Sega had quite a few titles playable at E3 including, Yakuza Kiwami 2, Valkyria Chronicles 4, Shining Resonance Refrain, Persona 3 Dancing in Moonlight, Persona 5 Dancing in Starlight and the recently announced Team Sonic Racing.
While I had a chance to play every game at the booth, I spent quite a bit of time playing Team Sonic Racing mainly because I wanted to get a good feel on the game is overall and I have to admit at this point I am still on the fence about this game.
When you have a character that can run faster that the speed of sound, having him in a car seems quite boring but it made sense when Sega released Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing which featured various characters from Sega’s library of games. While the game was nothing more your basic Kart Racing game with a few bells and whistles added to it, having such an interesting line up of characters including Ryo Hazuki from Shenmue, Vyse from Skies of Arcadia and Beat from Jet Set Radio really made All-Stars Racing much more interesting and worth playing. So now with Sega taking a step back and removing all the guest characters in favor of various Sonic characters seems like a risky move.
So what exactly makes Team Sonic Racing different? While the core mechanics are pretty much the same, the game focuses on the concept of teamwork in order to win. Each team consist of three characters (either AI or real players) with each character are split into three different types: Speed, Power and Technique similar to Sonic Heroes and offer different abilities. As of right now Team Sonic (Sonic, Knuckles and Tails), Team Dark (Shadow, Rouge and Omega), Amy and Eggman have been confirmed as selectable characters. Wisps (first introduced in Sonic Colors) have also been added to the games replacing items but essentially do exactly the same thing as every other game but with 14 different types we might see a few surprises.
Visually the game looks great, the detail on the characters and their vehicles are very impressive including the tracks. Sumo Digital did a great job in bringing the characters to life but since the object of the game is speed, chances are you won’t be able to fully enjoy everything. Longtime Sonic fans might be happy to hear that the soundtrack will be composed by Jun Senoue and will feature music from Crush 40 including the game’s main theme “Green Light Ride.”
The team mechanic itself is cool but nothing special, teams are able to help each other out by passing their items to each other which is pretty useful if your partner is in the first spot and needs a bit of protection, you can help your partner gain a speed boost by drafting behind them. Even if you are place first, your score is based on how well your entire team does so while it’s important to win, make sure your team is right there with you which adds nice change of pace in the game overall.
Nothing about the game exactly stands out right now, which is a bit of a disappointment but that’s not to say it’s a bad game and this could be due to the fact that I was only able to play by myself instead of with other players to really take advantage of what you can do in the game since the AI didn’t really do much other than give me a few items to take first place, so my experience could be a lot better with teammates I can actually work with and unlock our Team Ultimate.
There is a Team Adventure mode in the game which will focus on each individual team (again similar to Sonic Heroes), it’s where we might see something new and interesting but if anything I definitely would love to see Sega use this game to somehow make a sequel to Sonic Heroes in the future, heck I’d even love to see a new Sonic R or Sonic Rivals.
Of course this isn’t the only Sonic game coming out this year as Sega will be releasing an update to Sonic Mania which will add new characters and content next month.