Sonic the Hedgehog

Format: Xbox 360

Age Restrictions: 12+
24 November 2006

Soleanna, the beautiful city of water, sees the introduction of Sonic's first adventure in the human world. Sonic meets a beautiful princess named Elise, whom he quickly befriends, but Princess Elise is abducted by Dr. Eggman who is working to destroy her kingdom. Sonic must battle his way through a series of adventures and challenges and eventually go head to head against the menacing doctor to thwart his malicious plans...

Whenever a new Sonic game appears in the office I cross my fingers and hope it's not me that has to review it. I loved his introduction on the Megadrive, but since then the games seem to have gone from bad to worse. The Sonic stamp on a game has almost become the guarantee of a turkey - which, as this new game is released just before Christmas 2006, is quite apt.

The rather uninspired title, Sonic the Hedgehog, is just the start of the ongoing disappointments with this release.

The game opens with a fairly impressive video sequence, as the princess Elise is introduced. Then Sonic hits the screen, the cut sequence changes to another department's (obviously) attempt to provide the rest of the story line and suddenly things are looking bleak. Now, I know that different teams work on different segments when it comes to a game's cut sequences, but you'd have thought someone would have attempt to match them up. What we get is a first half that contains some of the best CGI you're likely to see on a console game, followed by a sequence that a three year-old constructed with some wax crayons. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the two don't fit together well at all - representing the best and worst cut sequences you're every likely to witness.

Then your into the game proper. First problem... er... it's not possible to customise the controls. So if, like me, you like to switch the X and Y axis of the camera controls you're going to get incredibly frustrated while playing this game. Then there's the fact that the graphics are rather poor, the game play uninspired and that frequently you just have to let go of the controls and watch Sonic bounce around for a bit before you can control him again for a few seconds and then he's off on automatic again... Yawn! And the camera has a habit of flying all over the place in certain segments making it confusing and difficult to control your character.

This is what happens when someone tries to take a 2D platform game and make it live in a 3D free roaming scenario. It just doesn't work. There are also issues with restarting after you loose a life. You seem to go back a long way which is very frustrating when you keep getting killed on the same area.

This game introduces a new character, Silver. But to be perfectly honest Silver is just another clone of Shadow. What different coloured hedgehog will the next Sonic instalment introduce? I can't wait to find out.

Sonic fans, bless 'em, will no doubt rush to own the next piece of tat with their favourite blue spiky friend emblazoned on the cover. But my final thoughts? £45 for this? Someone, somewhere, is having a laugh! Come on SEGA please do the decent thing and allow Sonic and Dr. Eggman to retire now.

Nick Smithson

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