So here it is, after waiting 7 days after the “official” release of the screenshots (click here to see my blog post on it) for Sonic 4: Episode 2 by Sega and their massive announcement to release a gameplay trailer a week afterwards, we now have the first proper trailer for the game and I am here just to give you my immediate thoughts on it.
Now straight from the outset when the gameplay in the trailer begins you can see that this game is a totally different beast from the first episode of Sonic 4, but at the same time there are many notable similarities that don’t make it seem all that different from the original and in a way that isn’t a bad thing because this new Sonic series will need some consistency from game to game or things would look incredibly out-of-place.
So let’s start with what’s new, well for one let’s talk about the visuals, this game looks incredible and so different from the last game in terms of art direction, character animation, the environments, everything just seems to have a different tone and feel than it did before in Episode 1. The Sonic character model seems to be fairly similar to the last game, but he seems to have a new coat of paint, a sharper level of detail and his animation seems to be increased from what it was before with more movement when he flies around when being bounced around on springs which is interesting to see. When it comes to Tails I think he has been rendered pretty well, this version of him in 3D on a 2D playing field looks pretty well and has a lot of similarities to Sonic 2 & 3 in terms of movement and animation. Both Sonic & Tails seem to have adopted their more “modern” looks from more recent Sonic games like Sonic Generations because it is clear from the art style their colour tones too. Even small things like the look of Sonic & Tails’ curled up spin dash form look very pretty good with a great deal of detail, motion blur and vivid-looking colours too. When it comes to the environments every location looks at least 5x better than Sonic 4: Episode 1. Fact. All of these places are rammed full of life and detail in the foreground and backgrounds with loads of animation and detail. Beyond that the game happens to have some similarities to Sonic 4: Episode 1 in terms of the weight and physics of the Sonic’s movements, which isn’t a bad thing since again consistency is good, let’s just hope the physics are up to the challenge this time around.
From a gameplay standpoint there seems to be a much more greater emphasis on co-op gameplay as Sonic & Tails happen to be together a lot in this trailer, straight from the beginning we see Tails carrying Sonic while flying (like in Sonic 3), but we also see that same sort of helping aspect can be applied underwater with Tails lending Sonic an extra hand in the water (probably due to Sonic’s inability to swim) and like most other Sonic games Tails is trailing behind sonic as he blazes off ahead, though there are surprising moments where Tails is ahead of Sonic! Wow the times are a changing! Sonic & Tails even seem to have some power-up where they team up into what looks like a massive spin ball of death and smash through anything in their path which looks pretty neat too. Aside from that the game looks pretty similar to Sonic 4: Episode 1 and other previous entries in the series on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis; you still collect rings, smash enemies, bounce off of springs and spin dashing all over the place, you know all the good stuff.
But funnily there seems to be references to other Sonic titles of the past, some more obvious than others. When it comes to environments two of the levels happen to have a clear resemblance to two levels from Sonic 3 and those levels are Marble Arch Zone and Carnival Night Zone. And while they are clearly referenced from Sonic 3, they seem to have more of their own look and feel and don’t feel like carbon copies from previous Sonic games like other zones did in Sonic 4: Episode 1 in some cases. One other level that could be inspired from Sonic 3 is a snowy level that may be a reference to the Ice Cap Zone, though I believe it may be more of a reference to Dimps work on other Sonic games like Ice Paradise from Sonic Advance 2 (because of the Christmas theme) or Blizzard Peaks from Sonic Rush Adventure (running away from an avalanche). Either way these levels do have similarities to games of the past, but it doesn’t seem to overdo it here. Also in this trailer there seems to be a greater emphasis on perspective as Sonic & Tails look like they move from the foreground to the background when being bounced around on springs and I find that really interesting as that was one of the same techniques implemented in the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations, so again it looks like more modern aspects of Sonic gameplay seems to be finding its way into this new game.
Okay so to summarize, overall as a first look into what to expect for Sonic 4: Episode 2 I am generally intrigued. I am curious to see where Sonic Team and Dimps take this game and so far everything looks like it’s on a much better level than Episode 1. If the developers can brink us a good co-op experience and get the handling and physics system down then we may be witnessing a great Sonic game in the making yo. Luckily we won’t have to wait too long as the game will be coming out in Spring 2012 so that is definitely close by. I’m excited now 😀