Monday, October 6, 2008

Andrenn's Game Shelf -Sonic Chronicles Review-

Not quite a review, not quite an opinion based article, it is…the Review-Opinion from outer space!!!

Just had to keep with the Halloween theme with a stupid joke. In case you didn’t get it, I’m referencing the old slogan for the Wolf Man. I just threw in Outer Space for fun.

But the opening sentence does tell the truth, this isn’t quite a review or an opinion article, it’s a solid mix of both. I just got my hands on Sonic Chronicles: the Dark Brotherhood and have been playing it for a bit. Now that I’ve gotten used to the game, I’m ready to give a first opinion on it. Though you can consider this a review, a more formal review may come down the line sometime.

All right, for starters, some of the bad.

I hate the ring system. Now in most RPG’s, it seems you earn currency through battles, but in Chronicles, they decide to make you find the rings on the field as currency. Well that’s fine and dandy, but I’m out of rings! Yes, only into chapter 3 and I can’t find anymore rings. I need a lot of health seeds for this boss battle I can’t beat but I can’t buy anymore since I can’t find any rings.

This is so incredibly annoying. I can understand if Bioware didn’t want to be like everyone else, but when it comes to a simple convenience that doesn’t make the game 10 times harder, you go with everyone else.

I don’t much care for the victory sound. Now, in Paper Mario, its fine that it’s an audience cheering you and all, and the song in Final Fantasy will always be great, but this…this is just weird. Why would a group of kids yell “Yay!” at Sonic winning? The music in this game is so good; they couldn’t whip up a good victory song really quickly?

This is more a complaint I have with all RPG’s in general, but whets with the difficulty level here? If your even one level under the suggest level to fight a certain enemy, I guarantee you, you will get raped. Smashed. Beaten in, it’s insane. I wouldn’t mind that so much if leveling up where easier, but it takes 2,000 points to level up to 7, which is just sad and frustrating.

I know there should be a level of challenge to an RPG, but there’s a difference between a challenge and being just unfair and tedious.

I also don’t like how you can customize your level up. Why not just raise the level like normal? I’d like all of Sonic to be strong speedy and good defense, not level each one up at a time. Adding to the tedious mess that this is.

If you, like me, hate leveling up systems, then this will piss you off after a while.

Adding to my problems of difficulty, why is it that Sonic is so weak? While Amy and Knuckles can do up to 20 or even 30 points of damage, the most Sonic ever does is 10. He’s level 6, the highest leveled character, and yet he’s the weakest! It makes me wonder why even have him in there if all he does is low damage and die easiest of all.

Now that we have that out of the way…

It’s obvious that Bioware has both a strong love and respect for the Sonic franchise. We get references all the way back to Sonic 1 with Eggman’s dastardly plan of putting cute animals into robots to power them.

Adding to that, we have the return of Swat Bots. Remember those bad boys from the cartoon? Oh yeah, their in the game now, and their badder then ever. Just the idea of fighting a swat bot is great. Cheesy as it is.

Also, quick mention, they finally shut up the Knuckles/Rouge fanboys and fangirls. Thank god…Rouge says she’s not interested in Knuckles. Plain as day, right there on the screen. So, with any luck, this will end the tyranny of fanfics about these two…ugh…makes my eyes hurt.

Anyway…each character has their own specific voice, and I appreciate Bioware for taking the time to make sure they all sound right (as in how they talk) and don’t start speaking in tongue.

The story is, so far, great. I love a great storyline and I’m really enjoying this one. I won’t spoil all of it, but after a major defeat of Eggman, Sonic goes away for a long while and is finally on his way back home. A lot has changed, apparently. Amy has a boyfriend *cough* Rouge is…well, still being Rouge and Knuckles has been kidnapped.

The storyline, so far, is very interesting and I really like it. Bioware no doubt has a very specific arc to tell, hence the name Chronicles, and this is an important Chronicle in the Sonic saga.

Another problem, maybe it’s me, but the DS stylus moves don’t work for shit for me. Maybe it’s just my poor eyesight or I’m not doing it right, but whenever I use a POW move I never complete it because, even when I do exactly as told, it doesn’t seem to register my stylus. Maybe it’s just me and I’m a moron, or maybe it’s my DS. Either way, it’s getting really annoying.

Now let’s talk combat. With most turn based RPG’s it is very standard. You stand on one side, enemy on the other, and you trade blows. Simple enough, right? Well Bioware decided to stand out of the crowd and add a specifically DS feature in that the combat is all done on the touch screen, you pick things with your stylus and you can use it to dodge or attack a second time.

It’s similar to Paper Mario 2 in that sense, and I love Paper Mario 2 so there you go. The combat is great, fun, and if it weren’t for the piss off difficulty level it would be damn near perfect.

The catch them/flee action is very creative. While it can be a bit tricky to handle when handing a full party, it’s still fun to either chase down the enemies, or in the case of being too weakened from the fight, flee from them. It’s nice to see an original idea in an RP, and this was fairly smart of them as it adds a new challenge as well as more fun to the overall combat system.

Now the graphics. At first glance, they may look poor. If Square-Enix and Nintendo have taught us anything, it’s not to underutilize the DS’ graphics and that it can stand up just as well to the big boys. Some of the graphics matching or upping N64 and PS1 graphics.

Bioware does a great job at in game graphics for the battle as well as on the field. While there are some kind of choppy bits, it’s nothing that hinders the game. For how much gets crammed into this game, the graphics are quite nice and I enjoy the more comic book style. Each character is nicely distinct able. Shadows doesn’t look like a Sonic repaint and Tails and Rouge fly different ways. It’s done nicely.

Overall, Chronicles is a good start to what will hopefully be a new franchise. With the sequel already being written, as confirmed by Bioware, we can only hope that the sequel takes the criticisms well and uses them to make Chronicles 2 even better.

So to conclude, while not a perfect game, if you love Sonic then you’ll love this game and if your looking for an RPG that isn’t the same old thing check this out, you’ll have a blast.

7.5 out of 10

Grade: B -

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