Sonic Adventure was the Dreamcast’s best selling game, which doesn’t mean much since the console wasn’t a commercial success, but it was the most successful game for it, and as I said before in my review, Sonic Adventure wasn’t perfect, but it was decent for a first 3D Sonic game, however the Sonic franchise would complete 10 years in 2001, and Sega wanted to celebrate Sonic’s 10th anniversary by making a sequel to Sonic Adventure, and so they did, just like the first Sonic Adventure, this game was previewed a lot by magazines and TV programs, especially because it was Sonic’s 10th anniversary game, there were even some magazines that made a “history” of Sonic, talking about all of the franchise’s games up to that point. The game was released to a positive reception in 2001, however its Battle release for Gamecube was less-favorably received and his HD release for Xbox 360 was almost poorly received.
Well, I liked Sonic Adventure despite having its flaws, but I really, REALLY hate Sonic Adventure 2, I played it back in 2001 and didn’t like the game as much as the first one, and playing it now just makes it seem worse than it already was before, this was the game that made Sonic start to go downhill to me, not Sonic Adventure 1, but 2. And before SA2 fanboys start crying on my ears for hating their favorite game, I’ll explain why I hate this game so much and why do I think it’s the first bad main Sonic game. This is probably going to be a long review because I have a LOT to complain about this game, Sonic Adventure 2 sucks and I’m not going to leave one single stone unturned about why this game is such a giant turd and why do I consider it to be one of the worst games in this franchise.
Sonic Adventure 2′s story is split up between the Hero side with Sonic, Tails and Knuckles as the main characters, and the Dark side with Dr. Eggman and the new characters: Shadow the Hedgehog and Rouge the Bat. Like in my Sonic Adventure review, I’ll explain the story in a chronological order to make it seem less complicated.
Dr. Eggman is invading a military base of the G.U.N forces in search of a secret military weapon his grandfather, Professor Gerald Robotnik, was working on, the research on this military weapon was shut down and hidden supposedly because G.U.N feared it, reaching the area where the weapon was hidden, Eggman discovers that the military’s top secret weapon is a black hedgehog called Shadow, and since Eggman freed him from that prison, he said he would grant him one wish, and then Shadow told Eggman to meet him at the Space Colony ARK, while he would be off stealing a Chaos Emerald from a military building… Shadow’s goal is to have revenge on mankind for something they did in their past related to a girl called Maria he knew on the ARK, he doesn’t remember much of his past, but he knew this was his promise to her and he intend to keep it.
… And Sonic was blamed for that, he was later arrested by G.U.N for stealing the emerald, but since he’s not a big fan of prison, he broke out of G.U.N’s helicopter and started to run away from the military around the city, only to encounter Shadow later and finally realize that the military was stupid enough to confuse both him and Shadow, so he tried to kick Shadow’s ass and clear his name, but the black hedgehog used the power of the Chaos Emerald he stolen to perform the Chaos Control, a technique that can warp time, so he used it to get past Sonic and get the hell out of the city, and Sonic was arrested… Again.
Meanwhile, Knuckles was fighting a big-breasted jewel-loving bat girl called Rouge over the Master Emerald at Angel Island, because she loves jewels and want to steal the emerald from him, but Eggman appeared on the island and took advantage of their discussion to take the Master Emerald to himself, making Knuckles jump in his Egg Mobile’s direction and… Break the Master Emerald… So now he’ll have to find the pieces scattered around the region… Again! But this time, Rouge is also after the pieces of the Master Emerald because she still wants the emerald for herself, and she also follows Eggman to his base located in a pyramid, which leads her to the Space Colony ARK where Eggman is meeting Shadow, who’s showing him the Eclipse Cannon, a weapon in the ARK that’s powerful enough to wipe out the entire planet, but it’s been deactivated for years, so they’ll need, of course, the Chaos Emeralds to use their energy to reactivate the machine and have power to destroy the whole planet with the cannon.
Rouge then appears before them and offers to help them search for the Chaos Emeralds because she specializes in jewels and also happens to have a Chaos Emerald herself, so they didn’t question too much and accepter her offer. They later began their plan to invade G.U.N’s Prison Island and steal three Chaos Emeralds that are hidden in the island, with Eggman striking from the front to distract G.U.N’s troops while Shadow and Rouge will sneak in, the former will plant a bomb to blow up the whole island while the latter will steal the Chaos Emeralds and get out of the island before it explodes.
