Sonic Unleashed Review
When the Werehog is not engaged in a battle, you'll have to run, jump and swing your way through the current stage. Some of the platforming in later stages can get a bit frustrating thanks to the camera not showcasing your positioning that well when you go to jump to a small platform that hangs over a pit. You only get two lives per stages and have to repeat the entire stage if those lives are used.
The Night stages are not all the way bad but they seem to take priority over the Day stages. Day stages are over extremely quick and are a joy to play for the most part while the Night stages seem to take quite a while to get through and become repetitive after a multitude of them have been played; both Night and Day stages are usually played in a row. Usually you'll take on three stages of each then switch to three stages of the other. Day stages are much like playing a 3-D Sonic stage similar to Sonic Adventure while the Night stages are like playing with a slow tank that seems to take quite a while to reach the goal.
In both types of stages there are several hidden areas or paths that contain secret items. Bonus music and art can be collected throughout the game. Day stages contain many alternate routes that can be taken with the precise timing while Night stages have several hidden locations that are either covered or slightly out of view. Boss fights shine in both Night and Day stages. In Day stages, Sonic will be running as the boss attacks and you'll need to dodge and hit the boss while moving. Bosses fought in Night stages have a certain weakness that needs to be taken advantage of in order to the stun the boss so you can whittle its life bar down.
The game showcases a 3-D world map that allows you to choose your next destination in between stages. Usually, you'll have to meet up with several townsfolk in a certain area as their hints ultimately lead to the next stage. Townspeople are presented as 2-D renders on the screen during conversations and the dialogues are usually composed of simple small talk that doesn't help out at all or rewards you with an item. The need to constantly interact with new people in each stage lead to me skipping the dialogue at some points because I simply wanted to get to the next area without the minor bickering.
Bonus stages begin to appear as you progress through the game. There is plenty of reason to return to each area to check up on bonus missions. There are also hidden areas in each Gaia Gate area that can be unlocked by collecting Sun and Moon stones that are rewarded by completing stages. Sonic is graded in both Day and Night stages and a certain amount of Moon and Sun stones are received based on his ranking at the end of each stage. It seems that Werehog stages are much easier to complete fully when compared to normal Sonic stages since the Werehog is so slow and every path is laid out easily for him.
The overall graphics are pretty smooth for a PS2 game and hold together rather well. It's quite pleasing how the game remains moving at a steady framerate without a hint of slowdown even while Sonic zips throughout each path in the Day stages. The cutscene presentation showcased in the game is of real high quality compared to other Sonic games that I have played up to this point. Action is showcased smoothly and lip movements match the voices. Voices are very well done as well. Even Tails sounds descent. The music doesn't have a techno feel like it did in other 3-D Sonic games; the overall music actually matches each stage a bit better this time and rarely sounds out of place.