Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review #382: Sonic Heroes

 No hero can save this game.
 Sonic doesn't have the exact perfect record after he hit 3D. While most people would agree that 3D Sonic is pretty terrible, a few vocal minority still like them, while a few would concede that Adventure 1 and 2 were decent. Sonic Heroes was the next game after Adventure 2, and it's all kinds of terrible.

 Sonic Heroes ditches Adventure's format, instead focusing on four different 3-man teams. Rose, Big and Cream have a silly adventure about searching for different characters. Their adventure consist of short stages and few enemies. Sonic, Tails and Knuckles represent the medium difficulty setting, with more enemies and longer versions of the same stages, trying to foil Eggman. Shadow, Rouge and Omega represent hard difficulty, with the longest stages and hardest challenges, while Rouge looks for treasure and Shadow and Omega search for Eggman. Lastly, there's Team Chaotix, with mission based gameplay. They all suck.
 While the stories might differ, each team has only slightly different stages. The game is your typical platformer: Go from one end of the stage to the other, jumping through platforms and defeating enemies on your way. As with any Sonic game, you can collect rings in order to be able to tank extra hits, as long as you are holding at least one ring you'll be fine from enemy attacks, but getting hit makes you drop every ring you've collected... still, there's plenty of time to pick some of them up before they disappear. Teams also play slightly different, for example, Sonic and Shadow can tap Square to dash through ring-trails, while Team Chatoix's Espio throws shurikens instead. Knuckles and Omega attack in pretty much the same ways, but Big the Cat and Vector can belly pound form the air, etc. There's a heavy focus in formations, Speed, Power and Flight, and you'll have to switch formations in order to clear different objectives and progress through the stages.

 Speaking of Stages, Team Chaotix has some rather annoying mission-based stages, like destroying every enemy or gathering X amount of something. This can either be a chore or easy, and if you miss something... you've got to loop back to the start of the stage and traverse it all the way to the end again in hope of finding what you missed. Team Sonic and Team Dark have boring, annoyingly long stages that go on forever and overstay their welcome as soon as they hit the 8 minute mark. The annoyance is exacerbated thanks to shoddy level design and terrible controls.
 Let's start with the controls: Every character moves too damn fast, and in a very slippery and floaty fashion. It's impossible not to die because stuff was out of your control, because your character slipped out of the platform. Knuckles and Omega, the Power characters from Team Dark and Team Sonic, dash around when you use your normal attacks, you will fall down over and over again because of how slippery it is. Hitting enemies also lacks feedback, you it feels as if you are hitting air. It was so bad that I avoided using Shadow/Sonic/Espio/Rose's homing attacks since I was scared I would fall off the platform, and Omega and Knuckles were so finicky that I was reduced to using jumping attack almost exclusively. Basically: Running around is slippery and floating, jumping is floaty and imprecise and ground-combat will get you killed. Just moving around can get you killed in Sonic Heroes, and it won't feel like it's your fault at all. The camera is wonky as well, sometimes deciding to zoom in on your character for no apparent reason, and using the analog stick to move it around is as imprecise as moving around.

 As for the levels themselves.. it runs through the entire gamut of problems. Some stages have bad designs, like the Casino level, featuring the worst pinball physics I've ever seen, and then pits are introduced and... let's just say that if you are playing as Team Sonic or Team Dark, you will sink a lot of lives here. Then there are problems related to the shoddy game design itself, a few times, as Sonic and Shadow, you will be required to tap Square to automatically follow a trail of rings... more times than I can count, Shadow and Sonic fell off the trail to their deaths for no apparent reason. There're a few 'autorun' segments in which you are supposed to not press a thing, I think? I think because sometimes getting through these was a gamble, if I pressed something I died and if I didn't I died too, either because, somehow, my character fell off the path or because at the end they decided to jump in... another direction? I can't count the times I didn't know if the game expected me to press anything or expected me not to, thus I don't even know how I got through them. And don't even let me get started on the fact that characters don't produce shadows, making platforming in 3-D even more of a hassle.
 If you hate someone with a passion, you can maybe coerce them into playing the silly 2-player versus mode with you. There's a needless amount of multiplayer modes, if you are so inclined, from races to battles. Gathering all Chaos Emeralds and finishing all four story modes(Are you feeling masochistic?) unlocks a final chapter... but it's not worth it. The game is an uncontrollable mess, it's not worth it.

 Sonic Heroes is awful. It's almost unplayable at times with how difficult to move around safely it is. If you like Sonic... I'm so sorry that you have to endure this. Nothing about this game works well, there's almost nothing good I can say about this game, except maybe that it looks pretty and that the concept of 3-man teams was pretty interesting. It's a shame nothing works well. I don't remember the last time a game made me so angry.
 2.5 out of 10

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