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June 10 2008
Sonic Riders 2: Zero Gravity - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
6/3/2008SegaSonic Team1-4GMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
68KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneNo

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Sonic Riders 2 looks, ermm, average.
Rewind back a couple of years to my first review for this site; Sonic Riders. Another somewhat disappointing instalment in the long-running Sega franchise of Sonic titles, there was some fun to be had but it was short-lived and reasonably shallow. As with many Sonic titles in recent years, it lacked the charm and originality of those 2D platforming titles that gamers remember so fondly from their childhood. Nonetheless, this didn't stop the Sonic Team from churning out a second Sonic Riders game, subtitled "Zero Gravity", earlier this year. Unfortunately, this title is no better and doesn't do enough to warrant the price of entry in our opinion. That's the overall story, but if you want more detail here it comes!

Story-wise, this is probably the shallowest Sonic game I've played yet, which can be shown in the fact that I can, in one sentence, sum up the entire plot. The Blue Blur finds some new gadget capably of manipulating gravity, some unknown bad guy wants it, and it somehow involves the Babylon Rogues (from the first Riders title) so Sonic and his heroic cohorts have to... well race? That's it. Sure there are a few extra details here and there, but in order not to tell you the entire plot in depth, I simply cannot give you any more information. Oscar-worthy script writing is prevalent here. Oh, and that was sarcasm.

Oh well, Sonic has never been about the story. His best appearances were back in the days when plot didn't even play a role in games, when it was perfectly acceptable for a blue hedgehog with sneakers that made him run faster to fight some fat dude with lightning bolt hair and a fetish for robotics. Unfortunately, in these drug-conscious times, that sort of thing needs explaining.

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Tails goes over the falls...
Anyways... as far as playing the game, when you've sat through countless annoying and overly-dramatic cut-scenes, you'll feel more or less at home if you've played the original Sonic Riders game. You hold down forward on the left stick for pretty much the entire race, only moving it to steer, and press other buttons to do things such as jump, slow down (for better control) and then push off suddenly, and a few other little tricks. Once again, it's really quite simple, but it does the job. Obviously, the objective is to come first as simply cruising around a track faster than everyone else will be enough for Sonic to save the world from a Robotic Apocalypse.

Okay so aside from the lame story, shallow controls, there's not a lot else that is wrong with the game that we haven't come to expect from the Sonic Team. Dialog is week, the game is short, and load times can be a bit annoying. It has all the usual Sonic trademarks. Likewise, the same shortcomings that hurt the original Sonic Riders are present, once again, here. Course layouts are, simply put, stupid. The hover board power up system is, once again, almost useless and only serves to separate the good from the bad even more. And race events are unpredictable to the point where they just annoy you.

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Sadly, Sonic Riders 2 isn't very good.
As far as your eyes are concerned, Zero Gravity is going to give you the same look that most of the latter Sonic titles on PS2 have had. It's bright, reasonably blocky, and all too N64-looking, but it serves it purpose. One thing I will say is that the graphical nature of the game does, in a few brief moments, manage to capture the feeling of speed quite well. Unfortunately, level design has remained reasonably bland and character models still look older than they should. Effects vary from horrid to reasonable and inconsistencies are everywhere. Play it on a standard definition TV if you are going to fire this one up.

Now we come to what is honestly the worst part of every Sonic title since the move to 3D. Audio in this game is exactly on par with all others. Voice acting is awful, not just in its dialog but voice actors as well. Music is ridiculously out-of-place computerised guitar rock as usual. And sound effects? There may as well not be any. I think this game would actually get a better review score if I had played it on mute the entire time.

Let me just get something straight here. Despite my review of the first Sonic Riders being reasonably negative, I did enjoy it. This continuation of the new leg of the blue hedgehog's life is a move in the wrong direction. By making changes to some of the good mechanics of the first title, and not touching on the main issues, Sonic Team have managed to give us one of the worst Sonic titles to date. Sonic Riders 2: Zero Gravity is a title I can't even recommend for the hardcore Sonic fans. Avoid this game as if it were the plague; or Lair on the PS3.

Review By: Michael Hutchesson

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version).
GRAPHICSInconsistencies everywhere and what is consistent is consistently average at best.
SOUNDAwful. Horrible voice acting/actors and out of place music. Do you really hate your ears?
GAMEPLAYTake the first Riders title and remove the good bits. That's Zero Gravity.
VALUEThe only reason you will get any playtime out of this is due to frustratingly stupid level design and stupid race mechanics that will hinder you the entire way.
OVERALLDon't go near Sonic Riders 2: Zero Gravity. Your time is better spent slamming your head against the wall, eating nails, or even playing World of Warcraft!

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