Right before I hooked up my new Xbox One X, I tried out a few missions in Sonic Forces on Xbox One and I was pleased with Sega’s little mix up of a custom character and cameos from previous Sonic friends and foes. The plot tries to set a more mature tone, but can’t really hide the quirkiness of the Sonic universe, and gameplay still can’t trump Adventure 2, for me.
<Impressions v-log coming soon!>
Coming from classic 2D Sonic then falling in love with Adventure 2 makes it hard to find a new Sonic game to love all over again. But Sonic Forces seems to force itself into that situation by mashing so many things in one place.
The Mixing Pot
Off the batt, that is the problem. Sega’s Sonic Team is trying to mix anything they can get their hands on to make the next big Sonic game. Unfortunately, Sonic Forces is not it for me, but the better one these years.
Mashing in old-school Sonic, modern Sonic and character creation into one mashup of a story is definitely not the way to go.
One other mashup is with villains. Of course, we have Dr. Eggman doing his thing with a new big baddie, but what else he did was get all the previous baddies and smushed them into the game, as well. It’s a promising premise that falls a little short in the end.
Too Much Speed
The thing that I loved about the original games was the platforming. It wasn’t the sort of platforming that felt like it was out of your control, but lately since Sonic’s debut to 3D (after Adventure 2), it has been chaotic speeding stages all over the place. I don’t get to really take my time and enjoy the sceneries.
Thankfully, the grading system is a lot more linient than the older games, so you can unnaturally stop mid-speed and just roam about. Sadly, there’s really no purpose to it in this game as the only collectibles for each stage are the hidden stars, that are almost always part of the speedy runs, but are on an alternate path from the obvious one.
I enjoyed Adventure 2 the most on Gamecube simply because the variety was there. The speed was there, yes, but there are also treasure hunting stages with Knuckles and Rouge or the cool air skating of Shadow, etc. I miss that kind of Sonic. Even the classic games had interesting speed platforming to it that felt like if you slowed down it was okay.
This time around, they took Sonic themes and put it in a post-apocalyptic world war setting caused by the Eggman, himself (finally). It’s a nice mature theme that kind of barely just works.
The cool little addition they’ve come up with so far is creating your own
furry character. We get a glimpse that the Sonic Universe is alive and primarily filled with bipedal humanoid animals, and, this time, we get to make one.
I always like these features for story, primarily. Gameplay for Sonic Forces kind of breaks the whole speed doses by totally removing it and basing it on gear and kind-of platforming.
Your custom character plays similarly to modern Sonic, but with a little twist that is applied from the Wispon you equip. Your character doesn’t blaze around, but they will come equipped with a little grappling hook to swing around stages. Nothing too drastic, but the fact that you can mess with aesthetics and gear is an interesting pitch to throw out there.
In the end…
Sonic Forces tries to be great by mixing up a lot of cool ideas, but the experimentation for the greatest 3D Sonic game is still just that, experimentation. SEGA has yet to find the sweet spot that Sonic needs to be to succeed in the modern gaming universe.
Try it if you can without commitment, because it is the best iteration 3D Sonic can muster to date, but still a little lacking when you hit the end. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my time with the Azure Speedster and his pals! 😀
I have to add that the different voice options are the best part! Understanding a good amount of Japanese, I can tell you that the translation to English makes quite the difference. The English translations make all the conversations a little too light-hearted and casual. In Japanese, at least, the tones are a lot mature or at times, darker. For example, in the intro to your character after the prologue, Knuckles says that Tails “lost it” as if implying Tails went dramatic and oh well, when in fact the source material simply put that Tails was “missing in action” altogether. A lot of things were lost in translation and I do prefer the Japanese translations. If you’re able to appreciate the tonal differences, try it out.
Furthermore, I enjoyed this game a LOT more on the Switch despite the lower graphical enhancements. A few dips left and right and a little texture downsizing and mesh degredation doesn’t derail this game as a better game when portable, for my tastes.
So, as always, stay tuned for the next cool thing from us and chime in where it counts! 🙂