reviews\ Dec 9, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Sonic Free Riders Review


The Kinect has always been a peripheral that provided excitement when thinking about the potential impact it could have on the gaming industry. Unfortunately, Sonic Free Riders doesn’t show one ounce of effort on Sega’s behalf to produce a quality game aimed for all ages. It may very well be the worst game I have played in the past three years.

Tapping into the controller-free environment that the Kinect promotes, Sonic Free Riders asks players to lean their bodies and jump to advance through races on a hoverboard. Along the way, players won’t be battling with computer AI for first, second or even fifth place – they’ll be jostling with the terrible control mechanics to properly stay on the track and even finish the races. Tracking the body movements of the player, it’s a hassle to play more than a few races before frustration sets in.

The controls dampen what could’ve been an exciting first experience for gamers with their Kinect. The entertainment value is nil to none. It forces players to crouch for long periods of time, lean all the way back to pretend to do the limbo, kick their legs as if they were skateboarding for speed boosts and jump for stunts. The main issue with these movements is that Sonic Free Riders often doesn’t recognize them. Working, perhaps, 10 percent of the time – if not less – Sonic Free Riders is a headache from beginning to finish. It’s best to play Sonic Free Riders with a side of Vicodin for pain relief and Excedrin to halt the forthcoming migraine.

Supporting two-player competitive or cooperative play, Sonic Free Riders complicates multiplayer due to the awkward movements. The two-player mode often boils down to players bumping into their opponent/partner for a disappointing affair that only increases dissatisfaction. Yes, there are several maneuvers to promote clever power-ups and animations, but when several of them literally have the player bending over backwards for a simple turn, it becomes a pain in the ass and a fight for position in front of the Kinect.

If players do happen to overlook the glaring flaws, they should be able to find an attraction to the upgradable equipment and intelligent track design with shortcuts to spur competitive multiplayer. Tracks aren’t quickly finished due to their length and how many laps are necessary. While players have to endure a lot of standing up and leaning to overcome the obstacles of irritation, there is mild fun deep down below the piles of garbage stacked upon Sonic Free Riders.

Sonic Free Riders doesn’t take advantage of the Xbox 360 hardware, even with the colorful graphics that could’ve incited attention from the youth. They are comparable to the original Xbox, at best. The voice acting and sound effects are over the top to the point of aggravation. It’s as if Sega tried their best to annoy its audience to the point that 15 minute sessions are enough to drive the player mad. I’d dare say that even Sonic fans will be disappointed by the poor attempt on Sega’s part to deliver an experience that is truly unique to the Kinect outside of being the worst title at launch.


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