Gamescom 2012: Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed Preview – More Than Meets the Eye
Written Tuesday, August 28, 2012 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
It’s been a while since the last Sonic kart racer hit our consoles, which is a shame as the game showed plenty of promise and was actually a damn sight more fun than many arcade racers that have come and gone in recent times. However, with a sequel upon us we took some time out to visit the folks at SEGA and get the lowdown on the impending sequel. The opening missions statement is fairly clear: “We wanted to make it a little bit different and a little bit better than the last game.” Pretty much the standard aspiration for any follow up title but how do you make it a reality?
First of all you beef up your development team, once again in the form of Sumo Digital, with some more of the finest racing minds in the business. “We’ve bolstered the development with key members from Black Rock (Split/Second) and Bizarre Creations (Project Gotham, Blur) so it’s a very big, quality racing team,” we were told, and the heritage is certainly good to see. Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed is certainly in keeping with the original in terms of bold, vivid tracks that a myriad of racers can hurtle around with aplomb. It’s certainly easy to see some of that new blood having an influence too, as tracks can constantly shift, with disasters and what not wreaking havoc and forcing you to take to the skies or the water in order to complete the course. Your vehicle will handle completely differently on land, sea and air as you would expect so the idea of a straightforward racer has gone out of the window.
“We wanted to push the boundaries of racing games while still keeping it fun,” SEGA explained. “So it’s a game that anyone can pick up and play, but there is still a lot there for serious gamers.” Simply put this is a fun, arcade racer on the surface but explore a little deeper and there is plenty in terms of challenges and secrets to discover. Anyone who managed to fully complete the last title can probably attest to the higher level of skill and timing needed when SEGA really upped the requirements. That same philosophy is true this time around with the World Tour mode and Online arenas both having specific challenges and the tracks themselves having tricky spots to navigate for extra rewards, be it a powerful weapon or an edge on your rivals.
As ever there is a varied and eclectic medley of characters to choose from, with over twenty to discover along with some console specific cameos. As SEGA explained, ”We’ve got some great characters, but it’s not just them that make this game unique as it’s the vehicles themselves.” Each vehicle transforms (hence the name) depending on whether you are cruising on the tarmac, skimming over water or gliding through the air. So the game is constantly trying to shake you out of your comfort zone and make sure that every track, car and race offers something unique. The tracks are once again modeled on a variety of SEGA games from the bog standard Sonic zones up to dragon-infested Panzer Dragoon epicness, so part of the enjoyment comes from hurtling around a reworked version of familiar territory and there's certainly plenty of fan moments to enjoy.
The power-up system has also been given an overhaul to prevent the annoyance issue that every player has experienced at some point or another, that of being hit with a weapon just prior to crossing the line in first place. Now however, each and every weapon can be dodged or countered in some way. The best example of this is a giant catcher's mitt that appears on the back of your car to divert incoming threats. As with the first game you can also drift around corners and pull off tricks in order to build up your boost meter. The same holds true of the All-Star moves this time around, that are charged up via cool on track maneuvers or certain collectibles. So no relying on a moment of luck when you snag a weapon pod, which means we should see a lot more of the spangly race altering moves that were rather tucked away last time out.
Sonic & All-Stars actually looks and handles superbly at the moment, and continues the fine work done by the original. The transforming vehicles could have felt like a gimmick but they actually add a fun new dimension to gameplay and make races a more interesting prospect than merely doing three or so identical laps. With sixteen unique courses, plus mirror variants, there should certainly be plenty to appeal to fans old and new. With a wealth of challenges over all three classes of vehicles too, you have plenty to go at.
Of course, an arcade racer would be nothing without the spirit of competition (as in: blowing up your friends) so Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed graciously lets you go head to head via four player split-screen. You can also head online and indulge in up to ten player action, meaning you can race and destroy the rest of the world at your leisure. You can also set best times on the global leaderboard, race against other player's ghosts etc as you did in the first title meaning there is always a chance to shave a precious few milliseconds from your personal bests. Supersonic.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed is looking like being a lively prospect for both solo and multiplayer action, so keep your eyes peeled for when it drifts, jumps and boosts onto shelves in November 2012