Sonic Forces Review – The Right Direction, Wrong Execution (PS4)

Sonic Forces is the latest main entry into the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, which promises to take Sonic Generations game play ideas, add a custom character and an actual storyline. You’ve probably have heard mix opinions on Sonic Forces, so let me tell you what my honest opinion on the game is. Welcome to SEGAbits’ review for Sonic Forces on the PlayStation 4!

Sonic Forces’ biggest draw for fans was its ‘what if…concept, which generally attracted my attention when SEGA finally revealed the game’s story. I liked the idea that SEGA was having a story where Eggman already took over the world, it seemed to have a lot of interesting possibilities . It was also exciting to see returning enemies like Chaos, Zavok and even Shadow the Hedgehog

1bp4POxr

Sadly, while the ideas laid out by Sonic Team where great on paper, their inability to write proper dialogue or even understand proper story structure makes the game’s story rather disappointing. I think the problem with the game is that it doesn’t have a focus, one sentence the game talks about Sonic being tortured and then a few lines later reverts back to talking like a light-hearted kids game.

It feels like the game was written to be darker in tone and was changed during development to inline more with Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations’ tone. While SEGA really hyped up the return of Shadow, Zavok, Chaos, and Metal Sonic in promotional material, the game’s story really didn’t incorporate them well. Chaos, who had fans the most excited isn’t shown for more than a few seconds and doesn’t even have a boss fight. A very big let down.

I think the biggest issue with the story though is that it isn’t written well at all, it really pushes you forward as fast as possible and never lets anything build or grow. While I know Sonic fans will complain that Sonic Team isn’t really known for writing great stories, you’d think they would hire a competent person that understands basic character arcs and plot structure.

At the start of the story you are thrusted into the middle of this ‘chaotic war’ and working to take land back away from Eggman. The games new villain, Infinite, was written as badly as I feared he would be.The character literally has no growth as a villain, doesn’t do much outside of spouting edgy dialogue. It’s a real shame because it’s been a long time since Sonic Team has written a really good villain. It makes sense why they continue to stick with Dr. Eggman, an established and well-liked character. While promotional material hyped up Infinite as the big bad guy here, it comes off more as Eggman’s lacky. 

SonicForcesClassicSonic

While the game’s story concept intrigued me, I was way more interested in playing the game considering that I thought Sonic Generations was a big step in the right direction for the franchise. This time you not only play as Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic, but also a new custom character. Sadly the level design and controls in this game have regressed since Sonic Generations, especially for Classic Sonic. The controls just don’t feel precise and the physics just seem to get wonky at the weirdest times. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people that expected Classic Sonic in this game to play like the SEGA Genesis games, but what Sonic Team delivered here is worse than what they tried in Sonic Generations. The game still doesn’t feature momentum, it actively slows you down if you try to gather speed. Classic Sonic in this game really does feel rushed, not just his contribution to the whole story but how he feels to control and play with. As far as in-game levels, all of them are more on the short side and offer pretty safe level design. Though Sonic Team did equip Classic Sonic with new drop dash feature from Sonic Mania, which is a nice.

SonicForcesModernGameplay

 

Then we have Modern Sonic which brings back the boost gameplay that originated with Sonic Unleashed back in 2008. The game really does work better with Modern Sonic if the levels are designed correctly. My issue with Modern Sonic’s gameplay in Sonic Forces is that it feels like they took level design sections fromSonic Colors and Sonic Generations, but executed them poorly. Sonic Forces doesn’t try anything new with Modern Sonic’s gameplay. While Modern Sonic did have a few levels that I thought were really well done, it seems that most of levels usually range from OK to a few being really poorly designed, especially coming close to the end. I think that after having three Modern Sonic games with boost gameplay, that Sonic Team has tried everything that can work with Sonic’s boost gameplay. If you think about it, racing fast down a stage does limit what can be done in terms of level design. Its like they knew about this issue and that’s why we got something like Sonic Lost World. The other reason why these levels leave you feeling underwhelmed is because of how short they are, a good number of them should be rather easy to beat in just a little over a minute. 

