With three karting offerings out this Christmas, it really isn’t the season for those who deplore the needless replacement of Cs with Ks – but thankfully, this follow-up to Sonic’s 2010 trip to the racetrack brings an all-new element in the form of Optimus Prime-style vehicle shifting.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed PS3 review
Put bluntly, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is a ridiculous amount of fun, and can be summed up in three words: planes can drift. That’s right: even when you’re soaring through the air dodging screeching fighter jets or floating asteroids, you can still earn those all-important boosts and leave imaginary skidmarks in the sky… which sounds all kinds of wrong.
Gameplay is frantically satisfying as you screech around the day-glo environments with your favourite Sega character – which is definitely Amigo, right? Collecting fireworks, tornadoes or even swarms of wasps to set on fellow racers and hurtling over boost panels is enjoyably frenzied, and all this is before you’ve even tumbled off the end of the track, your vehicle morphing effortlessly into a biplane or speedboat. The transformations are as assured as Michael Bay’s credit rating with explosives manufacturers, and the huge variety of tracks is brightly imaginative and constantly changing.
Not content with setting you off around the same course for three laps, you’re sent plummeting into angry white water full of sea monsters for one lap, while another has you soaring over the tumbling cherry blossoms of a Shinobi-inspired temple with no time to enjoy the beautiful views. The pace never lets up, with weapons and boosts ever-present in the air and on the ocean waves, and there’s a stylish sense of personality to each of the environments. Add in the ability to perform stunts on waves and barrel rolls while skyward, and each track feels far more than just a race to the chequered flag.
Even in single-player there’s plenty to enjoy in World Tour mode, with progression stars to earn, unlockable characters and XP to build up as you speed through tracks inspired by Jet Set Radio and Sonic’s casino. Add in the ability to level up your skills and choose your handling style, and there’s plenty of reasons to return to the cartoon chaos.
Characters each handle differently, too, so if you prefer a heavier vehicle then Wreck-It Ralph’s truck is all yours to tear up the track with. (Although I’m still baffled as to why he was included in the first place.)
This is a solid and joyously colourful racer with plenty to explore, and the Transformed element is thankfully no mere add-on. Each track is well-balanced, with a variety of vehicle sections and shortcuts through the water or air. With friends and online, this shines – and there are plenty of positive comparisons to be made between this and Mario Kart. Rest assured, this speedy blue hedgehog is not just for Christmas.
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