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Sonic Adventure 2

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sonic Team
Media: GD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Platformer

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in Sonic Adventure 2 are amazingly sharp, with crisp character models and beautiful worlds to explore. Indeed, some of the worlds are self-contained universes, with a lot to see and do. This is especially notable in the Knuckles/Rouge levels, and while the stages are too big for their style of gameplay, it's still a visual treat to walk around and see all of the things in the levels. The first time you go through one of the big loops in the game, you'll grin like a little kid. And the framerate stays solid, never wavering from its high throttle setting. Considering the speed of some of the areas, especially when you play as Sonic or Shadow, this is no small feat. The game does seem to use some FMV, but most of the cutscenes look in-game. The mouth movements are a bit comical, but the rest is very nice-looking.

The sound in the game is somewhat less impressive, however. The music is good, but not spectacular; the voiced songs are amusing, the non-voiced ones are merely background noise. I found myself humming along with the theme in the first level, but nothing else really caught my attention. The voice acting is still pretty bad, but it's not abysmal; Tails grates on my spine, but the rest are good enough for a video game. Don't expect Metal Gear Solid and you'll be fine.


Gameplay:

And, while it's not perfect, Sonic Adventure 2 offers a lot of gaming bang for the buck. Sure, it uses the old 'do a level over and over to get a perfect rank' ploy, and the Knuckles/Rouge levels can be more annoying than fun, but the Sonic/Shadow and later Tails/Eggman levels more than make up for it.

Sonic Adventure 2 is broken up into two stories--Hero and Dark. Each story has over a dozen levels, each featuring a particular character from a given side. The various characters 'pair up': Sonic and Shadow's levels are the same style (classic Sonic speed in a 3D world), Knuckles and Rouge have sprawly adventure levels where you have to find pieces of the Master Emerald, and Tails and Eggman pilot mecha-type-things that blow up everything in their path. The characters are predetermined for a given level, but you can always go back and revisit the levels you've already played.

There's a plotline here, but I got confused about halfway through the game and just kept playing for playing's sake. Shadow is taking over the world and Eggman is helping and the Moon gets blown up and all sorts of wackiness ensues. I don't know; it's a platformer. I generally ignore storyline for these sorts of games.

The lowest points of the game are the Knuckles/Rouge levels. While the concept is intriguing at first--it's basically 'hot/cold' with enemies and much larger spaces than your house--it ends up being rather interminable. You'll run around an absolutely massive (and gorgeous) world, trying to find some crystals. Sure, you can use the hint machines, but then your rank goes down. And you still have to learn the worlds to be able to understand the hints that they give. Ugh. I found myself wishing I could just skip these stages, but I persevered and got through them.

Higher on the evolutionary scale of fun are the Tails and Robotnik levels. While the first time you play each of them you'll feel a little bored--aim, seek, and shoot--as the levels progress, their stages get more and more challenging. You basically run and gun your way through a sequence of passages/walkways/whatever; your weapon can 'lock on' to multiple enemies, which is how you increase your score and stay alive. In addition to losing your rings when you get hit, you lose energy; get hit too many times and you explode.

The heart of Sonic Adventure 2, however, lies in the Sonic and Shadow levels. They're blisteringly fast, well-designed, and a heck of a lot of fun to play. Nothing is more entertaining than bouncing your way up an absolutely gigantic tree, or running through a crazy loop, or flying through the air and doing all sorts of crazy stunts. These stages smoke, and they're a blast to play. All of your classic Sonic action is here; spin into enemies, fly over gorges, run through crazy passageways.

There are a number of features outside of the main game--a kart affair and a Chao-raising sim--but these aren't the sorts of things I look for in a platformer. The action is where it's at, and Sonic Adventure 2 has plenty of action.


Difficulty:

Be forewarned: if you don't have good control skills, you will find Sonic Adventure 2 quite difficult. Many levels require near-perfect timing and aim, especially as the game progresses, and you'll find yourself wasting lives when you try to traverse the passages with Sonic and keep missing the grind bars. For those of you with fast reflexes and good hand/eye coordination, however, Sonic Adventure 2 shouldn't be too challenging. It may take you a second or two to figure out the 'trick' to a boss, but once you've discovered it, most of them are near-trivial to beat.

Game Mechanics:

Sonic Adventure 2 uses different control schemes depending on the character you're controlling. You always move around with the analog stick, but Sonic and Shadow spin, Knuckles punches, Tails and Eggman fire their cannons, and so on. The controls roughly 'map' between the characters, though, so it shouldn't be too difficult. It's the particulars that change; locking on, spinning, floating, and so on.

The game does have camera issues, which can be very frustrating. Trying to run down a narrow path when the camera refuses to centre itself behind you is very challenging, as motion is screen-relative. If it weren't for this, Sonic Adventure 2 would be even closer to perfection. As it is, the load times are fairly minimal, and the menus are a breeze to navigate (and stylish to boot).

It's not perfect, but Sonic Adventure 2 offers plenty of fun to any gamer willing to give it a shot. With sharp graphics, tons of levels, and enough replay value to keep you coming back for more trying to get all of the emblems, you'll find Sonic Adventure 2 is a worthy addition to your Dreamcast library. Yes, I could have done without the Knuckles/Rouge levels, but the rest of the game ranges from solid to brilliant. Good job, Sonic Team.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Sega Dreamcast Soldier of Fortune Sega Dreamcast Looney Tunes Space Race

 
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