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Published on October 17th, 2012 | by Louis Garcia, Contributor

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Sonic Adventure 2 HD Review

Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: SEGA
Platform: Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network
Price: 800 MS Points, $9.99
Release Date: October 2, 2012

Review Notes: A copy of the game was received for review purposes.

There are three types of lovers of Sonic the Hedgehog: those who wish the series would remain true to its 2D roots, those who enjoy the move to 3D, and then me–the type of Sonic fan who loves the 2D and 3D iterations, and everything in between.

While some feel that 3D begets mediocrity in Sonic games, and that the 3D transition was the beginning of the fall of the series, I’ve always felt the opposite: it allowed the series to expand and evolve – in spite of some minor hiccups.

And Sonic Adventure 2 HD has its fair share of hiccups. Just like when it was released in 2001, the game is sometimes frustrating (cheap deaths due to camera positioning or iffy controls), somewhat silly (the story is fun, but it really is geared toward kids), and the addition of the Chao Garden, where players can raise virtual pets, only improves the game if you care enough to play it.

As it was the last Sonic game to appear on a SEGA console, it’s a fun, though imperfect, ride. It also introduced gamers to new characters; the most popular (and still co-starring in Sonic video games) is Shadow the Hedgehog.

The introduction of the character also brings the selection of a “Hero” and “Dark” side to choose from when playing the story mode, splitting levels between a trio of heroes and villains. This method would actually continue in Sonic Heroes (sort of).

Though it means players will make runs through similar levels over and over, it also means they get to see different sides of the same story–an interesting, and delightful way to see how everything comes together in yet another story about Dr. Eggman (Dr. Robotnik in some circles) trying to take out Sonic–this time with a new black hedgehog.

The story may mimic most Sonic stories, but it does enough to keep you interested.

In terms of gameplay, the game is similar to Sonic Adventure, and is what players have come to expect in 3D Sonic games: a lot of running through levels split up with gameplay changes from other characters that don’t feel gimmicky.

In Sonic Adventure 2 this means players will have levels where they’ll explore for treasure, and others where it’s all about shooting rockets and enemies at evil robots. It’s not very Sonic-like, but it’s not terrible by any means…just different. The breaks they provide between the action is actually welcomed.

What’s troublesome with the gameplay is the same finicky camera that haunted the first game. It likes to get stuck on walls and objects, meaning players will die a lot because they can’t see a pit coming. Gamers know just how frustrating it is to restart an area due to game’s deficiencies instead of their own–and Sonic Adventure 2 will do this a lot when sprinting around as Sonic and Shadow. In fact, it will most likely happen to you minutes after starting up the game.

The camera issue isn’t something that will frustrate players enough to quit, but it is aggravating nonetheless.

Being that the game is in HD, all enemy and character models have a slick, smooth look to them. The levels look better as well, but the most obvious improvement in presentation comes from Sonic and pals. Gone are the mucky models of yesteryear, and in are the sharp models in the HD upgrade.

Not only does everything look slicker, but the colors really pop in HD. Players won’t confuse Sonic Adventure 2 with newer Sonic games, but the prettier visuals are very welcome — especially when you find yourself running through the more brightly colored stages.

As longtime Sega fans will know, the Chao World was a side game that used the Dreamcast’s Virtual Memory Unit (VMU) to play a mini-game tied to it. The VMU was not only a memory unit used to save games, but it was also used to play simple, standalone games. It also gave the player notifications or tiny visuals.

Chao Adventure 2 was the mini-game made playable in Sonic Adventure 2 by transferring a Chao from the Chao Garden where players raise them to the VMU. Once transferred players could “train” their Chao and level up its abilities in order to earn emblems in the main game. However, the game no longer exists with the VMUs out of the equation.

If I remember correctly, Chao could also be bred via two VMUs… so it’s probably for the best it’s not possible anymore.

In the HD upgrade, what remains is collecting items in the main game (used to upgrade a Chao’s abilities), and using them in the Chao Garden to raise them how you want.

Chao World isn’t something I’ve ever spent too much time in, but it does have some depth for those who want to train a virtual pet, race it, and pit it against others in fights.

Final Truth:

Sonic Adventure 2 HD is a good game, and a glossier looking version of SEGA’s final Sonic title on the Dreamcast, SEGA’s last console. It maybe isn’t the perfect swan song, but it’s a piece of Sonic history that fans will have fun with.

Its imperfections stem from design potholes common of some 3D platformers from its era, but they can be trudged through for fans who have never experienced the game before. For those who’ve already played it, the need to play through it again depends on how badly you want the same game, blemishes and all, but in HD. It’s not a bad or great game, just simply average.

Rating:7/10 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

+ Still a fun romp in the Sonic universe
- Camera still frustrates
- A straightforward HD port

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