Last night I finished the main story portion of Sonic Forces, and you know what? I rather enjoyed it!
Given the amount of negativity surrounding the game within the Sonic fan community I expected Forces to be at best another Lost World, at worst another Sonic ‘06 (not that I’ve actually played that one). Instead, I found it to be somewhere between “above average” and “pretty good.” A solid 7 out of 10 I’d say.
A lot was made out of the change to the handling of Classic Sonic since Generations. Fans said it was too stiff and that jumping in particular was a problem. While I do agree the control isn’t as good as in Generations, I don’t think it’s anywhere near as bad as people are making out. After the first level with Classic Sonic I was having him run around fine.
One area I do think Forces improved upon Generations in is the handling of Modern Sonic. Only once did the hedgehog go flying off in a random direction, and I’m not entirely convinced it wasn’t my fault. However, my only real issue with Modern Sonic is also what I feel is the biggest problem with the game; Sonic Forces takes control away from the player way too often
I’ve never been one to create original fan characters for the Sonic universe, but I must admit I really enjoyed playing around with the Avatar and the various options you can unlock for dressing him/her up. It’s a fun idea that I hope Sega incorporates into other games (but maybe not all). The Avatar’s levels are fun, but in so many instances control is taken away from the player. This is a real frustration in one level in which you need to outrun one of Eggman’s giant robots. After a few moments of trying to keep out of its way, control is taken away from you and the game finishes the beast off itself. While I can understand Sega wanted Forces to be accessible to younger games and perhaps felt they couldn’t manage a more difficult fight, this lack of control disengages you from the action, making it a lot less exciting that it should be.
The game’s other biggest failing is that of missed opportunity. The story revolves around Eggman having beaten Sonic and taken over the world and you need to take it back. You’re constantly told throughout the game how hard the allied forces have been fighting and how they are barely hanging on, but you never really see it. Apart from a few explosions and burning buildings in the background there is no real evidence of this huge battle going on. If even a few levels were dedicated you fighting alongside some of the allied forces it would have helped give weight to the situation, but as it is you feel somewhat disconnected to the larger story of this giant war.
Sadly, Classic Sonic is also rather wasted. He only has a handful of levels and the story doesn’t really explain why he’s there. Honestly, he doesn’t do much to help the story and really feels like an afterthought. And possibly my biggest complaint of the game is that it retcons Classic Sonic to be a Sonic from a different dimension, and not just a younger Sonic as in Generations.
Where the story does shine though is in its depiction of Infinite. Jokes are often made about how edgy Sega tries to make Shadow and people thought Infinite might be more of the same. But no, Infinite is badass! He really does feel like a threat and he’s easily my favourite villain since Perfect Chaos, I found his virtual reality powers really interesting and I loved that the game doesn’t reveal who he is (although the Episode Shadow DLC gives a little bit of a hint) so there is a lot of mystery there that can be explored. I really hope Sega bring him back at some point in the future, perhaps on his own rather than working with Eggman.
For all of its faults, Sonic Forces has a lot of good. The gameplay is great fun, if a little easy. The boss fights are some of the best in the series and the music, as always, is great (although I still can’t warm to the main theme, Fist Pump). The Avatar is a wonderful addition and I hope it’s expanded on in the future. Sonic Team have finally nailed Modern Sonic’s handling so I hope they don’t mess with it a la Sonic Lost World. I really had a good time with Sonic Forces!
While Forces may not have been the huge success Sega was hoping for, if they take the good from the title and learn from their mistakes the next game in the series could be amazing!