Sega seems to be on a roll giving it’s Dreamcast classics the HD treatment, so it’s inevitable that a Sonic game would be selected to undergo said treatment. When it comes to Sonic games there’s a fair amount of fans that prefer the 2D classics and have high disregard for their 3D revisions. Though very rare, there are some 3D Sonic games that fans find memorable. In what was the last Sonic game specifically developed for a Sega console, Sonic Adventure 2 is the next classic to go HD.
Like the Dreamcast version, the game splits into two parallel storylines, Hero and Dark. Hero mode has you playing as Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, while Dark mode gives players the chance to play as the series villain Eggman (Robotnik) and newcomers Shadow and Rogue. As you progress through the story, depending on the current situations, you’ll switch roles between the 3 characters, though Hero and Dark sharing similar tasks. The Sonic and Shadow levels, as you can guess, are the typical speed stages; where you go from point A to B as fast as you can. Knuckles and Rogue are the treasure hunters, tasked with finding emerald pieces or keys using various clues. And the Eggman and Tails levels serve as your action type stages, being put into mechs that can shoot rockets and lasers at your enemies. There’s a separate mode that’s unlocked that puts all 6 together once both sides have been completed.
The multiplayer also makes a return, which just consist of the campaign levels in the story mode. For the most part the multiplayer is somewhat entertaining, you’ll certainly have the most fun competing through the Sonic and Shadow levels. The treasure hunting levels can sometimes be tedious, while the shooting levels are just downright button mashers; pitting you one against the other in an attempt to be the first to drain the others life bar. The worst of the bunch would have to be the car races, as it just feels dull and tacked on. One thing to note is that game lacks online multiplayer, so you’ll have to settle for local competition only.
Aside from multiplayer and the story, you are also given the chance to raise pets known as Chaos, which serve as sort of a metagame within Sonic Adventure 2. Going through the Hero/Dark levels you’ll encounter hidden keys which give you access to the Chao Garden. Within the gardens you’re given 2 eggs which you can hatch into Chaos, provide them with the animals and items ,that you earn during the campaign, which level up their stats. Once high in stats, you’re able to compete against computer controlled Chaos in several races as well as Chao karate, provided you purchased the DLC. The Chaos also go through evolution and morality changes. How you treat your Chao determines whether they become light or dark Chaos. You will probably be spending most of your time raising and caring for your digital companions, it can become quite addicting.
The visuals, for the most part, do look noticeably improved, though minor changes to it’s Dreamcast counterpart. There isn’t much to say, it still looks very much like the Sonic Adventure 2 you remember. The soundtrack also returns, whether you hated the cheesy rock tunes or loved the jazzy rap tracks, it all remains intact. Without the option to tune the music volume, you’ll notice that during cutscenes the characters are often drowned out by loud music, which is a minor inconvenience as there are subtitles there to ensure you don’t miss out on the pretty shallow story plot. Let’s face it, Sonic games have never been known for their story. You’re also able to switch between English and Japanese voices, and given how bad voice acting is, Japanese is strongly recommended for those who don’t skip through the cutscenes.
Poorly done voice acting and an uninteresting story aside, the other minor negative factor is the camera controls. For the most part, the camera does a well enough job making sure it’s focus is always pointed towards your goal. However, during the Sonic and Shadow levels there are occasional sections where the camera will go into cinematic angles that at times make it impossible to see where you’re going. Although you do have some sort of control of the camera, it all feels slow when trying to recenter the camera. These problems don’t happen often, but when they do, you’ll surely notice how far camera controls have come.
Once you get passed all it’s minor flaws, Sonic Adventure 2 HD is still a fun game. Fans who already enjoyed the original 11 years ago will surely enjoy the nostalgia factor alone, as the game remains completely intact, as well as the additional content added from the GameCube port through DLC. Although newcomers may be put off by the story, the soundtrack, levels and Chao raising are enough reasons to take a trip with Sonic on his last Dreamcast adventure.
This review was based on a retail download copy of the game for the Xbox 360 provided by Sega.