Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 released over a year ago, it was said to bring classic Sonic back but some fans were quite disappointed with that blue mammal. Now in 2012 Episode 2 has released, is it what fans were hoping for when Episode 1 released over a year ago?
Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 goes back to the classic style of Sonic games, that’s side scrolling gameplay at crazy speeds, it also picks up the story from where Episode 1 left off. The story was never a big deal to Sonic fans but Sega have decided to pick it up and continue it. In Episode 2 a major character in the franchise returns, none other than that mechanical menage, Metal Sonic. Metal Sonic teams up with the evil Dr Eggman to make things tougher, but this time he has the friend of his trusty sidekick Tails.
With Tails’ appearance, now you can play in Co-op either locally or online – although we can’t guarantee there wont be fights for avoiding playing as the two-tailed critter. Tails is different to Sonic; obviously he is not as fast, but he can fly around with his helicopter tail for a brief period of time, amongst other things. Together Sonic and Tails are able to pull off moves that cannot be done separately. Tails is able to lift Sonic off the ground to help him get to higher levels, Sonic can grab onto Tails while underwater while Tails spins his tail to help them speed through the water quicker then usual, and also both can spin into one big ball instead of two separate and break barriers that couldn’t be broken any other way. Besides these new moves SEGA hasn’t really added much to the series and it’s just classic Sonic gameplay, which isn’t really a bad thing but it’s nice to see some new stuff introduced to the series once in a while. Possibly the best addition which should of been in Episode 1 are the updated the physics, bringing it in line with the MegaDrive/Genesis era of games – meaning that Sonic now acts and runs like you’d expect him to.
Just like Episode 1 there are four different zones, each with 3 acts and a final boss stage. A 5th zone, which can only be played when all others are complete, unlocks and is the Final boss zone. The four zones are Sky Fortress, Oil Desert, White Park, and Sylvania Castle, with each zone is completely different and unique, and my personal favourite being the snowy White Park Zone. The stages are definitely better then the ones in Episode 1 and a lot more fun to play through. Just like in Sonic 2 which released back on the MegaDrive/Genesis, Episode 2 features special stages, these stages are accessed by collecting 50 rings then jumping in the big ring at the end of the stage. Playing out in the same way they did in Sonic 2, Special Stages let you play as Sonic with Tails running behind in a 3-D Perspective. Your goal is to collect a certain amount of rings to continue on the stage, you are also being timed so you’ve got to go pretty fast.
Possibly one of the best things about Episode 2 are the graphics. While you may think they would be exactly the same as Episode 1‘s they are a bit different, and for the better. Each stage, especially White Park Zone, is very detailed and they all look gorgeous – even Sonic looks much better now when running, and looks like him old self, not like he was in Episode 1 which annoyed some fans. This is the best Sonic has ever looked in 2-D, and the sounds not bad either.
Almost all Sonic games, even if they were bad, could always say they had a good soundtrack and thankfully this is no different. The songs in Episode 2 are all much better than the rather forgettable ones found in Episode 1 and some are also quite catchy to listen to and suit the levels they are assigned to. The sound effects in the game are all also great, with classic sounds such as the spin dash and jumping still there.
While it really doesn’t bring anything overly new to the table, it does offer some key refinements needed to make Episode 2 stand out over Episode 1. Because of this, it’s safe to say that Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 is perhaps the best modern 2D sonic game around, although comparing it to it’s past titles it’s still not quite there – but it’s a valiant effort from Sega and Sonic Team.
Gameplay – 4/5: This is classic Sonic gameplay and it’s what the fans wanted. The physics have been fixed so it feels better then Episode 1, it’s as fast as furious as Sonic as ever being, while the co-op also adds some new things such as tag moves.
Replay Value – 3/5: Once you pass the game there’s really not much incentive to go back. You can try to clear levels in the fastest times, or try unlock acheivements/trophies but it’s not got a lot else besides that. If you already owned Episode 1 you get some free extra DLC which allows you to play as Metal Sonic which will add to the replay value.
Innovation 2/5: The game really doesn’t bring anything new to the series besides a few double team moves Tails and Sonic can do together. It’s just the same old classic Sonic we love but with much better graphics.
Graphics – 4/5: This is a gorgeous Sonic game, every stage is very detailed and it runs great at 60FPS. It’s a better looking game then Episode 1 and should definitely impress with it’s gorgeous visuals.
Final Score 3.5/5