And at the exact same moment, Amy appeared and thought Shadow was Sonic, but then Eggman decided he would get rid of her, but Tails showed up and stopped Eggman from doing so, both Tails and Amy went to Prison Island to free Sonic and get him out of the prison, but later he learned that Shadow is in the island and ran after him as soon as Amy freed him. Rouge just stole the Chaos Emeralds in the island, but she was trapped inside a room and can’t get away, she was talking about her situation to Shadow, who remembered his friend in the ARK, a girl called Maria, and ran to her rescue, but he was interrupted by Sonic, who found him and wanted to kick his ass this time, leading them to fight, Eggman later warned the island was going to blow in some minutes, Shadow used the Chaos Control to get Rouge out of the island and Sonic ran to Tails and Amy and all of them got away in the Tornado.
So later, Shadow still had flashbacks about Maria at ARK, but then Eggman called him and Rouge to get to the core of the ARK so they could threaten the people at the Earth with the cannon and force them to surrender, they demonstrated the power of the cannon by using it to blow half of the moon, with the power of six Chaos Emeralds. Meanwhile on the Earth, Knuckles eventually encounters Sonic, Tails and Amy, and all of them decide to head to the ARK in outer space and stop Eggman’s plan before he decides to fire the cannon again.
Now… How do I begin to talk about how terrible and utterly stupid Sonic Adventure 2′s story is? Let’s begin with… The beginning, how in the world did G.U.N confuse Sonic with Shadow? They look nothing like each other at all, Sonic is a blue hedgehog with red shoes while Shadow is a black hedgehog with some red details and differents spikes, not to mention he has white shoes, and don’t come to me with that “It was at night and they couldn’t see him well” bullshit, because in one of the scenes, Eggman was watching a news flash about Shadow stealing the emerald, and the camera had a completely clear close on Shadow’s face, yet those dumbasses still identified him as Sonic, and why the hell would they think Sonic would steal a Chaos Emerald anyway? Did they forget that he was the one who saved Station Square from a giant liquid monster? They couldn’t have been oblivious to this fact because it said on these news that Sonic was a “renowned hero”. G.U.N has to be the most incompetent military force in history, if the world was depending on them, we would all be doomed.
For me to explain the other points in the story, I’ll have to explain the backstory of the game, which takes place on the ARK 50 years ago, Professor Gerald Robotnik was working on “Project Shadow”, a research with the help of the government to create the Ultimate Lifeform in order to cure his granddaughter Maria Robotnik’s illness and benefit mankind as well, he eventually created Shadow, who became close friends with Maria, and they continued to live happily in the ARK while Gerald was still doing his researches for the good of mankind. But then G.U.N suddenly decided that Gerald’s experiments were dangerous to humanity and decided to board the colony and shut it down… By “shutting down” I mean killing everyone on sight, even Maria herself, who put Shadow in a capsule and sent him to earth before dying, with her last words being “Do it for me, for all the people on that planet…”. Gerald himself was arrested and was executed by G.U.N later on.
And this is where things start to make even less sense, why did Shadow think Maria would want revenge against mankind? Sure, he doesn’t remember what exactly she wanted him to do, but surely she wouldn’t want that, you can say that just by looking at her flashbacks with Shadow, she was introduced as an innocent girl who only wanted people to be happy, Maria didn’t seem like she would want a dark thing such as revenge, and she really didn’t, because later, Amy makes Shadow remember that she wanted him to protect mankin and not destroy it, so what was the point of everything Shadow did in this game? He was terribly stupid to think that a girl like Maria would want something like that. Some people say he was programmed by Gerald, but the guy was on prison, there was no way he would get out of prison to program Shadow and then go back to prison, it would be even dumber, and if Gerald was such a good guy, why the hell did he make a giant ass cannon in the ARK that could destroy the planet? And he didn’t make that after the attack on the ARK because he was arrested, so he didn’t really make experiments for the “good of humanity”.
