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View Full Version : [Staff Review] RiotingSpectre's Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two Review



RiotingSpectre
10-16-2014, 03:50 AM
Like most episodic games there's always a follow-up to be had and Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode One wasn't an exception to this. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two released soon after the first episode did which tried to improve on the strengths of the first episode along with addressing the concerns in the process. Did it succeed? Read on as this is the Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two review.

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When Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two released it was met with a very cautionary crowd. It was hard to find a person that didn't know about the previous episode's reputation was which was something not liked by many. This meant that initial sales of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two weren't as extravagant compared to the first episode's let alone other entries in the series but that's not to say that this meant Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two was a bad game by any means. Once word had spread that this game was far better than the first episode the community took action by acquiring it as fast as they could on their favorite devices with the OUYA console soon getting a fork of the Android version much like the previous episode and Sonic CD.

Story:

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two starts off months after the first episode does and takes place on Little Planet which is where Sonic CD had taken place on thanks to it returning to the world our characters live in. It turns out that the previous plan by Dr. Eggman was all just part of a greater scheme as he had his sights set on Little Planet all along. While on Little Planet he is accompanied by Metal Sonic which effectively makes the already bad situation even worse and the two together aim to accomplish their goal by using a newly built Death Egg that's wrapped around Little Planet for unknown reasons.

Over the course of this period our two heroes face Dr. Eggman and his various new inventions throughout several landscapes along with several encounters with Sonic's old rival Metal Sonic. After our heroes force the evil duo to retreat to the new Death Egg mk.II they'll have to race Metal Sonic to defeat him once in for all along with a final encounter with the doctor himself. The heroes defeat Dr. Eggman once and for all and escape the Death Egg mk.II via escape pods before it loses power. With the plan foiled, the evil duo defeated, and peace restored the Death Egg mk.II now power drained is still encapsulating Little Planet.

Overall, the story in Sonic 4: Episode Two is a lot better than the first episode but still suffers from a lot of the tacked on feeling other entries in the series have. It has a sense of urgency the first one didn't and the inclusion of Tails & Metal Sonic in the storyline make for a much more wholesome experience when it isn't just Sonic & Dr. Eggman. Like the first episode it leaves on a cliffhanger with the ending of them escaping via escape pod on being shown to those who have collected all seven chaos emeralds over the course of the game. The regular ending horribly cuts right after the defeat of the final boss which would undoubtedly leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth but even with the good ending you're left wondering what's going to happen with the still encapsulated Little Planet because the Death Egg mk.II is still wrapped around it; albeit with no power. It screams for a Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Three which hasn't been released as of this review, but is thankfully a lot more self-contained than the previous entry despite its cliffhanging problem.

Game-Play & Controls:

The thing that people were most cautious about concerning this game was if it still was plagued by the bad physics the first episode had. Thankfully the physics have been overhauled and Sonic (with Tails always following) controls very well with none of the previous issues from the last episode being present. Sonic himself has a few new moves thanks to his partner Tails who now accompanies him similar to how he did in Sonic 2 & Sonic 3 (& Knuckles). These new moves include the rolling combo which makes the duo roll into a singular ball that has insane speed while also being able to effortlessly destroy obstacles and traverse up slopes along with Tails' old flying ability which can be used for swimming as well. Another move is the combo attack which acts as a screen nuke along with a way to gain a lot of rings and points but is only available after hitting a special television monitor found scarcely in a level.

Continuing on, the television monitors can include a shield that gives the duo a free hit, super sneakers which give them a temporary boost in speed, and everything else you'd come to expect from the franchise by this point such as a invincibility. All of this accumulates to a very diversified Sonic experience as he is never unequipped to deal with a situation nor matter what it may be. These numerous situations can be found within five zones in the game which contain three acts with the third act being just a short walk to the boss like the previous episode with the final zone being an exception to these things. The final zone in particular has just two acts to it with the first being a level filled with anti-gravity gimmicks along with the final encounters with Metal Sonic whom is teaming up with Dr. Eggman and the final act is just the final boss fight.

Furthermore, collecting all seven chaos emeralds which are found in special zones accessible by jumping into a special ring which only appear at the end of a goal post if Sonic & Tails have at least fifty rings. The special zones are basically the Saturn version's Sonic 3D Blast stages which are in fact based off Sonic 2's special zones. Collecting all seven will grant Sonic the ability to turn into Super Sonic which grants him increased speed, jump height, acceleration, and other things like invincibility to most hazards. Unfortunately, using any of the tag options with Tails which are sometimes required makes Super Sonic turn back into regular Sonic which can get pretty annoying.

