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2017 could so easily have been the Year of the Hedgehog thanks to the arrival of two high-profile Sonic releases. It goes without saying that Sonic Mania is something truly special, a brilliant return to classic 2D platforming for the franchise - but on the 3D side of things, Sega came up short. Sonic Forces was a disappointment, a real shame bearing in mind just how good Sonic Generations was - especially on PC. The game has aged remarkably well, has exceptional modding support and runs well and looks wonderful at full 4K on GTX 970-level hardware.
Sonic Generations was released on PC back in 2011, a few weeks after the console versions. Unlike those 30fps efforts though, the PC version allows for smooth 60fps gameplay and higher resolutions. It's powered by the Hedgehog Engine and offers visuals that still hold up beautifully even in 2018. Indeed, in our opinion, the sheer quality of workmanship in the visuals makes this game stand up better than its successor.
The visual quality stems from a combination of great art direction, an accomplished post-processing pipeline including a soft-focus depth of field and good quality motion blur, detailed models and rich texture work. The star of the show is its solution to global illumination - a feature created for the original Sonic Unleashed, designed to simulate realistic light bounce across these expansive stages. The lighting data is pre-calculated, stored in textures and then streamed in during gameplay while characters are blended into the scene using a technique dubbed 'light field'. For an engine that began development in 2005, it's an impressive achievement.
Sonic Generations was a seemingly celebratory attempt to reconcile Sonic's troubled 3D incarnations with the 2D glory days of the Mega Drive era. It didn't entirely work, but, for better or worse, it's probably one of the best Sonic platformers of recent years.
Viking: Battle for Asgard is an entertaining third-person brawler. It's a bit naff, and has atrocious stealth sections, but also lets you thwack hundreds of enemies with axes and stuff. Sometimes that's all you need from a game, and that's okay.
Both bonus games are available for those who pay more than the average. It's a strange, eclectic bundle, but there's some good stuff in there. For $3.80 or above, you can get a collection of Dreamcast Games, a Sonic kart racer, Total War: Rome 2 DLC, Football Manager 2015 DLC, Empire: Total War, standalone Company of Heroes 2 multiplayer DLC, a Sonic platformer and a Viking brawler. There's also Shogun 2's standalone expansion available for those who part with $12 or above.
We've already recognized a whole bunch of the best game soundtracks of 2011. But of course, there are only so many hours in the day—only so much time to play games, and one can only write about so many game soundtracks.
Fortunately, you guys were up to the task of nominating outstanding soundtracks that didn't make our official round-up. On Thursday, you put forth a ton of worthy original soundtracks from the year. I gathered 'em all together and listed them here.
As an unscientific aside, if I had to gauge the general tenor, enthusiasm, and number of nominations, Kotaku's "Readers' Choice" Award for Best 2011 Video Game Soundtrack would go to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, with Bastion and Xenoblade Chronicles as runners-up. Y'all have good taste.
Each of these entries has been written by a Kotaku commenter, sometimes more than one.
Let's get down to it, shall we?
There are two games that make my short list: Xenoblade Chronicles and Radiant Historia. If we are only counting US releases, then I will default to Radiant Historia. I place the Xenoblade OST above Radiant Historia's though. It is not because of the established talent behind it, but rather because of the surprising great work of ACE+. Each piece really brings you into your new environments, and the new battle theme that kicks in some time into the game is just fantastic. This is one song and environment I particularly enjoyed (and it is different from the other tracks usually posted by others and myself). —Dodgewd
At least for being released this year in the UK, Xenoblade deserves a call out for contributions from heavyweights like Yasunori Mitsuda and Yoko Shimomura.—Tye The Czar
True dat. Some great tracks throughout. This track plays in the first open area you get to explore. It conveys a great sense of freedom, one of the best aspects of Xenoblade from both a gameplay and a JRPG context. The first time I accidentally jumped off a bridge and plummeted hundreds of feet down into the water below, only to find that I could swim around and explore was something special. Even after spending hour 7 in Colony working on sidequest #4563, this track is fresh.—bobtheblob916
"Xenoblade Chronicles". I have played many videogames, among them many JRPGs and as a music hobbyist, if there something that I really appreciate is a soundtrack that helps you immerse in it's game world. "Xenoblade Chronicles" boasts a 4 audio CD soundtrack that manages to mimic the exact feelings of the what's happening on the screen. Beautiful, stunning compositions and I hope this wins next year when the game hits America and you will all see why I am nominating it right here.—Shiryu
There's a place deep inside me that rarely gets touched, moved. Too much of life is filled with the ordinary and mundane, we are surrounded by it, we choke on it. The moment I heard those first few simple notes I was swept to that place. The music has the ability to make the world stop for that brief moment when you listen to it. The soundtrack is all inclusive, all immersive and utterly captivating. It demands all of your attention, it gently compels you to feel, to share at that moment in the game the feelings that the characters go through... it is truly magical.—Han Cillers
There was a lot of great game music this year, I agree with most if not all of the previous posts. Though there's one game in particular that I feel bears mentioning: Shadows of the Damned. It has a really fantastic sound design, and I think this track is a descent, if not perfect, representation of the kind of atmospheric music you can find in it. That's not to say this is a great representation of the style of music you'll find in the game, though. That would be quite a feat, for the soundtrack shifts wildly from heavy metal, to old fashioned ragtime, to mariachi rock expertly from scene to scene. It would be impossible for me to disregard it as a heavy contender for my game music of the year.—VonAbsynt
I gotta say, Ghost Trick's music really gave the game's more intense moments the dramatic edge they needed. It's a bit like the music that plays when you make a successful objection in Phoenix Wright, it just gives you that "Oh man, shit just got real" feeling. My personal game of the year, for sure!—Diamond Sea
Bastion, Deus Ex: HR and The Witcher 2 are all highlights but I was most surprised by Batman: Arkham City. Perhaps because I could barely recall anything from Asylum, or because I was playing Arkham City so damn much. The theme is wonderful, and I love the build-up from about 1:17, that increase in tension that releases into a bold heroic yet tragic theme at around 1:56. 'This Court Is Now In Session' is also great music by which to punch people. In the game.—hot_heart
I am surprised not a single person has mentioned Sonic Generations and its incredible soundtrack! While I certainly wouldn't nominate it for any game of the year awards, its soundtrack is probably the best of any Sonic game. Rather than go straight-up rock, the composers instead went with a very violin-heavy sound that actually fits Sonic perfectly. Granted, almost every single song is a remix of a previous game, but it's impossible to deny that this is an incredible piece. The piano backing the violin is beautiful, and the drums really give the entire thing a sense of speed that just makes you want to move.—Goopygoo
How could everyone forget Child of Eden's OST? The entire game is based on music, beats, and rhythm. This style of Tech-House is easy to listen to. Very catchy and with a soulful singer behind it too. Genki Rockets FTW!—tehjonel
The soundtrack to Catherine is an incredibly strange mix of classical music and, I guess, rock? Either way, it's tremendously unique and the perfect music for a frenetic puzzle game.—PsychoDantis
I can't BELIEVE that no one has posted anything about Battlefield 3 yet!
