Howdy ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another review from your jolly blogger friend the hypersonic55! Today I’m going to bring you my long-awaited review of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2!
So after a long time of waiting and waiting and WAITING, Sonic 4: Episode 2 finally came out on as a digital download around mid-May… However I didn’t have the funds to get the game at the time, so I had to wait for the reviews to come around so I could get an idea of what to expect before I got the game myself. Suffice to say that the critical and fan response to Sonic 4: Episode 2 was mixed. Some fans loved it, while a lot of fans and critics didn’t. For those who didn’t like it the main points of their argument was that Sonic Team and Dimps fixed many things in terms of gameplay and handling of Sonic’s physics, but introduced some new problems in regards to the level design and the co-op gameplay with Tails. Well I was going to reserve judgment until I played the game myself. And so I downloaded the game on PSN around early June and I can say is that it wasn’t what I was expecting. I actually hated this game a lot when I first started playing it, but over the summer my opinion changed a great deal. So what’s my statement on the game? Well read on and find out.
Following the events of Episode I, Metal Sonic has returned to form a formidable alliance with Dr. Eggman! To face this new evil, Sonic will have to call upon an old friend to help him save the day! Now joined by Tails, race across four brand new Zones and take down fearsome new badniks with deadly combination moves in order to put an end to this dastardly duo’s plans!
The gameplay is similar to Sonic 4: Episode 1, but there are a few enhancements. Episode 2 sees the return of Sonic’s friend Tails who can be controlled by a second player or the computer online or locally in co-operative play. Tails isn’t a playable character like 16-bit games, also Sonic can’t be played on his own and it forced to play with Tails. This game also introduces combo moves that Sonic and Tails can perform together from Tails carrying to places through the air to rolling up in a massive ball to do a big spin attack that’ll smash through walls, enemies and give you loads of speed. Other than those few enhancements everything’s still the same, you still have to go through 4 zones with 3 acts in each and a boss encounter at the end. After completing all 12 acts and all 4 boss encounters there’s the final boss to take care of too. You still have a world map can to use but unlike the last game you can’t pick acts in any random order.
When compared to the last game Sonic handles a lot better than before, while he feels a little slower at first his physics are a hell of a lot better. Sonic has a little more weight to him, he rolls downhill a lot more and he’s finally stopped uncurling when coming off of ramps. However it still can’t hold a candle to Mega Drive/Genesis games, Sonic’s physics are still a bit off, how can you stand on a slope, press down and not go into a spin dash and gain speed? I don’t understand how Dimps and Sonic Team can’t get physics and the basics of momentum based platforming right. It’s ridiculous. Level designs are better than before, there are less bottomless pits and less gimmicky sections. However the game now has this camera that zooms in close to Sonic and then zooms out from him at points which makes it difficult to see what’s coming ahead and can lead to some unfair complications with hazards ahead. There are also some question level design in Oil Desert Zone and Sky Fortress Zone and there are still moments of unfair death via bottomless pits, a dodgy camera and bad enemy placement.
Oh and the boss battles, holy man… I HATE THEM. Well more specifically I’m talking about the Dr. Eggman fights. They are so long and drawn out and some of them require pinpoint precision to defeat and should you fail to defeat the boss you’ll have sat there and watch the introduction animation every bloody time and it’s so tedious. The boss fights are one part of the game I never revisit because they are so slow, so tedious and not worth retrying at all. Though I can say that the Metal Sonic fights are way more fun and entertaining and not as tedious, though they are bloody hard at certain points. And finally there’s the Special Stages in this game which are modelled after the ones in Sonic 2, and they aren’t as fun as the versions from the 90s. These Special Stages still have you running through a half-pipe collecting a specific number of rings before reaching the goal, if you have the reach the target amount you get a Chaos Emerald. And obviously after collecting all seven you can once again become Super Sonic.
Graphically the game is really good and miles better than the first game. Rather than that flat-looking 2.5D looks of Episode 1, the graphics in this game have been reworked with a 3D style that’s way more colourful and visually appealing than before. The character models for Sonic and Tails are more in line with their recent games like Sonic Colours and Generations, I love this look and it really works well on a 2D plane too. The rest of the art and animation in the stage locations are incredibly detailed and look amazing, from the snowy locations of White Park Zone to the epic vast skies of Sky Fortress Zone and then there’s the Death Egg Mk. II Zone which has some amazing lighting and a great presence to it.
In the audio department it is a bit of a mixed bag, Jun Senoue comes back as composer for Episode 2 and while this soundtrack has been reworked with more electronic instruments it doesn’t always work out. While Episode 1 didn’t have the best soundtrack, it did have some memorable songs. Episode 2 has some highlights with Sylvania Castle Zone Act 1 & 3, White Park Zone Act 2, Oil Desert Zone Act 1 and Sky Fortress Zone Act 2. Death Egg Mk.II Zone would be better if it was longer. Everything else in this soundtrack is either okay or just pants. I don’t like reworked version of the Sonic 4 theme, it just sounds awkward and clunky, White Park Zone Act 1 sounds annoying, Oil Desert Zone Act 2 is just the worst track ever and the Boss music is terribly short and repetitive.
In the end Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 is actually a decent game, there is much to appreciate about this game from the incredible visuals to the improved physics. However this game isn’t perfect by any means, this game should have been better than Episode 1 by miles and it should have been the best thing since Sonic Generations. However as it stands, Sonic 4: Episode 2 just feels like Sonic 4: Episode 1.5, it improves on a few things, but it still leaves many of the inconsistent or bad factors of the previous game intact and also finds ways to introduce new issues in this latest episode too. Sonic 4: Episode 2 for me is a good game once you get into it, but it’s still not the amazing Sonic game that I wanted.
Well there’s my review, I know it’s a little late but I had to get this review done before the year was out. Anyways I hope it was worth the wait and as always leave me a comment below as well.