Overall, Sonic (with Tails) control beautifully unlike the previous episode which is thanks to the overhauled physics engine and extra abilities. Everything that also affects how the player interacts with the game such as enemy placement and level design are also vastly improved which makes for a very satisfying Sonic the Hedgehog experience. It's no doubt a turnaround when you compare it to the previous episode and I think it's as satisfying as the sixteen bit titles as it as just as much care put into it. In a nutshell this is easily a game that's easy to pick up and play which is thanks to Sonic Team & Dimps' extra care put into it at addressing concerns from the previous episode.

Visuals:

Unlike the previous episode, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two was released at a time where technology permitted high-definition visuals on mobile devices which inevitably came to the OUYA console like the first episode did along with also being a fork of the Android version. With that said, there's a lot of beauty to be seen in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two as it's easily one of the best looking games in the franchise and certainly on the OUYA console which rarely gets shown off in the visual department. Everything is crisp, smooth, and animated very well with environmental effects in full-swing. Overall, there's nothing the least bit to complain about because Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two is an example of a game on a system regularly criticized for using outdated technology that it's up to the developers to make a visual experience worth a thousand words.

Soundtrack & Sounds:

The soundtrack in the previous game was met with harsh criticism which prompted the developers of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two to address the concern heavily. The soundtrack was met with more favorable reception but at its best was mixed due to the complaints made about the last one were still prevalent. The music in the game is a lot better sounding in an instrumental sense but still suffers from being too short and uninspired. Super Sonic still grates on the ears much like how it did in the previous episode and overall you're not going to be looking back on this title as something you'd have a soundtrack on a compact disc for.

The sounds on the other hand and much like the previous episode are as they should be with jumping out of water sounding nice, enemies getting killed sounding satisfying, and that iconic sound you hear when smashing into a television monitor all being there. Overall, the experience from an auditory standpoint is better but not by much and only saves you from muting the television or speed running the level to stop hearing it thanks to the better use of instruments.

Episode Metal:

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When you have Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode One installed on your device along with the second episode then you'll unlock Episode Metal for free. This episode is accessible via Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two via the map with the story taking place prior to the start of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two with Metal Sonic being revived by Dr. Eggman and ending with the beginning of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two. Going into detail, the story starts by showing us a defeated Metal Sonic back on Speed Highway's Bad Future where Dr. Eggman soon descends from the sky as a monitor and revives Metal Sonic with electricity. After this, Metal Sonic goes into Mad Gear Zone from the previous episode to get fully repaired which was the true purpose of the entire base being built in the first place and then sets off to increase his power further thanks to Dr. Eggman finding a mysterious power source in the Lost Labyrinth. The story concludes with Metal Sonic gaining that power and going to Splash Hill Zone where he finds a rocket built by Tails who then hijacks it to pursue the two heroes.

If you haven't guess it by now you're playing as Metal Sonic this time around and in the levels the first episode had except just one act from each zone. Metal Sonic himself controls exactly how Sonic does but without Tails. The levels aren't exactly the same as they were in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode One because increased amount of hazards like spikes and enemy placement have made the levels far difficult than their original incarnations. The levels are also in high-definition this time around thanks to being on Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two's which addresses the previous aesthetic complaints people had for the mobile versions for the previous episode. It's also worth noting that since Metal Sonic doesn't have the proper acts, he doesn't have any bosses to fight either which makes the experience shorter.

Overall, Episode Metal was a surprise and a nice one at that but whenever I play it I get the feeling that it was a missed opportunity to finally do something different. Having Metal Sonic control just like Sonic does with no unique abilities that we've all seen Metal Sonic is already capable of makes for a disappointing experience in this regard. Another disappointment is the fact that the entire episode is just one act of each zone from the previous episode which means that any person regardless of skill can beat the episode in less than thirty minutes. It's clearly only in the game to explain how Metal Sonic came back after his defeat during Sonic CD but adding more content in numerous ways if not at least a different play-style could have made Episode Metal something truly special. In the end it's only good for a short distraction and exposition to tie in the story better.

Conclusion:

Overall, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Two is a dramatic improvement over the previous episode. Most of the complaints made about the previous episode were addressed and the new additions like Tails returning with cool abilities makes the game that much more enjoyable to play. While the soundtrack is still flawed it's at least nothing something you'd have a hard time listening to with unlike the first episode. The story still leaves on a cliffhanger but is a lot more self-contained than Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode One so it's not too much of a problem unless you don't get the seven chaos emeralds which only enables you to see a horrible ending. The level designs have been improved along with the level aesthetics themselves being better due the game being made during a time where high-definition games were more possible.

Sonic himself animates better which also makes the game even more visually appealing if not more alive. The added fact that Tails & Metal Sonic themselves return is a huge positive as the feud with Dr. Eggman would have been horribly stale without them. The inclusion of Episode Metal by having the the previous game installed is a nice addition but is to not be thought of as a full game unlike what marketing has told people. In the end the game gets a four out of five and is one of my top recommendations for anyone looking for something on the OUYA console.

Score: 4/5

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