Sonic Free Riders
Sonic Free Riders[a] is a motion controlled racing video game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega exclusively for the Xbox 360. The game requires the use of Microsoft's Kinect peripheral, releasing as a Kinect launch title in November 2010.
|Sonic Free Riders|
|Series||Sonic the Hedgehog|
Sonic Free Riders is the seventh racing game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, and the third entry in the Sonic Riders trilogy. It is a direct sequel to Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity. The game's story centers on the series' main antagonist Doctor Eggman announcing a second World Grand Prix, secretly planning to gather data from the riders to program into his robots.
The game received negative reviews from critics, with praise going towards its content, multiplayer options, the graphics and its storyline, but major criticism for its controls.
Sonic Free Riders is a hoverboard racing game featuring characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. The game is controlled by using the player's body to navigate their chosen character through the course. Actions include bending their body to steer, performing kicking motions to increase speed, and jumping to perform tricks which earn more boost. The player alternatively has the ability to ride bikes, controlled by steering motions. By collecting enough rings, players can increase their level during each race, which enhances their attributes. There are several power-ups and weapons which each require specific motion actions to activate, such as a missile which is thrown like a football or a boost that is activated by shaking a soda can. As before, characters are divided into Speed, Flight, and Power classes, each of which can access specific shortcuts. Players can equip special attributes to their Gear, such as improved cornering or the ability to break through barriers, which can be changed by switching the riding stance. Players can also perform special moves if they are falling behind in races.
The game's main single player campaign is the Grand Prix mode, where players select from one of four teams of characters to play through the story. Along with Time Attack and Free Race modes, Sonic Free Riders also features a few multiplayer modes that can be played cooperatively. Tag Mode allows two players to race together, requiring synchronized coordination to perform combined tricks, while Relay mode, playable with up to 4 players, requires teammates to swap places after each lap. The local multiplayer supports up to two active players, while online player multiplayer features one active player per console for up to 8 players. The game also supports voice recognition, allowing players to navigate menus using their voice.
The story takes place after the events of Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity. Unlike past Sonic Riders titles, Free Riders takes a more arcade-style approach to its storytelling, omitting full CGI cutscenes in favor of static character images and short dialogue exchanges between races.
Doctor Eggman, disguising himself as "King Doc of Toreggmania", announces another World Grand Prix and promises vast riches to the winners. Though everyone sees through the disguise, four teams enter the competition, each seeking to prove themselves the best or win the prize money. However, at the award ceremony, Eggman reveals himself and his true motive: to gather data from all the racers to program into the ultimate Extreme Gear. The other racers defeat Eggman, but his E-100000G robot reveals itself as a disguised Metal Sonic, who deceived Eggman and stole the data for himself. Metal Sonic challenges Sonic to a final race, but loses and is forced to flee. Though many of the competitors are disappointed that the promised treasure was fake, they are happy to have enjoyed their time racing.
Sonic Free Riders, alongside Sonic Colors, marks the first title to be released following a major recasting of the series' voice actors in 2010. Sonic titles released between 2005 and mid-2010 featured voice actors from the cast of the Sonic X anime, recorded at 4Kids Productions in New York City. However, Free Riders features an entirely new cast of actors under the direction of Jack Fletcher, recorded at Studiopolis in Los Angeles, with only Mike Pollock reprising his role as Doctor Eggman. Although both voice language tracks are included in the game disc, the text and voice language is determined by the console's region settings, with no in-game option to change them. The voice changes resulted in mixed reactions from fans and critics of the series.
The game's soundtrack was written by Tomonori Sawada and Koji Sakurai. The game's theme song, "Free", was written by Jun Senoue, with lyrics written by Johnny Gioeli and performed by Chris Madin. An additional cover of the song performed by Senoue's and Gioeli's band, Crush 40, was included on the game's official soundtrack.
The game received a Metacritic score of 47/100. IGN gave the game a score of 7.5, calling it a strong launch title for Kinect, although criticizing the motion controls stating that they "make it hard to just jump into the game". Official Xbox Magazine also gave it 7.5, praising the wealth of content and multiplayer options while criticizing occasional unresponsiveness in the controls. GameTrailers gave the game a score of 4.5, panning cumbersome controls that tax the body. Joystiq gave the game 1/5 stars, calling it "the equivalent of patting your head while rubbing your stomach while riding a unicycle." Brian Crecente of Kotaku also reviewed it negatively, calling it "the most broken of the Kinect titles I've played." Kotaku's Crecente later reported that the responsiveness of the controls seemed to differ between persons, with fellow reviewer Stephen Totilo saying the controls worked fine for him.
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Doctor Eggman: The winning team gets a disgustingly large cash prize... And a mid-sized mountain of treasure. Just don't expect it to be easy!
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- Brian Crecente. "Is Sonic Free Riders Broken, Or Is It The Reviewers?".