For fans of the Modern Sonic gameplay that was predominantly featured in Unleashed, Colors, and Generations, you can rest your fears as it returns in Sonic Forces feeling just as slick. Switching between the widescreen 3D and singular 2D, Sonic’s pace thankfully never outruns the screen. This issue occurred for some in the classic series where the hedgehog would run too fast causing obstacles and enemies to become near-impossible to avoid. Here the camera keeps up with the action making sure any upcoming foes are prepared for.
Starting off in the ever crumbling Sunset Height we have Modern Sonic. A short yet enjoyable romp that shows off the city skyline (or what’s left of it anyhow) as you sprint to find the now gun-shy Shadow. Wisps are again used to gain boost speed however offer no explanation as to why they are back in the world; hopefully the full game will address this. The level is fast, frantic, and fun. Everything you want from a Modern Sonic level.
Going forward it will be interesting to see how much power Sonic Team can suck out of the “Hedgehog Engine” especially with the PlayStation 4 Pro now available. Saying this, the surroundings looked glorious on the bog-standard PS4 with the sun beaming and heat being accentuated stupendously well by the colour tones. On the other hand the disappointing aspect came from the level design that seemed far too simple compared to past iterations that had you jumping back and forth from clock towers to windmill rises. As this is likely to be one of the earliest levels there is some room for forgiveness.
Opposite to this we had Classic Sonic taking on Eggman in a familiar scenario of the old ball and chain being swung to the backdrop of Green Hill Zone. This proved not to be challenging as once defeated (or so you think) Eggman transforms into Egg Dragoon (previously appearing in Unleashed) in which the mad scientist then attempts to tear up the battlefield with Sonic on it. Ironically, it’s the pieces of scenery that you end up homing attack back to bring his demise. Nothing startling, though it is positive to see them changing up the standard fights, even if that was similarly attempted in Generations.
Then the third option allows you to take control of one of the customised avatars with some variables for weapon choices. A whip that allows you to electrocute enemies along with a rope to grapple across the stage seemed most useful with the latter being a must for the takedown of the stage boss. Again taking place in a mostly 2D Green Hill Zone, your avatar sprints through the standard introductory level avoiding spikes, robots etc. Feeling much more platform based, a section containing spiked hammers that crush anything underneath them really slowed down the pace and caused death on a few occasions. Reaching the end prompts a robotic crab the size of the level (yes, basically a giant enemy crab) to appear before rampaging after you whilst hurdling chunks of the land. Avoiding these for long enough gives your hero the chance to take down the mechanical beast in an exciting “Empire Strikes Back” style.
A worthy mention goes to the music displayed throughout all the levels as each fitted tremendously well and gave great incentive to progress. In all honesty, though, it's rare that a Sonic soundtrack disappoints.
If Sonic Forces concentrates on the main Modern Sonic mechanic with splashes of 2D thrown in then SEGA really can achieve a fine-tuned game. Wishful thinking would like to believe the character creation is not just another gimmick yet out of the three game options available it will be surprising to say the least if anyone vies for it over the other two, throwing the question of is it necessary? Possibly more time is needed to adjust when in stark contrast to the modern style of flinging yourself around every corner. We’ll have to wait until November for the full answer.
Are you looking forward to Sonic Forces? Are you concerned that the character customisation may end up being a bit of a gimmick? Gotta go fast in the comments section below.