Everyone's favourite blue hedgehog returns for some fast-paced action.
Sonic & All-Stars Got Right
- + Tracks are vibrant and creative
- + Diverse character roster
- + Co-op is great fun
Sonic & All-Stars Got Wrong
- - What the Danica Patrick?
- - No dedicated tutorial mode
Following up to its well-received predecessor, 2010’s Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed improves on its sibling in almost every aspect, providing an immensely enjoyable experience for all ages. Whilst Sonic is certainly no stranger to whoring himself out to different genres (see: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games), the game provides a mix of your favourite Sega characters along with some of the most unique and fun to play tracks you’ll find in any racing title. Put simply, if you’re a PS3 user and trying to decide between this and LittleBigPlanet Karting, this should undoubtedly be your mascot racer of choice.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed instantly throws you into the action, no matter what game mode you choose. There’s no dedicated tutorial mode to explain the game’s mechanics, instead dropping tips for areas such as drifting and info on weapons as you play. This is only a minor gripe – the game’s controls are extremely simple to grasp – just make sure you’ve read over the controls so you don’t spend the first ten seconds of your inaugural race trying to figure out which button is mapped to accelerate and which one is for item use.
In saying that, if you didn’t happen to play Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, the level design is going to blow your mind. Playing for the first time, I loaded up the ‘Coastal Cruise’ track – what seemed like a vibrant and relatively meek raceway soon flipped my expectations on their head – for the last lap collapses the road and throws your car onto the water beneath, transforming your vehicle into a virtual hovercraft and shaking up the gameplay dramatically. Gameplay-wise, there’s never a dull moment, with the colourful tracks never ceasing to provide frantic gameplay.
Vehicles handle well, and while each character possesses a different set of attributes, tracks are always a joy to play and won’t leave you wanting to pull your hair out. Weaponry and other various pickups are also easily identifiable and simple to use. From a measly boost to speed past your enemies, throwing balls of ice to freeze your opponents or even summoning a swarm of bees to block the path of other racers – each weapon/item is useful in its own way.
The game’s Career mode will see you explore a vast array of different terrains, with certain areas of each track transforming your seemingly innocent vehicle into a plane to soar through the skies or even a hovercraft to transcend along water. The gameplay is frenetic and the World Tour mode provides plenty of replayability – not only will you face standard races along the way, but you must pass various other events such as Drift Challenges, Versus and Traffic Attack. Drift Challenges must see the player drift along a set path to gain seconds to add to each checkpoint, and must gain enough time before the clock runs out. Versus sees the player battle three different icons from the Sega universe in a 1v1 race (you have to be in front at certain intervals for the new counterpart to appear), and in Traffic Attack players must weave through virtual traffic to reach checkpoints before the timer runs out.
In terms of playable characters, you can choose from a variety of familiar faces such as Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, whilst characters from the game’s predecessor (Sonic & All-Stars Racing) such as Beat from Jet Set Radio, B.D. Joe from Crazy Taxi and AiAi of Super Monkey Ball return and are just as fun to play again. This time around though, Sumo Digital and Sega have given the nod to nostalgia and included playable icons such as Gilius Thunderhead from 1989’s Golden Axe, and Vyse from Skies of Arcadia. The inclusion of American racecar driver Danica Patrick as an unlockable player is rather bizarre and frankly laugh-worthy, however, especially after playing through the Skies of Arcadia stage in World Tour and expecting to unlock Vyse, only to have a real, helmet-wielding woman pop up on your screen.
Back onto Career mode, whilst World Tour is the central theme, Grand Prix, Time Attack and Single Race modes provide plenty of incentive to persist with the game. For those familiar with Mario Kart, Grand Prix is the stock standard four map, three lap tournament – you’ll be awarded points based on your placing at the end of each map, in order to win tournaments and take home trophies. Time Attack allows players to race against ghosts of other online players in an effort to set the fastest lap time, and Single Race is ultimately the game’s pick up and play mode. The game’s online and local split-screen modes play seamlessly (as they should), and you can choose from a variety of different race and arena gametypes to play.
The Final Verdict
While obvious comparisons can be drawn to Mario Kart, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed more than deserves to exist in its own right through its ingenious use of transforming stages and alternating vehicles – not to mention its variety of game modes and entertaining co-op play. It does right what LittleBigPlanet Karting failed to – incorporate personality, vibrant level design and hectic gameplay all at once. Not only is it one of the most enjoyable mascot racers of recent times, it’s one of the most fun racing games, period. If you’re looking for some fast-paced multiplayer fun, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is a definite buy.
By Jake Galouzis