And what’s up with G.U.N anyway? Not only were they retarded enough to confuse Sonic with Shadow, but also decided to kill innocent people at the ARK, including a little girl who had nothing to do with these “dangerous researches”, just to shut it down and capture Gerald? They had to kill everyone instead of just shutting the colony down and arresting only Gerald? What a bunch of assholes! And why did they think Gerald’s research was dangerous out of nowhere? They didn’t know about the Eclipse Cannon because as far as I know, Gerald kept it hidden from everybody, so how did they know that Gerald was making something dangerous? And who the hell ordered that attack on the ARK? Seriously, G.U.N is technically on the “good side”, but these guys look much more like the villains of this game instead of Eggman, Shadow or even Gerald for that matter. And the worst thing of all is that nothing happens to G.U.N, there isn’t even some kind of plot twist where, I dunno, the G.U.N commander would reveal himself as the true villain who ordered that slaughter at the ARK, but no, nothing happens.
And the game doesn’t even bother to explain any of this bullshit, it just has this stuff happening without any proper explanation whatsoever, if Sega wanted to make a “adult” and “darker” story, they should at least pay attention to details and put more effort into it, because this story is fucking horrible and makes little to no logical sense, and that’s why I absolutely hate it. The dialogue is marginally better than what we had in Sonic Adventure, but it’s still pretty bad and feel way too cheesy with lines like Shadow saying “I’m the coolest” while you fight him, Sonic talking about how Planet Earth is “cool and blue as him”… This doesn’t happen too often, but it’s still kinda funny to see the characters talking these stuff. And what makes this even funnier is that this game takes itself seriously enough to have these character saying lines like these while they are indeed serious.
By the way, since I already started talking about the details… Why the hell did Knuckles break the Master Emerald again? Eggman was stealing it? Well, how about hitting Eggman instead of the emerald so his ship would drop the emerald? I mean, wow, he really did break the emerald just for that? And this means Angel Island fell again, some guardian Knuckles turned out to be…
Now, I know I have just complained and complained about the story, but is there anything good in this poorly written clusterfuck? Well… I like Rouge, she’s an interesting character and reminded me of Catwoman from Batman, I liked that she was actually a G.U.N spy all along and was sending information on Shadow and Eggman’s plans to the Government. It’s not clear what exactly she wants, but I guess this makes her more interesting, it’s kinda intriguing for me. And Shadow was an okay character despite still having that dumb conclusion that Maria wants revenge, he has some character development and even has a beautiful ending where he dies to sacrifice himself to save the world… That is until he came back out of freaking nowhere in Sonic Heroes and turned into another shitty Sonic character.
This game’s graphics improve a lot on the predecessor, from a technical standpoint that is, the characters have some really good-looking models, and the animation here is a lot better, the characters don’t repeat the same animation over and over, they still feel a bit robotic, but I guess that’s the best they could do at that time, and their facial expressions are MUCH better as they actually have normal expressions now, Sonic Adventure 2 was probably the best looking 3D platformer of that time, and its graphics haven’t aged poorly to me at least, I still think the cutscenes are well done, and even the voice acting is decent, but the audio mixing is awful, you have characters constantly saying phrases over each other, it’s like all of them want to talk at the same time, resulting in some lines that are hard to understand. One scene has Sonic and Shadow talking before they start fighting, Sonic calls Shadow a faker and he answers something like “I think you’re the faker around here, you’re comparing yourself to me? You’re not even good enough to be my fake!” Sonic answers saying “I’ll make you eat those words!”, but in the actual scene it goes something like this:
Sonic: YOU FAKER!
Shadow: You’re the faker around here! You’re comparing yourself to me?
Shadow and Sonic at the same time: YOU’RE NOT I’LLEVENMAKEGOODENOUGHTOYOUBEEATMYTHOSEFAKEWORDS!
This is really awkward and I can’t help but laugh when it happens, and it happens way too frequently for me to be able to ignore.
