Sonic Unleashed

Sonic Unleashed Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3WiiPS2

Sonic Unleashed promises to provide an immersive 3D experience whilst keeping alive the 2D gameplay elements and fantastic worlds that Sonic fans know and love.

Review Verdict Read Review
6Out of 10
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The sense of speed as Sonic is brilliant
The sense of speed as Sonic is brilliant

The sense of speed as Sonic is brilliant

As annoying as the werehog levels are, we could have overlooked them had they not taken up so much of your time with the game. You absolutely need to play them in order to collect enough sun tokens to open up more traditional levels, and those levels are so quick that you seem to spend the greater part of your time as the nocturnal nasty. It's a real shame as Unleashed is still the most accomplished Sonic game we've had in years. After the initial few levels you're presented with a world map, which is how you move from one part of the world to another. You can manually pass time, with the time of day determining if you're going to be playing as Sonic the Hedgehog or Sonic the Werehog.

On top of the two core level types, there's also a small amount of exploration and talking to characters in hub areas. It's here that you get a sense that SEGA is clearly designing Sonic for kids (not a bad thing at all, but perhaps disappointing for gamers who grew up playing the series), with the dialogue being akin to something you'd find in My First RPG. The human characters you'll speak to have a smart visual style similar to that seen in Pixar's Ratatouille, but you'll still want to rush through in order to get to the more proper gameplay. On the Wii these sections are presented via a rather plain map, and not explorable 3D worlds, which isn't a huge loss but a point of difference all the same.

Equally bizarre is Sonic Team's desire to put in quick time events at what feels like every possible opportunity. At times you'll suddenly have to enter a series of button commands while screaming along as Sonic, interrupting the flow quite spectacularly. You can also press a series of buttons to dispatch enemies while playing as the werehog. Your very first boss encounter in the game is entirely QTE based, with you firing missiles at targets based on the button above them. We know Sonic always has been and probably always will be a series targeted at kids, but do kids really like this extremely basic form of gameplay?

It's worth pointing out that the Wii version of Sonic Unleashed, while similar in terms of core gameplay, isn't a direct copy of the 360 game with inferior visuals. The 360 game actually has more stages and seems to have a better balance between werehog and normal sonic, whereas the Wii game includes support for the GameCube controller and Classic Controller, which makes the game far easier to play than when using the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. While not a terrible version by any means, we'd recommend the 360 game if you have the choice.

Why can't we just have Sonic without gimmicks?

Why can't we just have Sonic without gimmicks?

We've already touched on the impressive visuals in the fast-paced Sonic levels, which feature far and away the best looking environments we've ever seen in a Sonic game, but this is just one part of the experience. The werehog levels once again let the side down. Without the speed the levels look bland and because of a ton of graphical effects whirling all over the place (the energy released by enemies and destroyed objects), the frame rate can get awfully slow. We're also somewhat bemused by the frankly terrible looking fur on the werehog. Again, this is a real shame as the production values elsewhere are extremely good, including the voice acting and impressive cut scenes. On the Wii the game does lose some of what makes the 360 version as fun as it is, with the visuals not popping nearly as much, but you still get some impressive speed and views.

Once again SEGA has released a new Sonic game that we really wanted to like, but numerous flaws bring down what would have been a solid entry in the series. The traditional Sonic levels are the best we've played since Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast, yet they feel like the gravy on top of a rather overcooked roast that you're trying desperately to hide. The werehog levels reek of an idea born out of trying to turn Sonic into something that kids like, instead of just giving them the Sonic many of us grew up with. We didn't need gimmicks back then and we don't think kids need them now either. Ultimately we can't help but feel disappointed... yet again.

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User Comments

kinggir's Avatar


lol ur funny
this game blows. graphic wise its ok. but along the lines of its story line and its controlls it sucks.
sonic stoped being fun for me after shadow the hedgehog
Posted 18:38 on 18 April 2009
rorey's Avatar
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I dont know what youre problem is but i think that this game rox and you should get youre eyes checked if you think otherwise
Posted 20:49 on 21 December 2008
JediKnight's Avatar


Well, I have heard this exact news in every Sonic U review - Fast Day levels great, Werehog bad. I as SonicUK will be picking up this game since it is a better effort than previous years. At that point, I'll render my judgement.

However, although I would love to see the an expansion of the 2-D roots, I for one loved Sonic Adventure for the failed Dreamcast system. The graphics, spontaneous movements and overall feel was sickening -

It seems they recaptured a bit of this in the "day" levels of SU - but if they could have made Werehog more or less a "Super-Saiyan" hedgehog with insane speed, coupled with devasting moves...that might have given this game a better score.

I will wait and see.
Posted 23:32 on 28 November 2008
SonicUk's Avatar
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As I expected. The 2d bits are good fun, the 3d Werehog sections poop. Like the review says its a real shame they couldn't make the whole game 2d with 3d backdrops and put some proper platforming sections in like Sonic games of old rather than simply running from left to right and jumping occasionally(although I would like to point out I'd take a boxed copy to show in my collection over a download anyday). I'll still be getting this as if you havn't already guessed by the name I'm an absolute Sonic nut and always have been since the very first Master System and Megadrive outings, but this ones more for my collection than for its gameplay, well the Werehog parts at least.
Posted 23:08 on 28 November 2008

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Sonic Unleashed
Out of 10
Sonic Unleashed
  • Fast Sonic levels are fun
  • At times it looks gorgeous
  • Werehog causes frame rate problems
  • Werehog is terrible
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 28/11/2008
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , Wii , PS2
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Action
No. Players: One
Rating: PEGI 7+
Site Rank: 1,292 386
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