Sonic Adventure 2 is a 3D platformer developed by Sonic Team and published by SEGA. Originally a Dreamcast title, it made its way over to Gamecube with a few extras; as Sonic Adventure 2: Battle. It’s now available on XBLA and PSN in HD with the Battle DLC as an optional extra.
The game is divided into two campaigns; it has the story entwining at specific points, showing the events from both sides’ perspectives. You have the Heroes which follows Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, with Amy Rose as an npc in cutscenes. You also have Dr Eggman, Shadow the Hedgehog and Rouge the Bat as the Dark side.
Eggman, as per usual, is looking to rule the world; this time his hunt takes him in search of an ultimate weapon created by the military. The weapon is, in fact “the ultimate lifeform”; otherwise known as Shadow. Shadow agrees to help Eggman after being freed and tells him to meet him on the space station ARK.
Shadow causes the military to mistake him for Sonic, causing destruction and chaos in his wake and leaving all the blame to Sonic. Sonic and his team search for this new hedgehog and try to put Eggman’s plot to rest. Knuckle and Rouge are brought in by the shattering of the Master Emerald, now both are trying to restore it for their own reasons; Knuckles to protect it and Rouge (as a treasure hunter) to take it as her own.
Each of the characters draws direct parallels in their level structures to one of their enemies. Sonic and Shadow both have levels which are essentially 3D versions of the sidescrolling levels found in the original sonic games. Tails and Eggman both use mechanical walkers to make their way around, using rockets and bullets to blast their way through the military or other machine defences. Knuckles and Rouge however have small open areas to explore with either keys or emerald pieces to find in hidden places.
Sonic and Shadow levels are very similar to the old style of running through levels and there is plenty in the shape of: springs, boost pads and loops to send you around the level. You do still have the exploration elements from previous games but it is far more linear, most diversions are only small and you will end up back on the main path shortly. You still use Rings as a lifeforce, losing all your rings each time you are damaged, unless you have a shield activated.
They also make a few changes for the worse. In the 2D games many obstacles catch you out because they are “offscreen” and as such you have little time to react. As in 3D you see much further ahead, it instead drops enemies when you get within a certain proximity to their intended landing zone. Multiple playthroughs of a level are needed to miss out on all these sorts of traps.
Both Sonic and Shadow have their homing attacks, which unfortunately don’t protect you from the bullets fired by the otherwise fragile enemies. It feels cheap to get hit by something a fraction of a second before actually killing the robot you are fighting. You can also unlock a ring dash; a move that you can activate in front of a line of rings, so that you dash through the line of rings, collecting them along the way and letting you reach areas that were previously inaccessible. It is however assigned to the same button as roll, often meaning the wrong action is performed; sometimes resulting in fatal results.
Tails and Eggman use their walkers in a more unique way. They wonder through their levels; which are the most linear of the three types, and shoot up everything in sight with their lock-on homing missiles. You can also fire bullets, which fire directly forward and are used to destroy most of what it hits but specifically anything destructible that is non-targetable; such as boxes.
Their levels are arguably more platformers than Sonic and Shadow due to the former being centred on jumping between platforms more, while the latter is mostly running ahead in one direction with a few obstacles. It gets better once you unlock the hover ability for your vehicle as it makes the platforming much easier; especially for the jumps over dangerous traps or ravines.
The walkers use a different health system to the others, while they can still pick up rings; they have a separate health bar which can be restored by picking up rings. You will however still take damage regardless of the number of rings you hold.
Knuckles and Rouge are all about exploring their rather large self-contained maps, in search of either keys or emerald pieces. While you can collect any of the items in any order you wish you don’t get a choice in the order your tracker takes. This means you could be walking within 2 feet of a target and not realise it as your tracker is looking for another.
Scattered around the map are computer monitors. Each of which will confer tips on where the currently tracked item is. Monitors for other items are transparent but not overly so, so you can mistake it and end up wasting time. Once you are in range of a tracked item, your tracker will begin to beep and change colour: green for close, yellow for closer and red for almost on top of it.
Later on you unlock the ability to dig in the softer surfaces, which also lets you use certain areas for transporting yourself around the level. Also both Knuckles and Rouge can glide around levels and climb on flat surfaces. Their levels are more inclined to be vertically designed and it leads to them having a more varied environment to explore. They are also the only characters in the game that have underwater sections and luckily both can swim, which is actually very easy to control.
Unfortunately the game has many problems that haven’t been fixed in the rerelease, the camera is frustrating to use and sometimes just doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. The sound is deafening on normal volumes and there are no ingame adjustments that can be made. Also the controls are a little poorly planned. While it could have been three different actions applied to three buttons, multiple actions are both assigned to two buttons with one to change what it does in some situations.
In each level there are three Chao boxes, the first you find will contain a Chao garden key, the next contains a few animals and the last contains a rare animal. Collecting the key will send you to the Chao garden directly if you complete the level.
There are also 10 animals hidden in each level; not including those in Chao boxes. Also mechanical enemies will drop Chaos drives which like animals can be collected in the levels and brought into the Chao Garden. These can then be given to a Chao in order to raise its statistics and in turn these Chao can be used in races, which earn you more items for your Chao.
After a level has been completed you are given a grade dependant on your score and time. You’ll also earn emblems for completing a level and receiving A/S ranks on sets of levels. Each level can also be replayed with four extra playthroughs, earning you even more emblems. There are 180 emblems in total so it does take time and effort to get there.
The story takes you to some interesting place and some of the characters are rather good. Shadow and Rouge are both interesting characters in their first appearances but many won’t like the cast due to their childishness.
Presentation and Audio
Because of the art style, much of it holds up with the HD tweak but human characters other than Eggman, look pretty terrible. The sound is also at a volume that will shatter your eardrums at any volume other than very low. While the soundtrack still holds up with some great rock, electronic and rap tracks; the sounds the characters make are repetitive and annoying. The voice acting isn’t terrible but it will be irritating to some people.
Hasn’t been changed or tweaked from the originals so you will find some excellently designed levels, as well as some aggravating problems that were in the game but aren’t as easy to forgive anymore. It can’t be faulted on its content, as it has plenty to complete and the Chao Garden and all its offshoots, should hold the attention of some people in the way Pokémon and similar titles have.
It’s not much more than a HD rerelease of a good Sonic game and the features of the Battle DLC should really have been included in the first place considering the amount of features it actually brings. There are plenty of things that needed fixing but aside from that it’s still a game that holds up a decent standard of gameplay today. It is also still; one of the best 3D Sonic Games to date. It would have been nice to get a full HD remake with the bugs fixed or at least just a tweak of the systems that needed improving.
I have many fond memories of the game and it was one of my favourite games on the GameCube for a long, long time. I must have spent dozens of hours cultivating my Chaos in the original game and it’s a shame that the features haven’t been improved upon for a proper remake. It’s still a game that has dated well and is still one of the best 3D Sonics.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.