Sonic’s career has taken a nose dive over the years. It all started when he first made the transition from 2D to 3D in his Dreamcast debut video-game, Sonic Adventure. The recent high definition port for Sonic Adventure didn’t go so well. Sega finally gave in to fan requests and released the sequel, Sonic Adventure 2, in glorious high definition. Will this port go the same way as Sonic Adventure or prove that Sonic still has some fight in him?
The story for Sonic Adventure 2 is split into hero and villain individual stories. Sonic Team thought that it would work out better if the player was forced to play as every character, from each side, in one go. There is a substantial amount of story to get through with many acts to play through. Each side holds a different perspective of the story and it all culminates in a final showdown. It’s probably a bit too action oriented for a Sonic video-game, but it’s still enjoyable.
The sections with Sonic and Shadows are easily the best. Both involve lots of high speed running. It’s almost as if Sonic Team has finally managed to successfully integrate Sonic in the 3D era. There are even a few easy puzzle sections based around speed, but even these don’t ruin it.
Tails and Dr Robotnik are stuck in slow moving vehicles. The vehicle has a health bar and requires rings to recharge it, if the character is hit. The slow nature of the vehicle mechanics means that it never feels like part of a Sonic video-game. Shooting enemies is rather awkward and will more often result in the character being hit.
The other game style sees the return of master emerald pieces hunting with Knuckles, and new character, master thief Rouge… the bat. What was enjoyable about it in Sonic Adventure is not as much in this sequel. It’s even worse when having to go from one of Sonic’s super-fast acts to another slow Knuckles act.
Sonic Adventure made it easier to put up with such ideas by having individual stories for each character. Anyone only interested in Sonic’s story could just get through that particular section. In contrast, Sonic Adventure 2 forces the player to play with every character.
It’s almost as if Sonic Team intended for players to get frustrated over the course of an entire story line. If that was the case then they have succeeded. It’s hard enough to care about the other two sections when the high speed stages are so much fun.
Fortunately Sonic Adventure is a much better high definition port than the first Sonic Adventure title. There is not a single garish border in sight. Cut-scenes are still displayed with a black border on each side, but it’s less intrusive and understandable.
Visually it does look better than the original. Obviously it is now optimised for high definitions sets. The various colourful levels help make it easier to spot such changes.
The music is still relevant with a few memorable tracks. Some of the rap/hip hop inspired tracks for the stages Knuckles features in are still amusing. There are always plenty of upbeat music tracks that fit in with the action theme of Sonic Adventure 2.
Perhaps one of the best decisions Sega has made recently is the inclusion of the Chaos garden. This feature was taken out from the high definition port of Sonic Adventure. This new Chaos garden makes it possible to create good or evil Chaos. It goes hand in hand with the overall theme of the story. It’s strange but being able to take care of one of these creatures feels rewarding. Even more once they are ready to take on the various events, such as races. This is definitely one of the few highlights in a video-game that hasn’t aged well..
The camera in Sonic Adventure 2 deserves a whole paragraph for all the wrong reasons. The real bad guy isn’t Dr Robotnik. It’s the evil camera angles that insist on getting the characters killed. Just about every death in Sonic Adventure 2 can be associated with an awkward camera angle hiding a bottomless pit or making it impossible to time a jump correctly. It’s a shame since the Sonic/Shadow acts are actually really enjoyable. Yet this camera system manages to make some of their later levels very frustrating.
Those interested can get some replay value out of Sonic Adventure 2. There are many emblems to collect by fulfilling different challenges for each level. It’s even possible to get more challenges by purchasing the download content that unlock the GameCube version.
To many fans Sonic Adventure 2 is the pinnacle of Sonic’s career. However, it hasn’t aged well and it is simply incomprehensible, in today’s standards, how it managed to get away with so many design flaws back when it launched. Fans will certainly enjoy Sonic Adventure 2 but everyone else will struggle to see what made it so enjoyable back then. At least it’s a very good high definition port that shows Sega still cares about its back catalogue. Anyone new to Sonic Adventure 2 should approach with caution and enjoy it for what it is – an attempt at making an action focused Sonic video-game.