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Finally, Some Real Hope for Sonic After All These Years.

There’s probably a large amount of people that aren’t even
aware that Sonic Generations came out a little over two weeks ago. Come to
think of it, there’s probably a large amount of people out there who don’t
care either. It was released in the same week as Uncharted 3 and a week before
juggernauts such as Modern Warfare 3, Assassin’s Creed, Skyrim and Halo. Of all
the games that people would prioritise, I doubt that a new Sonic game
would have been one of them. With that being said, I do want to talk
about Sonic Generations, mainly because the game is actually pretty damn good
and also because of the above game releases that will be
hogging all the lime light.

Now first things first, I’m not putting Sonic Generations in
the same league as those games, I mean it’s a much better game than Skyrim for
a start… had you going for a second there, didn’t I? Anyway, the Sonic
franchise has not been treated with much care since his days of glory on the
Sega MegaDrive/Genesis all those years ago. The best attempts at recreating the magic
of the 2D games were always the handheld titles and for almost 15 years the
various 3D versions have been getting worse and worse. While Sonic Generations
is not a complete return to the standards of say, Sonic 2, when compared to
recent efforts, it comes pretty damn close. That being said, you don’t have to
justify the merits of Generations by that comparison alone, it is still a great
platformer that, for the first time since Sonic Adventure, has made this
franchise feel modern. In both gameplay and presentation, this feels like
a game that was released in the year it actually was.

The speed of the older games is always what made them stand
out so much in their time and they still do today for the very same reason.
That aspect has always been the core of what makes a Sonic game fun. None of
the post-2D era Sonic games really achieved this. There were some very good
moments in the Adventure games, but they were watered down terribly by all the
levels where you played as some of the most annoying characters ever to appear
in a video game. You spent far too much time not playing as Sonic.

That is ultimately the main reason Sonic Generations is so
great; you spend 100% of your time playing the best of Sonic. You get the best
of the 2D and 3D gameplay with all of the secondary mechanics and unbearable
characters removed almost entirely. This means that you get what you’re here
for in the first place: the trademark speed of the game. There’s no hunting for
gems, controlling mechs, sword fighting or any other kind of bullshit that
polluted the past games. There is some real irony that the 3D Sonic levels in
Generations are actually more successful in maximizing the speed aspect of the
game. While it is certainly present in the 2D levels, they throw too many raw
platforming sequences at you, which the controls aren’t quite capable of handling well. But they’re not enough to bring down the entire
experience. These are replaced in the 3D levels by simply having you chain
multiple in-air homing attacks together, which is much easier and way more
satisfying.

There’s part of me that really can’t believe how many nice
things I can say about a Sonic game released in 2011. It’s almost like I want
to wipe my memory of it and go back and play it again to make sure I’m not
crazy. Not only is there a good Sonic game on modern systems, it
manages to finally (and I mean finally) do some justice to the series and be a
good gaming experience on its own merits. It’s unfortunate that age will play
quite a significant factor here, though. I am under no illusions that one of the
reasons I enjoyed it so much is not because of my fond memories of playing the original games and
because of how many crappy installments have come around since then. If playing
through an HD re-mastered version of the Chemical Plant zone with the classic
music selected doesn’t tug your nostalgic heart strings, or if reading that
sentence makes you go, “er, what?”, then I doubt you will get as much enjoyment
out of Sonic Generations as older fans of the series. Never the less, there is
finally a game that bears the Sonic name that can show you where that enjoyment
came from all those years ago.    

 

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