E3 2008: Sonic Unleashed Impressions

We watch Sonic run through sunny levels and change into a werehog during the night.

Sonic has always been at his best when he's running like his blue tail is on fire, and that surreal sense of speed is on full display in Sonic Unleashed. The game is broken down into daytime and nighttime levels, so longtime fans of the franchise will feel right at home when the sun is up. The nauseating speed is combined with a smart camera that makes sure you never quite outrun its view, making the platforming as fast and stylish as ever. When night falls, you'll encounter a pretty different spin on the classic gameplay, but from what we were able to see in a demonstration today, fans of Sonic Adventure should be able to look forward to another capable platformer.

We were just shown the X360 version today, but the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions are completely different from the Wii and PlayStation 2 builds. The daylight levels focus on running as fast as possible to the end. While running, you can unleash leaping homing attacks that, if performed correctly, let you dispatch enemies without ever breaking stride. You'll also have to perform quick-time events to successfully traverse the terrain. Certain jumps require you to quickly press certain button combinations; success means you jump to a higher level, while failure pushes you to a lower path.

Rings are more than just your energy this time. By collecting them, you build up your boost bar, which lets you sprint through the levels even faster. You can use this technique to run on the water in certain levels. The camera alternates behind an over-the-shoulder view and a side view reminiscent of classic Sonic the Hedgehog games.

Visually, Sonic Unleashed is colorful and lush. There is motion blur everywhere, adding to the sense of speed. Unfortunately, in this early build, the game would slow down at times, making some of the sprints and loops look choppy. Hopefully this quirk will be ironed out in the final version.

The twist in this adventure comes in the form of nighttime levels that completely change the traditional gameplay. In these levels, you play as a mutated form of Sonic known as a werehog. These levels are much slower than the Sonic levels and center on combat. You have 30 different moves in your arsenal, so battles should offer a lot of variety. Because you can't just quickly dispose of foes as you fly by, you'll find yourself surrounded by evil beings. These resemble the creatures from the Twilight Realm from Zelda, and you can toss them around or just punch them until they give up.

Though the werehog isn't blessed with insane speed, he does have stretchy arms. You can grab foes from far away or sling your slinky arm up to a ledge if you miss your jump. Because of this ability, these levels are constructed in a more vertical manner than the standard Sonic levels.

Sonic Unleashed does look like a lot of fun for fans eager to fly through vibrant levels again. The werehog levels are certainly a twist on the classic formula, so it will be interesting to see how they play out in the final game. We'll find out how Sonic deals with his dark side this fall.

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75 comments
danwarecritic
danwarecritic

5sonic, Gems Collection was great. But this one will be pretty awesome.

Outer_Raven
Outer_Raven

Well this game is on my wishlist for sure! Let's just hope the "night" doesn't ruin everything.

5sonic
5sonic

This game will be sweet. It will be like adventure 2. Awesome speed stages, and total annihalation. That is WAY better than gem collecting =D

aravindashwin
aravindashwin

THis game is going to be great. This game was going to be Sonic Adventure 3, but Sonic Team added so much new content that they decided to change the name.

dagamemon
dagamemon

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaan, this game looks cool!

Darkmaster46
Darkmaster46

I Don't Know If Werehog is gonna be good but besides that it looks like the best sonic games ever. i'm saving up for it.

Darkmaster46
Darkmaster46

I Hope This Is As Good As Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic The HEdgehog. Thoose Are My Two Favorite Sonic Games. This Game Looks like the best Sonic Game Ever. Hopefully It Is

BooGieeee
BooGieeee

DaMMMMNiiiittttTTTTttTt! When will side scrolling games ever become side scrolling games ever again?? games like mega man or sonic are best played side scrolling. If the fans wanted to play tomb raider, they'd play tomb raider but dammit these are classic side scrollers! They ruin the whole side scrolling sonic experince.....

Nightmare45
Nightmare45

This Sonic game definitely has the potential of turning around the classic gameplay that fans have known for years. But when I first heard about the new form of Sonic, I was turned off by it instantly. From the looks of it, I don't want a heavily mixed gameplay of blinding speed and then third-person fighting action. I was only expecting this game to be known what Sonic is originally for: Moving at incredible speeds at various levels.

Jackyll87
Jackyll87

Werehog sounds good. will add variety.

ff7cloudking
ff7cloudking

What, werehog? That sucks! Just when they make a good sonic game, they go and screw it up.

erazor521
erazor521

This game looks like it will definitley beat Sonic's last two adventures.

tuznecote
tuznecote

Sonic the Werehog rules but is still a worrying element

icym
icym

I love that werehog!

o_black
o_black

looks like an interesting game and possible turn around (finally)...the werehog is a twist that seriously wasnt expected, hopefully it doesnt weigh down the game since sonic fans do like speed...other than that, graphics looks beautiful, and the music is very good

Dr_Corndog
Dr_Corndog

Sonic levels look extremely fun, but shallower than in the 2D games. Werehog levels look lame and repetitive. Hopefully they'll fix that up.