My problem with Sonic Adventure 2 however in visual department is the art direction, Sonic Adventure started to put Sonic into a more realistic setting, but it still felt like a cartoon, Sonic Adventure 2 however tries to be dark en edgy, this results in an even more realistic art style, there is little to nothing here that reminds you of Sonic, you have generic bland-looking cities, forests and brown mountains/aquatic mines, even the humans in this game are more realistic, the ones in Sonic Adventure looked like anime characters, but here they really look like real people, I would prefer a Sonic game without humans, but since they NEED to appear, at least make them look less-real, Sonic feels out of place in this kind of setting, this is not unique, it just makes Sonic no different visually than these generic shooters with realistic scenery and all. I was fine with Sonic Adventure’s art direction, but I hate Sonic Adventure 2′s art direction with a burning passion, it’s bland, ugly and uninspired. Well if you WANT me to say something positive about this, the space levels look cool, but only them.
Just like the first one, the gameplay here is divided, not into six parts, but three this time: Speed, Treasure Hunting and Mech-shooting. You have six playable characters, but the three characters from each team play much like their other team counterparts, Sonic and Shadow are the speed characters, Knuckles and Rouge are the treasure hunters, Eggman and… Ugh… Tails… Are the mech-shooters, and all of them play much like each other. While this discards the fishing, racing and the boring “survival” playstile that were in Sonic Adventure, it still keeps the alternate gameplays, and they were the problem with the first game, nobody wanted to play as the other characters because of these different styles, everybody got the game just to play as Sonic because his gameplay was the series’ trademark speedy platformer, and although Sonic Adventure 2 decreases the amount of alternate gameplay, it downgraded almost every single gameplay style it kept.
Sonic and Shadow’s stages are about running and getting to the goal as fast as possible, and first let’s start with the positives here, Sonic controls better than he did in the first Sonic Adventure game, the controls aren’t as sensitive as they were before, also the Ligh Dash received a upgrade and instead of charging it, you just get to the line of rings and press X, simple and fast. But this is where the positives end, Sonic/Shadow’s stages have a level design that just pales in comparison to Sonic’s stages in the first game, instead of trying to be open and blend speed, platforming and exploration, the speed stages in this game are focused entirely on speed, as such, they are tremendously linear and have little to no platforming at all, you just keep holding forward and running through loop-de-loops to stop to make some basic platforming sections here and there or Homing Attack your way through a chain of enemies in the air over a bottomless pit, but then you continue to run until the stage ends, this makes these stages boring and even repetitive after a while.
The only exceptions I can think of are Final Rush and Final Chase, but even they aren’t that great, sure they are more open ended and have lots of hidden paths, as well as you can put the grinding on this game to good use as the rails have their own physics that use momentum in order to grind faster, but while these stages are more open, they are horribly frustrating because it’s just a lot of rails over an enormous bottomless pit, if you make one slight mistake, you will take a plummet to your death, and this is going to happen a lot, especially in Shadow’s level, Final Chase, which has some rotating gravity devices that work just when they feel like doing so. But overall, Sonic and Shadow’s stages have some of the most uninteresting level designs in the whole Sonic franchise, almost all of these levels feel like racing tracks, maybe they did that because they wanted the platforming and exploration to be with other characters, but this was ridiculous and unnecessary, Sonic Adventure did the same thing right without having to turn Sonic into a racing game, so why did they do this here?
And it’s not like Sonic and Shadow’s stages are free of technical problems that weren’t fixed on the first game, the camera here still gets stuck sometimes and can cause some cheap deaths due to blocking your view, it’s not as bad as Sonic Adventure’s camera, but come on, how couldn’t they fix this properly? And this game also has its own flaws, sometimes the Light Dash doesn’t work the way it should, I have a line of rings in front of me, but instead of using the light dash, I end up doing that somersault move to get under small gaps, making you slow down, and it’s not like it’s going to work after failing for the first time, in Green Forest, I tried to do the Light Dash not one, or two, or three, but SIX times in a row, and all of them made me slow down and somersault through the rings, I got annoyed and gave up on that crap. Another annoying thing about these stages is the enemy placement, sometimes you’re running and them BAM, an enemy appears in front of you before you can even react if you’re playing for the first time, this happens randomly, it isn’t much of a problem in these stages at least, but it’s still very annoying when it happens.
So, in the end, Sonic and Shadow contol better than Sonic controlled in Sonic Adventure, but everything else was made worse and I rarely wanted to replay their stages because they didn’t make me want to replay at all, there was little to nothing to explore, few alternate paths and almost no challenge at all, this is not Sonic as I know it, and will never ever be. This was supposed to be the best part of the game, but… Oh, wait, IT FUCKING IS! These uninteresting race tracks are the best part of the game! Everything just goes really downhill from here.
