True story: one of the first reviews I can ever remember writing for any video game was for Sonic Adventure 2. I re-wrote that review for SA2 no less than twice as I improved my writing ability, making this the third or even fourth time I’ve written a review for it. Unsurprisingly, my opinion of the game has not changed much since 2001, though I have definitely gotten better at writing:
The story of Sonic Adventure 2 is a complicated one; Sonic Team took special care leading up to its release to keep many of its story details a secret, and even through the normal course of the game, much of the game’s plot remains unclear – perhaps due to poor translation, poor writing, or a combination of the two. It’s the kind of plot where things just happen, and characters sometimes make decisions that don’t really make sense except to serve as an excuse to set up the next level – yet it is still preoccupied with trying to tell us this at-times-laughable “story” about an evil, bio-engineered talking hedgehog with magical time-warping powers who is hell-bent on getting revenge on the planet earth. In a way, though, that’s video games – the plot to any Super Mario is no less ridiculous when you break it down, but neither does it try as hard to make you care about its story as much as Sonic Adventure 2 does, where its lengthy cutscenes can make up close to a quarter of the game’s total play time.
The other 3/4ths of the game is, of course, spent playing through either “Hero Story” or “Dark Story”, which is an oddly Japanese way of saying good versus evil. Each story is split up between three playable characters broken up by class, bringing the total roster to six, in spite of complaints that Sonic Adventure‘s large number of characters was pushing its star performer too far out of the spotlight. To combat this, Sonic Team attempted to streamline each character’s role – and while noble in concept, it does not always work out so well in practice. Whereas Sonic’s levels in the original Sonic Adventure were serpentine, somewhat open areas that each felt noticeably unique, all of the “speed-class” levels in Sonic Adventure 2 are built from the same heavily-scripted, linear, single-lane tracks hovering over illogical bottomless pits, turning every stage in to a glorified re-skin of Speed Highway. (Keep reading…)
Obviously I am not, uh, entirely kind to the game, though I do make a point to say that I do think parts of Sonic Adventure 2 are good. And it’s definitely better than Sonic Heroes, at any rate. I just hope this doesn’t spark too much vitriol in retaliation.
It is important to note, however, that if you consider my review as using the full review scale, I’m actually rating the game strictly as “Average”. But the only people who acknowledge that stuff are other reviewers, it would seem.