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Sonic returns exclusively on Wii as TVG asks: "where's the rest of the game"...
- Fairly decent visuals.
- Simple gameplay, if that's what you want.
- Where's the rest of it?
- Frustrating controls.
- Simplistic beyond belief.
Following the surprisingly decent attempt at reversing the flagging hedgehog's reputation with last year's Sonic Unleashed, the blue hedgehog's latest exclusive on Wii creates a little optimism against the constant memories of Sonic's disasterous debut on PS3/Xbox 360 or the abysmal Shadow the... it's not even worth mentioning.
Switching flying carpets and genies for legendary swords and Knights of the Round Table, Sonic and the Black Knight continues Sonic Team's interest in classic folk tales following The Secret Ring by dumping the hedgehog in Arthurian legend. It's fairly inconsequential material, even by Sonic standards, making it hard to look beyond the fact that it's little more than a reason to arm Sonic with a sword - although considering what happened the last time a hedgehog wielded a weapon...
The similarities to Sonic and the Secret Rings are strikingly obvious. The feeling of constant movement through the stage and resulting difficulties moving backwards are immediately noticeable, although Sonic Team has at least decided that holding the Wii Remote horizontally didn't particularly work the first time around and has decided to opt for a more conventional Nunchuk/Wii Remote setup. It's a largely unremarkable experience from start-to-finish - which fortunately doesn't take too long. The addition of sword fights to the Sonic format requires little more than waving the Wii Remote in an unwieldy manner and comes at the expense of key Sonic elements, namely speed, timing, and controls. Holding up on the Nunchuk, waving the Wii Remote like a lunatic, and occasionally hitting the A button was sufficient to see us through the entire game.
Occasionally the monotony is broken by engaging in chivalrous acts towards the townspeople. It may sound noble, but it seems little more than underhanded bribery as Sonic undertakes an unchallenging quick time event and donates 20 Rings to their humble causes - and to think, I believed Sonic 'collected' Rings! The control/camera issues that thwarted The Secret Ring's haven't entirely been rectified despite the change to a more traditional control setup. One section in particularly appears to have a ghostly control over Sonic and makes it nigh on impossible to head in the direction you're trying to take him.
The blandness extends into the variety of challenges that each stage poses. The traditional 'Go For The Goal' stage does little more than remind us just how good Sonic Unleashed was, while slightly tougher questions of your skills such as grind-runs, only using a certain number of sword thrusts, and finishing a stage while avoiding townspeople, are offset by the mundane challenge of defeating a set number of enemies or giving away a certain number of rings. Even the boss fights against Knuckles, Shadow, and Blaze posing as Knights of the Round Table seem particularly weak as they come to a swift end with an uncoordinated barrage of Wii Remote shaking. It's only the final showdowns against the latter bosses (we won't spoil its few surprises) that provides anything like a challenge or requires a Sonic-like sense of timing. Even the appearance of the Knights as playable characters in the latter stages of the game (following the first end credits), fails to advance the gameplay beyond the inelegant array of Wii Remote bashing.
Sonic games have traditionally been on the short side with an underlying replay value, but sadly there's not much of this to be found in The Black Knight (perhaps it's a good thing). The typical array of scores is rewarded upon the completion of each stage and there's a considerable horde of questionable goodies to unlock. A die-hard Sonic fanatic could possibly point towards the bonuses awarded for Perfect Hits and chaining together attacks, and admittedly, whilst it's possible to run through the main story in a few short hours there does remain a handful of additional side challenges to return to. But when the gameplay is as unrefined as Sonic and the Black Knight's you ultimately have to ask: what's the point? The premise of several multiplayer modes played out in a static arena only serves to extend the sense of, 'Why Sonic Team, Why?'
The King Arthur setting also appears to have given Sonic Team the canvas to be at their worst in terms of presentation. Although the game's visuals are neat enough for a Wii title, the atrocious one-liners that proliferate throughout the entire game and 'wah-wah' wailing rock music will be enough to leave you lurching for the mute button.
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