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Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 32

October 2010

Project Needlemouse, the long- awaited side-scrolling console re- turn of their blue hero. But was their wait in vain? Has SEGA suc- ceeded in creating a game that makes up for 15 years of failure? Not really. While visually Sonic 4 checks

Adam El Araby Gaming Editor

For 15 years Sonic fans have held out hope, despite many crushingly disappointing 3D outings, that one day SEGA would create an old- school game that would recapture the magic that made Sonic a house- hold name. In 2009 these poor, long-suffer-

ing gamers were give a glimmer of hope with the announcement of

all the right boxes with lavish recreations of familiar locales from the history of the franchise, includ- ing a near identical reproduction of the legendary Green Hill Zone, and other levels inspired by the crum- bling ruins, casinos and chemical plants that appeared in Sonics 1 and 2, this reuse reveals a lack of imagination that ultimately feels lazy and uninspired. The first hint that this game isn’t

fully committed to staying true to the originals is the design of Sonic himself. SEGA have chosen to stick with the taller, slimmer Sonic of modern years in a desire main- tain recent developments in the se- ries, as opposed to completely disregarding the intervening years


as recent Mega Man titles have done, and this duality between the old and new Sonic series proves to be its undoing. Once you take control things

immediately start to go downhill. Sonic’s acceleration is much slower than before and simply get- ting him running feels like wading through a landfill full of unsold copies of Shadow the Hedgehog. Furthermore, the physics of the game have undergone a drastic change.

It’s possible, rather

bizarrely, to make Sonic walk up near-vertical slopes and there’s no sense of momentum. Even when moving at full speed Sonic will stop instantly which leads to too many frustrating deaths. It’s reasonable that Sonic’s han-

dling might change over 15 years but this game just doesn’t play any- where near as logically as the orig- inal game. It’s worth noting that no mater how matter how many dif- ferent consoles Mario has appeared on Nintendo has always taken spe-

cial care to make sure that sense of inertia that was so integral in Super Mario Bros. is still maintained. SEGA seems to lack the ability or the desire to treat their mascot as carefully. The one new gameplay me-

chanic implemented here is an- other holdover from the 3D era, a homing attack. This move is acti- vated by jumping whenever Sonic locks on to something in the envi- ronment like a spring or one of Eggman’s robot army. This move made sense in the 3D environ- ments of the Sonic Adventure se- ries but here it feels unnecessary and serves only to reduce the amount of care and accuracy re- quired in jumps and attacks. Some of the levels add some extra com- plexity to the formula, such as the Lost Labyrinth Zone, which in- volves lighting torches to explore dark caverns. It’s a fun aside even if it does stray rather far from the usual Sonic formula. Special stages see you control-

ling the world around Sonic as he free-falls from the top of the screen. Fans of the early Sonic

Viva New Vegas

Damien O’Rourke is excited about the next install- ment in the Fallout franchise.

Fallout 3 has claimed many acco- lades. Game of the year according to IGN and Golden Joystick, near perfect reviews and ratings across the board and, on a personal note, approximately 10 days of my life when all my play time is added up. Fallout 3 was the game I got free

when I first purchased my Xbox in late 2008. I had never heard of the Fallout series before but it quickly became like crack to me. I recall days where I would get up and play all day, breaking for meals and bathroom trips. This was fine given that I had little responsibility and a job where I only needed to be awake in my apartment on call from 4am to 9.30pm on weekends. Now a new Fallout game is

upon us and, to be honest, I’m ter- rified. Two years later and I find myself in a fairly intensive masters course that doesn’t give me much free time. Fallout New Vegas is a legitimate threat to my degree and I’m almost certain there are a few more like me who will undoubt- edly buy this game and become immersed once again in the capital wasteland battling raiders and super mutants.

In New Vegas, Fallout returns

to the post-apocalyptic wastelands of the west with a fresh perspec- tive. You are a courier who has been shot, robbed of your cargo, and left for dead in a shallow grave. You survive and venture out to settle the score, but the world is turning to hell around you. The NCR (New California Republic) is struggling against the Roman-in- spired Caesar’s Legion while the Brotherhood of Steel, Children of the Apocalypse, Boomers and the numerous families of New Vegas are all looking for their cut. The environment of New Vegas

will be interesting given that Las Vegas remained largely unaffected from the nuclear blasts, it still has electricity (from the Hoover dam), its buildings are unaffected and its inhabitant’s mutations are minimal.

Fallout 3’s Karma system re-

turns, but in addition to being good, evil or neutral, New Vegas players builds reputations with the area’s factions and towns. This can make for some very hairy situa- tions, especially if you’re an enemy of the NCR, which seems to

games always fondly recall the music but the tracks here are not as memorable and you probably won’t find yourself humming them all-day long. Many of the sound ef- fects, however, are directly lifted from the old games. I defy anyone who had a Mega Drive not to feel a twinge of nostalgia upon hearing the classic “SE-GA” sound bite when you start it up. Episode 1 is generally very easy

but there are a few punishing diffi- culty spikes. Camouflaged ene- mies who appear out of nowhere to decimate your rings are extremely galling. Awkward platforming sec- tions can drain lives and the final boss can take a ridiculous amount of damage before finally falling. With Sonic the Hedghog 4 Sega

promised a return to the classic Sonic titles that established the character butwhat they delivered was a weak-willed mish-mash of old and new elements that fails to understand what made those early games so appealing. Taken on its own terms, Episode 1 is a brief, flawed yet still occasionally enter- taining game.

have a foothold in most outposts. The play between reputations and factions leaves the door open for a staggering amount of replay value. Developer Obsidian has intro-

duced hardcore mode where you must keep your character hydrated, well rested, and properly fed at all times, or risk death. If that’s not re- alistic enough for you, ammunition now counts toward your weight limit and broken bones require proper medical attention. A new feature known as crafting adds a plethora of new customization op- tions.

Players can now modify

weapons to add a scope, increase the rate of fire or increase the mag- azine size. Crafting will also play a role in ammunition, with the player being able to craft ammuni- tion, such as hand-loaded rounds. In addition, a plant-harvesting sys- tem similar to the Elder Scrolls se- ries will be in place for the player to use such plants to make bullets, chems, healing items, stat boosts and other handy contraptions. Fallout: New Vegas is out now

and, honestly, I don’t know how I will be paying for food in Novem- ber between this and the newest in- stallment in the Call of Duty series: ‘Black-Ops’. If you want an en- joyable, immersive game that you can sink into like a good book then get yourself Fallout: New Vegas and say goodbye to reality for a while.

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