Knuckles and Rouge’s stages follow the same concept from the first Sonic Adventure game, hunting for pieces of the Master Emerald, and keys sometimes, like Sonic and Shadow, they control better than Knuckles in the first game and feel speedy enough, and now they can run and punch/kick at the same time, which helps to maintain your momentum while killing your enemies, you can still glide and digging the ground is cooler because you can do it while jumping or in the air, then your chacacter goes down to the ground like a drill and pierces the ground, but this is also where the positives end.
In the previous game, you had a radar that warns you of any close emerald that’s hidden on the map, regardless of being the first, the second or the third one, the radar in this game however wants you to find the emeralds in an order, it just indicates you where the first emerald is, and then it goes to the second once you get it, and it keeps going until you find the three of them, it’s frustrating because sometimes you just run past an emerald that’s hidden in some corner or even in the ground, but the radar doesn’t warn you about that because it wants you to find another emerald instead, I found myself returning to many points in the stage because of that, and I didn’t even hate the treasure hunting stages in the first game, but this is just horrendous, this game made me hate treasure hunting stages, to make matters worse, the game doesn’t have Tikal or any kind of light to show you the way to the emerald, instead it has monitors giving you clues of the whereabouts of the emerald, clues that you’ll only understand if you know the stage you’re playing, something you obviously won’t if you’re playing the game for the first time. Geeeeeeeenius!
Not only this is a horrible downgrade from the first game’s radar, but it’s also a blatant way to make these levels longer, because in the first game you could even complete them faster, and for some reason, Sega thought that was bad and also thought everybody loved treasure hunting, so they did this to extend the stages’ times, and they made sure of that, because some of these stages can take up to ten fucking minutes or more to complete, especially the later stages, they’re huge and the emeralds seem to be in more impossible places, the absolute worst of these stages is Rouge’s final stage where you have to deal with gravity in some little “planets” scattered around the map, but the clues are inverted. Who in the name of God thought this would be a good idea? Isn’t it frustrating enough that I have a downgraded radar and awkward gravity controls? You had to give me this bullshit as well? My God, it’s impressive how this just keeps getting worse instead of getting better, it’s almost like Sega made this as a joke.
I wanted to talk about Tails and Eggman as one, but I’ll just talk about Eggman because I want to talk about Tails as a separate character, so yeah, this game allows you to play as Eggman, isn’t that cool? I mean you are the bad guy! You are Dr. Eggman, the mad genius who makes robots out of little animals and commands an entire army of robots and have massive weapons at his hands! So what do you do here? Well… Nothing special, you just have E-102 Gamma’s gameplay with worse jumping controls, how disappointing. It’s literally E-102 Gamma, even the lock-on thing remains the same and it’s just as boring and easy as it was in the first game, except the jump controls are more awkward and heavy, and this can make the platforming sections of the stages more like a struggle than anything else.
The level design for Eggman’s stages are fine, they are more focused on platforming and destroying enemies until you get to the Goal ring, without a random time limit this time, which is good, but playing on them isn’t as good because the mech-shooting is boring and doesn’t get much better with the upgrades you find for Eggman, he can just float, get a new armor for his mech and more powerful homing shots, the only level for Eggman I actually liked was his last one in space because there was no gravity and you could even fly using the mech, and it was more fast paced than the others, but it’s just one of the levels, the other ones are boring as hell, and the enemy placement problem is made even worse here, because you’re forced to play these stages slow and steady, because if you try to speedrun through them, an enemy may suddenly appear in front of you and make you get hit, or even die when you’re jumping from platform to platform and suddenly the enemy appears in the mid-air to stop you.
