An excellent mod conversion that feels more like an official expansion pack than just the humble fan project it really is.
THE GOOD: Almost every stage from Sonic Unleashed ported to near perfection, fantastic production values for the entire package, excellent arrangement of Unleashed music for the overworld
THE BAD: Eggmanland is a glaring omission, some awkward bugs may hamper the experience
This is a review of Version 1.0, released 3/18/2013
Contrary to what some burnt by the past decade of the blue blur may tell you, console Sonic games have seen a dramatic rise in quality in recent years thanks to games like Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations.
Both of those games feature a very fun and addictive interpretation of the original Sonic gameplay translated into 3D, providing an expert balance between platforming and the joy of running as fast as possible through loops and obstacles. However, the great gameplay from those games actually originated in Sonic Unleashed, a game derided by many for it’s very unenjoyable Warehog segments.
Many wished they could enjoy the normal Sonic stages offered in Unleashed without those game-breaking Werehog segments (and with some; being able to play it on a PC, those with a strong enough computer could enjoy 60 fps experience at superior screen resolutions); but thanks to the incredible talent and hard work of DarioFF, Chimera, TwilightZoney, and other Sonic fans, the Unleashed stages have been ported to the PC version of Sonic Generations.
Is it good enough to download, or is it just another amateur mod pack? Honestly, this could pass as an official expansion pack.
Right from installation, the mod provides a fully professional-looking experience; from proper save-file redirection (so that you don’t lose your original Generations save file), starting each stage with the same formula as real Sonic Generations stages, and a brand new and great-looking overworld custom made to replace the Generations white world.
The overworld also includes phenomenal remixes of the excellent Sonic Unleashed score, custom fit for the Generations overworld. Beautifully arranged by Falk, the songs invoke very strong nostalgia for the original game and do not feel out-of-place in the least.
You can progress through all the included levels as if it was a full expansion pack for Generations, and the excellently created overworld may momentarily fool you into believing that this isn’t just a modification of a different game, but an official release from Sega.
The extent and quality of the port job is magnificent. Little details like NPC’s in the streets (such as people in Arid Sands, penguins in Cool Edge, and seagulls in Windmill Isle) have been ported and look great.
Great innovation was also in play here, with certain things that could not be ported over, such as Jungle Joyride’s chase sequence; the GUN Truck from Sonic Adventure 2 was used as a subtitle for the original enemy, much to the additional joy and excitement of the level itself.
More complex things, such as Cool Edge’s whale and bobsled sequences, are ported without any problems or compromise; making the level just as mesmerizing and fun as it was in the original game.
Despite Sonic Generations’ engine being slightly different than that used in Unleashed, the mod successfully recreated most of the stages’ great looks thanks to using an “experimental” and work-in-progress FxPipeline renderer that applied directional shadows, directional light shafts, additional motion blur, and other special effects used in Unleashed; as well as brand new high definition retextures that fixed many of the less-sightly textures the original game used.
Various other retools have been included, such as new Red Ring locations for every level and a modified ranking system that increases the difficulty for getting an S-Rank. The new Red Rings locations are certainly very appreciated (although at least one ring location in Windmill Isle is in a spot where the ground surface isn’t properly calibrated, causing Sonic to lose control on the X-axis, making it tricky to move him out of the spot).
The camera angles have also been modified to make it easier to play the stages without momentarily losing sight of the road ahead of you, as well as reducing the amount of FOV distortion when you Boost, making it less of a blind run when running at full speed. To some, this change may make it feel that Sonic is actually going slower compared to Unleashed; but Sonic’s speed is actually faster, thanks to the game using the Generations engine (which also provides more polished controls and better trick gimmicks by default).
However, the mod isn’t perfect (which is completely understandable). Sometimes when quitting a stage the game locks into an endless “Now Loading…” loop, which requires you to Alt-F4 the game to exit out of; and some minor graphical effects in some stages did not make the jump, such as the fireworks in Dragon Road (resulting in the empty sky pictured above) and the vapor from Jungle Joyride’s waterfall (which results in a flat waterfall texture that looks more like cloth than water).
Eggmanland is also not included in this release, making Jungle Joyride the final stage for the mod (which is a pretty disappointing climax). The reasons given for this include that it would take a lot of redesigning work to make it work with the game elements offered in Generations that did not carry over from Unleashed; which to be fair, is a lot of work for what is simply a fan project.
Either way, if you have Sonic Generations for the PC, this should be a mod worth downloading. Excellent production values, a phenomenal porting job, great music, and extra content make this a great add-on to Sonic Unleashed that will give hours of playtime to your game’s Steam “Hours Played” timer.