previews\ Feb 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing - PS3 - Preview 2

Mario Kart was an inspiration, that much the developers of SEGA’s upcoming Sonic & SEGA All-Star Racing admit, but with more characters and levels, “the amount of content in this game outweighs Mario Kart,” said Associate Producer Omar Woodley.

“You definitely get your money’s worth with this game.”

Sonic & SEGA All-Star Racing is a kart racer that is releasing on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii and Nintendo DS systems. SEGA held a small event in its San Francisco offices to show off the game, and if the brief time is any indication, All-Star Racing will offer a simple but entertaining experience.

The single-player modes are robust, with Grand Prix tourney-style points chasing, missions and a host of unlockables, while the multiplayer offers four ways to play – both online through LIVE and offline with split-screen gaming.

Sonic is the obvious (hint, hint – name of the game) star of the game, but All-Star Racing is packed with other SEGA icons from a variety of games. That, in itself, presented a bit of a problem for the developers. First tests had Sonic on foot, and the blue hedgehog was blowing by the competition. ‘Oh, oh, time to tweak.’ The tweaking eventually lead to karts, but the caveat was that the karts had to be balanced to some degree. There are several different types of karts, each with their own strengths. A monster truck can sideswipe and wipe out the competition, but lacks speed; motorcycles are more agile, have a fast acceleration, but can easily be banged about; cars are faster on flat, hard surfaces; planes (and aerial-based karts) stay in the air longer after jumps – all leading to a strategic element when selecting from the 20 characters and associated karts available for the game.

And inasmuch as the karts require some thought, the 24 base courses have nuances that will create some interesting races. There are the stock elements, like the hit points that accelerate the kart, as well as items to be picked up and used to disrupt other racers. Yep, from rockets to hazard cones, rainbows to obscure the vision and even an attack that will invert the world of the targeted foe, the game is built for one thing – fun. And four or five of the shorter courses have shortcuts that can be used advantageously – if the player is smart about using them.

The control elements are easy to pick up, making entry into the game a breeze. Drifting around corners is not only encouraged, but rewarded.

And for those that may have wondered, downloadable content is in the works for both the PS3 and 360 versions.

After playing through a Grand Prix session (and unlocking the next event), going through single races and then time trials, and even playing the missions (which are rated and players have to achieve an ‘A,’ ‘AA,’ or ‘AAA’ ranking to advance), then advancing on to play several multiplayer races against developers and others attending the event, it’s easy to see that the focus on this game was fun.

The game is a visual treat, easy to pick up and play, and the courses can be challenging (there are several difficulty levels). The game hits retailers Tuesday and is worth a further look.


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