TGS 2008: Sonic Unleashed Hands-On

We find out what happens when a hedgehog goes werehog in Sega's latest Sonic game.

TOKYO--Sonic Unleashed, aka Sonic World Adventure in Japan, is on hand at Sega's Tokyo Game Show booth and is flanked by a roaming werehog. The ferocious-looking creature is the alter ego of the speedy hedgehog in the upcoming game. We got hold of a controller and set out to discover just what Sonic's latest adventure holds.

The TGS demo offered two playable stages, set at different times of the day, to showcase the two distinct gameplay styles in the game. The day stage is set on the Greek isle of Mikonos and finds the Sonic we know and love tearing through the streets at blistering speed. The level is essentially what we've seen demoed before, but this is the first time we've been able to play it. What we like right now is the dizzying sense of speed that makes you feel as if you're just barely in control as you whizz around at high velocities. There's a satisfying, frenetic vibe during the segments as you tear through the town. Besides running through town, avoiding obstacles, and dealing with jump opportunities as you guide Sonic to the goal, you'll have to match onscreen button prompts and keep Sonic properly positioned as he tears through close quarters. The fast-paced button mashing during the racing sequences keeps things hectic but pleasant.

The second level, a night stage, is also set on Mikonos and provides a dramatic change of pace as you control Sonic in his werehog form. The new form isn't big on speed and relies more on melee with his powerful arms. As it happens, there are plenty of targets that litter Mikonos when the lights get low. It looks like there's more puzzle solving to the werehog levels. For example, you'll have to clear enemies or find items to unlock the way forward, which makes for different level pacing. There's definitely some satisfaction from smacking around mobs of enemies, beat-'em-up style, but we wish there were a few more moves or combos in the demo.

The game's control scheme is about as accessible as all the Sonic games have been. You really just have to worry about jumping, attacking, and steering Sonic on the right path during the daytime levels. The night levels are slower and are more conventional since you're exploring, beating up enemies, and doing a bit of platforming.

The visuals in the game are coming together nicely. The game sports a new graphics engine, dubbed the hedgehog engine by the team, which is pumping out sharp visuals. Sonic is looking good, though pretty different when he's in werehog form, and he animates well. The environments vary in quality depending on the gameplay of a level. The daytime level looked good but featured only a modest amount of detail, which is fine considering how fast you fly by things. Sonic's sense of speed is called out with motion blur and a variety of different screen effects. Most importantly, the camera stays lively and zooms in and out during the action, offering a 2D feel to many of the sections in the level. The night levels are considerably slower and feature much more detail to accommodate the different style of gameplay. The camera doesn't change up much, although it can get itself in some weird angles.

Based on what we played, Sonic Unleashed definitely has potential. The daytime levels have a good feel to them, and the action stays fast. The night levels have a very different feel to them that's a bit jarring. We'll need to put some more time in with them because at the moment we're not totally sold on this werehog business, given how much it breaks up the flow of things, but we'll see. Sonic fans will want to keep an eye out for Sonic Unleashed when it ships later this year.

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Discussion

99 comments
erazor521
erazor521

People need to be a little more positive.

scratchbachstan
scratchbachstan

Even the werehog sounds fun! Can't wait for this, it'll be a treat to play. @ Aka Oni Blue Bomber? Isn't that Mega Man? xD

mhameed
mhameed

thank you for these good games

Aka_Oni
Aka_Oni

The last sonic game that I liked was the 3rd one that came out for genesis. I don't think the blue bomber has it in him anymore and everytime sega tries to revamp him it makes us older players realize why we stopped wearing our pants backwards.

bigballa449861
bigballa449861

Have they said anything about other playable chars?

Tyler50314
Tyler50314

Whats with all the sonic games lol.

blueblur87
blueblur87

I don't like on-screen button prompts- I want to play the game, not press a button and watch a cut-scene. I think they should take the megaman 9 / street fighter HD remix route and go retro in HD with 60fps animation.

blueblur87
blueblur87

I don't like on-screen button prompts- I want to play the game, not press a button and watch a cut-scene. I think they should take the megaman 9 / street fighter HD remix route and go retro in HD with 60fps animation.

