It was sort of weird, when you think about it. I’m the kind of guy who defaults all his games to “easy mode”, and yet, here I was, starting to really enjoy the Sonic Unleashed DLC in spite of the fact it was basically a glorified “Hard Mode” for the game. It’s been a full month since the last batch of Sonic Unleashed DLC, and being away for awhile has reminded me why this DLC isn’t really all its cracked up to be.
Maybe it’s just because I’ve played so many of the DLC packs previously, but the Mazuri Adventure Pack seems to be the easiest of the bunch yet. In previous DLC packs, it was common to drop nearly 20+ lives trying to complete all of the levels – and yet, in the Mazuri Adventure Pack, I actually ended up gaining 20 lives back. That’s not to say these levels are walks in the park, though – but on average, the number of instant deaths seem to have been dramatically reduced. Thankfully, the teeth-grindingly-frustrating Savannah Citadel Act 2 Day avoids getting the “Hard Mode” make-over, as it was a drifting-centric obstacle course in similar fashion to Cool Edge Act 3 from the Holoska Adventure Pack DLC. Savannah Citadel Act 2 Day was already hard enough by itself! Instead, Savannah Citadel Act 3 Day receives the “Hard Mode” make-over, tasking you with collecting 300 rings before time runs out. Enemies are almost non-existent in this level and it’s basically impossible to fall in to a bottomless pit – it’s simply a race against time. Once you know where all the largest caches of rings are, this level becomes a cakewalk. Act 4 is basically a wall-kicking gauntlet (with some particularly nice giraffe textures on grind rails), that, like Act 3-2, gets considerably easier once you “figure it out”. The daytime DLC levels end at Act 5, which can be S-Ranked simply by finishing the level without dying (not a very difficult feat).
Savannah Citadel Act 3 Night isn’t really very interesting. It’s simply a handful of long hallways where you’re forced to swing over bottomless pits until you reach the end of the level. The real meat for the night levels comes in Savannah Citadel Act 4 Night. Act 4 is special, because back in March 2008, when the first screenshots of Sonic Unleashed were leaked to the public, screenshots of this level were included with them. That suggests that this level may have actually been the original Savannah Citadel Act 1 – and now, here it is, included as DLC. Following that same train of thought, it’s not very difficult to imagine why, exactly, this level might have been scrapped. It’s not terrible, by any means, and the change of scenery compared to other levels set in Savannah Citadel at night are certainly nice, but it just feels very… rough around the edges. The way the camera positions itself and follows the player can lead to some frustrating moments, and an annoying, close-quarters encounter with a Dark Gaia Titan makes me wonder if maybe the difficulty level of this stage was dialled up a few notches for the sake of the DLC.
But I have to wonder what all of this is for, really. Sure, there are people out there who say they enjoy the additional challenge the Sonic Unleashed DLC provides, but when you really get down to brass tacks, isn’t this all a bit useless? When you really think about all of the time and effort wasted on these DLC packs, wouldn’t you much rather have that same effort be put towards something better, like original levels? Do we really need an extra set of levels set in existing locations? Sonic Unleashed is already difficult and long enough. I would trade all four of the existing Sonic Unleashed DLC releases for just one “Classic Levels” pack that recreated locations like Green Hill Zone for Sonic Unleashed, or better yet, entirely new levels set in totally original locales. Do we really need more of what we already have? I don’t think we do, especially not at $3 a pop. To date, that’s a total of $12 spent on content the game doesn’t really need more of.
This post was originally written by the author for TSSZ News.