When Sonic Unleashed was released in 2008, it left a lot of people wanting. It was a game that so many people had been pretty hyped for, hoping that it would be the installment that would revitalise a declining franchise, but it was just sadly let down on a good few points. But don’t get me wrong here, I happily played the heck out of the game even years after it was released and criticised. There was more than enough in the fast-paced, exhilarating daytime levels and good looking setting variety to keep me entertained for hours at a time. Ultimately, it was a game that I ended up putting so much time into that, at the end of it all, I just wanted it to stand up to all its critics and strike back a bit. And although I can point to things like the general look of the game and what not, there is one indefensible point of this game that really blows everything else out of the water. My goodness, the ending in this game was shockingly bad.
Sonic Unleashed was a game where you literally saw first hand not only yourself progressing along, but you knew exactly how much of the game you had left to complete. There would be two levels in each of the parts of the world you visited, one for the daytime and one for the night, and then a final boss fight before that particular part of the world was ‘stuck’ back together. As a progressive missionline it couldn’t have been much simpler really. Whenever you have such a visually obvious progression in a however, you need to do everything to ensure that the final boss fight you’re building up for is going to be worth the effort everyone has been putting in. If it doesn’t, you have absolutely no room to hide the disappointment if it doesn’t make the grade. To say that Sonic Unleashed failed to make the grade would be a gross understatement.
Back onto the game though, with all the pieces of the world reunited we come to the game’s final level: Eggmanland. In not wanting to divulge too much into the ins and outs of the actual game, Sonic (aka you) must navigate through an agonisingly long level in what can only be described as a weird industrial theme park-wannabe. Checkpoints are few and far between across this level and the player is consistently required to switch between day and night forms just to keep progressing. The level alone will require close to an hour’s worth of playtime and we haven’t even hit the actual bosses yet. Longer and less checkpoints is not a winning formula in trying to ramp up the scale for a final level and the game really suffers for it here.
Right, first boss time. Dr. Eggman in true Sonic style turns up for the third time in the game, only in this encounter he comes equipped with yet another giant robot! Honestly, the lack of impact Eggman has at this point really can’t be over exaggerated by now. It does feel like the game had forgotten about needing the doctor to be a serious opponent to Sonic and is just thrown in as a bit of a stop gap. I know Dr. Eggman is not exactly known for being the darkest character in the world, but throughout the game he just feels like a side character who is never too far away from one too many bad jokes. Eggman’s “Egg Dragoon” is easiest one of the easiest bosses you are going to encounter and the only real annoyance it presents is how many times you’re going to have to replay it because, again, no checkpoints.