Sonic All-Star Racing is one of my favourite racers of the last generation. Its mix between Sonic and other SEGA characters delivered an exciting and fast-paced experience that laid the foundations for the SEGA racing series. Team Sonic Racing is a major step backwards considering it is now the third entry in this kart racer and while it should improve on features, it tries to add in new ones that just fail to leave an impression.
With that being said, Team Sonic Racing is not a bad game at all as it still delivers a great time regardless of whether or not the pieces align correctly.
First off we have the new Adventure Mode which is a change in the series. This story-driven chapter-based racing montage takes you across a Sonic world as you take on races, complete various challenges and follow a semi-decent plot.
The Adventure Mode packs a decent combination of mini-games and actual races into it to keep the pace going. It is also a great way to learn all the new types of races the game has on offer and master them before taking your skills online or with into the other game modes. These “other” races include challenges were you need to drift through rings, chain ring pickups to keep the timer away and blowing up robots. These are then broken up by actual three-lap races during the mode too.
The Adventure Mode offers a great time as you listen to some decent dialogue from the characters you meet, unlock new racers to take with you into these new tracks and discover the plot all while drifting around corners and winning races. In terms of writing, it is not half bad and considering how bad recent Sonic games have been in terms of story, it is one of the better ones.
So where does the gameplay fall in? Well, the issue with Team Sonic Racing is it has been designed around a class-based team system which does not work half the time especially when you are playing alone.
Everything outside of the mini-games relies on you and two other racers working together to gain boost, exchange items and using each other’s slipstreams to gain speed boosts. You also win races by scoring points depending on where you and your team place. This means if you are first and your other two AI teammates come last, you lose.
The system worked well during split screen but other than that, it felt as if it lacked direction. It just needs actual people near you and communicating to work correctly. AI and online teammates just failed to make it seem worthwhile especially later in the game when the difficulty was higher. It is a sad state of affairs given the game’s racing mechanics relies on the system working, in which it does not.
The system also takes away from any skill required to win some races. AI teammates just feel overpowered and overskilled so losing was tough at times and at during some races, the AI opponents felt godlike making it hard to find the balance between it all. The worst part must be the lack of excitement taken away due to the system relying too much on whether or not you were given an item by a teammate or granted a super boost thanks to them. It becomes a scripted and badly-executed race system.
When looking past the team-based races, the overall gameplay is not that bad. Tracks are gorgeous featuring the iconic Sonic locations, racing feels solid when you’re speeding through the track and of course, the selection of Sonic characters mixes things up with different pros and cons for each of them. Let’s not forget the fantastic soundtrack that carries the game through its darkest of times.
We then have the customization system which is great too. During the game, you will earn currency you can use on the Mod Pod. These loot box-like drops contain different customization items you can use across the entire roster of characters. From visual tweaks to actual performance enhancements (that also change your kart’s visuals), there is plenty to collect and unlock here. A few hours into the game and a few characters had some pretty cool-looking changes to their karts.
Having had played this before and after Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, Team Sonic Racing is less polished and refined and can’t match Crash’s sheer greatness. However, it is not a bad racer by any means. The team-based system might take away from the skill required to master the game but the overall experience is enjoyable. For me, however, it is my least favourite out of the three released.
This review was based on a copy sent to us by SEGA
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 21 May 2019 | Price: R599