It's quite fitting that Sonic Unleashed sees Sonic turning into a werewolf, because it's pretty much a game of two halves. One half is, in our opinion, the best 3D Sonic game we've ever played. The other half however is a generic, repetitive action platformer.
Sonic's history in 3D gaming has had more ups and downs than the National Press-Up League, mainly due to two reasons: speed and glitches. If it wasn't bad enough that many 3D Sonic games are simply far too fast to be controllable (and therefore enjoyable), it's even worse when dodgy coding means you randomly miss the trigger for an important set-piece, often chucking you down a hole as a result or - even worse - glitching you through the scenery and making you die as you fall off the edge of the level. It's happened since Sonic's first three-dimensional adventure (Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast), and has been an irritating bug in pretty much every one since. Except this one.
Yes, there are times when you'll miss a jump and fall down a hole. But this time around 99% of the time it will be your fault, not the game's. It's a test of your ability to navigate the game's obstacles, not your ability to dodge glitches. Simply put, developer Dimps (who was responsible for the Sonic Rush games on the DS) has created a near-flawless game engine with almost no room for bugs. It's pure Sonic gameplay without the frustration of unpreventable deaths.
2D Or Not 2D
Not only are these levels fun to play as a result, playing through them is also a complete feast for the eyes. As Sonic zips round each stage, flipping from 3D to 2D and back again, there's no denying that it's impressive stuff and some of the best-looking action you'll see on the Wii. More importantly, it never affects the gameplay negatively: those 2D-to-3D switches could have been a nightmare to control but we never had any problems any time they occurred.
We'd go so far as to say that the normal Sonic levels in Sonic Unleashed are the best 3D Sonic levels we've ever played in a game. Had the game been comprised solely of this type of level then it'd be well into Gold Award territory. Unfortunately, as we all know, there's the matter of those werehog levels to deal with.
Simply put, they're dull. That's not to say they're broken or anything like that: the control system is fine and everything works as it should. It's just that all you do is wander from one place to the next and beat up loads of characterless, generic enemies. Once they're all dead the barrier blocking your progress is removed and you move on. Sometimes you get a different barrier which can only be removed by collecting three objects. Other times you'll have to climb poles or swing over gaps to get to the next fighting section. And that's pretty much all that happens throughout all 25 different werehog stages.
It's so repetitive that even the music that plays when enemies appear is exactly the same whether you're on the first or last level. The enemies aren't particularly taxing either: the vast majority can be defeated by simply alternating left and right punches.
Were Not Amused
We can understand why the werewolf levels have been put in there: we'd imagine it was both to add a bit of variety and to extend the game's length. After all, the normal Sonic levels can take around four or five minutes to complete each, and given that you're ploughing through them at top speed this means they're pretty huge levels which must have taken ages to create. In total though there are only seven of these levels, meaning you can have them all licked in less than hour. As a result, the 25 werehog levels (which can take anything up to eight or nine minutes each to complete) make up the majority of the gameplay.