As the sequel to the highly successful launch title for the ill-fated Sega Dreamcast, Sonic Adventure 2 lived up to the hype and quickly became the best selling Dreamcast game of all-time. Flash forward 8 months and the blue hedgehog made his debut on a Nintendo console with Sonic Adventure 2 Battle on the GameCube. Returning after 10 years, Sonic is getting the full HD treatment on both PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade, but does improved visuals and widescreen support warrant you to try and escape from the city once again?
Sonic Adventure 2 features two sides (Hero and Dark) of an interconnected story allowing you to control characters on each side. The Hero side comprises of Sonic, Knuckles and Tails, while newcomers Shadow, Rouge and Dr. Eggman round out the Dark side. The Sonic and Shadow stages play exactly as you would expect from a Sonic game with fast paced gameplay (fast for a 3D Sonic game), grinding on rails and plenty of ring collecting – complete with awkward camera angles straight out of 2001. Tails and Dr. Eggman utilize mechanical suits to lock-on and blast literally everything in sight. The weakest set of stages involve Knuckles and Rouge, as you search for pieces of the broken Master Emerald. A hint system and beeping tone will help you locate each of the pieces. Not really surprising, but what was no fun to play in 2001 is still not fun to play in 2012. He has spikes…on his fists! Where are the action stages with him punching enemies into orbit and exploding walls? Instead we are breaking boxes and following an annoying beeping noise. What an underutilized character.
Once you complete a stage, replaying it will allow you to try your luck in hard mode as well as completing side objectives; such as collecting the hidden Chao. Speaking of the Chao Garden, I was delighted to see it make a return. Developing your Chao is still as addictive as it was over 10 years ago. Will you shower your Chao with love and care, feeding it things to increase and level up its stats or you will neglect it and throw it off the cliff and laugh while you hear it scream all the way to the bottom. I could never be that cruel, they are just too cute!
Sonic Adventure 2 is still the same game that you have already played before. Love it or hate it, playing it in HD will probably not change your opinion of the game. The characters and the majority of the environment looks clean and sharp, but there are some really bad blurry textures that stick out like a sore thumb. Try looking at the top of the shoes on Sonic and Shadow and you know exactly what I am talking about. Running at 60 frames per second as well as running in HD with a 16:9 widescreen display – except for the pre rendered cutscenes which retain the 4:3 ratio. The rocking soundtrack overpowers the cheesy dialogue lines that are still as cringe worthy as ever.
Sonic Adventure 2 plays exactly as it did 10 years ago with the addition of a fresh HD visual package with widescreen support. If you didn’t like the game back then, playing the game in HD won’t change your mind. The two-player mode is only available through local split-screen with no online support, but can’t say I am surprised. The Battle add-on from the GameCube version is not included in the base package, but can be bought for an additional $3. Sonic Adventure 2 is still a fun game, but before jumping in, remember that this game is from 2001 and still has the same issues it had over 10 years ago.
Note: The Sonic Adventure 2 HD review was written based on the Xbox 360 version of the game provided by the publisher.