Previews

Sonic Unleashed

It's the little 'hog who cried 'comeback!'

Well, it's definitely a start. Thanks to a very timely personality crisis, the blue-rinse teenage tearaway may well be preparing to star in a next gen game that comes close to capturing the speedy magnificence of his heydey - and it's all thanks to its 'back to basics' approach.

Sonic Team have even created a brand new 'Hedgehog Engine' to power Sonic Unleashed's all-new marriage of 3D graphics and action with the 2D gameplay that launched the mascot to stardom in the first place. Any game that throws a lifeline to 2D platforming gets a tentative backslap from us - the introduction of that pesky third dimension has done plat-forming very few favours over the years (imagine a 3D Braid - it would be painful), and Sonic's reputation has suffered the most out of any platforming hero. By rights, judging by previous Xbox outings, we should already be sliding on the knuckledusters.

Back to flat
But! Sonic's old adversary Mario showed in Paper Mario that using the power of next gen to create a new kind of side-scrolling 2D game is the way to go, so we're excited to hear about the first Sonic levels along the lines of the classic Green Hill - loop-the-loops, hidden caverns, whirlwinds - all the things that never really worked in games like (cough) Shadow The Hedgehog.

Zoom

Sonic himself has changed, though - in fact, that's the whole point of your adventure. Dr Eggman has torn your world to pieces, and triggered unexpected changes in the blue boy himself. During the day, Sonic has exciting new powers. But when night falls, Sonic finds there's a monster inside him, one he must learn to control...

We've yet to get hands-on with a playable version of the game as yet, but the sumptuous 2D footage has us all googly-eyed. This is what the power of next gen can do for good old side-scrolling gameplay - make it bigger and more beautiful than ever, while keeping the same simple, smooth action of yore. We're surprised a character as sunk in shame as Sonic could stage a comeback. But just look around - maybe he can.

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