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Sonic 4: Episode 1 Review
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My immediate actions were ‘Sega what the hell have you done!’ in fact I felt so emotional about it I made a YouTube video on my personal channel venting my rage at what Sega have done. ‘They’ve managed to completely balls it up’ I said. There are a few problems with Sonic 4 but once you start playing the game and learning the fact that you can’t adopt the same mindset and techniques that you used when playing the game growing it up, it becomes an all together more enjoyable experience. In Sonic 4: Episode 1 you get four zones to play with. Now, firstly you have to question four zones for 1200 Microsoft Points. It seems pretty steep, by the time you own all of the episodes you are pretty much shelling out for a fully fledged retail title and I can imagine it’ll offput some of you whom have also played the trial and didn’t get on with it. With this in mind I’m hitting indecision, I do genuinely believe this game would have been fairer priced at 1000 Microsoft Points, that would have been a fair playing field. So with that out of the way, lets talk briefly about the games problems that sent me into an intial video rant.

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Some had problem with the fact that Sonic has taken on his more modern look, I couldn’t care either way, I prefer his old look but its not a game breaker. What annoyed me was the fact that Dimps & Sonic Team included auto-targetting of enemies, springs and destructables. To me it originally looked as though they were dumbing the game down, when you actually sit down with the game in length and play past the trial period you’ll realise it’s actually utilised in a very clever way, chaining enemy kills to cross large chasms being a notable factor. My second gribe was the lack of inertia and the fact that Sonic will come out of a spindash very soon after starting one. This becomes less of an issue so long as you are holding in the direction you wish to go in when you perform this move. If you play it like the old Sonics natuarally you’ll be pissed off because it doesn’t work the way you remembered it. Once you take on board these issues, the game actually opens up to be very enjoyable indeed. Firstly, the graphics are beautiful. I would recommend taking advantage of the HD makeover and picking this one up on 360 or PS3 if you have the benefit of being multiplatform. Secondly it’s the set pieces I absolutely love. The second level on Casino Zone is a real treat. Sonic will fly through levels activating cards that can be turned into more rings or extra lives and he’ll also travel on a crest wave of cards to a near area within the stage, it feels seemless, it feels slick and it feels just great.

Enemies this year are a bitch, there are some re-imagining of the classic enemies such as crabs and sticklebacks but its the chameleons and bats that make you say ‘For Fuck Sake’ as rings burst around you. In some cases it is very much a case of trial and error as the first run through you have no idea where these enemies are positioned. That can be frustrating and so can be the giant chasms you face at times, you’ll have to use enemy kill chaining to cross these large gaps and sometimes the auto-targetting can feels as if the lock on isn’t available long enough to make it happen. However, Sega have been very clever and made well over 100 rings available on each stage. 100 rings equals 1 extra life, so before you know it you will rack up tonnes of extra lives and you’ll lose plenty of them at some stages also. You’ll lose plenty of lives figuring out the end stage bosses. As an aside Casino Zone - Stage 2 is now my favourite level in any Sonic game I have played, a testament then!

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It’s the bosses in Sonic 4 that have really gone on leaps and bounds from the original game. Dr. Robotnik will pound, slam, fire, flip and wreak all kinds of havoc on you from the outset. The end level bosses are miles ahead from previous Sonic encounters with him and you’ll have to learn his attacking methods in order to have any success. The auto-targetting does not make life any easier either, it’s used extremely well. The four zones that you do come across in Sonic 4 all have a flavour about them of Nostalgia. I hope the next few episodes create brand new worlds but the re-imagining of the stages that are available are on the whole very good. The game really picks up from Casino Zone onwards and perhaps Sega should have showed us a level from this zone in the trial, as it would have won more people over. The same access to the emeralds apply with a minimum 50 ring contribution required before collection and ironically the opening stage seems to be one of the harder Emeralds to collect. One thing that Sonic 4 really does have ahead of the previous games in its legacy is the fact that you can go back and replay these stages and grab the emerlads, you do not need to restart the game to do this. Phew!

Finally to round off the game there are attack and score leaderboards that connect with people worldwide. I have no hope of ever coming close to being up on these tables so i’ll be giving them a miss personally but I can imagine them being a great addition. Overall my reservations about Sonic 4 have been completely destroyed. My initial video made Sega very reluctant in sending us review material for this, so if anything please trust in my words that this is a very good game. My own coin was invested to bring this review to you. The game is slightly overpriced but if you are a massive fan I am sure you’ll find it is very worthwhile the investment. No stupid sidekick characters to annoy you either. Well done Sega, you have turned a very skeptical and critical reviewer into writing something positive about your latest work!

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Rating: 8.8/10 (5 votes cast)
Sonic 4: Episode 1 Review, 8.8 out of 10 based on 5 ratings
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