I have always been a Sonic the Hedgehog fan ever since the early SEGA Megadrive days when you were either a Sonic or a Mario follower. Since then, there have been good and bad games from both camps and even some collaborations like the Mario and Sonic at the Olympics series, though I have always thought those games a little bit of a cash in on popular characters. But we seem to be in a golden age at the moment, firstly with Sonic Generations which was an amazing game both visually and in its game play. And now we have the second installment of the Sonic the Hedgehog 4 series with Episode 2 which for me, was eagerly anticipated.
For anyone that has not experienced the first episode, this game developed by Sonic Team, is a side scrolling platform game which is very similar visually to Generations though obviously not on a 3D scale. You are accompanied on your journey by Sonic’s friend Tails, who follows Sonic around and at times even helps him by grabbing him and flying over obstacles or out of tight places. The levels are challenging from the start, which is good, and there are a few new additions to the way Sonic can move around the levels, including water jets and a combined Sonic and Tails spin. There are also of course the old favorites like the underwater sections, loop the loop and those prickly spikes.
Graphics are very similar to Sonic Generations as I mentioned earlier, and the detail in the scenery and textures are really impressive — I love the burning torches and underwater sections especially. There is great use of light and shade which also adds to the detail and the colours are vibrant giving a real depth to the graphics.
The game play is nice and fast, but not so much that you can just spin and leap straight to the end. There are obstacles and terrain that you will need to think about in order to progress which is balanced just about right. The bosses are also back and they are challenging without being frustrating or overly complicated.
There are, as usual, three acts per level and each of the levels has a nice variation on the previous one, and as you start to work your way through them you start to think (or at least I did) that this game is going too quickly. For me that is usually a good sign, and in this case it is. Of course you can always play the levels again as there are always surprises or that one bonus that you just couldn’t get.
There are those who may feel that Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 2 is just more of the same from that blue hedgehog, but I have always enjoyed a good Sonic game and as long as they continue to be creative then there is no reason why this old timer can’t carry on doing what he does best.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 2 is available to download now on the Xbox LIVE Arcade.