Gameboy2k
Gameboy2k

Please do this game right. Tweak it right, and take out the werehog. As the article and some have said.. it doesnt fit. Focus on speed and take a lesson from 1st and 2nd sonic. Speed baby!! Speed Baby. Dont fall on your face like the x360 iteration of sonic. YUK

tidyspidey
tidyspidey

Yes LeoKnight - yes. Sonic II = gaming nirvana. I know loads of people who praised Sonic III, but I hated it... that carnival level was just f*&%$ng annoying

masterchief375
masterchief375

Well at least this looks and sounds better than the NEXT-GEN Craptastic Sonic game that came out a while back. The game sounds good except for the Werehog parts, I mean you got Knuckles for melee and stuff....

ShadowPrototype
ShadowPrototype

Hope this will not be another failure like the latest 360 version... Game looks awesome in all but, I'm a bit skeptical about the warehog stuff tough... I have to try it before I can judge that part.

Media_Mind
Media_Mind

hope for the best, not bad looking to boot!

Miltonelite
Miltonelite

I agree with MA5C that it would make a lot more sense to have Knuckles doing the night levels. Sonic the werewolf hedgehog sounds lame, but the rest of the game does look really cool.

MA5C
MA5C

Sonic acting werehog like? Sega's lost it. At least give it to knockles, who's more suitable to this kinda thing. Sonic = speed edge, not wrecking havoc like king kong.

dbzakj
dbzakj

I like the sound of the speed but the werehog stuff sounds rather annoying...

Doolum
Doolum

hope it turns out good.

Untainted
Untainted

Would like this to be good. Probably wont be.

ShadowPhoenix27
ShadowPhoenix27

i miss the old gamecube sonic games. latly, the only sonic thing I've played was in brawl. the only way im gonna buy this game is if its like the sonic battle games, which i doudt it will be

Mecha-Ridley
Mecha-Ridley

You know, Sonic has always been about speed and stuff, and that's what made its franchise great. But this Werehog stuff? Bleh. If I want to smack people around, I'll play Kingdom Hearts or Ninja Gaiden. In any case, if this game screws up, it's gonna be the last straw for me. I'll be a Sonic fan no more. @fudawg45 I agree that Sonic and Knuckles was a great game, but the GBA and DS Sonic games were pretty damn good too. Give em a try.

xNinjaKingx
xNinjaKingx

@Blue Falcon lol dude u kno how long EVERYONE HAS BEEN THINKIN THIS!??!!?! Sega and Nintendo should just bond and be called Sega/Nintendo Inc. lol ends the harsh trials. theyll be allies and all! great mario and sonic games come together and be great WAY better than Sonic an Mario at the olympics XO brawl was the best! they should have a Mario and Sonic TEAM UP! XD but mario doesnt really have allys sonic has like 20 mario has like 5 XD overall yea they should merge also on the topic of the GAME! looks awesome like people said the games gonna be perfect a CRAZY OUTA THE WORLD SPEED IN THE DAY :D and at night a cool mellow fight scene (if thats posiible XD) but anyway gamespot might give it a bad review like Spiderman Web of Shadows thats lookin kik ass amazing owell we all kno this game is gonna rule :D

Ignition93
Ignition93

Looking at the normal Sonic sections, I think people's brains and eyes will be relieved to have a nice slow but still action-based part like the werehog. It seems as though its more of a balance to the game's incredible speed.

Zee666
Zee666

Makh, if things are fast then i'll play it, i love a sense of speed and if this is the fastest one yet then it should be awesome.

