashed (2008) and Sonic Colors (2010). Sonic Forces also features a third gameplay mode as the "Avatar", the player's custom character.

Development of Sonic Forces began after the completion of Sonic Lost World in 2013. It was developed using the Hedgehog Engine 2, an updated version of the game engine used to create Unleashed and Generations. Sega announced Sonic Forces in July 2016 in commemoration of the franchise's twenty-fifth anniversary, and was released worldwide in November 2017. It received mixed reviews.

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Players run at high speeds around levels filled with obstacles and elements such as spring boards and boost pads. Levels are populated by robots and other hazards created by series antagonist Doctor Eggman. Scattered around levels are golden rings that serve as a form of health: rings protect players from damage caused by robots or other hazards, though they lose their rings upon being hit. Unlike other games in the franchise, lost rings cannot be recollected and players have unlimited lives.

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The unthinkable has happened: Sonic has been defeated, and Doctor Eggman is conquering the planet. The only one who can put things right is your custom-made character, with some help from some old-school Sonics. The premise behind Sonic Forces sounds like an amazing mix for a Sonic game, but its inconsistent level design and overall inability to capitalize on its potential leaves it just a few steps short.

The character creation is a huge selling point and one of Sonic Forces’ best features, and it feels great to be able to live out a childhood Sega fan dream of making your own Sonic character. You pick their species, customize their look, and dress them up in all kinds of fashion, from stylish (swanky Sega-themed gear, slick shades, and sporty shoes) to downright odd (clown wigs, shutter shades, and wrestling belts), unlocking more as you play. Seeing your creation do wild stunts alongside Sonic, doing fistbumps and taking down some rampaging robots, is a whole heap of fun.

That lack of meaningful climactic moments part of the overall problem: throughout the story, Forces feels like it’s ramping up to become something amazing, suggesting an epic battle between Sonic’s friends and Eggman’s army. But both the story and the gameplay just wind up fizzling out towards the end of the five- or six-hour campaign. Heck, you don’t even get to fight some of Sonic’s old rivals that you see introduced early on. That feels like a real bait and switch.

After you’re done with the main game you can replay levels to improve your scores and times, rescue other players’ avatars in previously beaten stages through SOS missions to earn you gear and weapons, and unlock a handful of hidden (and quite short) challenge stages, but it still feels like there’s a fair bit of wasted potential. More levels and more big, exciting boss fights would have gone a long way.

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There are a few different types of levels in Sonic Forces. As SEGA showed off at E3, Modern Sonic levels are fast, featuring big moments of spectacle, while Classic Sonic levels are more about platforming and traditional Sonic gameplay. A third type of level is built around the custom-made hero characters you can create in Sonic Forces, offering gameplay tailored around the ability you pick for your character.

At Gamescom, SEGA is showing off yet another type of level: Tag Team, which teams up Modern Sonic with your player-made character. In a level we played, Sonic and the custom character have to break into one of Eggman’s factories and open up a path to let in the resistance, and you control both characters simultaneously.

Early on, Sonic and the custom character perform a Double Boost, teaming up in an unstoppable speed boost that takes down any enemy unlucky enough to be in their path. With enough momentum, they break inside the factory and prepare to take down Eggman’s forces. This is where the team-up mechanic comes into play.

The hero you create has a Wispon ability they can use to explore the level in different ways. While we didn’t get to create our own character, the preset options available to us had abilities like a boosted fire jump to assist in platforming, a lightning whip, and a hammer that could take down enemies. Each character can use their ability once they find the wisp that matches their color (red for the burst, yellow for lightning, etc).

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In the solo level, the custom character controls felt a little off and not quite as fine-tuned as either version of Sonic, but in Tag Team, the balance felt great, and switching between Sonic’s boost versus the main character’s Wispon is intuitive and feels totally natural.

I still have a few concerns about Sonic Forces, as the levels themselves feel really short and we haven’t seen much of a challenge yet. All four level types shown so far have been surprisingly easy, which stands in stark contrast to the recently-released Sonic Mania, which is still fresh on my mind. Still, Sonic Team clearly understands that mixing up the gameplay is a good thing, and for now I can only hope that these simpler levels have been for demo purposes with the more challenging stuff to come in the final game.

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The last reply on this topic is older than 122 days. Please do not unnecessarily bump it. The most recent reply to this topic was posted 1898 days ago.

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