After what feels like ten years of defending this game from cynicism and letting my cautious optimism ring out across the land, I finally took the long-awaited opportunity to put Sonic the Hedgehog 4 through its paces at E3. I took on the Xbox 360 version, and while Dale North already has a cool preview up, I can’t help chiming in with my own Jimpressions.
So, Sonic 4 currently gets a confident “yes” from me. It’s a damn good game from the three acts I played, with gorgeous graphics, wonderful sound, and a truly classic feel that this Sonic fan really appreciates. The homing attack, rather than making things too easy, manages to add an extra level of challenge. Knowing when to use it and keeping an eye on opportunities to do so is crucial and tricky. I did notice it can get a bit confused when you’re too near your target, but for the most part it works well.
The game puts a focus on level design instead of speed, which is the one major thing I wanted from the game. My one issue is that Sonic himself is a big sluggish when first controlled, as he seems to take too long to get a reasonable pace of movement going. However, once he does (and once his legs become a nostalgic rotating blur), the game is smooth as butter. Also, the boss fight with Robotnik? Frigging class!
With gorgeous animations and gameplay that really feels like an evolution of the original formula instead of a grossly misjudged “reinvention” of the series, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 makes me smile. That’s all that needs to be said.