Sonic’s lat­est speed-fu­elled romp is the dark­est yet

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Matt Cabral

Pub­lisheR Sega De­vel­oper Sonic team For­mat Xbox One ETA 2017

Be­fore div­ing into a demo of what Sega so­cial me­dia man­ager Aaron Web­ber cryp­ti­cally calls “project 2017”, he pre­pares us for what we’re about to see. “It takes a lot of in­spi­ra­tion from Sonic Col­ors and Sonic Gen­er­a­tions, but also adds a new layer of dark­ness.”

Upon fir­ing up the hands-off pre­view of the all-new ad­ven­ture, we soon dis­cover that Web­ber’s not kid­ding on the lat­ter part. As the for­mer Sega mas­cot races down a city street, he passes bombed-out build­ings, fiery ex­plo­sions, and a men­ac­ing, ten­ta­cle-armed ro­bot that fills nearly a third of the screen.

While many of the fran­chise’s fa­mil­iar el­e­ments, from shiny col­lectible gold rings to the heroic hedge­hog’s in­cred­i­ble sense of speed, are ac­counted for, the set­ting is more post-apoc­a­lyp­tic than funlov­ing plat­former. Web­ber’s hes­i­tant to share plot de­tails, but it seems Sonic is run­ning through a en­emy-in­fested me­trop­o­lis that’s be­ing bom­barded by city-lev­el­ling me­te­ors.

Thank­fully, Sonic has more than

“Sonic runs past bombed build­ings, ex­plo­sions and a ten­ta­cled ro­bot”

light­ning-quick speed on his side. Bor­row­ing a popular el­e­ment from the afore­men­tioned Gen­er­a­tions, he’s able to jump, boost and hur­dle into en­emy tar­gets with­out miss­ing a beat. Re­fu­elled by “Wisps”, the vi­brant lit­tle crea­tures from Col­ors, the power runs off a re­fill­able me­ter. Un­leash­ing this abil­ity not only dis­man­tles the bad guys, but leaves an im­pres­sive shower of twisted metal in Sonic’s wake.

Peppy and pretty

This eye-pleas­ing ef­fect is just one Web­ber cred­its to a brand-new en­gine de­vel­oped by Sonic Team Ja­pan. Dur­ing the brief run we spot slick wa­ter and smoke ef­fects, en­hanced re­flec­tions and plenty of dy­namic de­struc­tion. We also spy, al­beit in the blink of an eye, en­e­mies that ap­pear to be evo­lu­tions of clas­sic fran­chise foes, Buzz Bombers and Moto Bugs.

On top of rac­ing through the city at a light­ning-quick clip, Sonic seam­lessly uses a zi­pline, nav­i­gates a side-scrolling sec­tion and crashes through a gate for a nice jolt of speed-boost­ing juice. We don’t see it dur­ing our demo, but the game will also in­clude what Web­ber calls “clas­sic Sonic lev­els” – ar­eas with a fo­cus on plat­form­ing.

Story de­tails are as elu­sive as the game’s spiky-haired hero, but Web­ber prom­ises us that clas­sic and mod­ern lev­els will sup­port and com­ple­ment each other in a sin­gle co­he­sive nar­ra­tive. We look for­ward to find­ing out why Sonic’s tear­ing up the black­top in a doomed city. More than that, though, we can’t wait to grab the gamepad and sat­isfy our need for speed when this mys­te­ri­ous ti­tle screeches onto Xbox One.

Above Built with a brand-new en­gine, Sonic

Forces is the se­ries’ pret­ti­est en­try to date.

be­low Sonic

Forces mixes a darker tone with fan-pleas­ing el­e­ments.

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