Friday, January 6, 2012

Rollin' Around at the Speed of Sound...

In my quick crusade to make sure these games from 2011 that I got for Christmas are played at least somewhat before I have to vote for my Games of the Year in 2011, I threw Sonic Generations into the PS3 yesterday and gave it a whirl.  Between my playings yesterday and today, I think I have a fairly good profile on the game itself considering I've almost beaten it already.  Which I'll get into in a bit, but for now, I just wanted to focus on the fact that even though I've only played the game for a bit, I do think I am qualified to speak on it in at least a semi-informed manner which is crucial.  Because I'm gonna, and I wanted to ensure the relative lack of time and urgency of it doesn't detract from my perceived opinions on it.

I just wanted to start this off by saying that the game is an absolute goddamn visual treat.  It's bright, colorful and the frame-rate is more or less solid the whole time throughout which is at least somewhat impressive.  And, to that credit, the only time I've ever had issues with framerate seeming like it's pausing or janking or something like that, is when I'm trying to select a level or something so it's not even that bad.  During the actual gameplay, I've not had it chug or shift enough to have it 'screw me up' or anything like that which is honestly damn good.  So not having those wonderful visuals that were obviously crafted with a little more than the usual amount of care hampered or at a trade-off with the framerate is nothing short of fantastic.  It's probably worth losing a few lives to the game just so you can stop or slow down here and there to actually take it all in.

The other area the game really excels in unquestionably is the music department which shouldn't be a surprise at all.  After all, I have gushed just a bit about the music from the semi-modern versions of the game and that assuredly is just the first of at least a couple posts covering the songs from the entirety of Sonic.  Plenty of classic tracks from the games Sonic Generations cherry-picks its levels from have been remade at least once (to reflect the opposite version of what it was; modern remixes for classic songs and vice versa) which just sound amazing to begin with and the remixes are really good at the very least.  They might not always stand up to their predecessors, but they're decent enough in their own right.  For instance, when you take City Escape and put it against the remix made for Classic Sonic's stage....well, I'll let you hear it for yourself.

It's not as good in certain respects to the original, but it's most certainly a very good song, something I could definitely see myself listen to with just as much frequency as the original as well.  Another less-good example would be the remix of Open Your Heart going to take some getting used to.  I'm not willing to say I dislike it, but I prefer the mood the original has, the upbeat, on the attack nature it has to it, and the remix simply lacks that while replacing it with....distortion for effect.  What kind of effect, I'm not quite sure on, but it's -an- effect, that much is for sure.  And besides, on top of the remixes, they have a goodly bit of music from other games in the series that were skipped over for one reason or another.  (Such as coming from Sonic Spinball, which was a pinball game.)  These are straight-rips, which is a good thing for purists of course, and I'm not sure how much of the 50 songs in the music sections are just these and how many are going to be remixed tracks (since they're used for alternate stage music if you prefer) but suffice to say it's a good chunk of tunes.

There's a downhill, however, and it starts at the gameplay unfortunately.  Now, I'm not about to call the gameplay of Sonic Generations -bad- because there are other Sonic titles with far worse gameplay, but I feel like there's a level of precision that could have been put in place but hasn't been, and the game lacks for it.  Classic Sonic takes some getting used to but is largely easy enough to play as, whereas Modern Sonic is a little more fluid to play but suffers from a camera that is poor at times as well as maps that are plagued with spots where you can accidentally fall off or miss a jump to to fall to your death.  Sometimes repeatedly if you just can't stop yourself from doing that one jump the wrong way.  Or are unable to just get a little more to the right after the swing launches you up in the air and you miss the platform AGAIN and it's too late to get back into the swing and.....well, you get what I mean.  These moments are more the exception than the norm, really, but they exist and in a frequency higher than 'you might do it once or twice in the whole game'.

And the low-point of the game would have to be the plot, but in all honesty, the plot is so whatever it doesn't even matter.  You get Sonic Generations to play these remixed stages of classics and enjoy the best Sonic game in recent years, not to find out the very intricate and detailed plot of why Sonic is racing alongside Sonic to save time and space.  There's token sequences here and there that very briefly explain what just happened and it's all very interesting I assure you, really, but they're scarce by and large and serve as only a means of dividing the four sections as they are, which unfortunately leads to what seems to be a quite short overall playtime.  Every section has three areas and each area has two stages; the modern and classic stage.  After you clear those stages, challenge stages unlock and Boss keys show up; one key for each section with about four or five challenge stages for you to pick from to unlock that key with as it only takes one.  The rest are there to add replay value as there are, again, modern and classic Sonic versions of each.  After you beat the boss, you unlock a new area, do it all over again until you've beaten three bosses, wherein the final stage opens up.

I haven't been to the final stage yet, but I am right on the cusp of doing so; I have the third boss gate open before me, simply waiting for me to fire up the PS3 once more.  Depending on how it goes and how the final stage/boss treats me, I might just beat it tomorrow which would be both good and bad.  Good because hey, beat a game in 2012 from 2011!  Bad because then I would have little reason to play Sonic Generations anymore because I seriously am not going to get the Platinum for it, so I don't think I'll even bother.  I guess saying that it'll be a bad thing for me to not play it anymore is telling enough of how much I like the game,  though it's not an overwhelming like.  It's simply a charming, fun little romp through the history of Sonic.  And it serves as a bar that all future Sonic games should try to raise themselves up to.  Let's just see if Sonic Team can manage it.

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