Team So nic rac­ing

Team if you wanna go faster

Games Master - - Contents - Robert Zak

Gotta go fast? If you want to win this team-based karter, com­ing first isn’t al­ways the way to win.

We’re on the fi­nal lap and down in seventh po­si­tion. We’re not go­ing to fin­ish in first, that much is clear, but that doesn’t mean we’re go­ing to sit back and go through the mo­tions. You see, there are three of us in a team, and if we can just knock Knuck­les, who is one place ahead of us, off his stride, we may just clinch the race for our team. That’s the essence of Team Sonic Rac­ing’s spin on the bat­tle racer. It’s a game of team­work, won by hav­ing the high­est joint score in a match (de­fined by fin­ish po­si­tion and also rings col­lected, which you can get by at­tack­ing other rac­ers). Adding some depth to this new dy­namic are var­i­ous team moves, such as swap­ping power-ups with your team­mates or fol­low­ing their tracks on the ground closely to get a speed boost af­ter a cou­ple of sec­onds (po­ten­tially over­tak­ing them, at which point they can do the same to you). Pull off enough of these moves, and you all sync up for an ‘Ul­ti­mate boost’, which gives you sev­eral sec­onds of im­proved speed and han­dling.

Hu­man race

Just how well the sys­tem works will only be­come fully ap­par­ent af­ter ex­tended play along­side fel­low hu­man be­ings (there will be four-player lo­cal and 12-player on­line mul­ti­player), but it gels nicely from what we’ve seen. If, for ex­am­ple, your mate picks a speedy char­ac­ter (like Sonic, duh), you could pick a heav­ier build and ded­i­cate your­self to ram­ming op­po­nents, hoover­ing up their rings while pro­tect­ing your team­mate’s pre­cious po­si­tion. Or if you’re fur­ther be­hind the oth­ers, you can take a glance at which team is win­ning, and tar­get its lower-placed char­ac­ters, so when you over­take them it may just swing the race your team’s way.

Com­ing from Sumo Dig­i­tal, the de­vel­oper be­hind the ex­cel­lent Sonic & All-Stars Rac­ing Trans­formed, Team Sonic Rac­ing han­dles gen­er­ously, mak­ing it easy to drift around large por­tions of

“If your team­mate picks a speedy char­ac­ter, you could pick a heav­ier build and go around ram­ming op­po­nents”

track for speed boosts, and not pun­ish­ing you too hard for fly­ing off the track like a wally. It’s made for every­one.

To­tal eclipse of the kart

Speak­ing of fly­ing, Team Sonic Rac­ing is strictly a kart racer, un­like its pre­de­ces­sor which would switch be­tween karts, boats, and planes – of­ten in the same race. This is also strictly a Sonic game, so you won’t find tracks from Sega’s other IPs or guest char­ac­ters like Wreck-it Ralph, the Team Fortress lot or, er, Foot­ball Man­ager from Foot­ball Man­ager. These cut­backs feel like a gross loss, par­tic­u­larly if the cast of Sonic is a bit shrill and in­fan­tile for your tastes (weren’t they all more ap­peal­ing be­fore they learned to speak?).

The pre­vi­ous game, while me­chan­i­cally com­pe­tent, shone thanks to its wacky di­ver­sity, its tracks rang­ing from the cel-shaded down­town of Jet Set Ra­dio, to a camp-spooky party at the House Of The Dead man­sion. The Sonic se­ries has never been renowned for its eye-catch­ing en­vi­ron­ments, and the two tracks we played here – a Green Hill Zone-type course and the oblig­a­tory icy one – didn’t tickle our nos­tal­gia or daz­zle us with gar­ish­ness. They just weren’t that ex­cit­ing. But if the new team­play sys­tem pulls through and begets all man­ner of team strate­gies and char­ac­ter com­bos, there could be enough ex­cite­ment on the track that you won’t have time to fawn over the pretty back­drops. It all feels like a bit of a gam­ble, but an in­trigu­ing one at least.

The first track we played looked like it was in­spired by Green Hill Zone… not that it was all that in­spir­ing…

Pick a larger char­ac­ter, like Big, and you can bully your ri­vals while your speed­ier team­mates race on ahead.

Col­lect­ing rings adds to your team’s fi­nal score – just re­mem­ber that your ri­vals can steal them off you. Ded­i­cated Sonic fans may cheer at the char­ac­ter se­lec­tion, but some of us will miss the last game’s wack­ier, more di­verse ros­ter.

Char­ac­ters fall into three brack­ets: Speed, Tech­nique, and Power. Knuck­les looks like he fits in the lat­ter cat­e­gory.

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