AKA_Ben
AKA_Ben

You know I'm feeling good about this one. Last time with SONIC 2006 GameSpot was already dissapointed with the game at E3 but this time they seem to like it. Hurray!

snakes3425
snakes3425

The game sounds like it has potental

pashmina626
pashmina626

This new Sonic game should be good to play as I am a fan of Sonic for a few years plus the new Werehog feature looks good.

devilsace
devilsace

never liked the sonic games but i think ill like this 1

Zuoitsy
Zuoitsy

I really had high hopes for this games.. I mean... I loved old 2d Sonic games... but what the hell? Warehog? *sigh*

SonicLucas
SonicLucas

one thing the weighed down StH06 was free roam, hopefully that is gone or is a better experience.

wesrox7
wesrox7

i think the warehog looks pretty cool. it could go either way

Rhen_Var
Rhen_Var

Werehog? Is it me or is Sega getting more and more unoriginal?

HVPinc
HVPinc

This one actually looks pretty fun. The sonic parts atleast. I'm still questioning the whole werehog aspect but lets hope my fears are in vain.

Rockingtime75
Rockingtime75

Werehog? Why? Doesn't "SONIC" team realize all they need to focus on is *ahem* "SONIC"? Do they think we won't enjoy it because it's a rather narrow focus on speed? Or are they really just horrible designers and programmers? Either way, we're losing out. The Sonic levels from SA1 and 2 were great, and a game full of just those would earn my respect.

Blako782
Blako782

I watched the E3 video and tis game looks amazing! I AM EXICTED FOR THIS.

blueblur87
blueblur87

IMHO, sonic was only ever good in 2D on the megadrive. all the 3d ones have taken away the essence of what is to me, sonic. they included cities with humans and too many extra characters. all i want is a game where its just like the cartoons or the old comic books, and mixing new gameplay elements from there such as ability to dig underground, bounce on multiple enemies, zoom around green hill zone's loop the loops and go inside pipes and bubbles on the watery levels. add thoseelements from the old mega drive games. instead of when you hit eggman, bouncing off like hes made of rubber, it actually sounds like the old games where you felt you were doing loads of damage. Theres so much you could do with a 3d sonic that they haven't bothered to do, e.g. all those bits in 2d sonics that pretended to be 3d, such as running upwards in a spiral inside a hollow tree trunk could be done for real, going around a corkscrew or running on the surface of a lake, etc. Also the big dark robotnik levels of previous games have been made into brightly coloured kiddies playground-esque areas, which i cannot relate to, and to me sonic was about defeating someone who was evil- he made animals into badniks- the 3d games were way too childish for me and I need a grown-up sonic game with truly evil bad guys and harsh dark mechanical areas to reflect that.

Hungry_bunny
Hungry_bunny

If they bring back the magic of the old-chool era then I'm definitely interested.

sateews
sateews

The Sonic levels from Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 on the DC were fast, colourful and some of the most fun you could have with that console, but the inclusion of other characters almost ruined them. When are Sonic Team going to realise that all they need to make a great game is Sonic? These games should be about speed - if I want to play a game where I go slow and beat up craploads of enemies, I'll buy one.

-White_Knight-
-White_Knight-

Isn't that "werehog" thing a little...crazy? Sorry, but I'm done with Sonic unless I get some good multiplayer races going again... (Are they just gonna ditch Sonic's crew???)

Noob_Krusher
Noob_Krusher

If we could just have a solid Sonic game, I would be pleased.

DrKill09
DrKill09

Damn... this actually sounds like it will be good. I hope so. Other than the GBA and DS ones, the Sonic series hasn't been good since Adventure.

chocolate1325
chocolate1325

I have seen the gameplay video and I am thinking this could be good. Maybe a Sonic game to be proud of.

Psycott05
Psycott05

ahh just have a little faith. Im a little concerned about this werehog thing but it looks like they finally moving in the right direction...and Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast was great!!

Coolyfett
Coolyfett

Sonic!! Thats my dude!! I wish Sony would just buy him outright. Make a deal with Sega and get him officially on the Sony roster. Sony is the new Sega anyway.

bannermanner
bannermanner

Definitely waiting on a review before I try this one - I'm sorry, after their last few years I just don't trust Sonic Team.

ise1880
ise1880

Just as long as they don't announce anymore characters then this game might be good.

playstation_wii
playstation_wii

The stage demo looks really cool, but Sonic the Werehog looks.....weird.

Yojimbo8
Yojimbo8

I watched the demo video to see what the Werehog was going to look like, and I like the different gameplay elements between day and night. Daytime is classic Sonic, and the nighttime levels look like they will add some good variety. The combat reminded me a lot of Kingdom Hearts. Definitely excited to check this out on PS3.

-Twilight-
-Twilight-

This looks so much better than past attempts to put Sonic on the console. I have to stay skeptic though, because those games were just horrible. I'll wait for a review.

Cube_of_MooN
Cube_of_MooN

I've lost all faith in Sonic games. I can't get exited.