With the recent success of Sonic Mania earlier this year, proving that ‘2-D Sonic’ still has what it takes in modern gaming, it’s now time to shine the spotlight on Sonic Forces with their ‘3-D Sonic’. But can SEGA clean up the mess of previous 3-D outings and continue on from what made Sonic Generations good?
The story of Sonic Forces starts you out as modern Sonic racing through the iconic Green Hill Zone, albeit in an unnecessary zone – how many times does this zone need to be recreated with each iteration of Sonic? Nevertheless it is still a thing of beauty, but I digress. Throughout this first stage, you’re introduced to the simple mechanics of modern Sonic – you can jump, perform a spin attack and boost through the level, which will allow you to destroy any enemies in your way without losing any of those precious rings. Once this initial stage is completed, a cut-scene ensues and thus begins the story of Sonic Forces, a somewhat darker tone more akin to the Shadow the Hedgehog video game.
Familiar characters pop up from Sonic’s history throughout Sonic Forces’ story, from the cult classic Knuckles Chaotix; Vector, Espio & Charmy – spanning through to the Sonic Adventure titles with the infamous villain Chaos and Team Dark’s Omega & Rouge and even to the failure of Sonic Boom with Eggman’s creations – Orbot & Cubot. They’re all there in some shape or form, ready to fight for freedom or rule. However, a new addition that many fans anticipated the outcome of was the ability to create your own avatar. And let me tell you now, this is probably the greatest addition to Sonic Forces, which makes the game so much more worthwhile.
In fact, without giving away too much of the story, your avatar makes an appearance before the second stage of the game, where the freedom fighters (consisting of Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Vespor – amongst others) decide to bring in a new recruit – you. You can choose from several different animal types including bird, rabbit, dog and of course hedgehog. Each offering different unique abilities such as keeping hold of rings when you get hit or the ability to perform a double jump. You can give yourself a lick of paint, throw on an outfit and off you go fighting for the resistance.
These avatars also have unique weapons called Wispons that can change up how you play through the avatar stages. Sadly, you cannot play through the Sonic levels as your avatar, as the avatar levels are designed in such a way to allow you to use your wispons. This isn’t a bad thing mind you, as there are plenty of them. You can also play through several levels as your avatar alongside Sonic, similar in gameplay to Sonic Heroes. Another highlight to the avatar levels is the ability to ‘rent’ an avatar, meaning that you can call upon another user-created avatar from around the world to use in these stages which makes for a great addition, not to mention it helps in reaching unobtainable red stars with your avatar and his/her ability.
There’s plenty of variety between the stages in Sonic Forces, although some of the stages have been used before such as Green Hill Zone as previously mentioned and Chemical Plant Zone. The bosses in Sonic Forces are standard for Sonic titles – six hits to the head and they’re down, with each boss having a unique pattern and rhythm. As you progress through the stages, you’ll also unlock rankings for each stage, but the most rewarding aspect of completing a stage is in fact new outfits for your avatar. There are literally hundreds of various pieces to change up your avatar with. And for added replayability, you can complete certain challenges which will grant you new outfits, alongside daily challenges that reward you with various increased XP for a set amount of time. For example, one daily challenge simply had you replaying an earlier stage which granted you 1.5 XP for half an hour. Some of the other challenge missions cannot be accomplished until you complete the game, allowing you to create new avatars in order to do so, so be wise with your choice of animal!
The wealthy amount of stages, the vast amount of customisation for your avatar and the tonne of replayability makes Sonic Forces one of the best 3-D outings for Sonic and co since (dare I say it…) Sonic Adventure and a great giant leap for the potential future of 3-D Sonic titles. Not to mention the free Shadow the Hedgehog DLC that you can download to allow you to play through Shadow’s side of the story makes for a change of speedy colour from Sonic. Who knows? Maybe SEGA will release some future DLC that will allow you to play through the levels as Big the Cat? Maybe.
Sonic Forces is available to purchase from retailers and can be downloaded from the Xbox Store, priced at £34.99.
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Sonic Forces is a step in the right direction for the future of 3-D Sonic titles, even with the inclusion of customised avatars. Plenty of replayability to be had with a dark storyline that Sonic fans may not be used to. However, this is a great Sonic title that’s up there alongside Sonic Mania.