Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity Review
Speed is the name of the game in Sonic Riders:Zero Gravity for the Wii. Granted Sonic was a pretty fast critter in the first place, but strap that blue Erinaceidae onto a hover board and then see what you've got. And what is it that you've got? Read on to find out...
Sonic is a video game god. He is the face of a company, SEGA, and has had numerous gaming hits. But it seems to have been a while since Sonic has had a truly monster hit, and with Sonic Riders:Zero Gravity it is obvious that we will be waiting a little while longer for a great game featuring Sonic. Zero Gravity is the sequel to the GameCube title called simply Sonic Riders. Zero Gravity is a racing game but not like Mario Kart, think more along the lines of Wipeout and you'll get the idea.
Sonic has you and your Sonic friends riding around on hover boards, ala Marty McFly in Back to the Future Part II. How Sonic obtained the ability to use a hover board is shown in the initial cutscenes where we see a meteorite crash to earth. The meteorite tends to make robots very upset and to start attacking everything around them. So you end up with the meteorite and the baggage of all the robots chasing you. The story is Lame, yes that's with a capital “L”, but that isn't a surprise. The draw here is to take Sonic and his gang (“Tails”, Knuckles, Wave the Swallow, etc.) and race them around some cool looking tracks at ridiculous speeds. Too bad the sense of speed is lacking and the track design is a tad wonky.
There are a few game modes in Zero Gravity, including the aforementioned Story mode which is a single player affair. You can also pick the Normal Race mode or Survival mode and these are anywhere from 1-4 players. Normal Race mode includes two styles of racing called Free Race and Time Attack. The Free Race is the traditional racing model while Time Attack is just what it sounds like with the ability to upload your time to the World Ranking online. The Survival mode has three games consisting of Survival Replay (minimal of two players) Survival Ball and Survival Battle. The game lets you use the Wii remote either horizontal or vertical and if you want you can even plug in your old trusty GameCube controller.
The tracks, about 15 in all, are irritating at times. They tend to come up with ninety degree turns and obstacles at the worst possible times. By that I mean any time when you are actually feeling the sense of real speed there is something that comes along to ruin it. There are hidden paths but you rarely will find them unless you happen to crash into one. There are special moves that you can use to help navigate the track once you gather enough Gravity Points (GP) which you gain by pulling off trick in special areas. Some of the tricks you'll need to obtain “gears” throughout the race for your hover board. Different gears, or combination of gears, will allow you to use “gimmicks”, their word not mine, like springs, grinds, and catapults. Once you have enough GPs you can use moves like the Gravity Control, or Gravity Dive. These let you do things like take the ninety degree turns easier or add super speed. The problem is that these moves are pretty difficult to pull off, especially the Gravity Control, so you are more likely to go flying off the side of the track.
Graphically Zero Gravity is an average looking Wii game. The framerate does a decent job in the single player mode but certainly runs into trouble in the multiplayer mode. It's not enough to damage the game, just enough to notice from time-to-time. But the game really never comes across with an awe inspiring feeling of speed. This is especially true in the multiplayer where the screen is just too cramped to see what's going on. The soundtrack is more or less techno and in a game like this it fits in well.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 67%. Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity is a racer that comes up just short of being respectable.