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When writing reviews, there's always the temptation to be lazy. It would be all too easy, for example, to say that Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing is Mario Kart for the PS3, with Sega characters replacing Nintendo ones. Whilst it would almost certainly be true, it would also make for a very short review, so perhaps I'd better provide a little more detail,
In almost every respect, though, this IS Sega's answer to Mario Kart. It is based around the same concept - characters from various Sega games race around a series of tracks aiming to finish top of the leader board to take the title of champion. Along the way, various pickups can be collected which can either be used to give you a temporary advantage (such as a speed boost) or hinder your opponents. Yet, whilst it might not be the most imaginative or original game in the world, Sonic & Sega proves to be almost as entertaining as its Nintendo counterpart.
The pedigree for this game is certainly. Developed by Sumo Digital, who are no strangers to racing games (they were behind several excellent Outrun games), they have brought all their knowledge and experience to bear. The end result is a fun racing game that makes good use of licensed characters.
As with Mario Kart, Sonic offers an impressive amount of racing options. Championship mode sees you race against a series of other characters across increasingly tricky tracks. Time Trial Mode offers the chance to record best times on particular courses, using a ghost driver to beat both your own best time and that of other players across the world, whilst Mission Mode sets you a number of objectives to achieve. Multiplayer Mode, meanwhile, gives you the chance to race up to 4 other people connected to your PS3 (more on this in a moment) or online against other players throughout the world.
Whilst Sonic might not be the most difficult game in the world, this wealth of different gameplay options makes it very appealing and gives it a lot of depth and long-term appeal. Although the basic gameplay might essentially be the same between different modes (driving a kart around a track), they are different enough to ensure a decent amount of variety and longevity to the game.
Every time you race, you also gain Sega Miles. These can be used in the Sega Shop (built into the game) to an impressive range of additional characters and a number of extra tracks. These also add to the long-term appeal of the game and encourage you to keep playing long after you have mastered the default tracks.
The game is not the most difficult in the world. Whilst the various Championship levels get increasingly tricky as you progress, it's not going to take most gamers long to beat them As with Mario Kart, however, this isn't rally an issue, as Sonic is so much fun that you will keep coming back to the game determined to shave a couple of seconds off your best lap times.
It's in multiplayer mode that the game really comes to life, though. Here, you can race up to 4 other human players in split screen format (the way racing games are meant to be played!). Although four player mode can get a little cramped (each racer gets a quarter of the screen), it's still a lot of fun particularly in two player mode. Racing games are always more competitive if you are in the same room as your opponent and hearing their screams of frustration as you race past them is a great feeling! Taking them out on the finish line with a well-timed power-up that allows you to nip past them and take the winning flag is unbeatable!
It is a shame that a bit more thought wasn't put into the design of the multiplayer experience. You can only have a single race (rather than have a series of races) and, unless you return to the main menu to select a new one, you continue to race on the same track with each new game. It would have been nice to be able to have your own multiplayer tournament based around random track selection or building your own tournament based around a selection of tracks. But hey! You can't have everything.
The difficulty level is mostly well-pitched, although just occasionally it can be a little frustrating. In single player mode, opponents sometimes seem to gang up on you and you get hit by power-up after power-up, dropping several places in just a matter of seconds. Similarly in multiplayer mode, if you and your opponents are closely matched, races can often come down to who gets the right pick up at the right time, rather than necessarily who drives better.
Graphically, the game is excellent, making really good use of the Sega licensed characters. The cartoon characters are big and bold and look like they have stepped straight out of their own Sega games to take part in this one. Of course, some of the characters will be more familiar to gamers than others (even with my strong knowledge of gaming there were a few I had to wrack my brains to think what games they were from), but it doesn't really matter whether you recognise them or not. Each of the racers also drives in a slightly different way, so you can experiment to find the one which suits you best.
The tracks are well designed and pretty varied. Again, these are based around various Sega games, so they tie in well with the game's concept and add some variety. Just occasionally, I have found the colour scheme a slight problem. On some of the darker levels, for example, it can be tricky to spot bends in the track. Similarly some of the backgrounds can occasionally be very distracting. The use of very bright, vibrant, pulsing colours and animated backgrounds again means that it can be difficult to see the track properly. Certainly, there are some tracks which I find far easier to race on that others.
On the plus side, the graphics are very smooth and impressively fast. You really get the impression of travelling at breakneck speed and flying around the track - something which is a rather important part of a racing game, but is all too often overlooked.
