Team Sonic Racing Review
Sonic and co. return in a brand new addition to the long-running racing franchise with the release of Team Sonic Racing. Mixing the fast and chaotic nature of karting games with an exciting new take on team-based gameplay and strategy, this title hopes to redefine the depth of the genre. Is this title worth lacing up those red and white Power Sneakers, or should this be one watched from the sidelines?
Team Sonic Racing Review
At its core, Team Sonic Racing is an attempt to emulate the genre defining juggernaut Mario Kart. Following the success of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, the team at Sumo Digital return with an all-new, Sonic-based cast, brand new gameplay mechanics and a host of new features hoping to dethrone Nintendo’s franchise.
If you’re at all familiar with the host of games in the karting genre, many of Team Sonic Racing’s features will be immediately recognizable. There’s a number of characters, each with their own kart and style of play. The Speed types excel at, well, top speed, while Technique players and Power players have other benefits such as avoiding slow down penalties on rough terrain, the ability to break through parts of the tracks for shortcuts, and even access better Wisps (weapons).
The style of the races is also very familiar, but not at all in a negative manner. There’s tons of different races tracks – 21 in total, both old and new – each with a host of obstacles and challenges. Each race consists of nailing that perfect drift, hitting that clinch weapon shot, and taunting that opponent you just sent flying into oblivion. All of the beloved features of the karting genre are here in full force.
The most interesting aspect of Team Sonic Racing, and arguably its greatest feature, is the addition of cooperative teamplay mechanics. The average karting game consists of boosts, weapons, and drifting, rewarding solo skill and style over anything else. While Team Sonic Racing embodies many of those elements, it strips away at the core of the genre with several features aimed at encouraging and rewarding team tactics and strategies.
In the Team Racing modes, players are a member of a three man team. With four teams in each race, there are a total of 12 racers altogether. All drivers on a team work in tandem to increase their overall team score, which is influenced by a number of interesting factors. The most valuable factor, is of course, where you finish in the final standings of the race, but if things are a little tight at the top of the table, it’s the squad that showed the most teamwork that will come out on top.
Various actions are available throughout the race to aid your allies and increase your team score. You can send weapons and pick-ups to other members of your team, request items if you’re in a bit of a pickle, and work together to get enough team score to launch the Team Ultimate Boost – a short period of incredible speed and invincibility. Driving in tandem with other members of your team offers further abilities to increase your chances of winning. You can Slingshot past your allies by following their slipstream and zooming past for a boost and can even rescue team mates if you skim them as they are hit or stunned by opponents.
It’s simple enough to play Team Sonic Racing as you would Mario Kart, ignoring your allies in the race to claim that top podium spot. However, if you embrace the ideals of working as a team, it creates for a much more exciting and rewarding gameplay experience overall. This is best showcased when playing with friends or in a more organized team, and creates many nail biting moments as the scores are tallied and your team rises to the top through the team-based objectives.
Included is a variety of different online and offline game modes, including split-screen, time trials, ranks and leaderboards. Put simply, there’s plenty on offer to keep competitive players entertained. Every character has access to their own vehicle, and each one can be heavily customized in a multitude of ways. There are more than 130 unique parts that you can unlock to customize your favorite characters karts, including both visual upgrades and performance-enhancing equipment. The unlock system does resemble a loot-box style approach, but it’s not very intrusive and all available through in-game currency.
The team-based aspects of Team Sonic Racing are easily the games most exciting aspects, but it’s also a little troublesome – especially in the online modes. Instead of 12 players looking to tear each other apart at any cost, it’s made up of four teams. This often results in getting hammered by several opponents at once as cohesive teams pass by and utilize every weapon available to keep you down. This is a staple of the genre itself but due to the reduced targets, you do leave many races feeling rather picked on. A minor annoyance at best, I’m more disappointed it’s yet another Sonic game without the Chao Garden. What gives SEGA?
As a complete package, Team Sonic Racing is the real deal. 15 different characters from the Sonic franchise converge, tons of customization options, plenty of tracks and different game modes. The visuals pulsate with energy and excitement, the soundtrack is awesome, and it all falls together to make a high-quality Sonic experience fans are sure to love. It’s also a fantastic game to play with the kids, if one wins, they all win.
Team Sonic Racing is an absolute blast as a local multiplayer game. The team based mechanics offer an injection of fresh and exciting ideas into an otherwise stagnating genre, making it a must-play for fans of the series. The online races can be a little chaotic at times, but with a bit of patience and a lot of luck, there’s plenty of fun to be had here.
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