Sonic Forces is the newest Sonic game (save for Sonic Mania) from the publishers at Sega — and this particular version is being developed by Sonic Team themselves. This time around Sega have practically taken all of their cues from world-ending games and classic stages, and mashed them up into Sonic Forces. The game takes place in a bleak world where it looks like everything is dark and depressing; but that’s countered with the classic levels that are bright, whimsical and refreshing — while at the same time nostalgic and familiar.
The smooth moves, speed and traction of classic Sonic are surprisingly better in this unnerving new world of the once bright Sonic universe. If he has the moves and the frame rate holds at these breakneck speeds, it might just work out for the better. So for the preview version of Sonic Forces, there were actually three different ones to play: Sonic Stage, Classic Stage, and Avatar (custom character) Stage.
"The flamethrower can help you propel up vertically and take high paths, while the whip allows you to zip through lines of rings for other routes."
Sonic Forces is a game with many different stories and sides. Eggman (Dr. Robotnik) has taken over the world with the help of the new character named Infinite. Eggman, as in the past, formed his own army of soldiers to watch over the world and to stop any and all in his path. Along the way, Eggman has recruited some familiar faces to the world as well: Shadow the Hedgehog, Metal Sonic, Chaos, and Zavok. Sonic the Hedgehog has made it his duty to take back the world by forming his own rebellion for this cause. And that’s exactly where the classic Sonic the Hedgehog comes from, and also the infamous customizable character.
It seems that a lot of people have been questioning the custom character a lot since its announcement: Is it good? Is it bad? For me, the custom character felt unnecessary. When I play a Sonic game I expect to play as Sonic (or Knuckles, or Tails since they were utilized so early in Sonic’s history). To me Sonic has never felt like a game that’s needed customization.
There are many different styles you can choose from when creating the custom character — I was told — but for the sake of the preview (and the line behind me), I was given a character that had already been customized for me. However, I did have a choice to choose from two weapons: flamethrower or a whip.
The custom character (or avatar as the game refers to it) is nothing like Sonic, but he still controls rather well. His speed is compressed and his agility and style are minimal, so it really comes down to blowing up enemies with fire. The flamethrower had unlimited ammo and it destroyed almost every enemy on contact. The whip was quick but had a limited range, but was also great at eliminating enemies on contact. Depending on what weapon you choose can also help determine what paths you take to get through the level.
The flamethrower can help you propel up vertically and take high paths, while the whip allows you to zip through lines of rings for other routes. The custom character still has the homing attack ability, but it feels more like a secondary skill rather than a main skill like it does for Sonic. Modern Sonic is faster, has a quickstep where he can move from side to side with ease. The Wisps from Sonic Colors are back to help fill up that speed boost. Wisps are also in other levels, even with the avatar.
"Hovering above ground in his mobile egg with with a giant chain dangling down, and a sawblade (replacing the classic wrecking ball) spinning, Eggman tries to cut the cute classic Sonic down."
There were a few different stages to play in the preview version. First came (and aptly named) Sonic Stage where you play as the modern iteration of Sonic. This 3D course is where the world is dirty and dark. Hues of reds and browns swamp the course from beginning to end as the sun sets on the diminished land. The course is lined with spikes, robots, traps, zip-lines, rings, twists and turns, and is a nightmare compared to the lust green levels we used to play in 2D Sonic games. Jumping on boxes, exploding bombs, and bullets are all part of this more serious world where it has been conquered by Eggman. Luckily the homing attack still works great and hits the target perfectly, as well as springs and set pieces.
Classic Stage (Green Hill Zone) is where you fight against Eggman. It’s similar to the original from Sonic the Hedgehog. Hovering above ground in his mobile egg with with a giant chain dangling down, and a sawblade (replacing the classic wrecking ball) spinning, Eggman tries to cut the cute classic Sonic down. With platforms on either side, Sonic jumps up and hits the mobile egg unit that Eggman is sitting in until he’s had enough. But the fight isn’t quite over yet. Eggman transforms himself into a screen-sized red-winged demon-type robot. One hand has a massive drill while the other has a giant gatling gun. He shoots his gun and kicks up rocks onto the stage platform. Here, the rocks are easy to avoid if you just stand to one side of the stage. But I finally figured out that I need to kick the rocks back at Eggman to finish him off.
And finally, Avatar Stage is beautiful, colorful and bright. Strangely, the vast ocean of water in the backdrop of the original Green Hill Zone has been flushed (for lack of a better term), and has been replaced with sand. It’s not quite as detailed as Green Hill Zone from Sonic Generations, but it’s still a beautiful stage regardless.
Overall, the preview levels were rather short and very easy to get an ‘S’ rank on. I found the overall experience rather enjoyable and filled with secrets so I am hoping the final game will be able deliver on its promise.
This game was previewed on the PlayStation 4.