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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Friday, November 1, 2013

"Fresh" Review: Sonic Lost World

MAXIMUM DISAPPOINTMENT REACHED
I am a long time Sonic fan. That being said, you got me, Sonic Team. This is the first time I'm legitimately going to verbally destroy a Sonic game. I bought UNLEASHED WII and had a good time with it, but this? This is just stupid. No, I don't want to grind for animals. That shit is not fun. NO, I don't want to play with Wisps, because they aren't fun and are clunky as hell. Your level design is ass-backwards and your level gimmicks aren't FUN. How could you get a concept like FUN so fucking wrong?

I loved Colors. I loved Sonic Adventure 2. I tolerated Unleashed. This game looked good. But it isn't.

PROS:

-The Parkour system is a genuinely interesting addition to Sonic's moveset, giving the character a much needed update that was necessary the moment the Boost button became a necessity instead of a mechanic.

-The world may not be the rich, detailed one that previous entries created, but Lost World does look interesting, colorful, and it is backed by a wonderful soundtrack.

-For the first time ever, a Sonic the Hedgehog game thrives on its dialogue and cutscenes. While some are hokey and melodramatic, others are downright hilarious, with the unlikely pairing of Eggman and Sonic resulting in truly funny moments.

CONS:

-The level design is certainly unique and adds a new element of platforming to the series, but it is so varied and inconsistent from both a design and mechanic standpoint that Sonic's new Parkour abilities feel underused. Likewise, the levels rise and fall in such quality, you'll want to explore some thoroughly and leave others to die forever.

-Wisp Powers, a genuinely novel concept in the previously mentioned Sonic Colors, are a waste of time in this game. Sloppily executed, bar the powers that return, these powerups often create more tedious and frustrating situations than the level design, only because they have portions of levels dedicated to them that are awful and they serve to make the preexisting level design worse.

-Mechanics appear for one stage as gimmicks and are rarely reused. While this staggering amount of variation is certainly impressive, this sort of thing only works when the mechanics are solid enough to create an enjoyable experience. Such is not the case in Sonic Lost World.

THOUGHTS:

Sonic Lost World is stupid. It's a stupid attempt to make a game like Super Mario Galaxy but be unique in its own way, testing the waters for a new play style while also throwing an ungodly amount of pointless and poorly thought-out mechanics into a game for variety's sake. Sonic is NOT Mario- his gameplay should never feel like Mario and the progression of his games should not feel like a Mario game's progression. But it's fortunate, because Sonic Lost World tries to be like Super Mario Galaxy and fails miserably. And Galaxy was already a shaky game.

Let me make a rule, alright? Unless you are a party game or minigame compilation, there is NO REASON WHATSOEVER to include STUPID MINIGAME IDEAS IN YOUR GAME. If your gameplay mechanics don't have what it takes to carry a game on their own, GUESS WHAT? You either need to go BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD and design some sort of environment where they DO work, MAKE YOUR MECHANICS BETTER, or RECONSIDER DEVELOPING VIDEO GAMES. I don't care about your stupid level where you float perpetually and have to hold A to fall (I mean, how the FUCK does that even WORK?). I don't ever want to have an entirely separate control scheme for going through a portion of a level that I could do without it but is EVEN MORE DANGEROUS WITH SAID NEW CONTROL SCHEME AND WILL DO NOTHING TO IMPROVE MY PERFORMANCE. NO. I DON'T WANT TO PLAY PINBALL WHEN I'M BEING TIMED. I don't EVER want to play a level where I must simultaneously deal with ICE and 3D PLATFORMING EVER AGAIN.

REMEMBER THAT GREAT GAME SONIC UNLEASHED? YOU KNOW WHAT THAT DID WELL? It kept MOMENTUM AND CONSISTENCY in levels by SWITCHING PERSPECTIVE but keeping the PACING THE SAME. NO, it did not LET UP on its action, it CONTINUED it. SONIC LOST WORLD DOES NOT DO THIS. It breaks down levels into sections that are completely unrelated to each other- it does that in levels ANYWAY but masks it with stupid SPRING CUTSCENES. That's forgivable only because those don't last long- but SWITCHING PERSPECTIVE? Holy SHIT, guys, you better hang on to your balls, because that takes a whole SCREEN TRANSFER. AT LEAST THE SPRING CUTSCENES STILL HAVE THE OTHER PARTS OF THE LEVEL RENDERED.

What makes me so frustrated about this game is because it had the potential to be good. It honestly did. The Parkour system is neat, if you learn how to use it (disclaimer, if you go right ahead and avoid reading a tutorial on the Parkour system, you will mess up a lot because there's quite a bit that you can screw up), but why did we need these sphere and tube designed levels to go with it? The speed tier changing is a great idea coupled with the Parkour system! Too bad it's barely ever utilized and the level design shoehorns scripted running segments every two seconds. If you had given this system a chance to mesh with level design that wasn't perpetually curved, Sonic Team, you could have knocked out the kinks- like when I tried to Parkour but literally BOUNCED off a wall.

The developers took a crapload of elements and threw them together, hoping to create something magical- but it ends up feeling schizophrenic, devoid of a unifying theme when every level is different. Even its generic list of worlds (Hill, Desert, Beach, Ice, Jungle, Sky, Lava) is peppered with random inconsistencies that break immersion and aren't even original. Sweet Mountain already HAPPENED, guys. We've already PLAYED pinball.

But the worst thing is that Sonic Lost World is actually good at times. Namely, its 3D platforming, which is absolutely great when it is on a roll. But so often does a random gimmick, Wisp power, or other speed bump appear in the game that it is never allowed to hit its stride. The 2D levels are often okay, but suffer from ripping off Mario too heavily. A story that is fun and interesting cannot save Sonic Lost World from its mediocrity, and neither can brief spells of brilliance. For every good idea, there is an absolutely awful two that hurt this game immensely.

Final Verdict: Sonic Lost World is a mishmash of good and bad ideas with good and bad execution. Rarely do the stars line up and match the right pair for something truly great- and when those moments happen, you'll be enjoying the hell out of your time. But there's still a 3/4 chance that you're getting a bad combination, and that is not fun. If you want a faster, unpolished version of Super Mario Galaxy, go right ahead. Otherwise, it's all been done before.

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