Full Review: Sega's blue speed demon is still running wild!
Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends (and enemies too) are back in business once again in their new 3D action game; Sonic Heroes. On the surface, SH may just look like another game in the 3D series, but instead of picking one hero from a bunch of characters as you're required to do in Sonic Adventure, Sonic Heroes lets you fight as a team of three in a cool new twist. Sonic Heroes is also the first Sonic video game to finally arrive on the Xbox, but the big question you have to ask yourself -- is this Sonic worth playing?
Well it looks like the evil genius; Dr. Robotnik (a.k.a. Eggman) is up to his old tricks, because the madman is trying to take over the world again. While Sonic and his friends Tails and Knuckles try to stop Robotnik before it is too late, the other three teams have their own reasons for fighting through the game and it's not always with the best intentions.
Sonic Heroes may appear to play just like the previous Adventure 3D titles, but developers at Sonic Team tried to make this new game feel more like the old school Genesis Sonics then ever before. Gone are the free roaming environments from the past, in SH the game skips right to the action this time around. Even many of the locations have a nostalgic feel to them. Just compare the Seaside Hill in SH to the Green Hill Zone in the original Sonic. If you're a fan of the older Sonic, then this game will look very familiar.
What has changed is that two friends will always follow you now, and they each have unique powers needed for completing the game. Each team has a character that is good at speed, one is good at power moves, and one of your team mates can even fly for a brief period of time. For example: in the Sonic Team, Sonic is the all out speed freak, Tails is the one who can fly, and Knuckles is the heavy hitter who is good at breaking walls. It only takes a simple button press to switch characters on the fly, and you can even use your partners to perform unique tag team attacks to show your enemies who's boss. Rounding out the other three teams are the Dark, Rose, and the Chaotix Team. The Dark Team consist of Shadow the evil Hedgehog, Rogue the Batgirl both from Sonic Adventure 2, and joining them is a new E-102-like robot who doesn't seem to like anybody. The next team has Amy Rose, Cream the Rabbit, and that goofy Big the Cat are part of the sickeningly cute Rose Team. These three are looking for their lost friends and their adventure is much easier then the others. The final three (Espio the Chameleon, Charmy Bee, and Vector the Crocodile) are part of Team Chaotix. These oddball guys are actually characters from an obscure 32X only game, but now they make a return here. Team Chaotix quest is more mission based then the other teams, so racing your way through certain levels isn't always the best strategy with these guys. Switching between characters gets a little confusing at first, but it becomes second nature after a bit of playing ? not to mention that this new feature adds a lot depth to the usually light Sonic-like game play.
What makes any Sonic game so special over any other platformer out there is the trademark mile-a-minute speed the series is famous for. This title is no different, but that's really the game's biggest problem. Because the game's heroes move so quickly across the screen, it can cause a lot of unintentional deaths when you ram right into an enemy by accident, or even worse, fall off a cliff in the blink of an eye. The game's camera can be a pain in the neck as well, since it doesn't like to stick to one position during most action scenes.
Sure you may die a few times here, but at least you might look good doing it. SH sports some of most colourful scenery and characters I've ever seen on the Xbox, and that blends perfectly with the game's cartoon-like theme. There are a few slowdown problems at rare moments, but the game still packs a solid visual punch -- especially in areas like the Casino Park level. SH also has many of the original voice actors from the previous Sonic Adventure games reprising their roles, and that includes many of the annoying kid-like voices from the youngsters like Tails and Charmy.