Team Sonic Racing Xbox One X Review

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: Racing
 
Rating: G
 
Release Date: 21 May 2019
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
3.5/5


User Rating
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Positives


- Team mechanics work well and give the game its own identity
- Variety of challenges
- Fast, relatively smooth gameplay

Negatives


- Random game crashes when matchmaking
- Lacklustre story and dull cutscenes
- Lost some of its appeal due to lack of other Sega franchises


Posted June 2, 2019 by

 
Full Article
 
 

Developed by Sumo Digital, Team Sonic Racing is a competent kart racer that builds upon its predecessors Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. Focusing exclusively on the Sonic universe this time around, the titular team mechanics may seem like a gimmick at first but are actually an engaging and well-developed idea that helps give the series its own identify rather than be a straight out Mario Kart clone.

There is a lengthy story mode dubbed Team Adventure which centers on Sonic and his friends being invited by a mysterious alien tanuki named Dondon Pa to compete in team-based races and challenges. At first only members of Team Sonic (Sonic, Tails and Knuckles) and Team Rose (Amy, Big and OmaChao) compete on the track, but they’re soon joined by the likes of Team Dark (Shadow, Rouge and Omega), Team Vector (Blaze, Silver and Vector) and Team Eggman (Dr. Eggman, Metal Sonic and Zavok). In typical Sonic fashion things are not quite as innocent as they seem, with Sonic and co. hypothesising that Dr. Eggman and Dondon Pa are working together towards a sinister plan. Cutscenes are plainly presented via conversations between static 2D character avatars. The plot isn’t particularly interesting and often feels like an unnecessary distraction; more often than not you’ll be tempted to skip dialog and get back to racing.

Team Adventure mode consists of seven worlds presented in a mostly linear grid that players must progress through one event at a time. Most events consist of Exhibition and Grand Prix races, but there are some additional challenges which are a welcome break from standard races. These include collecting rings while drifting, shooting targets while racing through a track, survival rounds where racers who are the last to complete a lap are eliminated from a race and daredevil races where players must drift past poles for points. You will be awarded a rating based on how well you perform, which in turn will earn you in-game currency to unlock customisation goodies. There’s a lot of variety on offer and it should keep most solo players satisfied throughout the campaign.

As with most kart racers the tracks in Team Sonic Racing feature speed pads that will grant you temporary boosts and item boxes, dubbed Wisps. The Wisps grant players projectiles that are either manually fired or seek out nearby opponents, can temporarily blind the screens of other players, give speed boosts or give complete temporary invincibility. So, basically there’s an equivalent for every item ever featured in Mario Kart! There are total of 21 tracks to race on including new courses and returning ones from earlier Sonic & Sega All-Stars titles. They are littered with various references to the Sonic franchise, though it is a shame other Sega franchises have been shunned completely as the game does lose some of its overall appeal.

Team Sonic Racing gets its namesake from the new team racing mechanics. Rather than race as an individual you team up with two other racers. When you reach the finish line you are awarded points based on your ranking, with the team’s total score determining your final position. Just because you’re in first place doesn’t mean your team will win; if your teammates are in last place your final point tally will be lower and another team may claim that golden trophy. But the idea runs a lot deeper, with teammates actively supporting each other on the track. Teammates can pass on Wisp items to each other with a tap of the B-button. The teammate who is ahead of the others will leave a speed trail behind them which the other two can follow to receive a boost and perform a “slingshot” maneuver to get ahead. If a teammate collides with a hazard and slows down any ally who comes from behind can touch them and give them a quick boost, thereby putting them back in the race instantly without losing precious seconds to build up speed again. Every team action also goes towards filling up the Team Ultimate meter which, when full, grants the entire team a temporary speed boost. It all works surprisingly well, especially in single-player where the AI keeps you well informed when they’re in trouble or comes in to assist you when necessary. It keeps races running fast and smooth. If only the online multiplayer randoms were as helpful as the single-player AI!

Each character has their own base stats including top speed, acceleration, defense, handling and boost power. Speed characters have more balanced handling, faster top speeds but poor acceleration and defense. Technique characters have better handling and acceleration, attract collectable rings on the track and can cut corners on rough terrain without slowing down. Power characters have good boost and defense abilities, can smash into certain obstacles without being slowed down, but also have the lowest top speed and worse handling. In single player, teams consist of one of each character class to ensure there is balance.

As mentioned, Team Sonic Racing also features the ability to customise character vehicles. This includes changing the colour scheme, decals and horn sound. You can also tweak the stats of vehicles by customising the internal and external parts, though these never have a dramatic effect on your overall performance. What’s disappointing however is that unlocking all these customisation options is completely randomised – be prepared to grind to get more currency to unlock the items you actually want.

Aside from Team Adventure mode, Team Sonic Racing features the usual flare for kart racers. There is a Time Trial mode, Exhibition mode where you can customise the rules and a Grand Prix mode. Jumping online you have ranked and casual multiplayer game modes and the option to choose if you play solo player races or team-based races. In general online matches run smoothly with only occasional issues with lag, though that may be due to the connections of other players. One issue that I did encounter was at random times matchmaking would cause the game to crash. Hopefully this is something Sumo Digital and Sega patch in the near future.

Visually the game is what you would expect from a Sonic title – colourful and vibrant. On the Xbox One, PS4 and PC version Team Sonic Racing targets 60 frames per second and the Switch version targets 30 frames per second. I reviewed the game on an Xbox One X system and there were some slight dips in framerate from time to time but it shouldn’t affect your overall enjoyment.

Team Sonic Racing improves upon previous Sonic & Sega All-Stars titles by adding new ideas that give it its own identity. The team mechanics work incredibly well, there are a variety of different challenges to overcome and the game runs relatively smoothly overall. Dropping other Sega franchises from the game though does make it lose some of its appeal, the story is lacklustre and there are some minor technical and quality of life issues which prevent Team Sonic Racing from knocking Mario Kart off its podium.

Rocket Chainsaw reviewed Team Sonic Racing on an Xbox One X system. It is also available on PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch.


Joseph Rositano

 
While Joseph's main hobby has always centered around video games, he's also taken an interest in movies, musicals and traveling around the world. No one quite knows what Joseph's true motivations are, but rest assured he is always planning his next grand adventure!