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Sonic Adventure

Score: 50%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sonic Team
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Platformer (3D)

Graphics & Sound:

For some gamers, Sonic Adventure holds the distinction as the "Last Great Sonic Game." That may be the case, especially considering the mascot's latest exploits, but it was not without its issues. Fortunately, Sonic Adventure has nostalgia on its side.

When we think about Sonic Adventure, or really any old game/ system, we tend to block out the negative and focus on the positive. That's nostalgia for you. It may have been a great game for its time, but the recent XBLA port shows we should have taken it for what it really was, a big "Trouble Ahead" sign indicating what was on the horizon for the blue speedster. Oh, and the port doesn't help much either.

Sonic Adventure is a slightly tweaked version of the GameCube version. The visuals hold up as well as late 90's 3D can, even at HD. Unfortunately, there's no widescreen support, forcing you to view everything through a blue-bordered window. As with other games, Sonic Adventure runs blazingly fast, so its not like you'll really have the opportunity to see anything without a healthy dose of blur, but the option would have been nice.

One of the few "Thank the Maker Nothing's Changed" moments is the soundtrack. The one great constant in all Sonic games is the music, and Sonic Adventure delivers on every front. Of course, the voicework is still the same - but you can skip through it.


Gameplay:

Sonic Adventure takes a more direct approach towards developing a narrative. Rather than sticking to the "This guy is bad, get him!" premise, Sonic Adventure tosses in cutscenes and a gonzo story that, in the end, communicates the same exact ideas as previous games.

Gameplay is comprised mainly of traditional Sonic levels, where your only task is to run from point A to point B as fast as possible, all the while freeing animals and collecting rings. When the focus is on Sonic, gameplay isn't horrible. It's a bit broken, but you can at least speed your way through most of the issues. Problems become more apparent when Sonic's friends enter the picture.

Over the course of your adventure, you'll meet several friends, each with their own adventures. Each friend introduces a new mechanic (shooting, flying, melee combat...) that feels just as broken as the last.

Levels are stitched together via a hub world. The design makes sense, but is incredibly confusing. You're never quite sure where you're supposed to go, even when the glowing red orbs decide to drop you a hint. Sometimes you have to find a specific area, other times you need to solve a ridiculous puzzles that makes the original Resident Evil's seem well conceived by comparison. The path is usually right there in front of you, but with the problematic camera you usually have to wade through angles before you see where you're supposed to go.


Difficulty:

With Sonic Adventure, half the anticipation isn't what's next, but how you're going to die. Bottomless pits, randomly placed enemies, narrow passageways of doom... the game has them all. I remember these problems popping up years ago, and they're still around with this iteration. In the grand spectrum of Sonic games this isn't the hardest game, but it certainly tries its best.

If enemies, bottomless pits and wonky physics aren't conspiring to kill you, the camera is. Sonic Adventure's camera was always broken, but at least back then it was forgivable. With the retool, you would hope some work would have gone into at least sprucing up the camera. The only time the camera really seems to "work" is when you're letting Sonic run without player input. Any other time, it's either showing you a wall, another character, or whatever other objects it decides to cling to.


Game Mechanics:

Sometimes it's best to just let Sonic run on autopilot. Yes, the fun of games is actually controlling the character, but there are spots where the slightest button press or nudge on the controller will disrupt the flow of play, bringing it to dead stop. If you're lucky, you'll just need to find a starting spot (which, thankfully, are easy to find) and blaze on your merry way, though there's the rare occasion where you'll end up flying off the side of a level or plowing into an enemy.

As much as I hate beating up on what is a ten-year-old game, Sonic Adventure sort of sets itself up for punishment. While this very well might be a case of gameplay simply not holding up to current standards, the XBLA Marketplace plays home to better Sonic games at a better price.

Then there's the quality of the port. This is as barebones as a re-release can get and rather than feeling like a proper send-up, it just feels rushed. It's not tuned for the system and little work was done to try and at least bring it up to code for players.

If you're feeling nostalgic for Sonic Adventure, you're better off replaying your memories or giving the demo a whirl. Sonic may have a brighter future ahead, but his past is best left where it is.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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