It's a shame that the sound is a bit annoying. A variety of tunes accompany the game, but none of these are brilliant. They are loud and thumping, so perfectly suit the high octane nature of the game, but they become repetitive rather quickly. The race commentary, meanwhile, is very annoying. Some of the daft comments might be vaguely amusing the first time you hear them, but like the music, they soon start to grate.
Controls are designed to be simple, but effective. Relying on just a handful of buttons, they are easy to pick up and by the end of your first race, they feel very natural and comfortable. At the same time, they are highly responsive. Even Mrs SWSt (who is to computer games what elephants are to roller-skating) picked them up quickly and enjoyed racing around the tracks (or more accurately, trundling around the track whilst bumping into every available object).
So, at the risk of being lazy, Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing is Sega's answer to Mario Kart. Whilst it's not quite as much fun as Nintendo's effort, it's the closest you're going to get on your PS3 and is a fun racing title in its own right. You can now pick it up for under a tenner which, for a game that offers so much fun and long term playability is a real bargain.
© Copyright SWSt 2012
==About The Game==
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is a part of the Superstars series produced for Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS and Microsoft Windows, as the name suggests it is a racing game. It was published by Sega and developed by Sumo Digital. It was released in Europe on February 26th 2010. A mobile version of the game has been developed by Gameloft.
==Price and Availability==
Sonic & Sega All-Stars racing is available new on Amazon for £18.59. It is on sale on many websites that sell console games; it is also easily available in high street stores that sell PS3 games.
There are 21 playable characters in the game. These are:
* Sonic the Hedgehog - from Sonic the Hedgehog
* Miles "Tails" Prower - from Sonic the Hedgehog 2
* Doctor Eggman - from Sonic the Hedgehog
* Amy Rose - from Sonic the Hedgehog CD
* Shadow the Hedgehog - from Sonic Adventure 2
* AiAi - from Super Monkey Ball
* Amigo - from Samba de Amigo
* Billy Hatcher - from Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg
* Knuckles the Echidna - from Sonic the Hedgehog 3
* Big the Cat - from Sonic Adventure
* Beat - from Jet Set Radio
* Ulala - from Space Channel 5
* B.D. Joe - from Cray Taxi
* Zobio and Zobiko - from The House of the Dead: EX
* Ryo Hazuki - from Shenmue
* Jacky Bryant and Akira Yuki - from Virtua Fighter
* Mobo and Robo - from Bonanza Bros.
* Chuih, ChuBei, ChuPea and ChuBach - from ChuChu Rocket!
* Opa-Opa - from Fantasy Zone
* Alex Kidd - from Alex Kidd in Miracle World
There are also two characters available for download, these are: Ryo-F and Metal Sonic.
The game is very similar to others on the market such as Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing. Players choose their character and race various circuits themed on different Sega franchises. Players can collect power-ups to boost their speed or slow down their opponents. As with games like Mario Kart you sometimes get three of the same item in one power-up, on this game you can choose to fire or activate them all at once. An additional speed boost can be gained by successfully doing a drift, the longer the drift the more of a boost you get. Performing tricks mid-air also gives you a speed boost when done correctly. Each character has a unique special ability called an All-Star move; they are different for each character and can sometimes mean the difference between winning and losing a race. There are three different categories of vehicles, these are; cars, bikes and hovercrafts. During gameplay the player earns Sega miles, these are earned after every race and you get more if you win the races. Sega miles help level up your Sega license and they can also be spent in the in-game shop to unlock additional content such as characters, songs and tracks.
There are four modes in single player; Grand Prix, Single Race, Missions and Time Trials. Multiplayer modes include Free Race, Arena, King of the Hill, Collect the Emeralds and Capture the Chao.
There are quite a few trophies in this game and a lot of them are pretty easy to get just by playing the game itself. You get trophies for levelling up your Sega License for example which levels up by earning Sega miles that you earn whilst doing races to complete the game. Some of the trophies are a bit harder to complete, like the trophy for passing all the missions with an AAA rating. The trickier trophies may require a lot of patience but the game is fun whether you are doing the trophies or not. You can get around half of the trophies pretty easily without much effort on your part.
This was the first game I played on my PS3 and to begin with I didn't like it as it seemed too fast paced and made my head spin a bit. I'm used to playing Mario Kart which is a bit slower paced and not as flashy as this one. After playing it for an hour or two however I got used to the game and decided that I did in fact like the game. It only took me a couple of days to get around half of the trophies, after the halfway mark they started getting harder. Some of the missions seem almost impossible to complete, you can get right near where you want to be and then lose out in the last second. It is really frustrating! It is a great game though and with so many characters to choose from you will easily be able to find one that suits you. Personally I like to play as Sonic as he's fast and easy to handle.