SEGA also offered Episode Shadow as a free download. This prequel story reveals just how Infinite came to be. Obviously Shadow the Hedgehog is basically a skinned modern Sonic the Hedgehog, which quite frankly is alright with me. The prequel story is only three stages long, so under 15 minutes of actual gameplay and story. Yeah, short! But after you beat the DLC you get the ability to play any Modern Sonic stage as Shadow the Hedgehog.

SonicForcesAvatar

The last main character you get to play as is you, as in a character you create! Going to be honest, I started playing the game thinking I was going to despise the avatar and it ended up being my favorite thing about Sonic Forces. I like the  create your avatar system, which gave me a flashbacks to Phantasy Star Online! I also liked the fact that each species has his own advantages, so its cool to have the option to use different species when I want.  The game really does a good job rewarding you with new shirts, shoes, head gear and other costume goodies for completing stages and missions. Not only that, Sonic Team is really generous with the amount of items they give out as well. It really does seem that Sonic Team focused most of its energy on the avatar, at least in terms of unlockables content because the Sonic bros didin’t get any love when it comes to customization. The level design in the avatar feels very basic and safe like the rest of the game. The avatar solo stages benefit from having weapons and avatar powers to play around with as you figure out how to traverse the stage in the fastest possible time. 

SonicForces_HeroCharacter_Infinite_Screen_03_1507830877

Sonic Forces also uses its safe formula on boss fights as well. You either fight a boss in a 2D stage where they hover in the background trying to hit you with projectiles, until they let their guard down and you can attack them. The other boss fight is quite the same but instead its Modern Sonic camera angle as you run through a single lane trying to catch up to the boss. As you run towards him he’ll throw obstacles your way, if you dodge them all you will get a boost that allows you to catch up and attack.  These aren’t bad ideas, it’s just that Sonic Team already done these type of boss fights to death.I wish they would have thought up some variety.

Graphically the game is sharp and bright, while it isn’t pushing gaming consoles to the edge, it does run at a solid frame rate which for Sonic Team is a feat on its own. While I think the graphics and performance are the most impressive thing that Sonic Forces offers, it also has a drawback since backgrounds don’t have much going on compared to past games. As for the game’s art style, it has moments where it looks really good and other moments where some levels get way too dark. Its pretty inconsistent.

tumblr_oq22jkhW5L1s201hzo3_400

Sonic Forces is a game with good intentions that got handled completely wrong. Somehow Sonic Team has regressed as a developer by delivering Sonic gameplay that is worse than its Generations counterpart. Not only does the game feature short levels, its a short game in general taking a regular user a little over 3 hours to complete the main story. Sure, it has extra content that will extend the gameplay but that doesn’t change the fact that its the shortest Modern Sonic game in a very long time. I wouldn’t have minded if the whole thing was a well polished and a well designed package, but that isn’t what we got here. The game does have some pretty good secret and extra stages to unlock that feature slower 2D platforming and plenty of avatar customizable gear to unlock. So its not all bad.

Sonic Forces is just an OK game. It really feels like the game just wasn’t all the way completed, especially considering that SEGA held review copies back so they can deliver a day one patch. Even after that patch its still has a ton of issues, especially when you get further towards the end of the game. I hope that wherever the next main Sonic game takes us, that they deliver a polished product at the very least.

Positive:

  • Good graphics
  • Solid framerate
  • Avatar actually fun
  • Lots of gear unlockables

Negative:

  • Story goes nowhere
  • Level design
  • Short game
  • Step back in quality
C-“Not the worse Sonic game, but a step back for the franchise.”
Ad:

7 responses to “Sonic Forces Review – The Right Direction, Wrong Execution (PS4)

  1. Harvey says:

    Well luckily atleast Sonic Mania turned out solid. Otherwise, I’d be pissed off by now.

    But seriously though, what happened? At first this game had a lot of promise but when that avatar customization happened, it just turned off the rest of the game so easily.

    Why SEGA…just why?

