Review: Sonic Adventure 2
After a shaky start, it would seem that SEGA has finally gotten the hang of this HD Remaster game. Sonic Adventure 2 is a wonderful time capsule, a sort of evolution for Sonic Team. Taking the lessons they learned from the first time they tried to bring the Hedgehog into 3D, Sonic Adventure 2 certainly improves on the formula. The Hedgehog levels are faster, the shooting levels control more fluidly, and the Treasure Hunting levels? Well, they’re still fairly terrible, but at least this time they’re slightly less awful. There’s an element of focus to Sonic Adventure 2, a trimming of the fat that made Sonic Adventure 1 drag past the point of tedium. Even with this game design liposuction, SA2 just can’t keep focused for long enough to craft itself into a coherent whole.
This time, the game is divided into 2 sections, Light and Dark. You’ll get to play as 3 characters in each, and the gameplay styles are mirrored across both stories. Complete them both, and you’ll unlock a final story. The general gameplay is more refined than SA1. The hedgehogs move far better, and gain a variety of new abilities that make revisiting the older levels fairly entertaining. There are a fair few secrets hidden away in SA2 for none but the most ardent players to discover. My flatmate is something of a Sonic fan, and as such he alerted me to the location of one of these items. Called the “Magic Hands”, these might be the most worthless items in the history of video game power ups. You have to see them to believe it, it’s quite something. The Treasure Hunting segments benefit from some slightly more helpful hint boxes, but the controls here leave a lot to be desired, especially when the camera seems intent on showing you a particularly beautiful piece of wall, all while you’re trying to get to the emerald shard behind it. The Shooting segments fare better, with simple controls and a brutal sense of linearity to them. You’re constantly moving forward looking for the next target, and as such they’re relatively inoffensive. Sonic Adventure 2 is 1/3 good, 1/3 bad and 1/3 mediocre. To be this uneven must take years of practice.
The port here really is far better than the shambolic treatment the first game received. Presented in widescreen and at what seems like a relatively smooth 60fps, the game looks great on modern systems. Some visual quirks pop up during the cutscenes, with the game occasionally switching to a 4:3 perspective for some shots, but when it comes to gameplay the games look and feel great. It isn’t quite up to the incredible job SEGA did with Jet Set Radio, but it’s getting rather close indeed. Everything from the Gamecube release is here, even if you do have to pay to unlock some of the weirder minigames. All the missions, however, are intact and still as hard as nails as ever. Watching my flatmate attempt one of the racing challenges for the 20th time was something quite exceptional, you can tell the designers used the challenges as a means of really getting under the player’s skin, especially with the hard mode runs.
Sonic Adventure 2 might not be the best game in the series by a long shot, but it’s certainly the last decent game in the series until Colours came along. It feels like Sonic Team trying their hardest to take on feedback from the first game, and make a traditional Sonic game that everybody could enjoy. To some extent they succeeded, and I can think of no better way to experience Sonic’s final Dreamcast outing than with the PSN version, for better or for worse. Just turn down the music during the Knuckles levels.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- A far superior port than SA1
- Tons of content
- No more Big the Cat
What I Dislike:
- 1/3 of the game just isn't very fun
- The rap songs on any of Knuckles' levels
- Some presentation hiccups