Now for Tails… My God, why did they do this to him? Why is Tails in a fucking mech? I can understand Eggman, but Tails? Gimme a break! His tornado turns into a mech pretty much like Eggman’s, but why can’t he just run, fly and use his tails like in the first game? It was fun, this shit here isn’t, and sometimes it doesn’t even make sense that he’s using a mech in some of his stages, in Mission Street, you’re running away from G.U.N, what would you expect Tails to do? Make his mech turn into the Tornado and fly away from the city? Well, nope, you’ll be on your mech and shooting G.U.N’s robots because… Tails likes to blow shit up, I guess. And there is another stage where this doesn’t make sense, when they’re going to invade Eggman’s pyramid and Tails goes first to explore and find the entrance… On his mech… Wouldn’t be easier to just fly and search for the entrance from above? Jesus Christ, not only having Tails in a mech is stupid, but he’s got the worst excuses ever to be on this mech. And don’t come with me with that “It’s to rival Eggman’s mech” crap because he defeater the Egg Walker in the first game without needing any mech at all, and his stages are actually worse than Eggman’s stages in terms of design, they’re more linear and there isn’t even one of them that’s actually fun.
I don’t like how the levels are ordered as well, you don’t play a whole story with Sonic, Knuckles, Shadow or any of the characters, but a story with them all, and in the Hero story you’ll have to stop playing as Sonic to play boring treasure hunting levels as Knuckles or shooting levels as Tails, Sonic has 6 stages while Tails and Knuckles both have 5, since Sonic is the only bearable character to play, you will still spend less time with him than the other characters, but it’s worse with the Dark story because Shadow has only FOUR levels while Rouge and Eggman both have 5, you will play as him 20% of the time, and this is pretty stupid, it’s REALLY like Sega thinks people liked the alternate gameplay from Sonic Adventure instead of Sonic’s gameplay.
And the boss fights are even more dull than the ones in the first game, they’re mostly character battles between Sonic and Shadow, Knuckles and Rouge and Tails vs Eggman, sometimes you fight a generic gun mech that’s recycled over and over, or the Egg Golem, which is a okay boss with Sonic, but annoying as Eggman. As for the character battles, Sonic vs Shadow ones are about waiting for the opportunity to attack, in the Knuckles vs Rouge ones you’ll spend more time fighting the camera instead of your opponent, and Tails and Eggman’s stages just depend on which one shoots first, they’re boring in general, the only one I liked was the Biolizard boss because it was challenging, even the final boss with Sonic and Shadow is terrible because sometimes the collision detection just won’t work and you’re not damaging him when you hit his weak spot.
The soundtrack is also weaker than Sonic Adventure’s soundtrack, because it has a much bigger focus on guitars and this kind of stuff, Sonic’s music has guitar, Shadow’s music has guitar, Tails’ music has guitar and even Eggman’s music has guitar, the only ones who stray from this are Rouge and Knuckles, the former has a jazzy music that’s fine by me, and the latter has some terrible raps with hilariously bad lyrics about how Knuckles is gonna find the Master Emerald and how sexy Rouge is (Seriously). But there are some highlights to this soundtrack, I love the main theme, Live and Learn, also by Crush 40, the final boss is even made tollerable just because this freaking awesome song is playing in the background, I think City Escape’s song is kinda catchy and I like Robotnik’s last level music Cosmic Wall, the final Sonic vs Shadow battle theme isn’t half bad either, I even like some of the guitar tracks like Metal Harbor, Radical Highway and Prison Lane, there are other good songs in the game, but many also aren’t much interesting or memorable. In the end, it is a fair soundtrack, but not a great one.
In the end, Sonic Adventure 2 is THE game that made this franchise go downhill to me, it takes almost everything from the first game and butchers it, the story is a sorry excuse for an “adult” tale, the art direction is ugly, the levels are terribly designed and uninteresting to replay once you completed them for the first time, there is almost nothing I find likeable about this game, I played it back in 2001, I didn’t like it that much, and playing it again didn’t make me like it much more, it just made me hate it even more because I noticed more flaws I didn’t see when I first played it. Sonic Adventure 2 is the shining example of what a Sonic game should not be like, I don’t think Sonic CD is the most overrated Sonic game, but this garbage is, this thing is loved by a big portion of the fanbase, and even this big portion mostly like only Sonic and Shadow’s levels, yeah, they like the Chao Gardens as well, but screw that wannabe pet simulator crap, I don’t care about Chao Gardens, so this game just plain sucks to me, probably some fanbrats will cry on the comments, but whatever, most of the people who like this crap are just blind fanboys anyway, so that’s it, Sonic Adventure 2 is horrible, end of the story.