SEATTLE – At long last, an official Sonic game will give you the opportunity to do what countless DeviantArt aficionados have done for years: make your very own character.
There’s no denying that the Sonic franchise has had some serious ups and downs lately, but if nothing else, Sonic Forces will deliver a feature that fans have dreamed about ever since the blue hedgehog debuted almost three decades ago. That alone might make it worth the price of admission.
I went hands-on with Sonic Forces at PAX West 2017, and got to try two of its various modes. I was especially eager to get my hands on the game’s touted Avatar Mode, which allows players to create anthropomorphic animal, outfit him or her with a weapon and blast through Sonic stages at top speed.
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Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to create a protagonist from scratch, but the premade avatar I controlled gave me a pretty good idea of the attributes players will be able to tweak. I took control of a purple female fox outfitted with a lightning gun; in the final version of the game, players will be able to customize color, species, sex and weaponry, ensuring that no two avatars are quite alike.
In-game, my avatar controlled just like Sonic, Tails or Knuckles would, blazing through a traditional side-scrolling stage, stopping only to zap enemies in her path, bounce off of springs or vault herself onto hidden paths. It didn’t feel like a huge advantage over simply playing as Sonic, but the effect is probably enhanced if you get to create your own protagonist.
I also had a chance to take control of Sonic in a 3D level, where he blasted through ring-strewn corridors, like in the Sonic Adventure series. The level was fast and furious, and failing the occasionally demanding platform challenges only set me back a few seconds. Checkpoints are generous; Sega doesn’t want players to lose their hard-earned sense of speed.
If Sonic Mania is any indication, Sega’s reliable old blue hedgehog still has some life left in him. Sonic Forces could be just what a hopeful player base needs, with a feature that they’ve been requesting for years. Everything works as advertised; now, we just need to see if the full game measures up to its potential. The game will be out on November 7 for all major platforms, and will cost $40.