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The Razz: Games reviews: SUPER SONIC; The Sega empire spikes back SONIC HEROES HHHHI.

Byline: Bob Low

POOR wee Sonic, the only hedgehog to start life as a flattened hero and to end up as 3D roadkill.

Like Nintendo's fat Italian plumber, Sonic was a game icon in 2D, then in 3D on Sega's Dreamcast.

But then Sega went phut as far as consoles were concerned, and the 3D outings of Sonic were, to many gamesters, just duff.

So Sonic ended up under the wheels of the Sony juggernaut. Now he's been peeled off the tarmac of the gaming superhighway and is back with all his friends in a new instalment in the franchise, ironically for Sony's PS2.

Having gone back to the basics- level design, Sega have created some thrill-ride environments for Sonic to birl through.

This game is faster than its Dreamcast ancestors and it's a lot prettier, too.

Since those were the main selling points of the DC, that's saying something.

There's also an entirely gameplay style the ability to switch between three characters in-game which means not one story, but four interlocked ones.

The emphasis is on team play and there are even different degrees of difficulty depending on what group you select.

For instance, beginner players will want to go with Team Rose, which includes Sonic stars Amy Rose, Big the Cat and Cream the Rabbit.

However, I have yet to figure out what Amy actually does, apart from chew gum and do her nails.

But this is the trainer bra of gaming, designed to be more forgiving and comes complete with a traditional tutorial.

Hardened hedgehog fans will want to go with Team Dark, featuring Shadow, E-123 Omega and Rouge the Bat.

This is because manoeuvring them and completing their objectives is harder and requires more skill, while the middle way is Team Sonic.

The game's frame-rate is perhaps one of its most impressive feats.

It runs at 60 frames per second without fail in single-player mode, an impressive feat given just how fast the game races along at some points.

But it does slow down a bit in multiplay, though. Musically, the Sonic franchise has sucked worse than a burst vacuum cleaner.

And, sadly, the Eighties guitar riffs in this are just embarrassing.

But the sound effects are a different class altogether, from the ding of pinball buzzers, to the nuclear bursts of Sonic's speed surges.

After two seriously-flawed 3D outings, Sonic Heroes is a big step in the right direction.

Some of the stages in Heroes are as fast and as uncontrollable as a rollercoaster ride.

It's here that Heroes is everything Sonic fans could want as long as it never slows down.

With only 14 levels this isn't the most difficult title to complete one time through.

Luckily, there are four different ways to play it and multiplay also adds to an astonishing replay value.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 13, 2004
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