Sonic 4: Episode 2 | SEGA | PSN/XBLA/Steam/Android/iOS | £9.99 | Released: 15/05/2012
When SEGA first announced an episodic sequel to Sonic’s Mega Drive trilogy, fan reaction was mixed. It was even more mixed after the first episode was actually released, with a range of positive praise from some gamers, and some very strong criticisms from others. With SEGA’s top team promising a better experience, does episode 2, released almost 2 years later, fix the issues of the first and provide a game everyone can be happy with?
It’s pretty obvious that Sonic 4 is supposed to be SEGA’s love letter to Sonic fans who were crying out for a call back to his 2D platforming days. Episode 1 was heavily inspired by it’s older Mega Drive brothers. Many of the enemies are very similar to the ones which starred in the classics, and levels were clear nods to the design of old favourites. Episode 2 is more of the same, but inherits the exact same issues of episode 1, and even comes up with a few new issues of it’s own.
One of the most important aspects of a fast paced platformer is it’s controls. There is nothing more annoying then dying in-game when you swear you wouldn’t have if the game did as it were told. Irresponsive controls and wacky physics are still present in episode 2. While not as bad as episode 1, it’s even more disappointing after SEGA’s promise to return to the Mega Drive controls. Some players will be able to excuse this, but others will find themselves in a struggle with them throughout episode 2′s 18 levels.
What episode 2 brings new to the table is almost all unwelcome. The addition of Tails, much like Sonic 2, is fine, but the execution isn’t. A new “teaming up” mechanic requires Sonic and his friend to fly over spikes or across dead ends. It’s a relatively nice concept, but in reality, it breaks the flow of the game dramatically, causing you to stop at your tracks and bumble around with the mechanic.
The online co-op that Tails also adds is also fundamentally broken. If one player can’t keep up, they’re teleported to the front, which is both jarring and purpose defeating. A wasted opportunity, but time and score leaderboards are still included, allowing a working method of competition between friends.
Sonic 4 Episode 2 still has glimpses of greatness. Owners of episode 1 get 4 additional Metal Sonic levels, which is a nice extra to those loyal to the Sonic 4 series. The special stages, heavily based on Sonic 2, are the least frustrating part of the game, where losses feel like the result of lack of skill, and not bad design.
Sonic fans who enjoyed episode 1 will still find some enjoyment in episode 2. It’s still packed to the brim with references that fans will love. But if you’re jumping into Sonic 4 for the first time, playing the demo first is recommended, as platforming purists won’t have a friendly relationship with Episode 2.
|Lots of references and nods to classic Sonic games that fans would like.||Broken mechanics and frustrating controls will annoy most players|