Each year Sega brings us a new Sonic title, instilling gamers with the false hope that the blue hedgehog has finally returned to his glory days of 2D side-scrolling action. Yet invariably Sega insists on pushing the 3D style that favors glitz and eye candy over actual gameplay.

Sonic Generations is a fair compromise, offering both 2D and 3D versions of stages compiled from 20 years of Sonic games. You switch modes by toggling between the “old” and “new” Sonic, but frankly both look pretty much the same. The first two stages resurrect classic levels from Sonic 1 and 2 from the Genesis. These remastered renditions of the Green Hill and Chemical Plant zones play like a dream and are rendered with lavish 3D backdrops. You’ll wish the rest of the game was this good.

Sadly, many of the remaining stages are culled from much more recent Sonic titles that most gamers would just as soon forget. Many suffer from ubiquitous “dangerous drops” which are often located in the most illogical places (a parking garage?). When developers feel the need to pepper levels with big ugly red warning signs, that should have raised some concern. I wasn’t particularly stoked about the 3D variations but I will admit they turned out better than expected. The sense of speed is exhilarating at times and there’s plenty of variety as well. One thing I’m not crazy about is how the stages are super long. Breaking them up into smaller, more manageable chunks would have made them more fun to explore.

The controls are fine but a bit slippery. The audio is a pleasant surprise. Surround sound is used effectively and the soundtrack is absolutely sensational. The normal stages are definitely on the easy side, but dozens of “challenge” stages will keep you busy with their special objectives. A cynical critic might see Generations as a missed opportunity, giving too much credence to recent outings (like Sonic Colors) instead of focusing on the classics. Judging the entire work however, I’d have to say Sonic Generations is a solid effort that offers the best of both worlds.

Used by permission © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.



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