(Note: Any game I give an initial thought to will not have a review score, due to the fact that it is initial thoughts. I post these with 6 or more hours into the game to see how it feels and how I'm enjoying it so far.)
So... New Sonic game came out guys. Anyone else rush to the store and preorder it before it came out? No? Only me? Well... alright. As some may know I do happen to enjoy the Sonic franchise, but I know that since he made his 3D debut his games have been... mostly subpar at best. I can only think of 2 in recent years that has a lot of praise and one that is in a weird place where some like it and some don't. Generations, Colors and Lost World for those wondering.
Does this game happen to be the next Generations? No. Not a bit honestly. It plays very differently than a normal Sonic game. You only get to go fast in speed sections otherwise you're going at a leisurely pace. It's not so much of a platformer ths time as it is an action-adventure beat em up. In fact, you want to know what this game reminds me of as a poor man's version?
Batman. It plays similarily to Batman (in my opinion) it has it's differences since it is in fact a Sonic game but it's a beat em up. You punch, kick, spin dash, throw enemy after enemy until you can proceed on. They even have a shitty dodge, the dodge only works if your not halfway through a combo, and is spotty at best. You run around collecting items that can be a puzzle to get to so you can power your characters up. Much like Riddler trophies oddly. Not to the same extent since you can and will find them easily but have a harder time for some parts. As of now you don't get many upgrades like Batman does so it's the same combat but clunky.
Now that's not to say Sonic Boom is in particular a BAD game. It's mediocre sure, and probably wouldn't be for everyone but the platforming isn't terrible and even though the dodge system isn't the greatest it's actually pretty hard to die. Instead of losing all your rings every time you're hit you usually lose about 15, which can than be recollected so you don't lose more than 5 in reality. So it's actually REALLY hard to die, even when you do from a never ending pit or even touching certain spots of water (some water you can touch, other places if even your pinky touches the water you are dead.) you can buy upgrades so you start off with rings each time. It makes the game pretty easy honestly, kind of hard to fail at also in part due to the fact that you can upgrade Ring Magnetism (how far away rings will float to you) making recollecting your rings even simpler.
A lot of the areas so far haven't felt fully Sonic either, but at the same time that I'm willing to forgive. It's a different version of Sonic, so there's no Green Hills Zones or Scrap Brain Zone here. There is weapons stations which does happen to be the most familiar so far to old Sonic but that's okay. The world actually let's you explore it much like in Sonic Adventure 1. It's a large overworld with those scraps you need to find so you can upgrade your characters. The game sometimes goes from 3D to 2D much like many Sonic games have these days and 2D is still where this game shines brightest. Haven't had as many problems with the 2D as 3D, it does however seem like they added more traps to the 2D to make up for this.
The gameplay is a little stiff and takes a second to get used to as well, once you get it, the platforming isn't to terribly bad a little wonky for sure but not unplayable. It's more so when you think that you're going to land on a small platform sometimes you won't. The invinicility frames after getting hit by an attack on the other hand is laughable, as in I'm actually not certain there are any invinicibility frames. If there are it's a particularly small amount, as once you're hit you can almost be hit again right away. Which with the ring feature talked about above still isn't to bad.
The plot of SB:RoL isn't the greatest either (big surprise) but instead of the monster of the week that Eggman was trying to control but failed to do so as most Sonic games so we get a new original villian. Lyric.
And even then it's still technically a bad guy that Eggman WAS trying to control. The only difference here is that as soon as Eggman says "Yo son, I'm your master now. That Sonic fellow that was the only one that could wake you up, woke up cause of me." Lyric goes "Lol to bad. Your my bitch now." and then proceeds to take back his robots that Eggman had found while he was imprisoned for 1,000 years and is now the boss. So while similar at least it doesn't have people following Eggman plans for a bit and then FINALLY betraying him. Happens right at the beginning so... Kudos to that.
