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May 3, 2004
Sonic Heroes - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
10/2/2004AtariSonic Team1-2GMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
110KBPro Logic IIYesYesSmallNo

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Team Sonic working together.
Sega have always been a favourite of mine, for both their hardware and software. I preferred the Sega Master System to the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Game Gear to the Gameboy (mainly due to the colour screen), the Megadrive to the Super Nintendo, while the Dreamcast had more AAA titles then possibly any other system in history and is still missed. The only real missfire for Sega was the Saturn which was trumped by the PSOne and its 3D polygon handling abilities. But while Nintendo has Mario, Sega has Sonic as their mascot. Since exiting the hardware business however, the spiky blue guy has started appearing on all platforms, with Sonic Heroes schedule for release on all three systems. Indeed, Sonic Heroes is one game I have been most eager to have a look at.

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Nice graphics.
Sonic Team, who developed the original game on MegaDrive way back in 1990, have spent quite some time on Sonic Heroes ensuring it brings back the excitement of earlier games - something which has been missing in recent years. The storyline (for Team Sonic anyway) sees Sonic off touring the globe and having fun, when a mysterious letter arrives. Knuckles and Tails quickly recognize Dr. Eggman's scrawl and know they have to get the letter to Sonic right away. It turns out Dr. Eggman has put the finishing touches on his most fearsome doomsday machine to-date and the tenacious trio has only three days to stop him from unleashing it on the world! Tails looks worried, Knuckles clasps his hands and cracks his famous knuckles, and Sonic's eyes gleam with anticipation. "I wouldn't miss this party for the world!" Sonic exclaims and Team Sonic is off and running. Each of the different "teams" of characters has a different story to play through.

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Using Tails to reach new heights.
If you've ever played a Sonic game in the past then you'll know what to expect here. Collect the coins, kill the enemies, and reach the end of the levels in the least amount of time. Sonic Heroes is a little different in that you aren't on your own but instead need to "team" up with other players. Team Sonic, for example, includes Sonic (Speed), Tails (Flying) and Knuckles (Strength). At certain points you will need to use Tails to fly up to higher ledges, or Knuckles to break through walls and attack enemies.

The biggest problem with Sonic Heroes is that is just lacks that something special. Perhaps it is the need to constantly change characters during the levels which breaks up the gameplay, or perhaps its a lack of control felt at times as the characters almost bounce their own way through the levels. I certainly wish the Sega would return, or at least provide an option to return, to a "Sonic" only game where the emphasis is on speeding through the levels as in the early Megadrive titles rather then overcoming obstacles which slow you down in places until you change to the correct character. The need to change characters to complete tasks and progress through the levels adds an element of puzzle solving. Finally, Sonic Heroes is a pretty short game. It will take less then 10 hours to complete with one team, although completing with all four teams will take longer.

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Sonic leads the way.
Early reports from last years E3 were that Sonic Heroes had major frame rate issues on the Playstation 2, but these mostly seem to have been ironed out prior to release with only some - mainly during boss encounters - issue. Sadly, the game struggles a little more when in multi-player mode with the game often running well below the single player 30fps rate. The levels looks spectacular as you race through them with familiar textures (such as the orange and brown checkerboard walls) and enemies. The move to 3D gameplay and graphics from the old 2D games has posed some problems with the cameras which, while not as bad as some games, could have been a bit better as there is a little too much manual control required.

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The levels are massive.
Sadly, Sonic Heroes includes some pretty weak sound. The Dolby Pro Logic II support is nice, but the music, which much like the Dreamcast game Sonic Adventure is predominantly 80's rock based. It may sound old and somewhat cheesy but the quality at least is very high. The speech is also grating to the ears. Yes, it's supposed to be cartoony, but surely they could have come up with something a little more exciting. The sound effects are fairly good, and will be very familiar to fans of the series.

Although the game was expected to be released in December the delay to February has ensured that Sonic Heroes is as polished as can be, and Sonic Team have done a wonderful job. Overall this is a fantastic title that requires some thought to complete the levels as you constantly need to switch to the best character - something which you'll love or hate. Hopefully Sonic Team will look at making a pure "Sonic" game in the future. Worth a purchase for fans.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSBright, colourful and very fast with frame rate and camera niggles.
SOUNDThat music is just plain annoying, speech is cartoony, effects good.
GAMEPLAYChanging between characters breaks up the gameplay too much.
VALUEModerate length game, 2-player modes and some unlockables.
OVERALLSonic Heroes is a pretty good game for fans of the series. The biggest problem is changing between characters during levels - it breaks the pace of the game. Still this is one game worth considering - I certainly enjoyed it.

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