Sonic Adventure 2 review
It's hard to believe that it's been over 11 years since Sega first released Sonic Adventure 2 for the Sega Dreamcast. Like the original game, Sonic Team took great strides in bringing Sonic and his friends to the 3D front, even if there were some hiccups with certain game segments. The game was later released for the Nintendo GameCube as Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, but in case you missed it, no worries, as Sega has given the game the HD treatment and released it as a downloadable title. So is it as classic as you remember? For the most part, yes – warts and all.
The game is divided up into two sides – good and evil. Joining up with good has you playing as speedy Sonic, spelunking Knuckles and mech-riding Tails, while taking up with Dr. Eggman will also put you in control of Shadow the Hedgehog and the devious bat Rouge. Completing each stage gets you access to new options to play through them again, such as unlocking a Hard Mode, finding a hidden Chao (a little baby creature) and extra coins.
Taking care of and developing your Chaos within the game is still one of its most addictive features, as you can either nurture it and make it good, or try to do the wrong things and make it dark. From there, if you purchase the additional Battle DLC for $3, you can fight in Chao Karate, and try out some other options. This remains strangely addictive, if a bit wrong when it comes to the general nature of these guys. (For that matter, you might also feel guilty picking them up over the course of the stage and, say, throwing them in a bottomless pit. "Ahhhhh!")
As for the rest of the gameplay, well, it works depending on who you're playing as. The Sonic and Shadow stages are the most fun, as you'll progress through blistering 3D runs across courses, collecting coins and performing crazy stunts like rail grinds and swings. The Tails and Eggman stages aren't bad either, as you control them in mech suits and blast all enemies in sight. However, the Knuckles and Rouge stages, to me, are unbearable. You basically have to scavenge around a stage seeking out crystals, with only a small beeping indicator and computer monitors giving you clues. It can be maddening thinking you're so close to finding it, only to drop off and lose the scent. These guys should've been given action stages instead, honestly.
Fortunately, the local two-player mode is a saving grace, as you can play along with a friend in split screen. Too bad some Xbox Live/PlayStation Network support wasn't thrown in – but, hey, this is a classic Dreamcast experience. Why try to new-fangle it?
As for the HD transfer, it's pretty good. The graphics are colorful and move at a feverish 60-frames-per-second pace, without losing any detail. However, the bothersome camera angles are still here, sometimes to the point that you can completely miss a jump. Not the end of the world, but maybe the loss of a life. The audio's good, with all the original rock tunes still intact ("FOLLOW MEEEE!") and plenty of bad voices, including the Chaos. (Really, pick up one and he whines, "NO! STOP IT!" So friendly…)
How much you'll enjoy Sonic Adventure 2 depends on whether you really liked it on the Dreamcast. It's the same game, for better or worse, and while there are sections that are really worth playing again, there are also those sections that continue to frustrate after all these years. But if you're a fan, or just need a burst of Sonic speed, you'll feel like you're home.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]