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Sonic Heroes

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

In the same way that we wowed when Sonic the Hedgehog first hit the Sega Genesis during its prime, Sonic Heroes too delivers brilliant visuals to go along with the 'toony atmosphere present in each of the 14 stages in the game. Worlds contain multiple paths with multiple styles to keep your attention while Sonic and friends speed toward each goal. Character models, both good and evil, all keep with the Sonic style that we have all grown to love.

On the audio side of things, Sonic Heroes delivers the same sounds you've come to understand, and also incorporates voices that will give you auditory hints and feedback during each level. For those out there who like the Japanese style of audio and voices found in games and anime movies, you'll feel right at home with Sonic Heroes. Those who don't care for that sort of thing (ahem, me) may want to turn the radio on instead.


Gameplay:

Sonic Heroes plays more or less just like it did back in the day (but not quite as fast), with one major exception. You control an entire team of characters, three in all. Your first decision is to choose from one of the four teams: Team Sonic (Sonic, Knuckles, Tails), Team Dark (Shadow, E-123 Omega, Rouge), Team Chaotix (Espio, Vector, Charmy Bee) or Team Rose (Amy, Big, Cream). Plus, even though he looks more or less the same, Dr. Robotnik is now called Dr. Eggman (which may have happened before Sonic Heroes, but I guess I've been out of the Sonic loop lately).

Each member of the team you choose from has his/her/its own special abilities, and using these abilities at the right time not only can come in handy, but is often necessary to get past a certain point or objective. The three members of your team are specialized in Speed, Power, and Flight. There are times, for example, that the only way to jump a gap is to move as quickly as possible. At other times, finesse is out the window, and you'll need to use sheer power to break through barriers. Then there are times when the only way to reach the next platform is to fly there.

Each formation also allows for its own special attacks. While some attacks are certainly more powerful than others, forcing your way through enemies isn't always an option. Sometimes enemies will be of the flying variety, so you'll need to take control of your characters in Flight formation just to be able to reach the enemies to knock them out, then finishing your business in either Power or Speed formation. Despite the fact that my initial reaction was that this is more of a gimmick than a gameplay option, using different formations in this way certainly adds a nice twist to the game. In fact, it also allows for multiple paths to be taken in each level, which also adds a bit to the replay value of Sonic Heroes for those who like to cover every square inch of ground.

Along with the Story mode, which is the heart of Sonic Heroes, also offered is a Challenge mode. The Challenge mode is a great way for you to improve your speed to clear each of the levels you've already passed, or to go back and find any goodies you may have missed. In addition, you can also play Sonic Heroes in 2-player mode. Here you take on a buddy in an effort to see who can gain the highest score, depending on the mission objectives set forth for each stage. Only one multiplayer objective is available from the start, so in order to unlock the other six, you'll have to collect Emblems in Story mode (another incentive to add replay value to the game).


Difficulty:

While clearing stages in a Sonic game has never been overly difficult, Sonic Heroes can still offer some frustrating moments if you aren't careful. I found myself falling off edges more than I ever thought I would, due in part to my chaotic battling while in the Speed formation. But playing Heroes is more about choosing the correct paths and clearing each level in a short amount of time than it really is about killing Dr. Eggman's baddies. Then there are the Dr. Eggman battles, which offer their own difficulty, but can be easily overcome.

Game Mechanics:

The controls of Sonic Heroes are really very intuitive, and very easy to use. The hardest part, I suppose, is switching to the formation that you want. I found myself cycling formations more than I did choosing the formation. You see, selecting formations is done with two buttons for three formations. Personally, I would have preferred having three buttons for this action so that pressing a certain button would always put you into the same formation. But, after some time, you do start to learn how to use this two-button combination, so it's not entirely bad.

The only thing in the game I really had a major issue with is the camera. While good most of the time, certain times (like when going through loopty-loops), the camera will not stay directly behind the characters, so there is always an odd transition between this awkward camera position and it moving back to its original position. The reason for this is that usually you are speeding through the game along a narrow path, and when the camera moves back, pressing up (like you normally would to move forward) will actually push you to the side, and into a wall, which will slow you down or stop you completely. Speaking of slow-downs, despite the power of the Xbox, Sonic Heroes actually comes to a crawl as certain spots in the game, which goes completely against the nature of Sonic's speed.

Sonic Heroes is a very fun game and a welcome addition to the Sonic series of games. For fans, you won't be disappointed. For newcomers (especially the younger gamers out there), the controls are easy to pick up and objectives are fairly straightforward.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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