Sonic Team regained the faith of many players when it released Sonic Generations back in 2011. So, it’s no wonder that Sega decided to revisit the same format with the upcoming Sonic Forces.
Despite making use of similar ideas that worked on Sonic Generations, it seems like they are not implemented as well in Sonic Forces. The idea is that players are able to pick from one of three characters, with two of them representing the Sonic that each generation of players originally got to know growing up. Arguably, the third choice that consists of a custom character is probably a suitable option considering the alternative might have been the inclusion of the lanky/clumsy Sonic covered up in bandages.
Like in Sonic Generations, Classic Sonic is stuck with the side scrolling levels that made him popular when Sega was still in the hardware business. Modern Sonic continues to move through 3D platform levels at eye melting speeds. The story seems to revolve around a resistance group tasked with the goal of defeating a group of villains.
Modern Sonic levels worked so well on Sonic Generations because of how they used existing levels and in some cases were even 3D adaptions of Classic Sonic levels. Whereas on Sonic Forces, it seems like this is not always the case, given that the only playable stage consisted of a town being attacked. The night setting for starters made it rather difficult to see what was happening on-screen. Then there was the fact that trying to make use of the boost ability just made it far too difficult to keep up with Sonic. In fact, it seemed like the lack of proper pitfalls was the only reason that the hedgehog didn’t fall to his death on many occasions. It felt like the level was designed to make Sonic death proof. In all honesty, it wasn’t overly exciting to play through the level and the somewhat bland setting didn’t help either.
Then there was the fact that the controls didn’t feel that responsive. In a title such as this where the character runs along at eye melting speeds, it’s vital to feel in control and like Sonic can be stopped at any point with relative ease. Instead, there were several occasions where it took longer than expected for the hedgehog to stop and even simple abilities like jumping didn’t seem to always work as expected.
It’s unusual for Sega to focus so much on the Modern Sonic portion when it’s clear that it still needs some work before being at a state where it could be shown off. It’s a strange decision given the fact that most players’ first interaction with Sonic Generations consisted of an impressive demo showcasing an updated version of the iconic Green Zone area for Classic Sonic. Alas, the smaller hedgehog’s role in this demonstration was confined to a boss battle in what looked like the Green Zone area. There were different toys to deal with and each one looked like a modified version of one of Dr Robotnik’s robots. Although one of the robots at least provided a clever way to defeat it, by throwing back objects at it, it didn’t seem like a particularly challenging or inventive boss fight.
Then there is the Avatar custom characters that players can make. It was only possible to choose from two preset custom characters, but the retail version should give players the option to customise various aspects such as headgear for their custom characters. Not that it seems to matter that much if the Avatar portion of the demonstration was anything to go by. Each of the preset custom character had its own attack, such as a whip like attack that destroyed any enemies close by. The Avatar stage made use of the same town under attack at night setting in a 3D environment like Modern Sonic.
It’s almost jarring to notice how the character models for these Avatar characters look significantly worse than the models for both versions of Sonic. It’s quite easy to spot given the fact that these characters are touted as a one of the selling points for the title. Hopefully it’s an issue that Sonic Team will sort out by the time the retail version is released.
Whilst the control issues plaguing the Modern Sonic portion of the demonstration are not serious enough to make it unplayable, the same cannot be said of the ones found whilst playing as the Avatar character. It’s difficult to move and make use of the abilities each custom character possesses in an efficient manner. In a way, playing as one of these characters is a similar experience to playing the dreaded Sonic Boom Nintendo Wii U title. Being associated with Sonic Boom is definitely not a positive trait to boast about.
Given the state of the title, it’s difficult to not have concerns when wondering what the retail version of Sonic Forces will be like. Hopefully Sonic Team will be able to address all of the issues plaguing this demonstration. As it stands, Sonic Forces may seem to make use of ideas found in the enjoyable Sonic Generations, but it has a long journey ahead of it before it can be as appealing and charismatic, if this demonstration is anything to go by.