Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Impressions - Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

Yes. It's a Russian WWII general, standing on a miniature tank on an American aircraft carrier...

I managed to get quite a few Sega games during the most recent Humble Bundle, aptly named the "Humble Sega Bundle". One of these games was Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, a game I've been meaning to get for quite some time now due to its "Overwhelmingly Positive" reviews on Steam and the fact it looks like a light-hearted Mario Kart clone except with some gaming characters I'd actually like to give a go at racing with. So I've played the game for about an hour now and here are my first impressions.

What I like

  • Bright and colourful: Lots of vibrants colours and bright, exciting maps makes you feel like you've stepped into Las Vegas or something - well especially on the casino levels I guess!
  • Some familiar faces: One of the big attractions of this game are the characters from Sega's franchises, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails, Doctor Eggman, Ulala from Space Channel 5, B.D. Joe from Crazy Taxi, Gilius Thunderhead from Golden Axe and some stranger additions such as General Winter from Company of Heroes 2, Willemus from Total War: Rome II and Football Manager from Football Manager. There's even non-Sega related characters such as Danica Patrick (NASCAR driver), Wreck-It Ralph and the fellows from Team Fortress 2. There's sure to be a favourite amongst the line-up there, although I'm sad there's no characters from my favourite Sega game, Streets of Rage, in the line-up.
  • Morphing vehicles and morphing tracks: While it might put some off that you have these wacky vehicles that can morph into boats and planes, this makes things interesting since you might be good at handling the car well enough but when it comes to flying the plane or driving the boat, handling characteristics change, sometimes dramatically.

What I dislike

  • Nobody seems to be playing it anymore: Sadly, when I tried to find people who play the game multiplayer online, there was nobody on. Sure it might be because I'm in Australia and the game's been out for awhile now, but I was hoping I'd at least find one player around. It's a similar problem I had with Little Racers STREET, which is a pity because I could imagine both games being really fun with friends or other players.
  • Easy to lose sight of track in plane mode: While it's usually kind of obvious where the track is when in car or boat mode, in plane mode it sometimes isn't - and during those times it's damn annoying since you'll be hitting invisible walls and wondering which direction to take in order to get back on the track. Sure you have the minimap to show you roughly where the track is but it doesn't show which direction you're facing.
  • Separate controls configuration program: In this day and age, why do you need a separate program in order to configure your keyboard? I suppose I shouldn't complain since at least you have the option (unlike some games where the keys are hard-coded and you can't change them at all). Anyway it's kind of annoying, plus it does some weird crap when you enter the program the first time (since nothing is assigned) but when you select keyboard again (for example) it then finally shows you the defaults. This brings me onto my final point...
  • No tutorial: Okay the game is pretty basic as it is but it would be nice for a simple tutorial to explain why I'm collecting these coins and what they can be used for - also what purpose does levelling particular racers serve? What are the default keys (they don't tell you so you're just expected to be psychic it seems).

Verdict

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed seems to be good at what it strives to be and while at first glance it might look like just another Mario Kart clone, it does innovate thanks to the transformable racing vehicles and the fact the track itself tends to change after each lap. The only worry I have is that the game might get a bit dull if there's nobody around to play with.

[ LINK: Official Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed website ]

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