Sonic Adventure 2 Review – Nostalgic Magic

Good ol’ Sonic Adventure 2. This is easily one of the most popular titles of the series. This year not only marks the 30th anniversary of the series, but also the 20th anniversary of Sonic Adventure 2, which launched on the Dreamcast in 2001. Dreamcast? That’s not Xbox! Fortunately, it released as a download on Xbox 360 in 2012, so we will talk about it as much as we want (and we like Sonic). To celebrate both occasions, we are going to take a look back at the game to see what it did so well. Believe it or not, this game is one of the more divisive entries in the series in terms of reception. Let’s jump in to the review and see how Sonic Adventure 2 holds up today.

Gameplay of Sonic Adventure 2

SA2, like it’s predecessor, is divided into multiple gameplay styles. SA1 had 6 gameplay styles, SA2 has 3: Running, Shooting and Treasure Hunting. The Running levels belong to Sonic and newcomer Shadow the Hedgehog, whilst Tails and Eggman focus on combat in the Shooting levels. Adventure awaits in the Treasure Hunting levels, which follow Knuckles and newcomer Rouge the Bat.

Unsurprisingly, the running levels are the most enjoyable – particularly Sonic’s levels. City Escape is one of the best introduction levels to a game for a lot of people and for good reason. It starts off strong, with Sonic snowboarding down a busy road and ends with you being chased by a big army truck. It’s fast-paced, epic and excellently teaches you how the game plays. Going through the level whilst playing for our Sonic Adventure 2 review was an awesome ride. Shadow’s levels aren’t bad at all, but Sonic’s seem more fun.

The treasure-hunting adventure levels were the most divisive aspect of the game amongst fans, but I really enjoyed them. A lot of these levels are well designed and are fun to traverse due to how good the character’s mechanics feel. While the radar isn’t as good as SA1, as it now only detects one piece at a time, it’s still fun. Meteor Herd and Pumpkin Hill are the best Knuckles levels by far, whilst Security Hall and Dry Lagoon are Rouge’s best levels. Mad Space, Rouge’s final level…isn’t good.

Which leads us to the Shooting levels. These are the least fun levels, but that doesn’t mean they are devoid of entertainment. Eggman’s levels in particular are quite fun. Iron Gate, Weapons Bed and Cosmic Wall are good levels with exciting set-pieces.
Tails’ levels…aren’t great. The controls of the mechs are clunky for both characters, but it’s more apparent when playing as Tails since the platforming is more precise. Combine this with bad enemy placement and the flimsy camera and you end up frustrated with these levels.

Hiccups and Issues

The camera seems to be a problem with all three styles, especially with the Mech Levels and the Hunting levels. It’s much more noticeable in these levels as you need to control the camera more to look around. Sometimes, the camera turns at a weird angle that can screw with your controls. When playing the mech shooter levels, this can really block your vision, which then creates issues with the clunky controls. It all leads to a lot of frustration (looking at you, Hidden Base).

As for the Hunting levels, Mad Space is by far and away the worst. It introduces gravity mechanics to the levels and it screws up your controls and camera big time. It also reverses the hints which makes it much harder to know where to look. It’s not only the worst, but also the biggest hunting level in the game. It can be gruelling to complete, especially if you are going for A Rank since it is the hardest hunting stage too. It’s the worst hunting level in the game, no question.

In terms of the Running levels, there isn’t much wrong with them other that they aren’t as open-ended as SA1‘s levels. That’s about it, really. Other than that, they improve on the original in just about every way.

Story

The story of Sonic Adventure 2 is divided into 3 segments: Hero, Dark & Last Story.

Sonic Adventure 2 has a pretty heavy plot for a Sonic game. It goes beyond the clich├ęd Sonic-beats-Eggman trope and enters some rather deep territory. Government conspiracy, military power and genocide… it was a pretty ambitious story, considering the series, and I’d say it pulled it off. Is it a perfect story? No. But it’s a fun and memorable story all things considered. Add in the entire character of Gerald Robotnik, who went insane, and it’s surprisingly dark. Following the Dark and Hero storylines and seeing how they combine into the ultimate Last Story is exhilarating. It’s great to see a popular franchise give the antagonists such a large share of the spotlight, and it’s something I wish was done more often in modern gaming.

There are a lot of memorable quotes and moments in the story and going through them would definitely take some time. A lot of it is due to the voice acting. It’s not fantastic, but it’s unforgettable. This is probably the most intimidating Eggman has ever been, given that he wins a lot of the time here. Shadow himself is a very popular character and is the best realized here. Sonic, Tails and Knuckles are great and Rouge is a great rival to Knuckles. Overall, the story is quite enjoyable.

Overall thoughts

Sonic Adventure 2 is a really enjoyable game and a lot of it still holds up to this day. Clearly not all of it is perfect, but a lot of it still entertaining. It’s easily one of the best 3D Sonic’s ever, up there with Generations in fact. And that’s not even getting into content like the Chao Garden, which if taken seriously can be hours worth of content in and of itself, and the multiplayer, which is possibly the best in the 3D Sonic games. There’s a lot to love here, and there’s enough content to never be bored.

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