Heroes Generations &Knuckles Forces is the newest 3D Sonic the Hedgehog videogame from Sonic Team and SEGA. It is the second Sonic game of 2017, following up the publicly lauded Sonic Mania, a 2D game that bases its roots on the old SEGA Genesis titles. Forces is intended to be a semi-sequel to Sonic Generations and once again features “Classic Sonic” and “New Sonic” in the same game, with different gameplay styles for both characters. Also featured for the first time ever in its 25+ year run, Forces allows you to also play as a custom character.
[Reviewed on Nintendo Switch]
To say that the framerate is unstable is an understatement. That said, it’s not as if every frame is crucial to your success in a Sonic game, especially the modern sonic stages where there are times where you can pretty much hold down a button and zip past everything while the motion blur cranks it up. While not technically impressive, the game does well enough to look decent, especially the backgrounds. There may not be a whole lot going on in the foreground but the background animations and skyboxes are alive and full of color. Just don’t expect anything cutting edge.
Okay, so this game’s story was bad. Really, really, REALLY BAD. To that effect, you could actually say that the plot is so bad it’s ironically good. It looks and sounds like a child with ADHD wrote the whole thing during classes in middle school. Doctor Eggman has finally taken over the world, and you can tell he has… because everyone says so and nothing is explicitly shown ever. The amount of time the vast cast of characters deliver exposition in place of showing you anything is astronomical. Yet this awfulness is practically an artform. The entire extended cast of Sonic characters, including the ones nobody cares about, are all present and accounted for. There are some scenes in the game where I’m not sure if they were supposed to be funny, but watching Sonic get his ass kicked by the new villain of this game made me chuckle. That and some of Sonic’s one-liners are genuinely good.
The sound effects are pretty weak in this game, but that’s really not important. I cannot stress this enough: the OST to this game is not only a spectacular soundtrack for a Sonic game, but a great soundtrack overall. Boasting tons of high energy tunes featuring rock, drum n bass, and even some house, it is absolutely a blast and can be enjoyed on its own. Don’t believe me? Check it out. Seriously. A+. More soundtracks need to be this good. Beside the soundtrack, you have got to admire the voice actors’ commitment to their roles. As stated earlier, the dialogue is as stupid as possible, but the sheer force and dedication to being as in character and serious as possible is admirable.
SEGA, we need to talk. Your game was a train wreck. Seriously, it was. There are so many bugs and glitches that you’d find in older Sonic games, you’d expect Sonic Team would have learned their lesson by now. Very old issues like falling off the track or missing a rail grind should not be things that are still happening in your game. This game has the opposite problem Sonic Mania had. Limited lives and difficult checkpointing were tough, but manageable. Here there are no lives and dying initiates an instant jump back to your checkpoint. However, more often than not you’ll find yourself dying repeatedly not due to the challenge or the courses. The game is actually quite easy, but the physics engine is so flimsy and floaty that some of the very mild platforming sections turn into a nightmare. There’s also a ridiculous difficulty spike that happens at the very final boss fight, where this easy game turns into nearly Dark Souls levels of suffering.
It wasn’t fun. The game was 3-5 hours long at best, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a single memorable moment in the entire game. It’s funny that the soundtrack features about 3.5hrs of music, because just listening to the soundtrack all the way through is probably a more enjoyable experience than playing this game. You will also save a lot of money, as there’s very little value to the game even at its 40-dollar price point. The very second I finished this game, I had to fire up Sonic Mania again just to make sure it wasn’t nostalgia goggles that made it good. Nope, Sonic Mania is just a superior game in every conceivable way. It’s sad that this game was the “big budget” one because it feels a lot more like a half-assed clusterf*ck that was slapped together in a couple of months.
After emerging from the ashes of its slew of awful 3D games, Sonic Mania breathed new life into the franchise. This new life was very short-lived, however, as Sonic Forces fires the hedgehog right back into the gutter. Sonic Generations showed the team everything to make a decent 3D sonic game and yet Sonic Team still found a way to screw it up. Uninspired levels, mundane graphics, poor physics, and an idiotic plot kept this game from being worth any attention. If you’re an absolute fan of Sonic and have been dreaming to have your very own original character fight alongside him, you might find something to like here. But even then, please wait for it to go on sale, it’s nowhere good enough to be bought at full price.