Sonic & Allstars Racing Transformed Review
The past few months of PC gaming have been a dark and grizzly affair. I don’t mean with regards to quality. Releases like Far Cry 3, Sleeping Dogs, Max Payne 3, The Walking Dead, Dishonoured and Dark Souls, to name but a few, have been superbly entertaining examples of gripping, adult video game art. Too much penumbra (pun intended) though, can cause me to forget that PC games can also be funny, frivolous, light hearted experiences, whilst remaining immersive and worthwhile. I booted up Sonic & Allstars Racing Transformed for the first time recently and was soon welcomed by the iconic Sega logo and always-pleasing robotic singing “SAAAAYGAAA” voice. This introduction will always whisk me back to childhood and marathon Megadrive sessions with my brothers. This was the era of Games Master, Big Boy Barry and the glorious 16 bit revolution. Good times.
The singing Sega logo is swiftly followed by a stunning opening cinematic, which introduces the many playable Sega characters, most of which are legends in their own right. My personal retro favourites being Shinobi, Golden Axe, Alex Kidd and Jet Set Radio. We’re also given our first sight of the plethora of land, sea and air vehicles available throughout the game and all characters have their own unique stylish rides. Not that all the characters are from Sega classics; PC gamers are privy to exclusive playable characters from Total War: Shogun, Football Manager and Team Fortress 2. Not bad.
The main screen and menus are bright, crisp and beautifully rendered. Polished, you might say. Developers, Sumo Digital, have achieved a marvellous degree of aesthetic styling with SART . The brilliant soundtrack is courtesy of genius Sega in-house composer, Richard Jacques. I’m not exaggerating, either, the music really is brilliant and possibly becoming my all-time favourite video game soundtrack.
The game itself is a sequel to 2010’s Sonic & Sega Allstars Racing, which I admit to have never played. The reason I have never played it is because it’s single player and local multiplayer only on PC, which is a sure-fire no-go for me. Back when the original was released, I couldn’t quite believe Sega could be foolish enough to ignore online multiplayer potential in PC a kart racing game. Little did I know they would redeem themselves three years later.
Sonic & Allstars Racing Transformed is, without doubt, absolutely brilliant. It is pure, undiluted fun. Not only that, it also looks fantastic and plays beautifully too. This is a platinum quality kart-racing game, with all the bells and whistles one could wish for. Single player mode includes grand-prix, world tour, time-attack and single race. The world tour mode alone is absolutely immense; I’ve spent twenty hours plus completing it and still have quite a bit to unlock. Talking of unlocks, SART is all about the unlocks. There are twenty-six characters to collect, all with unique transforming vehicles and styles, over twenty-five tracks, performance modifications and virtual stickers to obsess over. I’ve found it very difficult to resist the allure of collecting in this game. The reward system effectively executes an immersive and satisfying addiction. I don’t care if it takes me fifty hours to unlock Dr Robotnik, because I’m sure it will be worth every second when I get to pilot him drifting around hair-pin bends on an aircraft carrier at two hundred miles per hour.
All the characters in SART look fantastic and play fluidly. Drifting the vehicles is accomplished by holding brake and works like a charm. The voice characterisations are entertaining, though the Heavy impersonation is rather painful. The tracks are……amazing. They really are. Ingeniously designed, beautifully rendered and breathtaking to play. One minute I’m racing through the world of Golden Axe, then it’s off to After Burner and House of the Dead. I cannot get enough of this game and cannot possibly provide enough screenshots to justify the massive diversity of tracks and environments provided either.
There are four difficulty levels to chose from; the last two providing all the AI competition you will ever desire. To finish in first place when playing Expert level tracks requires flawless precision. We’re not just talking races either. There are plenty of wonderful races to master, each containing secret short-cuts, land, sea and air sections, as well as a multitude of offensive and defensive pick-ups. SART comes with much, much more, though. Other game-modes include Battle-Race, Boost-Race, Drift-Challenge, Boost-Challenge, Duel and a sort of American Football type team game.
Multiplayer mode has quickmatch and custom race options, where you can compete against real-life humans in a public game, or against AI with friends only. All race modes are available in multiplayer and a track voting system makes for democratic joy. For players with actual, real-life, human being friends, there is local, multiplayer split-screen available for most game-modes. Thanks to lots of complaints by customers, I’m pleased to say that a mute player function has now been added, to block out all those annoying twerps who insist on leaving their mics open and speakers on full-blast. Yes, that’s right, the developers listened to customers and acted on it. Very quickly. Sumo Digital, and in particular, a great guy named, Sol, have shown some of the best, most effective community interaction I have ever had the pleasure to witness. Honest, helpful and efficient communication on the game forum since release has been a refreshing experience.
Sonic & Allstars Racing Transformed is the new king of PC arcade kart racing. A game that truly lives up to the hype and delivers on every level, and then some.
The Metal Sonic and Out Run DLC is now available…I cannot resist.
Release Date: 31 Jan 2013
Developer: Sumo Digital
Microsoft wireless 360 Controller
Intel i5 3570k
ATI HD 7850 2GB
8 GB RAM