Ever since the release of Crazy Taxi on the PlayStation Network, people have been asking SEGA to port the extremely popular Sonic Adventure 2 to PS3. Originally released in 2001, the game was not only one of the showcase titles for the Dreamcast hardware, but also an extremely innovative experience. Later the title would be ported to Nintendo’s GameCube, where it quickly became one of the console’s best sellers.
The story starts out with everyone’s favourite blue hedgehog escaping from the military. Things quickly escalate as Sonic discovers the armed forces are confusing him for a mysterious new dark hedgehog released by the one and only, Doctor Robotnik. The mysterious hedgehog identifies himself as The Ultimate Life Form and goes by the name of Shadow. With treasure hunter Rouge the bat completing the maniacal crew, Eggman and his newly established squad embark on a mischievous plot. It’s up to Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles to stop Robotnik and his team from collecting the chaos emeralds required to control his latest contraption, the Space Colony Ark.
The story mode is split between the two sides (Hero and Dark), but both of these tales intertwine to tell the complete story. The plot is well written, decent in length and progresses nicely without slowing down.
Each story is split up into three main types of levels. The Sonic and Shadow stages are arguably the best in terms of level design and gameplay. These maps are essentially races with additional areas to explore. Ranging from a city highway to deep space, the environments look stunning and fit the universe well.
Meanwhile, Knuckles and Rouge both share the task of collecting the missing pieces of the Master Emerald to neutralize the power of the Chaos Emeralds. These maps are similar to the Knuckles gameplay in the original Sonic Adventure; players will run, glide, and climb around sandbox levels using a radar to find the three gem pieces randomly scattered around each level. Most of these stages are not timed, giving everyone plenty of time to explore at their own pace.
Last but not least, Tails and Robotnik use bipedal tanks to blast their way through each level. Taking a leaf out of the old popular jet-fighter game, Afterburner, the tanks can be controlled to lock on to enemies and fire missiles. They are fairly simple levels, but at least they offer a change of pace.
Those who finish both Hero and Dark story modes will be treated to a third hidden story named ‘LAST’. This final piece of the puzzle is part of what makes Sonic Adventure 2 a classic; the surprise twist of events and final boss are both excellent additions to the experience.
To increase the replay value of each story, you’ll be able to collect and equip hidden power ups for each character, allowing them to reach paths from earlier levels that were blocked. For example, Sonic will obtain the ability to use the light dash to quickly traverse lines of rings.
Between each level, gamers can raise cute little critters called Chaos. By collecting crystals and tiny animals throughout the story, players can then use these items to infuse attributes to their Chaos. These include running, swimming, and climbing. There are races, as well as plenty of secrets in the Chao Gardens to add to the overall value of the title. If you pick up the Sonic Adventure 2 Battle DLC, you’ll also have access to the Chao Karate mini-games.
While the title offers multiplayer, it’s limited to split-screen, and the level selection leaves a lot to be desired. Most stages are minor revisions of the maps from the single player story. If you pick up the Sonic Adventure 2 Battle DLC, you’ll unlock more characters, levels, and Chao mini-games.
The re-mastered stages look superb on the PS3, and the frame rate doesn't suffer from slow down like the Jet Set Radio remake. Sadly, the camera hasn't been adjusted and can be blindingly difficult to manage at times. Overall, the game is fairly simple, and most, if not all, deaths are usually caused by the camera getting stuck around corners or refusing to centre behind your character at high speeds. It isn't a deal breaker, but it’s common enough to be noticeable.
The soundtrack is easily one of the best in Sonic history. Each character has their own style of music to suit their personality and maps. It’s almost impossible not to like the theme song ‘Live and Learn’ by Crush 40. Sound effects are crisp and clear, and provide a nice balance of classic and modern Sonic.
Sonic Adventure 2 offers the same thrills as its Dreamcast and GameCube predecessors without sacrificing too much. The online features from the Dreamcast title are unfortunately stripped, and the GameCube extras are only available as paid DLC – making this PSN download worth skipping if you already own either of the original titles. But for those who haven’t yet experienced the fast paced adventure, this is a stellar port of an old classic.