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After the excellent Colors and Generations, I have to say that this is overall a small step backwards in gameplay. Sonic loses his side-stepping ability from Generations, which makes some of the 3D sections more awkward, though it's a design choice. You also get a new dash button which I'm luke-warm about. I hold it most of the time (like in Mario games). The downside is Sonic will try to run up *any* wall if you dash into it. Also, dashing while on ice makes Sonic skate, and while this can take some getting used to (he is vulnerable if he jumps while skating), it's some good fun once you're used to it.
"Once you're used to it" is a pertinent phrase when discussing this game. There are some sections and boss fights that are just clumsily designed, resulting in unfair deaths. An early level propels you, without much warning, into an enemy which you will kind of "bounce" off of and into a pit if you keep running forward. If you've played the Adventure games, you know what I'm talking about. It's not as bad as the Adventure games, but there are more "why did the game let me die like that" moments than Generations. You won't mind so much after a couple of run-throughs, but the fact is a game in this day and age should not have these problems even with a first run through. Perhaps the worst of these is the boss of world 6, act 4. At least there's a lot of good stuff packed in the levels as well, which will entice you to farm lives and get through the bad stuff.
The presentation is really good. The graphics just look nice overall, everywhere you go you see a bright, fluid world that in most important ways rivals Mario Galaxy, even beating it, especially if you're a fan of the 16-bit Sonic games, in which case this game is great nostalgia trip. I have to laugh when reviewers say it's really pushing the Wii U, but it does look great.
The music has been really good in Sonic games recently; this game is no exception. Possibly one could argue that some of the songs are generic exploits of certain genres of music, it's a matter of opinion but in mine this music is great.
Overall, I would say the high-80s reviews of this game are about as far off the mark as the 50s ones. I give it 2.5 out of 4. If you're a fan of recent Sonic games and you're not too tight for cash, it's worth picking up, but lower your expectations a bit.
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