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Review: Sonic Forces (PS4 Pro)

Platformer
6.5

Fair

The blue iconic hedgehog has never had a memorable time in 3D. From Sonic Adventure through to the last 3D outing, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric – it’s been a wonky road filled with pits, spikes and all forms of deadly hazards. Can Sonic finally force his way through this 3D barrier that’s plagued his games for years?

Death of an Egg

Sonic is once again about to battle Dr Eggman to stop him in his tracks with his world domination plans he’s had since the early 90s. Poor Dr Eggman, he must really hate Sonic. To aid him he’s “somehow” got classic Sonic villains to help him catch the blue speedster. Metal Sonic, Chaos, Shadow, Zavok and a new powerful foe, Infinite, assist Eggman in capturing Sonic. Six months have passed and Dr Eggman has taken over most of the world. With everything not working out too well, Tails gathers team Sonic that includes Knuckles, Silver, Amy, Rouge and Vector to work on a plan to save Sonic and take back the world.

When finishing any stage on an S ranking you’ll receive a new weapon that comes with its own unique stat improvements such as invincibility when gathering 100 rings.

Sonic Forces comes from the Sonic Team that brought you better 3D Sonic games – Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, and this game feels like a combination of the two. Thanks to 3D Sonic being captured you’re going to tackle a good few levels playing as classic 2D Sonic. On these levels you can perform your spin dash move as well as jump on enemy heads to dispose of them. It plays exactly like the 2D stages in Sonic Generations. There is, however, a big twist in the 3D Sonic stages. You will at times be playing as your own customised character you have created.

Your avatar, referred to as ‘Rookie’ in the game, can be either male or female and one of seven animals namely – Dog, Wolf, Rabbit, Bear, Cat, Bird or a Hedgehog. Select your head shape, skin colour, eye shape, eye colour, body colour, base suit colour, voice and victory pose and you’re done. You now have your own avatar that’ll play an important role in the story. He or she also comes with special moves that neither 3D or 2D Sonic can perform.

The force is versatile in this one

Sonic’s mid-air dash attack is replaced by a wire attack that functions the exact same way. As soon as you see a green target placed on a foe, press jump and then jump again to pound an enemy from the air. That’s just the basic and expected stuff. Your Avatar comes with a special weapon named Wispon. Wispon can pull off special attacks by pulling the R2 trigger. Burst will have it spouting flames, Hover blows enemies away with a shockwave, Lighting attacks them with a whip of lighting and there are more for you to discover. There are also sub-abilities attached to each elemental-based weapon such as Burst, allowing you to power jump into the air to reach higher out of reach areas, or lighting that helps you gather streams of rings. When finishing any stage on an S ranking you’ll receive a new weapon that comes with its own unique stat improvements such as invincibility when gathering 100 rings or a burst of speed when landing. It’s up to you to experiment with your various options. In the fitting room, you can dress your avatar from head to toe with new clothes, but it’s purely a visual improvement and nothing else.

The level design in Sonic Forces is actually not too bad when considering how bad things turned out in Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and other under-performers in the series. The stop, start problems of previous games are nowhere near as annoying as before. I found myself enjoying the flow of each stage and along with the auto-pilot bits where Sonic automatically transports through areas without you having to do a thing. At these points you just sit back and enjoy the ride. Players will still find themselves jumping between rails to avoid threats as you grind your way out of harm’s way and when faced with a horde of enemies there’s little as pleasing as boosting through them all when playing as Sonic. Re-imaginations such as Chemical Plant looks fantastic in 4K as the bright and vivid colours really look great. Unfortunately the same can’t be said when it comes to the way Sonic controls when trying to deal with platforming. It feels exceptionally loose and is nowhere near as precise as what you would have witnessed in Sonic Mania. There are a few other issues that speed can’t solve.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said when it comes to the way Sonic controls when trying to deal with platforming. It feels exceptionally loose.

Short but sweet… ish

Sonic Forces will last you five hours, unless you plan to finish each stage with an S ranking. There are also SOS and other secret and extra levels to discover, but these are short-lived or a spin on a stage you’ve already tackled before. The voice acting is also absolutely horrendous. It’s as if it’s been recorded straight out of a 1999 Sonic Adventure game. You’ll cover your ears and huddle in a corner every time any character opens their mouth. The cherry on top is the dialogue. It’s just bad on all fronts. There’s also no online or offline multiplayer mode. It’s purely a single-player experience, and I think it’s the better for that decision.

When you’re done with the game you can go back and tackle longer and daily missions. Tasks such as Clear Stage X with an S Rank or Slide in a Sonic Stage will unlock new clothing items or abilities for Wispon. It adds some longevity to the game, but it’s definitely not enough to draw most people back for more. There are also leaderboards to compare your times to those of your friends and other worldwide, but unfortunately, there were no times to compare against any of my online friends at the time of writing.

Sonic Forces is by no means a terrible game. It’s definitely no Sonic Mania, but fans will enjoy what is there. The focus remains on speed, the boss battles are a little too easy and the game won’t last you very long. If you can live with that it might just force its way into your life.

Good

  • Level design is actually good
  • Wispon works better than expected
  • Boss battle are fun

Bad

  • The dialogue and story. Please. No.
  • Controls are still too loose, especially in the 3D levels.
  • It's very short. 5 hours and you're done.

Summary

Sonic Forces is not going to rewrite the history books. It's yet another Sonic game that struggles when adding that extra dimension. Even though the level design is some of the best yet, you just can't shake the feeling that it's a bit of fan service until they launch Sonic Mania 2.
6.5

Fair

Married to a gamer and she kicks my ass at most shooters. If the game is enjoyable I'll play it, no matter the format.

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