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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Review

 
sonic-racing-transformed-all-stars
sonic-racing-transformed-all-stars
sonic-racing-transformed-all-stars

 
At a Glance...
 

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, 3DS, PS Vita
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
9.0
9/ 10


User Rating
1 total rating

 

We liked?


  • Gorgeous & fast visuals
  • Wonderful arcade feel
  • Huge amounts of Variety
  • Best kart racer in 20 years!

Not so much?


  • Difficulty gap a little uneven between race “Ranks”
  • Occasional/Rare graphics glitching on landscape
  • On-screen messages sometimes obscure play – especially in split-screen


Final Fiendish Findings?

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is Sega returning to what made them an international force to be reckoned with. Gorgeous visuals, blistering speed and arcade level music all bring this game together to make the most complete and enjoyable kart racer since the original Super Mario Kart on SNES.

It seems crazy to say but Nintendo’s racers are now playing catch-up to this super offering from Sega. Do yourself, your friends and strangers you meet in the street a huge favour – buy this game and return to the point when Sega was king and games were pure arcade nirvana.

Simply put – no other Kart racer produced in the last 20 years can touch Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.

0
Posted November 27, 2012 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed – what a terrible name… I mean truly a real mouthful, plus a poorly constructed sentence too. Lexical parsing aside what we have here, during one of the busiest release schedules of the gaming year, is a character based kart racer based on old Sega properties.

Crazy as it might sound to be releasing this style of games at this time of year, it at least has the backing of a previous entrant in the games lineage which was, to almost universal acceptance, thought to be good, but flawed in places upon its release in 2010.  Surely releasing at this time of year this game is doomed to the bargain bins before it gets a chance?

Over two years in the cooking then, we have the latest attempt by Sumo Digital to try and take some of the shine from Nintendo’s Mario Kart crown. Little Big Planet Karting took a title shot earlier this month with a swing and a miss. What makes Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed any better? Well, pretty much everything to be honest.

I’m not going to take an in-depth look at a karting title’s mechanics here people – you all know the drill by now. You choose a character and hammer around a predetermined race track whilst trying to overtake opponents. You can use various pickups along your route to hamper your opponents or improve your status in each race. The pickups in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed are diverse, well balanced and great fun to use. They vary from a rapid 3 shot ice blast, the standard boost and the risk/reward of the HotRod (a rapid speed sled that attaches to your Kart that will explode in a few seconds unless you explode it first). Those are just the tip of the toys available for racers.

Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed

Offering up a very robust career mode alongside superb online and split-screen multiplayer would have been a reasonable offering from Sega.  They’ve gone the extra mile though and included a great time attack mode and a lengthy Grand Prix mode as well. Career mode is where you’ll spend a lot of your time initially though as you race through track after track earning the stars required to unlock more tracks, new environments and hidden characters. Races are split between a few different type of events. Most are standard races, but you can also get drift events, battles, Vs and several others. Each works incredibly well, with the tank battle races offering great relief from the usual positional races. The traffic course, where you must negotiate green and blue cars to cross certain markers in time limits, are great fun too. You won’t get bored from the variety on offer – this goes doubly so with the arena combat modes also on offer in online play.

Choosing from the vast selection of iconic Sega characters is no easy task either. You’d presume Sonic, being the headliner here, would be the star of the show. Not so though as each character on display (Knuckles, Ula, Tails, Shadow.. even Wreckit Ralph from Disney!)has merits with the speed, handling, boost etc varying on each. Each racer can be tweaked over time though as XP from each race is fed in to their respective skill bar. As you rank up each one through to a max of 5 you will unlock modifiers. These are things like tweaks to overall speed, handling or boost. So you can sculpt each to not only suit your play style but the race type undertaken.

So a cast of characters full of heritage then. What really pushes in to the realms of fan-service though are the character/franchise themed levels. Racing around the Afterburner Carrier, or through the streets of Samba De Amigo is just great fun. Every environment is rich and detailed lifting directly from its subject theme. This would be little more than great dressing in many cases but thanks to the new Transformed nature of the title things truly are special. Racing around the deck of the Afterburner carrier, hitting the pink boost arrows so that the screen is blurring with speed, the controller is freaking out as it rumbles. Then you see you’re about to crest end of the carrier, you zoom off the end, hanging there in the air for a few moments with momentum as your kart transforms in to a plane. You’re now soaring high above the waves, darting through rings of boost arrows and barrel rolling out of the way of attacks from opponents. A quick land back on the carrier, a nice bit of drifting around the turn and it back off the edge of another carrier and plummeting in to the water as your kart becomes a power boat.sonic & all stars racing transformed

It’s this breakneck speed, vehicle changes and course variety that helps push Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed to new heights. The game looks incredible both still and running. Sure it’s not pushing the systems at all, this is no graphical showcase like Uncharted 3 or Halo 4 BUT it looks gorgeous for the game type it is. Animation is fast, smooth and sublime. Each character has been updated and given a nice HD sheen. Some of them look a little weird outside of the kart at race end but that’s not really a biggie.

Sound work too is spot on. The announcer is understated but exuberant enough to emphasis the action in the game. The in-game spot effects and kart sounds are all of a high standard too. A special mention has to be made for the music though. This is pure old school Sega arcade. If you close your eyes you could easily imagine you were listening to an arcade title from Sega’s heyday back in the 90’s. In actual fact the whole game brings back what made Sega such a powerhouse in the first place. Super fast paced games. Easy to pick up, hard to put down. Fun, colourful feats for the ears and eyes.

Everything in the garden is not rosy though – it very rarely is. Despite some careful balancing the difficulty levels are a little off kilter and there are a few cheap moments where you can get “Blue Shelled” at the finish line and end up losing the race. The later happens in every single kart racer and Sega & All-Stars Racing Transformed does better than almost any other at quashing this. The difficulty complaint though is a shame. On the lowest difficulty, “C Rank”, you will most likely breeze past pretty much all the race types. Knock it up to “B Class” though and you will most likely be getting your furry blue hedgehog arse handed too you a lot of the time. The gap between these two ranks was a little too wide – especially when handing the controller over to my kids for play.

The game also suffers from a crowded HUD at times. When something happens or an action takes place you’ll get some text that flashes up above the main kart. This can on occasion obscure the “road” ahead and lead to the odd crash or slip-up. This is more prevalent in split screen 2 players when the screen areas are smaller.
One other pitfall could have been alienating new players at the expense of pandering to the nostalgic Sega Fans. Luckily the game treats new comers to the franchises and long time gamers, like me, as equals offering a bountiful experience to both – just with the added nostalgia for series fans.

 

Final thoughts
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is Sega returning to what made them an international force to be reckoned with. Gorgeous visuals, blistering speed and arcade level music all bring this game together to make the most complete and enjoyable kart racer since the original Super Mario Kart on SNES.
It seems crazy to say but Nintendo’s racers are now playing catch-up to this super offering from Sega. Do yourself, your friends and strangers you meet in the street a huge favour – buy this game and return to the point when Sega was king and games were pure arcade nirvana.
Simply put – no other Kart racer produced in the last 20 years can touch Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.


Zeth

 
Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.