BLuFAlc0n
BLuFAlc0n

Seriously, Sonic might be cooler than Mario, but Mario's better! Sonig games are good(if 2D), most Sonic games are best with 2D, but all the 3D Sonic games has been seriously bad(except Sonic Adventure for Dreamcast) but so far, the best rated Sonic game in the 7th gen is Sonic Rush for DS, if handheld doesn't count, Sonic and the Secret Rings for Wii, which is better than Sonic the Hedgehog 2006! All Mario games has been good, the main series! But Sonic games are overally partial good. Since SEGA decided to release Sonic games for PS2/3 and XBOX/360, they've always turned out bad! But Sonic games for GBA and DS are always good! But Sonic Unleash is technically copying of the run of Sonic and the Secret Rings. I hope Sonic Unleash will be good, and a new one called Sonic and the Black Knight, that also looks good. The difference this time is that Wii will have this and Black Knight while the rest only gets Unleash! Ooooh Yeah! Nintendo and Sega used to be the biggest rivalry in the history of console wars, widely interrupted by Sony and Microsoft. Now, Nintendo and Sega are kinda like allies,and Mario and Sonic has been at the same game, twice! SSBB being the best one compared to the olympic games. If Nintendo and Sega became bonded and Sega starts making games Nintendo exclusive, just imagine what super awesome games can both Nintendo and Sega make!

SpamU
SpamU

well to be honest mario may be fun but i love sonic sooo much

siLVURcross
siLVURcross

Course...Sonic sucks, Mario rules, no one seems to complain that it's all the same in the end.

viewtifuljon111
viewtifuljon111

WOW. That looks JUST like Mikonos. I visited that island during my summer vacation.

NoseWeed619
NoseWeed619

I think that this is just going to be another great Sonic game to tell you the truth! I mean seriously, as long as they get the core gameplay elements right, as in the very first Sonic the Hedgehog games, then this will be a great success.

Sonic_Wolfe
Sonic_Wolfe

im not gettin my hopes up, but will try it

fatmike2127
fatmike2127

hopefully this one wont be as stress producing as the last one

fudawg45
fudawg45

Hopefully they're taking the daytime parts back to the old-school style of gameplay. Mutliple routes through stages, secrets, crazy speed, a few enemies - that's what makes a Sonic game great, and we haven't seen it since Sonic & Knuckles.

cube-gage
cube-gage

whats with werewolf stuff, i mean zelda and now sonic. Sonic better be good this time, otherwise sonic is finished

Outer_Raven
Outer_Raven

This game definitely has potential, but I'm still not convinced with the werehog thing. I just hope that this won't be one of those games that has 2 parts: 1st part "OMG this game is so freaking awesome!", but then you get to the 2nd part (in this case werehog part) "WTF?! This @#&% ruined the whole game!"

SpamU
SpamU

looks good sounds good its gonna rock! i love sonic and i love werewolves so hopefully ill love the werehog!!

sgtshadow00100
sgtshadow00100

High hopes for this! People say the werehog bit is abit dodgey and ruins the cool fast paced bits, but you know there were alot of platforming bits in the great Sonic Adventure games so im sure some platforming in this wont hurt that much.

pine-apple
pine-apple

well, to be completely honest i think they destroyed sonic a long time ago with games like sonic heroes and the ps3 sonic the hedgehog game. I think the only console to successfully make a 3d sonic game was dreamcast :P i will still try this game tho....mostly out of desperation for a new good sonic game

tristan_crivea
tristan_crivea

everything sounds ok but i can not help but feel strange about all of these amazing game characters being put in games that suck i miss the days of the old 2-d games there was no really bad mario, sonic, or mega man games that were terrible. I almost think they should retire some *not all* of these characters before they ruin the memories we have of them

summerclaw
summerclaw

I get used to the werehog a long time ago, so I know I'm going to enjoy playing as him, I hope it has a lot of platforming ( the werehog parts), so I'm pretty optimistic and excited, let's just hope I don't fall victim to the hype again.

leonheart_z
leonheart_z

good..i just dont wnt the werehog thingy to be a mario/wario version of sonic.. :P

euphzilla03
euphzilla03

hmm this could be a really good game...I mean honestly the potential is there...it's just this whole werehog business that has me a bit reserved on this issue.