The Sonic franchise has been subject to some questionable games as of late, with poor cameras and failed attempts at mature titles. Now we have Sonic Riders, a fast, albeit extremely difficult, futuristic racing game.
There are two sides you can play as in story mode - the heroes or the villains. Only the heroes are available from the start however. Races are strung together with short FMV sequences which, although they look cool, have bad voice acting - now a trademark of Sonic games. The story goes that Eggman has announced a racing tournament called the Ex World Grand Prix, with an entry fee of 1 emerald and a winner-takes-all prize, so Sonic & co enter to find out what he is really up to.
Sonic Team has done a good job creating visually stunning race courses that are riddled with power-ups to boost your speed or slow the competition down. However, the amount of power-ups also means you are constantly trying to nab the next jet stream, and most of the competitors know where they are and catch almost every power up, leaving you in their dust if you miss.
In World Grand Prix mode, you choose from 7 characters at the beginning, with new characters unlocked via the story races. Each character has their own advantages and disadvantages; Sonic has one of highest speed limits, but lacks in dash power and cornering, while Storm the Albatross – who is new to the series - has more power for attacking the competition, but lacks the speed attributes. Increases in speed and maneuverability can also be gained by upgrading your board in the shop.
Collecting rings in races can be tricky, especially when you’re trying to win at the same time, because pushing forward on the analogue stick to accelerate instead of using one of the face buttons makes steering towards the rings difficult. This kind of control quirk could have been easily avoided.
This Sonic racing title had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, it drags a little due to a high difficulty level and control issues. Fingers crossed that the next-gen Sonic can redeem himself.