But the plot goes as follows, Sonic and Eggman are fighting, Eggman summons Metal Sonic to lead Sonic and friends into an ambush. Sonic notices the one way they can get out is by touching something that has himself and tails as murals on the wall. Sonic touches it so they don't die. Sonic & friends awaken Lyric from his imprisonement and somehow we find out he knows Sonic. (Spoiler Alert. It's time travel. Not Sonic's long lost relative but Time Travel.) Lyric goes off to do bad things. What bad things? Destoy all life that is flesh and make it robotic. So he's basically Eggman but a snake. However in order to do this he needs crystals, which may be this games version of Chaos Emeralds. However that may not be true as I haven't finished the game yet. So it's a race against Lyric to find all the crystals so he can't use them for his plan. However one last thing of note is that they need a map. The only place they can find a map is in the past. Which a robot helps Sonic with teleports him to the past, they steal the map from Lyric 1,000 years in the past before he knew who Sonic was, thus setting up how he knows Sonic. It also kind of may have been how he got imprisoned originally. So... pretty typical Sonic fare.
The music however is worthy of note, it actually is pretty good, that's not to surprising however, as it is a Sonic game. Even Sonic 06 had good music. On that note you can actually unlock the soundtrack as you play which is a nice feature. They actually made rings useful for something as it unlocks character art, environment art, music etc. The best part about that is that you don't have to spend rings. Once you hit a speciffic amount of rings it unlocks automatically so if two things require say 2,000 things both are unlocked at once. Which is actually kind of a better idea than the red rings from previous sonic games. It may be a little more grindy in the end but some red rings could be bullshit.
I haven't had a chance to try the multiplayer aspect of Sonic Boom yet though... so unfortunately I don't have anything to say about that. If I find someone that'll play with me I'll update that but I don't foresee that happening for a long time.
And since it's a Sonic game of course there's glitches. As some of you saw on Destructoid there was the Knuckles fishbowl penis glitch. I also had either a strange audio design or glitch (I'm going latter) that I was talking to an NPC, activated a cutscene and than the NPC finished his dialogue after the cutscene. Nothing to big but on occasion you can get characters where they don't belong.
Knuckles isn't suposed to be on those pink bars. Those are Amy only areas. And while Knuckles looks silly on them he can actually walk on them. I'm sure if you can reach it with the rest of the team they could as well.
...Now for the thing that I've been saving for last since it's been addressed a few time. The character design's for the Sonic Boom universe. As you saw above those were the new designs. Here's the old in case you can't remember,
Pretty different but not a deal breaker for me. I actually kind of liked the new design for the most part (with the exception of the legs... what's up with that?) it's actually not the character design I dislike but they've made changes to the characters themselves. For the most part Knuckles to minor degrees Amy.
They made Knuckles as dumb as a rock.
The above quote from Knuckles isn't even the worst. In another cutscene he was trying to figure out his left and his right. HE WAS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HIS LEFT AND HIS RIGHT. The worst part is it takes what seemed like friendly banter between Sonic and Knuckles into Sonic legitimately making fun of Knuckles for being less intelligent. This hurts me personally, just due to the fact that Knuckles is one of my favorite characters. He's not stupid, naive sure but not outright blatantly stupid. Also look at that Amy face. Ha.
Now as for Amy herself, she's not terrible they tried to make her less clingy of Sonic which is fine. But they made her seem brash and annoying, whereas I like Amy cute and funny. Only slightly annoying I should add. She's still a good character and seeing as she has the triple jump if I didn't love Knuckles so much she'd be the primary character I play (that and Knuckles is the bruiser of the group so he speeds up enemy fights).
The rest of the characters don't seem to differenet, Sonic and Eggman still have their banter. Tails is still the adorable mechanic that you know and love and there is pieces of old Amy and Knuckles there. Also Shadow's pretty similar but not as... what's the word? Dark? Depressed? Either way he actually got more of an anger adjustment so he's willing to fight pretty easily. Also yeah Shadow and Metal Sonic are here. Waiting to see who else pops up. Also Sticks the Badger? Not in Rise of Lyric. Only in Shattered Crystals (which I haven't picked up. Yet, possibly on a sale). She doesn't seem terrible since she was in the comic so I guess I'll get to judge from that how she is.
Overall SB:RoL doesn't feel like a bad game, with a little more polish it could've been really good. If you're a Sonic fan and want to see how they changed the game go for it. It's better than Sonic 06 and plays rather differently from a Sonic game than previous ones in the series. So give it a shot. I plan to keep playing it, because I don't think I've discovered everything there is to this game yet.