The best to come out of 2006 for Sonic.

User Rating: 6.5 | Sonic Riders PS2
From the Sega Genesis to the Dreamcast, Sonic the Hedgehog was just plain awesome and is one of my favorite video game character of all time. But ever since the rise of the PS2, Sonic started to go through some bumps on the road. In celebration of his 15th anniversary (which was a disaster), one of the games that Sega released was a spin-off racer called Sonic Riders. Out of the three games released for Sonic's 15th Anniversary, this is definitely the best. It's not one of the better Sonic games I have played, but this game has it's moments of fun and manages to retain a great sense of speed like the series is known for.

The unnecessary story in the game begins with Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles searching around a generic futuristic city (brilliantly named "Future City") for the chaos emeralds. All of a sudden three birds (known as the Babylon Rouges) riding hover boards jump out of a building and apparently they have one of the emeralds. Sonic tries to get to them, but misses. The next day Dr. Robotnik announces that he will be holding a grand prix using the hover boards and that participants must pay a fee of one chaos emerald (gee, why emeralds?). So they reluctantly give the emeralds and enter the race. Couple that with some very bad and annoying voice acting and you got a generally mediocre single player experience. />

The game is also set up like a typical racer. You have a total of 16 courses to go through. There's the unnecessary story mode, time trial, mission mode, training, and multiplayer. Completing story mode will unlock a few extra stuff you can use later on. Multiplayer is definitely the best thing the game has going for it. It generally works well and can be fun. The game also contains the wide cast of characters found in previous games. Perhaps this is really one of the few times where it is actually necessary to have extra characters. There are three types of characters: Speed, flight, and power. If you played Sonic Heroes you will of course be familiar with how that works. All the extreme gear is powered by air. There a couple of ways to gain air. One is going through pit stops. The other is performing tricks and jumping off ramps. You can also ride on the turbulence of riders ahead of you, but unfortunately the turbulence can end at the worst spots. The controls for the game generally worked fine, though drifting can be tricky at first.

The level design is linear with the occasional shortcuts to them. However, certain parts of the level design can be frustrating such as a few glitched spots and some poor design placements which can lead to moments of frustration. But really the biggest problem that I have with the levels is just that they are a little shorter than what I would like. But at least the levels have variety to them despite some sameness in the storylines. Thankfully the game manages to stay fast paced and can be enjoyable, especially with friends.

The graphics are very good for Sonic Riders. The environments are colorful and have an excellent attention to detail as do the character models even though they look a bit too shiny. The music good depending on whether or not you're in to techno. I'm not too big of a fan, but it suits the game. As mentioned earlier the voice acting is still bad, especially the announcer during races.

PROS:
-The graphics are nicely colorful and detailed, especially the CG cut scenes
-The action can be pretty fast at times and does have some moments of glory
-The one time it's actually okay to have extra characters, because this way there's more variety
-Generally good multiplayer
-Music is okay, though I'm not the biggest fan of techno

CONS:
-Still bad voice work and scripting. Truly a Sonic staple nowadays
-Glitches in a few spots
-Short course designs
-Some of the levels can have some frustrating moments
-Story is poorly executed. In fact, it doesn't need a story
-When riding turbulence, it can sometimes end at the worst possible time and place
-That annoying announcer makes you want to hit mute

So really this is the best that Sega was able to come up with back in 2006. If you're a Sonic fan then by all means check this game out. Racing fans should consider it a go if they can get passed the story and acting. It's not one of the best Sonic games, but it certainly has its moments.