For some reason, Sonic: Lost World was the game I was most looking forward to playing at E3. From the footage we’d seen, it looked like a return to form for Sonic and an interesting cross between the blue blur and Super Mario Galaxy. Most importantly, though, it just looked like a lot of fun. So, then, I know it seems like a lot of fun, but is it actually?
Absolutely. The level I got to play was one you’ve seen in all the videos: The Green Hill-esque zone that has Sonic racing through lush green fields to get to the goal. As I’m sure you’re well aware, Lost World looks exactly like what you’d imagine a 3D Sonic should look like. It’s a great translation of the classic, 2D Sonic artstyle to 3D. The entire stage is colorful and features that same checkerboard pattern that you recognize immediately. In short, this looks more like a Sonic than any other 3D Sonic game. We’ve posted some screenshots here, so check them out if you want a clearer picture about what the game looks like.
Enough about how it looks, how does it actually play? Beautifully, as it turns out. The game runs at a rock solid 60fps, giving it a silky smooth feeling that’s essential for a game as fast as Sonic. Speaking of speed, Lost World is fast. Sonic runs at an incredible speed, and if you get a good flow going you can absolutely fly through the levels. Unlike in previous 3D Sonic games where hitting a wall or object brought your speed down to zero, Lost World features a parkour system where that keeps Sonic going if he runs into anything. For example, running full speed into a tree causes Sonic to actually run up the tree and jump off the top, maintaining his speed. Likewise, hitting most walls while moving quickly will cause Sonic to either run up the wall or perform a wall run across it. Keep in mind that any damaging obstacles such as spikes or enemies will still hurt Sonic and slow him down, but you no longer have to worry about getting caught on a stray piece of geometry and having the entire game come to an abrupt stop.
Even the platforming has been improved. Sonic is now able to hang onto and climb up ledges which makes the platforming a little easier. Sonic’s homing attack has also returned, and he’s able to jump into the air and lock onto an enemy, then at the push of a button slam into them. Surprisingly, the homing attack isn’t always needed. I’m not sure if it’s the slightly overhead camera angle or what, but Sonic is incredibly accurate and it’s easy to hit even without the homing attack, but there were a handful of times when it was helpful to have the homing attack. The classic spin dash returns as well, and once again sends Sonic spinning forward with great velocity and allows him to cover ground quickly and defeat any enemy he touches.
If there’s one complaint I had, though, it was the controls. Not to say that they’re bad, just that they take some getting used to. They are incredibly, ridiculously responsive, but when travelling at high speeds Sonic seems to be just a little bit slippery. Before I managed to get a good grasp of how Sonic controlled I found myself plunging to my death off the edge of the stage.
Finally, I’d like to touch a bit on the level design. In the level I played, there were multiple paths from one point to another. The “standard” path was usually pretty well laid out, with a line of rings and enemies pointing you in the right direction. Lost World rewards exploration, though, and heading in a different direction, or even around the other side of each planetoid, would reward me with another path to take. Sometimes this was relatively simple and simply took me around the back to reach the same spot, while at other times it opened up entirely new areas. Looking around there were constantly a number of planetoids in view, and from my experience you could reach and explore every single one of them by taking different paths through the level. One again, this harkens back to the Genesis era Sonic games, all of which had multiple paths through the level and rewarded the player’s exploration.
I walked away from Sonic: Lost World with a good impression of the game. In a way, this is the way 3D Sonic should have always been: Reminiscent of 2D Sonic but with it’s own unique spin. After playing one level I’m now fully looking forward to playing the full version of Sonic: Lost World, and actually looking forward to a Sonic game again is a weird yet welcome position to be in.