Night of the Werehog
Unfortunately, just when you’re really getting into the game, Sega makes Sonic Unleashed
do a total turnaround. If the classic gameplay has a speediness which is intoxicating then the reimagined were-hog segments have a tedium that is quite sobering.
At certain points in the story for the game, namely when night falls and the moon rises, Sonic undergoes a terrifying transformation and turns into a were-hog. Bear in mind that it isn’t terrifying in the slightest.
The were-hog sections of the game, which are universally set in the evening as that’s when Sonic undergoes his baffling lycanthropic transformation, remove the one thing that has always made the Sonic
series stand-out; speed.
Instead, it replaces Sonic’s aerodynamic appearance and reliance on quick wits and quicker feet with a bristly re-skin and extendable arms. We’re not exactly sure what a were-hog is, but we’re fairly sure that they don’t traditionally have the elastic properties of Mr Fantastic.
The were-hog sections of the game are not fast paced like the rest of the game. Instead, they read like a bullet-pointed list of what not to do in a Sonic the Hedgehog
game, slowing everything down to a crawl and making it more about navigating the nonsense landscape inch by inch between combat.
The fact that the levels appear stupid in the were-hog sections is pretty interesting in and of itself too because, in classic Sonic mode, the levels are even more bizarre, but you don’t seem to mind. As normal Sonic the levels are still long, spiralling constructs of twisty rails, bumpers, killer robots and streets which abruptly end in massive spiky walls. On normal though, these things aren’t a problem and you never question them. Huge gaps and chasms in the centre of this pleasant Spanish city? Sure, why not.
When Sonic runs through similar levels as the were-hog though, which incidentally wear away at our souls every time we refer to them, these things suddenly become a cause for concern.
You can understand a long grind-rail that runs through the city in classic mode because it’s left behind very quickly and fun to ride. You can’t overlook a long ledge in were-hog mode though because Sonic moves at about the same speed as a bottle of sloe gin and handles like he was covered in dried jam, constantly about to fall to a death we’re far too happy to inflict.
What’s worse is that, when you’re not fart-arsing around with the awful platform sections then you’re probably in some awful combat sequence, fighting a load of Eggman’s robots and cronies with your claws and fangs.
The combat is nowhere near as fun as it should be either, never rising above mindless button bashing. We’ve literally defeated dozens of enemy hordes without even looking at the screen. You just keep hammering X and Y, occasionally spinning the left stick in a circle to harvest some XP and ‘Dark Gaia Energy’ that powers your special ‘unleash’ mode.
The combat doesn’t get any better when you get to the bosses either and have to go through the boring and frustrating rigmorale of quicktime events that require the response times of a…well, of a super-powered hedgehog, we suppose. A bored games journalist doesn’t have the reaction speed or the patience for it, that much we know for sure.