Plot: What’s it about?
Sonic the Hedgehog’s return to the 2-D world was one that had fans excited, but sadly, Sonic 4: Episode 1 failed to live up to the expectations. The game was solid, but some physics issues interfered with the mechanics and took some of the shine off of Sonic’s glorious return. But now Sonic is back once again in Sonic 4: Episode 2, so will this be the 2-D powerhouse that fans have dreamed of for years? In short, yes. The issues that hindered Episode 1 have been resolved, so the physics feel more faithful to the Sonic world and that makes an immense difference. The game plays just like a Sonic adventure should, with an emphasis on speed and finding ways to keep up your momentum. While Episode 2 is faithful to Sonic’s roots, there are some fresh elements that ensure it doesn’t feel like a simple retread. The game is familiar enough to whisk you into a nostalgic bliss, but new design choices keep things fresh. To me, that is the mark of an effective sequel.
Video: How does it look?
The visual design ensures the classic Sonic look is present, but of course this is light years beyond what the Sega Genesis could achieve. So the basic visual design elements are old school Sonic, but the level of detail and overall depth of the visuals is a revelation. Sonic’s levels were always intricate and alive with motion, so it should come as no surprise that these stages are ripe with little details to soak in. Of course the visuals here can pull off an amount of kinetic background motion the originals couldn’t even dream of. So yes, Sonic looks better than ever.
Audio: How does it sound?
The sound design follows the trend of the visuals, as the audio remains faithful, but ups the ante. All of the trademark Sonic sound elements return, but they’re crisper and more refined here. The music suits the franchise as well and to me, the music was always a big part of the frantic feel of the game. I can’t say I was as impressed with the sound as I was the visuals, but they’re effective and fans should be pleased.