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Sonic Riders PlayStation 2

Published by SEGA
Developed by Sonic Team
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £39.99

Sonic Riders, an introduction.

It's amazing to think that over the years the Sonic franchise has sold over 38 million copies. Like his once arch-nemesis Mario, Sonic has appeared in a wide variety of games covering a fair few genres. Sonic games always involve travelling at high speeds though and regardless of the platform he appears on, he's always involved in some of the quickest games you've ever played. Sonic Riders is Sonic's latest game and once again it's full of adrenaline pumping speed.

What's the game about?

Dr. Eggman has challenged Sonic and his friends to an Ex World Grand Prix. Racing takes place on air boards (if it were just normal running it would be easy for Sonic of course) with each character having their own customised board. The game features four modes; Normal Race, Story Mode, Tag Mode and Survival Mode. Normal Race allows you to take part in a one-off race or play in Time Attack or World Grand Prix Mode. Tag Mode allows one to four players to race. Survival Mode allows you to take part in a race or battle stage where you can choose to enable items and have a time limit. The main mode though is Story Mode and it's here where you'll challenge Dr. Eggman for that Chaos Emerald. There's also a shop where you can purchase various pieces of gear with any rings you've earned.

What's good about the game?

Unlike Shadow the Hedgehog; Sonic Riders has a silky smooth frame rate that really does convey a wonderful sense of speed. The races involve attacking your rivals, boosting, riding the streams of turbulence that appear on the track, performing tricks and of course collecting rings. That seems like there's quite a lot to do in a race and indeed there is. To some degree that's a good thing though, as initially it doesn't seem that way. Thankfully though most of what needs to be done is quite simplistic. The tricks for instance simply require you to revolve the left analogue stick which is about as straightforward as you can get. The multiplayer races are definitely the highlight of the game and if you are in the position to race against your relatives and friends on a frequent basis then the game definitely has something going for it. You can have multiplayer races in Survival Mode, Tag Mode, Free Race and World Grand Prix modes which is actually quite impressive. Of course you'll need the Multitap device to have four player races.

What's not so good about the game?

Unfortunately cornering at high speeds is nigh on impossible if you're not riding on one of the streams of turbulence that you'll find on a circuit. You're supposed to hold either the L1 button (to turn left) or the R1 button (to turn right) along with moving the analogue stick to take the corners in a controlled fashion but it's not as easy as it may seem and all too often you end up going slap bang into the boundary. Should your boost gauge empty (seeing as it depletes when you use your boots), your character will dismount and start running meaning that you'll soon be way behind your opponents which makes things particularly irritating. It also means of course that you'll not want to let your boost gauge empty as The Story Mode isn't that interesting to be honest. The cutscenes that string the races together are simply there to link the races and aren't interesting in the slightest.

How does it look?

The introduction to Sonic Riders features a rather slick cartoon style which looks very impressive. In fact the introduction is so impressive they should have used the same graphics in the Story Mode's cutscenes instead of the rather simplistic CG that they've used. The in-game graphics do look good and as we've already mentioned the frame rate is superb and at times the races are mind bogglingly quick, which of course is what all Sonic fans appreciate and have come to expect. The dozen or so courses that you'll race on look quite good although they do appear to have been designed to have been as testing as possible.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

For the most part Sonic Riders is fine for deaf gamers. The dialogue in the Story Mode cutscenes is subtitled so you'll be able to follow the game's rather thin storyline. Your objectives are shown in text too so you'll know when you need to finish third in a race to move on to the next one for instance. During a race you'll receive text messages to tell you your opponents are nearly finished but you will not be aware of the announcer's comments which is actually a blessing in disguise because they are very repetitive and when you've failed to land a jump it's quite irritating to have the announcer remind you of it.

Final thoughts.

Sonic Riders is one of those games that will leave you with mixed feelings. You can't help being impressed with the exhilarating speed the game offers but on the other hand there's nothing here that will keep you playing for more than a few hours. The Story Mode just isn't interesting and the races themselves can become frustrating far too easily. If you can persevere with the game and get to grips with its shortcomings you'll probably find some enjoyment here and Sonic fans will appreciate the amount of characters that appear in the game. However as a racer it's quite tedious, until you've fully mastered the game at which point it can be come slightly entertaining in short bursts. However, there's a lot better out there.

Overall Game Rating: 6.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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As a multiplayer experience Sonic Riders is quite enjoyable but the single-player game can become tedious quite quickly.