E3 2008: Sonic Unleashed Preview

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Sonic the Hedgehog game that actually sparked my interest, but at this year’s E3, Sega has given me just that. Sonic Unleashed is the first game starring the blue, spiked speedster in years that may actually break the mascot’s streak of less-than-impressive videogame appearances.

Sonic Unleashed actually plays like two separate games, thanks to the implementation of a day and night theme and Sonic’s new "werehog" ailment. In the game’s daytime levels, Sonic Unleashed plays with all the speed and acrobatics one would expect from a current generation interpretation of the franchise’s 16-bit glory days, both from an over-the-shoulder perspective and a throwback side view. At night, the pace slows down, and the focus is more on combat and exploration in a third-person action platformer style.

Even during daytime levels, however, the player is not simply racing from point A to point B as quickly and superficially as possible. There are sections where Sonic must slow down in order to perform some more precision platforming actions before throttling up once again. In the demo I saw, one such area involved jumping across a series of revolving platforms while avoiding spiked logs and then up through the gaps in a vertically oriented set of rotating discs.


Sonic Unleashed


When Sonic is running his hardest, there is a new "quickstep" action that allows Sonic some freedom to move laterally along the path. The team has even added quick time events to break up any monotony that players might experience while blazing through the game. Don’t worry about failure, though, because we’ve been assured that there will be plenty of checkpoints throughout these areas.

During the nighttime levels, Sonic is transformed into what the folks at Sega are calling a "werehog." These levels progress much more slowly, and appear to share many elements with action games like God of War. Sonic will engage in combat with his massive werehog claws in-between jumping, climbing, opening doors, and picking up rings. The face buttons will correspond to different attacks, making it apparent that Sonic Team was really interested in making these portions of the game different from the other style.

There will, of course, be boss fights in the game. Sonic will encounter some of them during the day and others at night, again making for what I can only assume will be a well-rounded gameplay experience.

Sonic Unleashed will hit the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 this November in the form that I saw at E3, with an independently developed version of the game coming to the Wii and PlayStation 2 around the same time.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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