Content at a glance:
Violence: Moderate cartoon violence, some bosses spurt out green ooze when damaged.
Spiritual Content: Temple of Gaia in each world, Chaos Emeralds presented as religious artifacts, one level takes place in a hellish area against a demonic boss. Fantasy type magic is also used in the game.
In Sonic’s latest 3D outing, Sonic must (once again) do battle against the mad scientist Dr. Eggman, his giant robot army, not to mention a new foe: a demonic entity known as Dark Gaia. Oh, and did I mention Sonic turns into a werewolf? Yes. That’s right. A werewolf.
The game is available for the XBox 360, Playstation 2, Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii. This review is of the Playstation 2 edition.
The game begins with a very nicely done CG intro in which Sonic destroys a giant fleet of spaceships. Dr. Eggman has a trick up his sleeve, and Sonic is caught inside of a laser beam, which for some reason turns him into a werewolf. After splitting the Earth apart Eggman opens the hatch door, sending Sonic crashing towards Earth. He somehow survives the impact, and meets a pink.. poodle.. fairy.. thing named Chip who has lost his memory. Sonic sets off on a quest to bring the pieces of Earth back together, and to help Chip get his memory back.
The game switches between daytime super-fast gameplay as normal Sonic, and nighttime levels where Were-Sonic (and his gigantic, stretchy, ape-like hands) beats the living tar out of any monsters that come his way.
The daytime stages are fun, but take some getting used to. Sonic controls a bit differently than he did in the “Sonic Adventure” days on the Dreamcast and GameCube. His spin-dash is gone, in favor of the new “Sonic Boost” which sends Sonic running at a ridiculously high-speed, breaking anything in his way, and knocking any unfortunate robots sky-high. Hit any walls and Sonic will comically smack right into it.
There’s not a lot of challenge in the daytime levels, (except for the last one) but they’re still a blast to play. A shame that the Ps2 & Wii editions lacks some of the levels the 360 and Ps3 editions have. (Mazuri, Empire City) They also lack the ability to walk around the different towns.
When night falls Sonic turns into “Sonic the Werehog” a fanged, snarling beast who seems to resemble Crash Bandicoot. The goal of these levels is to beat up anything that comes your way. These levels aren’t as fun as the daytime stages, but do offer more of a challenge. In fact this is the first Sonic game since the Genesis titles where I was actually concerned about how many lives I had. These levels get really difficult, especially towards the end of the game, where you are jumping from pole-to-pole over bottomless pits while trying to avoid spikes and flames which can send you falling to your death.
The music in the game (Especially Adabat) is excellent as always. No matter how mediocre or bad Sonic games get, they always seem to have some great music (with the exception of 2005’s Shadow the Hedgehog and the screaming of Powerman5000 contained therein).
Each world in the game has a “Temple” full of doors where the levels are accessed. Every time you complete a level, you get either a moon or sun medal. Collect enough medals and you can open secret doors to get extra items, such as previously viewed cutscenes to watch over and over again, Hidden artwork, bonus missions, or music to listen to.
The game is not without its flaws. Many of the Werehog stages require walking very slowly over narrow ledges. Fall off these ledges and you die. Some “genius” at Sonic Team decided that the button you use to walk is also the same button you use to run. (Hold the left analog down to walk, tap the same button to run) Many times I’d be cautiously walking over a ledge trying not to fall, and all of a sudden Sonic would sprint off to his death because of the poor control scheme.
Some of the voice acting (Tails particularly) is horrific to the ears. Sonic, Chip and Eggman have decent voice work, but as for everyone else.. get your earplugs ready.
While most of the game is fun to play, I am sorry to say this game contains a lot of offensive material to Christians. As I previously mentioned, each world in the game has a “Temple of Gaia”. Apparently, people in the game worship this gaia-thing, and unlike the Genesis games where Chaos Emeralds were simply shown as energy-giving stones, here they are portrayed as religious artifacts. Also, after beating a bird-like boss Sonic comments on how it was guarding the Chaos Emerald temple. One level takes place in a hellish area where Sonic has to beat a giant demonic monster.
While the Werehog sections have more violence than the rest of the game, it’s nothing graphic. It’s mostly just punching monsters. Some greenish ooze spurts from bosses sometimes.
As expected from a Sonic the Hedgehog title, there is no sexual content, drug use or profanity.
Despite the fact that this game is marketed towards children, because of the offensive material I cannot recommend this to younger players as it could send them the wrong message. Nor would I recommend this game to people who are new to the Faith.
However, If you are older, mature in your Christianity, and can stomach some of the more offensive material, Sonic Unleashed is a pretty fun game with a LOT of unlockable extras for added replay value. If you are still unsure, I suggest renting before you buy.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.
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