I would definitely recommend this game to people, with the warning that it can be hair-pullingly frustrating!
My personal review on Sonic and Sega All stars racing PS3.
Main features: It has smooth, easy controls, which is easy for my kids to use. Awesome tracks to race on, brilliant exciting cars to choose from, and the effects are simply to good to be true. I like the sense of speed they have put together in the game, its truly perfect and goes well with the graphics. There's a variety of characters to choose from, from the main characters known from SEGA, to some random ones they added in to make the game more fun. If you have PSN the game is even more perfect, as you can race against your friends online, which really is a blast! Or you can simply play two player, which two controllers. However, it would be better if you could do free roam when you play online, or if you could play mini-games online ; the game would be double the fun as it is already!
There's 20 characters in the game, and 24 tracks to race on. They have added something unique in this game known as the all-star move. Its basically a tip you can get if you are falling behind, and each character has a different all-star move. Its up to you to pick out the best one! You can also earn hard earned trophies for doing many different achievements, from playing with a friend online to coming first in all the grand Prix! The favourite part of all is the boost system. When turning the corner, you can hold down the drift button which stores up boost power, for when you let go it gives you a zoom of a boost, and it makes the game a hell lot better. It gets frustrating in some tracks where the track is laid out like a maze. It takes some experience to get the hang of, but for beginners its very annoying when you keep on going of course! Still, epic tracks and game-play itself! You pick up items along the way on your race, which gives you a wide variety of tricks you can use, from shells, to boosts, to all-star moves. Its just an exhilarating experience!
The two main single player modes are Grand Prix and the Missions. Grand Prix comprises six different cups with four tracks each, and you test your mettle against seven computer-controlled opponents. There's difficulty ranging from beginner , medium and hard. All are as exciting as the other. I'd recommend starting off with medium difficulty; if its to easy, move on to hard mode; if its to hard, move on to easy mode. Mission mode is objective based and has you striving to complete bite-sized tasks. You can do stuff from collecting coins in a time limit to racing the computer. The best result you can get is an A Rating, and if you get all your missions completed on an A-rating, you get addition trophies; some of which are hidden. It takes time to get past all 60 missions, but its worth the wait, as you can show off to your friends of how much you have progressed.
When you play online, it takes a while sometimes for some people to actually appear in your lobby. You can play with people online from 2-8 players. If you just want to race with a buddy, you can host a lobby, and send him an invite, and you can have an option to disallow players to join, which is excellent if you want to boost to earn trophies together. Its the ultimate gaming experience online, and you can get to know other people and become friends. If you have a mic you can connect and talk to other players in your lobby which is really useful.
One of the best racing games out there, on any console - after Mario Kart of course! Its a well designed game, which makes it perfect for young or old. If your looking for the cheapest price its £14.00 from amazon.co.uk, or even cheaper if you purchase from the PlayStation Store. A must get game, which will be loved and treasured for ever! Top marks.
I guess the comparisons with Mario Kart are inevitable when any other game dares enter the hallowed arena of what (arguably) most people consider to be the king of the genre. There's also no doubt that Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing borrows heavily from the near perfect formula from which it was derived. But for once, this is a kart racing game which really does deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the original and best.
For my money, the two key areas in which a kart racer must excel are in the quality and variety of tracks, and the handling of the karts themselves. S&SASR has both of these things nailed, and adds a great line up of karts and characters to boot. What it all adds up to is a supremely entertaining game, which is surprisingly simple but insanely addictive and sure to put a big smile on your face. What's more, this game isn't just for kids and is a guilty pleasure for adults too (who will likely appreciate the line-up of characters from Sega's history more than younger players could ever do).
20 characters and vehicles are on offer, roughly a third of which hail from the Sonic series of games, with the balance made up from elsewhere in Sega's back catalogue. These range from the more well known, like Ulala from Space Channel 5 or AiAi from Super Monkey Ball, to the more obscure like Zobio & Zobiko from House of the Dead. But regardless of their heritage, all are rendered beautifully with their appropriate vehicles and have a real sense of character during races, not least during their 'All-Star' special moves.
Likewise there is a great deal of variety in the 24 tracks that can be unlocked, each based over a variety of locations from several different games, like Super Monkey Ball and Jet Set Radio. The tracks vary from basic to really quite challenging, but all well designed and look gorgeous, bursting with colourful detail and activity. With such lovely environments it's even more impressive how, for all but a very few moments, the frame rate remains smooth and consistent, which helps to portray a real sense of speed.
