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Thursday, January 31, 2013

What a Transformation!

No, not from the Shinobi series... But from the Total War: Shogun series!

When I first learned that the sequel to Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing was going to introduce vehicle transformation elements, I am not going to lie to you, I was really worried because I don't want them to add unnecessary things to what was already the perfect kart racing game. Then, after seeing some gameplay footage from Sonic All-Stars Racing: Transformed, I began to realize that it may actually work. Of course it was hard to tell when I was not the one holding the controller. Today, the Personal Computer version of the game has finally been released, complete with the 3 PC-exclusive characters, and despite its cheaper price versus the console iterations, it's not a sloppy port! On my PC, I am able to run the game at native 1080p with all the settings maxed at rock solid 60 frames per second. I play the game with the X-Box 360 controller and it works flawlessly. Those crazies who would only play a PC game with a keyboard will be happy to know that they can do so and that they can assign the keys however they wish.

♫Blue, blue skies!♫

From the get go the one thing that is most noticeable with this game is the monumental amount of efforts that was put into the game's graphics. The characters and vehicle have a lot of details to them but those racing tracks, my galaxy, they are absolutely remarkable. Those familiar with the Sega brand will be able to pick up on a lot of subtle little additions to the surroundings but even if you are completely oblivious to anything Sega, you can appreciate the ever changing environment and crazy events happening while you are racing. There are no other racing games out there that could match the energy and excitement that these tracks generate. Now the kart racing itself is pretty standard and that's okay. The important thing here is that the controls are responsive and tight. The game uses the drift mechanic heavily - basically, the longer you drift, the more boost you get - and that is true even when you transform into an aircraft as well as a speedboat. The most dramatic gameplay difference between the three forms is of course the aircraft because you then have access to more maneuverable space. Instead of being jarring, the transitions between the three vehicle types are actually cleverly punctuated and they create cool moments along the tracks.

Good luck blocking that face from showing up in your next nightmare...

The game comes with plenty of game modes that include a variety of challenges and there are a lot of race tracks too. I sure wish that all of them are new however because Sumo Digital decided to remake 4 from the last game. A nod to the Mario Kart games, you can say. Apparently, they didn't think that this game has the potential to be vastly superior to that series. I feel differently about that. Nintendo will have to work hard on their next Mario Kart game for the Wii U to be able to stay competitive with this game. I haven't tried the online multiplayer yet for I am having too much fun playing the single player modes. Sega & All-Stars Racing: Transformed, just like the first game, is one of Sega's finest works and is a further testament that Sega games should always be released on the PC.

After seeing this in motion, you will be begging Sega for a Skies of Arcadia sequel.

FIRST IMPRESSION: 5 out of 5

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