The strange, electronic soundtrack goes perfectly with the atmosphere of the game, both in the singleplayer and multiplayer. For instance, when a multiplayer battle is reaching its conclusion, a track starts playing in the background, and the fight seems more and more intense until you see "Your team lost." or "Your team won!"
For me the music is a tribute to the intensity of battle that the game is trying to convey. That syncopated 6-feel rhythm sounds spastic yet oddly ordered, sort of like a series of autocannon shots or mortar shells going off. That little synth line that comes in on top is just so wonderfully placed, and carries the song, which starts out rhythmically, harmonically. All the little beeps and sounds are very similar to a lot of the noises that you hear in the game, like the target lock sound on your Javelin or a bullet whizzing by, or bits of dirt hitting the ground after an explosion.
Something about this music just really gets me into the game... makes me want to sprint around and vault over things before snapping my sight onto that Russian that's about to cap a flag.—llama.fragments
Yoko Shimomura just nailed it with Radiant Historia's OST, in my humble opinion. It's a game that goes without complex graphics and voiced dialogue, but it doesn't really need either because every track does such a wonderful job of setting the mood of a scene, conveying a particular emotion. This is the stuff classics are made of, both the game itself and the soundtrack.—Paradox Me
Someone already mentioned it but my vote goes to Radiant Historia too. Even though the soundtrack hasn't that many tracks it's still fantastic. Then again I shouldn't be surprised since the soundtrack was composed by Yoko Shimomura. And the game is amazing as well so if you haven't played it yet, go play it.—klezdoom
Dark Souls for certain. Some of those boss themes are outright intense, but I fell in love with the game as soon as I heard the menu music. It's just so calm yet haunting as well, as if it were trying to comfort you before your hardship comes about each time. It almost reminds me of the Resident Evil save room themes.—GanymedeJupiter
Rarely does a game's negative use of music affect how powerful the musical parts actually are.—snakelinksonic
Blasphemous Experiment (Nybbeth's theme) is probably the best example I can think of [of why this soundtrack needs more attention]. That song is just plain chilling, especially considering it's a battle theme. The original SNES version is okay, but the PSP arrangement is just ridiculously good. Such a good damn song. Whenever you hear it, it's also a good sign that you're probably about to get your ass kicked!—Archaotic
And there you have 'em, our readers' picks for the best soundtracks of 2011. Thanks to all who contributed!
The "Casino Night Pinball" minigame that console gamers got for preordering the game will be available to PC gamers via Steam on Dec. 26. It'll only run you $1.59 in the U.S. (Overseas, it's £0.99, €1.59, $2.99 in Australia).
In the minigame, you play as either classic Sonic or modern Sonic, and he's the pinball. Modern Sonic has a limited number of boosts, but otherwise the two are identical. Sega released these three screenshots with the announcement.
Still no word on when or if this will be made available over Xbox Live or PlayStation Network.
Masato Nakamura says he composed the remix of Sonic the Hedgehog's Green Hill Zone theme the way he did the original: By imagining it as a film. The difference is he only had still photographs when he wrote the song 20 years ago. Now for source material has the advantage of full motion video—and, of course, one of video gaming's most iconic pieces of music.
Wrapping up a series of vignettes on Sonic's 20th birthday, Sega takes a look at the substantial musical history of its flagship series. I'm not sure I gave the soundtrack in Sonic Generations enough credit; the remixes were very well done, although some of the tunes with vocals (notably City Escape's) had a sugar-pop way of boring into your skull.
But in any ranking of contributors to the much loved genre of video game music, Sonic and its artists would have to get a prominent mention. This video gives them a chance to take a bow, so give it a watch.
In Sonic Generations, the unnatural hedgehog meets his younger, pot-bellied self as Sega attempts to show that it can recapture its old magic, while proving that there’s a place for its blue mascot in the modern world. As the slowest creature on two legs, who dreams nightly of great athletic feats, I am the ideal choice to tell you wot I think of the blue speedster’s latest.>