The racing itself is great fun, with each of the vehicles feeling subtly different, but similar enough to quickly master the general feel of the handling model. You'll find yourself regularly leaning on the drift button to get the back end out around corners, as you won't win anything but the first few races on the easiest difficulty without it. Drifting itself takes a bit of getting used to, but once you nail it a few times you'll find it second nature. The more you drift, the more you incrementally build up boost, and it won't be long before you're seamlessly drifting and boosting around entire laps with ease. Weapons are hardly going to win any awards for originality (rockets, shields etc.), but they are well balanced and the ability to fire forwards or backwards offers the opportunity to think a bit more tactically about how you use them. The 'All-Star' special weapons are suitably OTT in their delivery, and nicely themed to each character. Unfortunately they only seem to appear when you're in difficulty in last place or near the back of the field, but used carefully they can see you through from 8th to 1st place with a bit of luck.
There aren't a huge amount of game modes on offer, but all the essentials are there. Grand Prix mode offers cups (championships) comprising a variety of races over different locales, and a choice of three difficulties; beginner, advanced and expert. With four races in each, these are just the right length, and the mix of tracks in each keeps things varied. Annoyingly though, for some unknown reason you cannot race a Grand Prix in split screen, with the only option being to do a series of single races one at a time, which is rather cumbersome. Missions mode offers challenge based tasks for which you receive a rating depending on your performance against the objectives set (up to a maximum of AAA). These are entertaining, albeit you won't want to try to complete them all in one run as there are quite a few of them and monotony sets in quite quickly. Time Trial rounds out the suite of single player options, which is as you'd expect it to be.
The currency of the game is Sega Miles, which are earned for your achievements in different game modes, and you will earn more the better you place in events. Sega Miles can be exchanged for tracks, characters and music, offering a good incentive for continued play (not that you'll need one), and opening up new content at just the right pace to keep things fresh and interesting. The music on offer is, as you'd expect, pulled from various different games. It won't inspire you much, but fits well with the themes running through the game, and is the finishing touch in giving the whole package a coherent identity.
The only real let down (and the reason I decided to rate this game 4 stars rather than 5) are the online options, which are very basic, only allowing you to take straight racing online (e.g. not Missions), and not allowing for any customisation. However, I found the most multiplayer fun to be had with my kids in the same room as me, and I'm not sure that online would have the same appeal even if it were more advanced. Of course it might just be that I was a little embarrassed about taking myself online with this game, but felt much more justified having this kind of fun privately with my kids, who never take me that seriously anyway...
All in all though, this game has been a very pleasant surprise. Great fun to play, eye-wateringly lovely to look at, with a healthy chunk of nostalgia thrown in, all of which add up to a big fat smile on my face every time I play.
(Review also posted under the same name on another review site).
Well this is basically SEGA's take on the Mario Kart series, there seems to be a lot of copies of that recently. It follows many of the same aspects of the Mario Kart series, with drifitng and weapons playing a large role in the game.
There are a total of 20 characters from various SEGA games, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Jet Set Radio Future, Billy Hatcher (wth?), Super Monkey Ball and more. There is a large number of courses (can't remember how many) which are from the same set of SEGA games. I believe theres about 3 courses per game.
The singleplayer game consists of doing the Cup mode and doing Missions. The Cups can be played in 3 difficulties, requiring the player to beat all cups on all difficulties to complete the game, however completing cups or missions is not actually required to unlock anything, more on that later.
There is a mammoth 63 missions in the game. Missions usually taking about 1 minute each to complete, and requiring the player to complete various tasks within the time limit, such as drifitng for a certain amount of time, or hitting as many crabs as possible with your weapons.
As i mentioned, you don't need to complete any of the missions or cups to unlock courses/characters/music. As you race you will accumulate SEGA MILES (The games currency), SEGA MILES are earnt by finishing in a high position and doing various tasks in races. You will be awarded the MILES at the end of the race or cup, you will then be able to spend the MILES in the store to buy new courses, characters or music soundtracks.
In the multiplayer side of things, the game supports 4 player splitscreen offline, and up to 8 players online, however its rare to see anyone playing online, despite the game being relatively new.
I personally found the game to be quite enjoyable for the first couple of hours, especially trying to do all the missions on AAA rank. But after a while of racing in cups or doing missions the game can get a little dull. The lack of players online only makes things worse. If there was a decent player-base, the game might have a higher replay value.