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Published on December 3rd, 2010 | by Remy Cuesta

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Sonic Free Riders Review

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Sonic is no stranger to speed, and what better way to get his top G going then riding on a super fast hoverboard. In the third iteration of the series, Sonic Free Riders hits the Xbox 360 in the most unique way possible. By giving your full body control of what you see on screen. This is Sega’s first attempt at the new Xbox 360 Controllerless camera Kinect and it has you jumping and skating like your on a hoverboard. The result is a good entry level game thats challenging and with plenty of potential but needs to work out some kinks.

The premise behind Free Riders is Sonic and the gang compete in a competition of sport by racing on tracks with hoverboards and bikes. Many classic characters are here along with some of the newer cast. They are made of teams of three members and as you progress through the races more teams unlock for you to play with. The story narration pretty much takes a back seat by way of pictures but in the least there is new voice dialogue for the game. The entire story mode is also broken up by various teams, having you guide them to victory with each of them. What is a story without Dr. Eggman and his evil ways? So expect to see many cameos in this one.

Hoverboards aka Extreme Gear, Bikes and gear parts can be bought via the ingame store. Coins can be earned by either collecting them during a race or by how your rated through the challenges which can be used to purchase items in the store. The upgrades will allow your character to do various things during a race. Move faster, be more durable, give you a boost at the start of a race, grind on rails or increase your top speed to name a few. There are two slots for the upgrades to go that can be placed on your board or bike. Whichever way your board is facing while racing will give you access to the ability on the end of it.

One character from each team however has a specific ability that can only be placed on them. Knuckles for example can hit rocks and walls down, giving them accessibility to secret areas or the advantage to not move out of the way. One thing we didn’t understand is why some walls weren’t at the start of a secret path, making any characters we used that didn’t have the ability to knock them down basically end up in a compromising position in the race by the time we exited the path.

Now all of this doesn’t matter if the game doesn’t work right? Well for the most part it does. You plant your body sideways having one side facing the screen like your on a hoverboard. You kneel down to move faster, lean forward or back to go right or left, skate with your foot to get a boost and jump to get air during ramps. Mario kart style power ups can also be collected during the race. By holding out your hand, you can collect rings on platforms and giving the motion like your throwing a football for example will let you use some items. Provided you have 6-8 feet to work with, which is what the camera requires to play the game, everything is responsive.

The game also features a couple of local multiplayer and online game modes. Co-op tag mode and vs races are actually fun to play but require that you know what your doing so its not easy to just pick up and play. Another thing was the difficulty in getting in an online match, this is due to the fact that this is a new add on for the Xbox 360. Tracks and characters are vibrant. The games sixteen tracks are well designed and have various shortcuts that might make you work to get to.

With the highs comes the lows and this game has a few. The game sometimes isn’t as responsive as you want it to be during a race. We’re not sure if it was our play space which we had nine feet of room but leaning back wasn’t recognized all that well. At times there were races we didn’t think we could complete because it wouldn’t turn in whatever direction we needed to lean back for. We’ve found it useful to point our hand in one direction or the other like we were trying to getting rings to hurl at one side for a sharp turn. You don’t have this problem when on a bike since you have your hands out like your gripping handle bars. An annoying aspect was the fact that any opponent that was next to you and got hit by an item always resulted in you getting hit. Even if you throw the weapon like a bowling ball or your own missile would hit you if to close to an opponent. The menu can also be a pain to navigate as it could use some work on the response.

Sonic Free Riders is pretty well versed compared to some of the other Kinect games. A ton of modes, story and online multiplayer are great but the rides is where the game will keep your focus. Putting different kind of gear parts to your board adds some good strategy and will mix it up. WIth all its gripes its still a fun experience when you get the hang of it and feels very rewarding.


[starreviewmulti id=2 tpl=20]

Overall = 7.3

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[Editor-in-Chief] What can I say, I just love games this much!



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