In the past year SEGA has been on quite the good streak when it comes to listening to fan feedback. They first took note of what people had issue with in Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode I, and fixed them in the much-improved Episode II in the series. Now SEGA seems to want to do the same for its Sonic racing series with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.
Unlike the first game Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed not only wants to take you on the road, but also beyond the sea and above the air. Here racers will compete in areas that have terrain both on the ground, around the water, and amongst the clouds. Gone from the game's title, too, is the "SEGA," as not only will there be characters from SEGA franchises going head-to-head, but NASCAR driver Danica Patrick will be joining in on the racer. New characters such as Golden Axe's Gilius Thunderhead and Skies of Arcadia's Vyse also join the roster.
Going head-on with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed I was given the chance to try out two of the tracks that will be featured: Panzer Dragoon (featuring vast watery worlds and caves) and Super Monkey Ball (a non-stop slope that keeps going down until you warp back to the starting line). Playing with Vyse and Beat (of Jet Set Radio fame) I was able to see how the mechanics work in the game. The opposing drivers knew how to give you a proper challenge, as they always seem to be neck-and-neck with you throughout the race. Even as I was driving in first place I had no time to be at ease, as the other racers seemed determined to take the lead from me in a split second. Not since Jimmie Johnson's Anything With An Engine have I come across a game with a type of challenge curve that had me at the edge of my seat, and that's the type of thing a racing game should do!
The graphics in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed were very detailed, as you could notice little tidbits here and there in the specific game-based level you were playing that gave nod to said titles. As of this writing the transformation aspects of the game (where the vehicle either turns into a boat or plane) looked okay for the most part, but I did notice a bit of weird rendering while it occurred. Steering and maneuvering through the levels felt pretty well-done, although I still had issue with figuring out how to properly drift on the tracks. Using weapons in the game tend to be a hit-or-miss, both in the literal and metaphorical terms, as they looked to be your run-of-the-mill power-ups and you had to aim at the vehicle you wanted to take out in order to hit them precisely. Hopefully there will be weapons that will be more akin to the SEGA universe, as this aspect of kart-racing is in need of something new.
Although there were a couple flaws found during my time with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, there was plenty more to like about it compared to its predecessor. The game will be out later this year on Xbox 360, PS3, PC, 3DS, Vita, and the WiiU (with touch-screen control aspects not yet revealed), so keep your eyes on the path ahead for more info on it as these next few months go by.