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Old 12-10-2010, 06:38 AM   #2
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Sonic & Sega All Star Racing - Xbox 360
Also available on PS3/Wii

After the simply awful Sega Superstar Tennis it was with some scepticism that I approached this game. After all, a version of Virtua Tennis with Sega characters would have sufficed! After playing this game for the first hour all my concerns were put to rest as this game genuinely challenges the established Mario Kart to it’s crown.

Let’s get one thing straight. This game is a clone of Mario Kart in every way. Unlike Sonic’s last recing efforts (Sonic Riders & Sonic R) this game is proud to do nothing different. Characters race around bright colourful lands drifting till their hearts content whilst collecting power ups that either protect you, speed you up or inflict pain on others. But it does it all right. It can’t be a bad thing to copy the best and that’s exactly what SASASR does. In addition each character has their own power move that you generally pick up when you are at the back of the field and it puts you back in the game. Each character has their own characteristic, characters like Robotnik (Think Donkey Kong) are faster but tougher to control and poor manouverability wheras characters like Shadow (Think Yoshi) have a lower top speed but are a dream to control. Sonic (Think Mario) sits right in the middle of things. On the subject of the characters there is the Sonic gang as usual as well as your favourites from Jet Set Radio, House Of The Dead, Crazy Taxi and to the fans delight Ryo from Shenmue makes an appearance. It is a shame that NiGHTs makes a cameo as the race starter rather than a playable character and there certainly could have been more characters such as ToeJam & Earl or a Daytona Car or even Ecco the Dolphin would have been welcome additions. But the range of characters is enough to suffice any SEGA fan. Though the more general gamer will probably not remember Alex Kidd or the Bonanza Bros. Still they are thrown in their for good measure.

Gameplay wise the game plays like Nintendo’s more established brother. Sadly this includes the slightly infuriating AI ‘Elastic band’ syndrome that allows them to stay bang on your tail regardless of how well you drive meaning that often the whole race boils down to luck on the last few corners. The courses are varied but I feel there could have been more character specific environments. Sonic, HOTD, Samba Di Amigo, Monkey Ball and JSR… they are all in. But to make it complete a Crazy Taxi and Shenmue level would have put the icing on the cake. Give me this over 4 Billy Hatcher tracks anyday!!! Each track features sounds from games in their series. This really makes for one of the best soundtracks of the year. The JSR soundtrack will have you singing along about the ‘Concept of Love’ and could be released as a standalone CD and the ‘Love it or hate it’ Sonic R soundtrack makes a comeback alongside the superb Samba Di Amigo dance tunes. Even the announcer is tolerable and the remarks he makes during the race never grated on me like so many cheesy announcers do. The game will take you about 13 hours to complete and the achievements are fairly varied and will keep you coming back for more and then there is always online multiplayer and split screen with friends including championships and battle races. Its all in there.

Visually the game is vibrant and certainly on the 360 it really stands out. Each environment takes its queue from the original games and trackside is always full of detail and movement. A special mention must go to the Samba Di Amigo tracks which bounce around like psychedelic jelly and whilst the cartoon visuals won’t give Uncharted or God Of War a run for their money the style and direction is beautiful.

Overall if you love Mario Kart and are gagging for something more or don’t have a Wii and are looking for a competitor on one of it’s HD competitors. This is for you. The gameplay is largely the same, it’s visually superior and has a larger roster of characters. The 360 version gets the edge over the PS3 version in my opinion as you can race as your avatar and Banjo-Kazooie are playable. Finally, lets remember that this is the first game since Shenmue 2 to feature Ryo Hazuki!!!

Pros – Great graphics. Good Range of characters, great gameplay and multiplayer.
Cons – Elastic band effect makes for frustrating AI. Not enough character environments. All-star moves can be TOO powerful.

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Last edited by GrantXP; 12-15-2010 at 01:56 AM.
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