I have never been a fan of any type of racing game, but Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed has kept me playing somehow! Commonly referred to as "Sonic Kart", Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed carries on the mantle of SEGA's racing franchises, coming after titles such as Outrun and Daytona USA. It features a lot of the characters and locales from alot of SEGA's major and not-so-major franchises (I'm looking at you, Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg!).
"What does the Transformed in the title mean?", you might be wondering. To put it simply, each racer's car can transform between a car, boat, and a plane! This makes for some interesting track designs, as portions of each track are land, water, and air-based, and transition between each other very smoothly. It's exciting watching your car morph into a boat or plane without losing any momentum! Sadly, the water segments are the weakest points, as you do not have the traction of the track, and waves don't seem to have any impact on your boat at all. The plane is easily the most fun segment, with the car segments coming second. A major mechanic in the game is "Drifting", in which you brake and turn to the side around curves, which after awhile will earn you a boost when you come out of drifting. Using this to your advantage is key to keeping up with your opponents and winning races!
With over 20 tracks (40 if you count the mirrored tracks), there is never a dull moment. Tracks also morph and terraform between laps, offering a different experience per lap, and chaning up the land/air/water segments as you go. Tracks range from your typical Sonic locales (Casino Palace, Seaside), to a Panzer Dragoon track, Super Monkey Ball, and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. Each track is unique, and they all change as the race progresses.
There are many, many characters available to unlock, all representing the franchise they come from. Of course, you have your obvious characters...Sonic the Hedgehog, Knuckles the Echidna, Tails, and Metal Sonic. But there are also characters such as Wreck-It-Ralph, Beat from Jet Set Radio, MiMi from Super Monkey Ball, Vyse from Skies of Arcadia, Ulala from Space Channel 5, and many more. Exclusive to the Steam version are also the Tactician from Football Manager, the Deadly Assassin from Total War: Shogun, and Heavy/Spy/Pyro from Team Fortress 2. Each one levels up, gaining more "car mods" with which you can customize the performance of your vehicle. Your car has a few stats on which it is graded, which can be adjusted with your unlocked mods: Speed, Handling, Acceleration, Boost, and All-Star. All-Star is a special ability unique to each character that can be activated by collecting the appropriate power-up. For example, Knuckles' All-Star ability allows him to use the Master Emerald to conjure a Chaos Blast-like explosion.
There are a number of power-ups that can be used, each obtained from a Random Item pickup. Once picked up, a very fast roulette will determine what power-up you receive. This is completely random, and is also the only way to get the All-Star power-up. Examples of some power-ups are Snow (allows you to throw up to 3 snowballs at opponents), Boost (gives you a free, trigger-at-will boost), Fireworks (similar to Snow, but fires a Firework that bounces between walls), and Blowfish (drops a blowfish on the track which stops any racers who hits it momentarily). If you hit an opponent with a power-up like Snow or Firework, they will drop a Coin. These are collected and used to play a slots game before each race, at the cost of 5 Coins per pull. You can obtain a random power-up at the very start of the race in this manner.
There are several games modes, including World Tour, Time Trial, Single Race, and Grand Prix. In addition to this, there is a multiplayer that utilizes Steam Matchmaking, so your are never too far from competition!
As I said at the beginning of this review, I am not a fan of racing games. But Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed has made me change my mind about racers. They can be pretty awesome when done right, and this game definitely does it right. It's fun, vibrant, and never short on thrills, challenges, or variety. Do check this game out if you haven't already, you'll be glad you did.http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=388969120
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