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Sonic Free Riders – The good

  • The only kinect game that has a story!!!
  • Has interesting races, first of its kind in my experience
  • It’s easy but also hard, good mix of challenges to do
  • Lots of different things to do as well as bike racing in addition to the board racing

Sonic Free Riders – The not so good

  • The graphics are pretty bad, however I feel they put more effort into the controls and not the looks
  • Lack of tracks, there are only 6 with a standard and expert mode
  • The menu can be annoying at most times, voice recognition doesn’t always work
  • Even though there is a story mode, they are still images and it would of been so much better if it was animated

Sonic Free Riders – Story
Finally, the only kinect game that has a story mode, albeit it’s pretty corny as most Sonic stories are, but it’s there!

Sonic Free Riders – Kinect experience
Kinect works well for the most part, there is a little trouble with detecting your hands when trying to grab rings. Other than that, mostly everything works. I know people have trouble with this game, however if you follow the tutorials it becomes quite easy. Comparing the controls to Adrenalin Misfits, I won’t lie, AM does work better, but you don’t do as much in the game.

Sonic Free Riders – Graphics
The graphics are below subpar. It’s very noticable in the tutorials at the end when you stop. They didn’t even bother to anti-alias anything so graphics are very jaggedy. Not impressed, but while you are racing, you forget all about the graphics.

Sonic Free Riders – Gameplay
The game itself is where it shines. It’s very innovative and I found it fun. I am actually planning on playing this farther than the simple 1-2 hour trial. It has many different types of races, the problem with it is there are only 6 tracks and out of the 6, there are only a standard and expert variation so after you master the tracks, it becomes somewhat boring, this is where online would kick in.

Onto the races, there’s regular racing, but you are able to grab items, such as a pop can, and all the characters interpret some items differently, such as the soda can, sonic shakes it to turn it into a giant turbo can that he hops on to give you a speed boost.

You can also “dash” by sweeping your foot as if you were on a skateboard. You also are able to grab rings by reaching for them and putting yourself into “catch mode”. This is where it’s somewhat finicky as it doesn’t always know if you want catch mode or if you are just trying to lean to turn.

There’s also like little mini-games within the race which I found very cool. One track makes you swim and you have do a swimming motion to get through it quick. Another track has you go through steam, and you have to wipe the steam off your screen, cool little perks that I found interesting. Also as Knuckles and the other guy from Babylon, you get to punch to break things such as rocks, ice, etc…

You are usually on a board until you unlock the bike gear. The bike is basically a hovering motorbike which I also found cool, it is much easier to steer the bike than the board, so it may be a plus for some people, however the grand prix mode does require you to board and not bike if you are having difficulties.

Onto the game modes! First up is offline play, in offline play you have several different racing options:

World Grand Prix – This is the story mode of the game. Like I stated earlier, the problem with it is its corny, if it wasn’t corny it wouldn’t be bad, but being that it’s corny, it’s just still images with recorded voices, it would have been so awesome if they animated it like the intro is animated. In this mode, you start first with 2 teams, the heroes and the babylon. Each team consists of 3 players and you use all 3 players during your “quest”. The WGP mode only lasts 10 missions, so it’s not very long, however once you conquer the first 2 team stories, you unlock 2 others, the dark team and the rose team. Once you complete all 4 teams, I believe you unlock additional characters although I have not progressed this far yet.

Free Race –
Normal Mode – Regular racing mode, with items, rings and jumps
Ring Collection – Collect as many rings as possible within the given time limit
Damage Survival – Get the most points in timed mode, I did not try this one but I’m guessing you have to damage as many things as possible

Tag Mode – Team racing with another player, I didn’t try this one either but I’m guessing its just 2 player simulataneous racing

Relay Mode – 2 to 4 player racing, I also didn’t try this, but I’m guessing its 2 player simulataneous taking turns to accomodate 4 people

Tutorial Mode – they actually made the tutorial pretty in depth and people having trouble playing, should definitely go through this. They offer board gear basics, board gear technique, and bike gear. Try to not pay attention to the graphics, they are pretty bad and show it well here.

Time Attack – Just timed mode to get the fastest time on the 6 tracks with 2 variations of each. Nothing spectacular.

Lastly, there is a shop area as well. In the shop, you have 2 different categories to purchase from. Parts list which is basically like your abilities, such as being able to grab more rings, use your dash longer, etc, and then gear list which is just different boards and bikes. As you progress through the game and collect rings, it tallies them for you and you can then spend them here. Quite a few things to unlock but nothing overly difficult.

Sonic Free Riders – Multiplayer options
I didn’t get a chance to play multiplayer unfortunately so I’m not sure how well the 2 player works. There is also the xbox live option to race against up to 7 other people, I didn’t test this out as it is a speed game, so not sure if lag is an issue.

Conclusion
Overall, I liked this game. I like the different addons they added to game and just didn’t limit it to a board type game but added bikes as well which I thought was ingenious. I didn’t find the controls difficult although the turning could use a little work, other than that and when you reach for rings, most of the controls work fairly well.

Another note, this game is also the first that I seen that made a “mini-game” during the track loading, it’s a simple manuever through a slalom style 4 pillar course, however after you do it over and over and over, you get much more used to the controls.

My last note on this game, if it had an animated story or better storyline, I would of given it an 8 but it doesn’t, so it suffers a 7. The only problem I do see with this game, is when you beat it all, it will probably become boring, so either you will then move to online racing or wait hopefully for new tracks as DLC if they plan on making any. The demo is on xbox live, however it really doesn’t show you anything from what the full game offers, so my suggestion is if you like the demo or it gives you curiousity, try renting the game first if you can, and then get a full feel for it before making the purchase.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Sonic Free Riders
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