    • RushDawg says:

      Avatar is one of the better parts of the game. The game’s biggest issue is its level design. For some reason barely any level designers were assigned to the game (only 3, 2 of which had zero Sonic experience)

  2. Hitrax says:

    Well Sega, time to go back to the drawing board yet again, one step forward and two steps back again it seems, just have to hope they do the opposite next time, from a step back, to two steps forward. Sonic games are in a better state than ten years ago but it’s still not at that level of consistency that it used to be when Sega was a major home console promoter and Sonic was only ever on Sega consoles, since Sega went third party and Sonic appeared on on-sIte hardware, even though it is Sega software and Sega IP, it has still gone to new levels of mediocrity that was unthinkable when Sega only put Sonicmon Sega hardware. It’s like it’s lost it’s soul and become a shadow of itself at times.
    Haste to say this because it’s not a bad game by it’s own merit, it’s still relatively decent but as a Sonic game, it should be much better, it’s standards should be much higher and despite Sega delaying the last two Sonic games for longer than usual development times, it’s still not quite at that level of quality you’d expect for a Sonic game.
    Sonic is still a major icon of the whole industry, comparable to Mario in that sense, and comparing it to Nintendo’s newest Mario – Mario Oddesey, is not a good match for Sega.

    Oh well, back to the drawing board and conception stage again for the next project.

  3. Cherok says:

    You’d think that Sonic is actually a cat avatar, because this hedgehog has used up almost all of his nine lives. It takes a lot of work to destroy a popular brand, but at some point, fans will stop giving Sonic games a chance altogether.

  4. me says:

    Honestly, this was to be expected. Usually Sega shows off more of their Sonic games before release, but this one barely got any material – all we’ve seen is GHZ and the city stage along with tiny glimpses of other zones which were hardly recognizable or memorable. Shows Sega’s lack of confidence in the game, if you ask me. Cast your memory back to Sonic Unleashed, we’d get a new trailer every week showing new zones and their epic setpieces, like the whale in Holoska and the like. In the end Sega showed pretty much every level there was in the game before release, from Mazuri to Empire City. You could tell they were proud of the game they’d made. Similar deal happened with the games that followed, lots of gameplay footage, lots of reveals etc. Forces didn’t do it. They only showed off the story a lot (and mostly through the japanese channel anyway) and the customization aspect, hardly any gameplay, hardly anything of value. They really weren’t confident in the game and, seeing the general consensus, I’d say rightfully so.

    I haven’t played it yet and I doubt I will until it goes on discount, which I’m certain it will this xmas, considering how average it is. Not going to hold its value for long.

  5. am2model3 says:

    I am a huge sonic fan, I love all Sonic Team Japanese developed games from SonicAdv1 to present.

    SonicColors and Generations were good, but not my cup of tea.
    SonicLostWorld was good, SonicUnleashed, aka SonicWorldAdventure, was really quite awesome.
    SonicForces has a few moments of brilliance, but too many shortcomings.

    SonicForces 2d stages are just lacking. the 3d stages have been reduced to shooting Sonic down a tunnel left to right, and occasionally jumping to attack enemies. It is severely lacking. I realize they did this to minimize 3d control issues and instant deaths, but it honestly is running down tunnels. Also no camera control whatsoever is allowed.

    Some levels are beautiful, the casino forest is great, green hill is great, the green hill pyramid is amazing but too short, and the forest waterfall level was great. Everything else just did not grab my attention.

    The avatar creation was cool.

    After I finished SonicForces, I remembered how much more fun and freedom i enjoyed in SonicWorldAdventure, and plan to go back and play it again. and then i’ll probably go back and play Sonic Adventure 1, 2, Heroes, while i’m at it!

    If you are wanting some more classic YujiNaka gaming, go buy the original Wii version of Rodea:SkySoldier. Its a really cool game that has the feel of a sonic/nights/feeling game, and you get to fly!!

  6. am2model3 says:

    I forgot to say, the coolest element in SonicUnleashed aka SonicWorldAdventure was the beautiful transitions between 2D and 3D in a level. The sense of speed was conveyed so wonderfully it was a joy to play back and forth the way they did level design. Truly a Sonic game gem from 2008 that was overlooked and unappreciated by many.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.