Sonic Forces Review
SEGA and Sonic Team are bringing a character of your design into their high-speed platformer Sonic Forces. Unfortunately, this is one title where the premise is far better than the execution.
Sonic Forces Review
Ever played a Sonic title? Then you’ll more or less know what to expect here. The nefarious Dr. Eggman is up to his evil tricks again, and has a secret weapon at his disposal to get rid of Sonic and his friends – the dimension altering phantom ruby. When used, it can summon copies of enemies and alter people’s minds.
This is a simple plot, but it goes into grimdark territory right from the get-go. The world is in ruins, Sonic is captured after the first level, and the furry character Infinite speaks about despair at any given chance. It’s hard to take any of this seriously, as the talk of “the resistance” is delivered from characters like a green crocodile with a gold chain around his neck. A lot of things are left unexplained, and the plot jumps from locale to locale with brief dialog on the map screen connecting them. Though it is designed for kids, it is embarrassing to play no matter what your age is. Pre-release material hailed that this game was designed by the same team behind Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, which were both solid titles. However, those two games put the plot in the backseat, and a lot more care went into the level design.
Rather, the levels found in Sonic Forces were designed with the bare minimum amount of effort. The ultimate goal is the same – get to the end of each stage, destroying badniks and looking cool in the process. However, what could have been an easy port job of the engine found in previous titles. Modern Sonic, one of the three previous characters, had his momentum-building homing attack removed, along with his slide. His boost mechanic was replaced with the Wisp-based power-up, which makes it more difficult to really get into the groove. He also feels far more slippery, and there were times where we flew off the stage just for holding forward. Rather, the key to victory is to let the game play itself at times – just letting Sonic run forward through pre-scripted scenes for 15 seconds at a time ended up netting us the best times and highest scores.
Classic Sonic, who makes a return from Sonic Generations, also had his physics modified. These stages play out on a two-dimensional plane, but the tweaks made to the engine make platforming tough. His momentum is completely and utterly shot – trying to go up a simple ramp or fly into the air made the blue blur sink like a lead weight, forcing us to try jumps multiple times. Most levels are barren affairs with almost no deviation in the paths, so it’s not like players will need finesse to get to a different section of the level.
And then there’s the new character. A rookie who survived Infinite’s attack, he or she is recruited by Sonic’s friend as part of the resistance. Players can accessorize this character with a fairly deep editor, and choose which type of animal they are. Each different animal has a different perk – one has a wire attack, while another may have a double jump. The game adjusts the level design for each perk, meaning that it can be easier or more difficult depending on which animal design you choose. The dog we chose had a grappling hook and a flamethrower, which put a focus more on locking on to targets and taking out waves of enemies. Players unsure of the best character design to go for need not worry, and players can “rent a character” before each stage designed for them. Players can also unlock different accessories for completing each objective, such as netting the highest rank.
It’s not like all of these tweaks will lead to much variation – most levels for all three characters average at amount two minutes to complete, and are over before you know it. In fact, we completed all 30 levels in one two-and-a-half hour sitting. In addition, players will see the same locales multiple times, with only minor variations between them. It’s not like there is much to see either – most stages are from previous titles, like Green Hill, Chemical Plant, and Death Egg. Adding snow or sand does not make something unique – it makes it lazy. New stages come across as uninspired too, with names like “City.”
Sonic Forces is a rush job that lacks the charm and attention to detail found in the blue blur’s better titles. Don’t bother looking for a solid platformer here – the fact that the developers didn’t care means that you shouldn’t either.